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Alumni recognised for contributing to their respective ‘place’

Four University of Tasmania alumni have been recognised with prestigious awards honouring their distinguished service across a number of fields.

The inspiring work of Magistrate Tamara Jago (BA/LLB Hons 1993), GP Dr Chris Hughes (MBBS 2008), meteorologist Dr Michael Pook (GradDipASOS Hons 1990, PhD 1995 ) and marine ecologist, Dr Jessica Melbourne-Thomas (BSc Hons 2002, GradDipMarSc 2010, PhD 2010) was celebrated at the annual University Dinners held in Burnie (4 April) and Hobart (2 May).

Ms Jago who grew up in the North-West and now lives in Smithton with her family was presented with the Alumni Award for Excellence.

Since graduating, she has specialised in criminal law, worked for Legal Aid and was the first Tasmanian woman to be made Senior Counsel.

Ms Jago was later elevated to the bench where she continues to serve her region as a senior judicial officer. 

“Forging a career in law on Tasmania’s North-West Coast has been a truly rewarding experience,” Ms Jago said.

“I was delighted to be presented with this award and consider it a celebration and acknowledgement of the great opportunities in regional areas.”

Dr Chris Hughes, a North-West GP who completed his medical degree at the Rural Clinical School and later returned to the region to practise received the Young Alumni Achievement award.

In 2016, the Wynyard doctor was recognised by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) as both the Tasmanian Registrar of the Year and national General Practice Registrar of the Year.

“Being able to give back to regional Australia in the town where I was raised is particularly rewarding,” Dr Hughes said.

“It's such an honour and it's lovely to have your efforts appreciated - you feel you must be doing something right.”

In Hobart, Dr Michael Pook was announced as the Alumni Award for Excellence recipient.

His career has included work as a CSIRO research scientist, senior forecaster, ABC weather presenter and meteorology instructor to defence force pilots.

Dr Pook has been awarded a number of accolades including the 2018 Gibbs Medal for his outstanding contribution to the understanding of weather and climates in Australia.

He was one of four students to graduate in 1989 from the first course delivered by the then named Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies (IASOS).

“In accepting this award, I would like to pay tribute to the University, particularly those wise heads in the 1980s who had the vision to make Antarctica and the Southern Ocean a key research theme of the University.”

Dr Jessica Melbourne-Thomas, who received the Young Alumni Achievement Award was congratulated for her Antarctic marine conservation work in the face of climate change.

She was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford (2003 – 2005), named Tasmania’s Young Tall Poppy of the Year (2015) and recognised as a Science and Technology Australia STEM Superstar in 2017.

Dr Melbourne-Thomas was also one of 12 famous female scientists to be featured as a constellation on the ceiling of Grand Central Station (NYC) as part of General Electric’s ‘Balance the Equation’ initiative.

She is presently a research scientist with the Australian Antarctic Division and project leader with the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre.

“I was extremely honoured to receive this award and delighted to think that my career pathway so far might be able to provide inspiration to other younger women in science,” Dr Melbourne-Thomas said.

Published on: 07 May 2019 4:54pm