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Our people named among Sydney's most influential in 2012


30 November 2012

(L-R) Professor Simon Chapman and Dr Michael Biercuk have been named in the 100 most influential people in Sydney in 2012. Dr Biercuk told the Sydney Magazine: "Teaching the students is just as rewarding as getting a scientific result".
(L-R) Professor Simon Chapman and Dr Michael Biercuk have been named in the 100 most influential people in Sydney in 2012. Dr Biercuk told the Sydney Magazine: "Teaching the students is just as rewarding as getting a scientific result".

The Sydney Morning Herald has recognised two leading University of Sydney academics for their world-leading research and transformative influence on government policy in a list of Sydney's most influential people in 2012.

Professor Simon Chapman and Dr Michael Biercuk were both included in the Sydney Magazine, which highlights "the people who have changed our city for the better".

The Sydney Magazine also named the $20 million gift to the University by John Grill, alumnus and former chief executive of international resources and energy company WorleyParsons, as one of the top 100 events of the year.

Professor Simon Chapman from the School of Public Health, who also featured on the magazine's cover, is lauded for his work as an "anti-tobacco advocate and air freshener".

Having fought for tighter tobacco controls for more than three decades, Professor Chapman played an instrumental role in the federal government's world-first plain packaging legislation, effective this year.

Professor Chapman told the Sydney Magazine he remembers precisely where he was the moment he found out the Plain Packaging Act would become a reality:

"It was April 29 2010, and I know exactly where I was standing in my house and which phone I picked up when [then health minister] Nicola Roxon's office told me it was happening," he told the Sydney Magazine. "The next two years were non-stop."


Dr Michael Biercuk, who is primary investigator in the Quantum Control Laboratory at the University, is recognised for his ground-breaking research into quantum computing, which could develop a computer to make calculations that now require a machine larger than the size of the known universe.

Before moving to Sydney from the US in 2010, Dr Biercuk worked with an international team that included this year's Nobel Prize for Physics winner, David Wineland. The team this year published their findings on a tiny ion-crystal that could enable a computer to perform calculations that currently stump the world's most powerful supercomputers.


Three University of Sydney academics were members of selection panels. Professor Sandra Kaji-O'Grady, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, was a panellist in the life and style category; Professor Roslyn Arnold, Faculty of Education and Social Work, was a panellist in the science and knowledge category; and Associate Professor Peter McCallum, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, was a panellist in the arts and culture category.

Twenty of the top 100 are University of Sydney Alumni, including:

  • David Marr (BA '68 LLB '91)
  • Louise Herron (BA'86 LLB '82)
  • Lyndon Terracini (SCM Amalgamation Alumni Affiliate)
  • Tony Abbott (BEc '79 LLB '81)
  • Nick Greiner (BEc '68)
  • Anthony Albanese (BEc'85)
  • Peter Jensen (MA '77)
  • Mike Baird (BA '89)
  • Tom Bathurst (BA '69 LLB '72)
  • Clover Moore (BA '69)
  • Adam Jacobs (BA '07 BCom '07)
  • Rachel Neeson (BSc (Arch) '90 BArch '94)
  • Rob Purves (Non-degree Hon Fellow '07)
  • Simon Chapman (PhD (Medicine) '86)
  • Deb Summerhayes (BA '85 DipEd '85)
  • Brian Owler (BSc (Med) '94 MBBS '97 PhD (Med) '04)
  • Stuart White (PhD '89)
  • Sally Dunwoodie (BSc '86 PhD (Medicine) '93)
  • Hannah Dahlen (MCommNurse '94)
  • John Mattick (BSc '72)


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Media enquiries: Katie Szittner, 02 9351 2261, 0478 316 809, katie.szittner@sydney.edu.au