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Southbankers honoured

10 Jul 2018

Southbankers honoured Image

Four locals were recognised for their separate contributions to Australia as part of this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours last month.

One Southbanker, scientist and academic Geoffrey Burnstock, was awarded the highest honour of a Companion in the General Order of Australia for his eminent service to biological sciences in the field of pharmacology and toxicology.

Professor Su Baker, who up until last year, headed Southbank’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), was recognised with an AM. So too was Colin Golvan QC, for his significant service to the law and legal education, particularly for his support of indigenous students.

Fellow resident Angela Wheelton was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her significant contributions to the community through a range of organisations.

Here’s a brief insight into each of our local honourees …

Geoffrey Burnstock AC

It is a highly significant achievement to be bestowed with such recognition as a Companion in the General Order of Australia. It requires considerable, transformative and lasting contributions.

Geoffrey Burnstock’s list of contributions to science, medical research and academia is endless. The 89-year-old English-born Burnstock was awarded his PhD in London and carried out post doctoral research at the National Institute for Medical Research and the Department of Pharmacology, Oxford University.

He would later move to Australia and eventually became the professor and head of the department of zoology at the University of Melbourne. It was during this time where he initiated the concept of “purinergic signaling”.

He demonstrated that the purine nucleotide, ATP, as well as being an intracellular energy source, was an extracellular signalling molecule, and controlled the activities of most organs in the body.

In 1975, he became the head of the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology at the University College of London. During this time he developed the concept of “neural co-transmission” and defined the molecular structure and characteristics of receptors for nucleotides.

Geoffrey has received many honours and published more than 1500 papers, reviews and books and has been cited over 105,000 times. He has also met her majesty the Queen!

Having recently returned to Melbourne, he told Southbank Local News that he was honoured and flattered to be welcomed back so warmly to Australia and to be recognised in such a way for his contributions to science.

Su Baker AM

Prof Baker (featured image) was awarded her AM for “significant service to tertiary education in the visual and creative arts, particularly through advancing scholarship and research opportunities”.

But looking at her CV, you wonder why it has taken so long!

As an artist and academic, her involvement spans the nation over many years and even includes overseas contributions.

Prof Baker used to run the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) and has been instrumental in its journey to becoming a faculty of the University of Melbourne.

Before that, she played similar roles in other places, most notably Sydney.

She’s an author, editor, artist, administrator and academic who has contributed to no end of boards and committees all over the place and on multiple subjects.

“The recognition is great. But that’s not why you do it,” she told Southbank Local News. “Doing the work is a reward in itself. You do it because you think it should be done.”

“Leadership is an expectation that I have of myself.”

Colin Golvan AM QC

A Queen’s Counsel (QC), Australian Book Review chairman, Malthouse Theatre board member and Melbourne International Jazz Festival director, Colin’s list of achievements and interests is long and far-reaching.

While he was awarded his AM in part for his extensive service to the legal profession, arts and philanthropy, it’s his work with indigenous law students and communities in remotes areas of Australia that is most impressive.

As a founding chairman of trustees of the Indigenous Barristers’ Fund, a former chairman of the Indigenous Barristers’ Committee, a member of the Aboriginal Culture Heritage Advisory Committee and a trustee of the Namatjira Legacy Trust, his passion for supporting our first nations people is telling.

“I was thrilled, very pleasantly surprised and enormously grateful to receive this award,” he told Southbank Local News.

“I have loved my work with indigenous communities as well as my engagement with indigenous law students and lawyers, and work with arts organisations, for which I have also been honoured.”

“I have so much enjoyed working with indigenous communities in remote parts of Australia, most recently the Namatjira family in central Australia in relation to the repatriation of the copyright of Albert Namatjira to the family.”

Angela Wheelton OAM

With a passion for community engagement that stemmed from a childhood love for sport, particularly netball, Angela Wheelton’s journey has led her on a pathway to giving back.

She and husband Paul Wheelton AM, head up Wheelton Philanthropy and, for the past 10 years, Angela has sat on the boards of organisations such as Life Education Victoria, Bali Children Foundation, Her Heart and Mercy Health.

Professionally, her career in the dental industry spanned more than 35 years. She completed an MBA in 2005 and went on to work as managing director: country head of Australia and New Zealand with Institute Straumann AG in Basel, Switzerland specialising in dental technology.

Angela retired from Straumann in 2016 and moved into full-time work under the Wheelton Philanthropy brand, with a desire to educate the broader community about the possibilities and opportunities in all areas of philanthropy.

“It is an extreme honour and I am very humbled to be recognised by the Australian honours system,” she told Southbank Local News.

“Whilst no one seeks recognition with these honours, the acknowledgement does encourage others to participate in the broader community and give back in a meaningful way.”

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