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Marine scientist named Tasmania’s Australian of the Year for 2020

Dr Jess Melbourne Thomas

Meet a trio truly making a difference, whether it’s protecting the environment, boosting our mental health or empowering future generations.

Alumna Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas is an internationally renowned research scientist, a Rhodes Scholar and a passionate advocate for female leadership in science. Last month she was named Tasmania’s Australian of the Year for 2020. 

As a child, Dr Melbourne-Thomas spent her days exploring Tasmania’s pristine oceans and coastline. She graduated from the University with a Bachelor of Science with Honours, a Graduate Diploma in Marine Science and a PhD. The CSIRO scientist was recognised for her excellence in research and passion for: science communication, policy engagement and greater representation of women in science leadership.

“I’m immensely honoured to have received this award, and so completely inspired by the amazing stories of the other Tasmanian nominees,” Dr Melbourne Thomas said.

“I hope I can use this opportunity to talk about the importance of addressing climate change, and how diversity in science and leadership is key to tackling this challenge.”

Tasmania’s Local Hero was alumnus and men’s health advocate Tom Windsor (BCom/LLB 2004, GradCertLegalPrac 2014) who raises awareness and funds for major health issues. Tom founded Mobart Mo Bros, which has raised $750,000 over the past decade for men’s health charity Movember. He said it was a really nice surprise for the Movember team and their fantastic supporters, the ‘Mobart Community’, to be recognised with such a prestigious honour.

“It's fantastic to know that others believe in the importance of our aim: to stop men dying too young, as much as we do. I'm hoping to continue to raise awareness on our journey towards the national awards ceremony,” Tom said.

Alumnus and social justice activist Will Smith (AssocDegArts 2016) was named the Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year. The police officer’s desire to empower young people has seen him transform lives from Launceston to Lebanon. Will seeks to break down barriers and create connections.

“I feel very humbled and appreciative to receive the award,” he said.

“My work across the state and abroad has been a passion and I really embrace the opportunity to do what I do each day. I feel inspired by our state and the young people in it.”

The University of Tasmania alumni will represent Tasmania at the 2020 Australian of the Year Awards in Canberra on January 25.

Published on: 07 Nov 2019 4:25pm