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Payne-Scott distinctions for academic excellence announced

9 September 2019
Celebrating exemplary performance in the spirit of Ruby Payne-Scott
Four academics from diverse research fields in aquatic robotics, human obesity, psycho-oncology and bioengineering, have been appointed the third cohort of Payne-Scott Professorial Distinctions.

The University has announced the appointment of the third cohort of Payne-Scott Professorial Distinctions – Professor Louise Baur, Professor Phyllis Butow, Professor Stefan Williams and Professor Hala Zreiqat – who are drawn from diverse fields in health, engineering and science.

Academic leadership that is imbued with teaching and research excellence reflects our values and makes a critical contribution to the success of our strategic mission.
Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor and Principal

The Payne-Scott Professorial Distinctions were established in 2017 in support of the 2016–20 Strategic Plan and to act as a mainstay of its Culture Strategy, augmenting an already robust culture and helping to embed the University’s values of courage and creativity, respect and integrity, inclusion and diversity, and openness and engagement.

“Academic leadership that is imbued with teaching and research excellence reflects our values and makes a critical contribution to the success of our strategic mission," said Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor and Principal.

"Such a combination of qualities and contributions is worthy of recognition, inspiring others in their own work.”

The Professorial Distinctions are nominated by colleagues in recognition of their nominee’s sustained academic achievement and dedication to the University’s values, and for playing an active role in developing strategic initiatives, and their outstanding contributions to the University community.

The five-year appointments acknowledge the work of University of Sydney alumna, pioneering researcher and teacher Ruby Payne-Scott, a leading light in early radiophysics and the first female radio astronomer.

A significant number of nominations were received and, after careful consideration by the selection committee, four awardees were chosen.

2020 Payne-Scott Professorial Distinctions

Professor Louise Baur AM

Professor and Head of Child and Adolescent Health and Head of Children’s Hospital Westmead Clinical School

“Professor Baur's career has been defined by sustained and outstanding scientific research with associated clinical impact and by exemplary leadership at the University, at national and international levels.

"Her research field of human obesity, with a focus on children and young people, has been described as the health challenge of the current century. Professor Baur's research and advocacy tackle this extraordinary challenge with energy, determination, and courage.”

Professor Jennifer Byrne, Academic Lead, Sydney Medical School

Professor Phyllis Butow AM

Chair of Psychology, Co-Director, Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-Based Decision-Makingand Chair, Psycho-Oncology Co-Operative Research Group

“Professor Butow is sought after by both national and international academic and clinical researchers who thrive under her guidance, with many receiving prestigious research awards and advancing to senior roles in academia, clinical research, or community organisations.

"She is a great inspiration to all her former students who share an immense respect for her academic, teaching and mentorship qualities.”

Associate Professor Ilona Juraskova, Deputy Director, Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-Based Decision-Making, School of Psychology

Professor Stefan Williams

Head of School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

“Professor Williams brings out the best in people and bestows a level of care and excitement within his team that encourages drive and higher levels of achievement.

"His broad vision lifts people around him to a higher level and provides the guidance needed for training leaders of future generations.”

Professor Assaad Masri, ARC-Australian Professorial Fellow, School of Aerospace Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering

Professor Hala Zreiqat AM

Professor of Biomedical Engineering, NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering

“Professor Zreiqat is an outstanding member of the University of Sydney academic community.

"Her achievements certainly would put her in the top 10 percent of the professoriate at any major university.

"She has a prolific record of high impact publications and her expertise is reflected in her high levels of success in attracting peer-reviewed research funding.”

Professor John Hunt, Head of School, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health


The 2020 Payne-Scott Professors join the ranks of the 2019 and 2018 cohorts.

The Payne-Scott scholars will engage in activities throughout their five-year tenure to further the impact of the culture strategy.

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