2013 Veterinary Science Alumni Awards

26 September 2013

Equine specialist David Hutchins, television's Dr Harry, wildlife conservationist Russell Dickens, and global health pioneer Charles Mackenzie were this year's recipients of the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences Alumni Awards.

The Alumni Awards recognise outstanding achievements made to the community and the veterinary profession.

Associate Professor Hutchins, who graduated with a BVSc in 1947, was honoured with the Alumni Award for Special Achievement.

One of the pre-eminent veterinarians of his generation, Professor Hutchins's 65-year career has seen him pioneer equine surgery techniques and evidence-based approaches to equine medicine. He helped plan and launch the University's veterinary teaching hospital and has taught and mentored more than 3,000 students.

The internationally acclaimed researcher was also responsible for breakthroughs ranging from equine colic to peritonitis, to the use of flotation tanks. His findings have appeared in almost 100 articles and scholarly presentations.

Still active in retirement, Professor Hutchins is an official veterinarian at Sydney meetings for Racing NSW and is renowned throughout the horse racing industry for his expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of thoroughbreds.

He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Australian College of Veterinary Science (Medicine and Surgery) in 1997 and was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2000.

The Alumni Award for Community Achievement went to someone readily recognised by many Australians … Dr Harry!

Dr Harold Cooper was recognised for his efforts to increase public understanding of pet care and animal welfare in his role as the nation's best known television vet.

He has said that one of his main aims is to teach children a love, understanding and respect for animals that they will carry through to adult life.

After graduating with a BVSc in 1966 Dr Harry practiced as a veterinarian in both Sydney and the UK where, in his late 20s, he became a regular guest on a morning talk show.

Returning to Australia he joined Don Burke on radio before launching his television career on the high rating show Burke's Backyard. He then presented his own series Talk to the Animals and Harry's Practice. Dr Harry continues to appear on Better Homes and Gardens, winner of 10 Silver Logies for Australia's most popular lifestyle program.
Dr Cooper's reputation as a caring and skilled veterinarian has greatly enhanced the credibility of the entire profession.

For his landmark efforts to protect Australian wildlife, and his 50 years of service to the people of western Sydney, Dr Russell Dickens received the Alumni Award for Community Achievement.

Described as the father of koala medicine, Dr Dickens graduated in 1954 with a BVSc before being awarded a MVetSc in 1975. In the 1970s he was one of the first to study diseases of the koala systematically and provide advice on their clinical management. His pioneering research is the basis for today's expanding discipline of wildlife medicine.

Dr Dickens has also served the pet owners, farmers and wildlife carers of the Blacktown area as a veterinarian and an independent member on the local council for the past 33 years. A vocal advocate for responsible pet ownership he recently helped Blacktown City Council improve the control and treatment of stray animals and collaborated with the University's Faculty of Veterinary Science to secure their participation in the council's desexing program.

His dedication to the welfare of animals, especially the koala, was recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1992.

Veterinary pathologist Professor Charles Mackenzie was presented with the Alumni Award for International Achievement for his exceptional contribution to global health. His efforts to combat crippling disease caused by parasitic worms in equatorial areas is changing the lives of millions of people.

Professor Mackenzie, who was awarded a doctorate in 1975 following a BSc in 1969 and BVSc in 1972, today leads Michigan State University's participation in the Global Alliance for the Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis which aims treat three billion people worldwide with anti-parasitic drugs.

He has made a lasting impact across a range of research areas including immunopathology, tropical pathology and parasitology.

In 2012 Professor Mackenzie received the Order of Australia for distinguished service to veterinary pathology and to medical science through his significant contributions to disease eradication as well as a researcher and educator.

Professor Rosanne Taylor, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science welcomed the Alumni Award recipients and guests at a reception at the University of Sydney on September 13. Emeritus Professor Paul Canfield and Dr Garth McGilvray AM congratulated and presented the winners with their awards.