Professor Zreiqat was recognised by Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Women Tanya Davies for her extraordinary contribution to regenerative medicine and orthopaedic research in NSW and an unwavering commitment to improving opportunities for women around the world.
“It is very humbling to be considered for this award as there are many other highly deserving candidates who contributed to NSW,” she said.
“Being Woman of the Year will give me more opportunity to reach out and expand my interactions with young people around NSW, not just those in the big cities or well-known schools and Universities, but also in regional remote areas.”
Professor Zreiqat grew up, studied and worked in Jordan before moving to Sydney to do a PhD in Medical Sciences – a decision that transformed her life. Today she is recognised internationally for her extraordinary contributions to regenerative medicine and translational orthopaedic research.
She is Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Sydney, where she founded the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Research Unit in 2006. Pioneering the invention of new biomaterials and biomedical devices, the unit’s work is giving NSW a place at the table in the highly competitive global orthopaedic market.
Described as a trailblazer in championing opportunities for women, Professor Zreiqat was the first female president of the Australian and New Zealand Orthopaedic Research Society.
A Senior Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council for the last 10 years, she was also the first person in NSW to receive a prestigious Radcliffe Fellowship from Harvard University.
Professor Zreiqat is also known for her work in developing the younger generation and is an avid supporter of upcoming Australian researchers; having mentored many postdoctoral researchers and supervised almost 70 PhD, Masters and Honours students.
While at Harvard, Professor Zreiqat founded a new international network called IDEAL Society, dedicated to improving opportunities and recognition for women around the world.
Professor Zreiqat will lead the Australian Research Council Training Centre for Innovative Bioengineering, being launched later this year. The centre will provide the next generation of graduates skilled at addressing challenges in biomedical engineering, giving rise to improved health outcomes, economic benefits, and a skilled workforce able to advance this important field.
Professor Zreiqat is also a member of the University of Sydney Nano Institute.
Dr Cathy Zhao, a Clinical Lecturer from Sydney Medical School and Westmead Clinical School, was also recognised for her contribution to the NSW community. She was a finalist for the Harvey Norman Young Woman of the Year Award.
Dr Zhao was recognised for her significant contribution to the community and her research in dermatology, especially of metastatic melanoma treatments on the skin, a highly relevant topic in Australia.
In addition to her academic work, she has volunteered her time to help organisations including the Cancer Council of NSW, Can-Teen, and Australasian Blistering Diseases Foundation.
University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence congratulated Professor Zreiqat on her award and Dr Zhao on her nomination.
“This success reflects Professor Zreiqat and Dr Zhao’s outstanding career achievements, as well as their tireless efforts to inspire and empower other women to break down barriers and follow their passions. We are privileged to count these two academics as leaders in our University community,” he said.
Now in their seventh year, the NSW Women of the Year Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding contribution made by women across NSW.
The 2018 NSW Women of the Year Awards were presented at a ceremony in Sydney on the morning of International Women’s Day, Thursday 8 March.
“The selflessness and skill that all of the winners and finalists have shown echo through their communities and make real positive impacts on people’s lives,” Ms Berejiklian said in a statement.
“On behalf of the NSW Government I commend each of the winners for their outstanding achievements, and look forward to seeing what they do next.”