Alumni News Articles


29 October 2013

Premier Lara Giddings has congratulated the 2014 Tasmanian Australian of the Year Award recipients at a special awards ceremony at Frogmore Creek this evening.

Food Microbiologist, Prof Thomas McMeekin AO, 69 years old of Taroona, has been named Tasmanian Australian of the Year 2014.  Acknowledged as one of the world’s leading food microbiologists, his expertise has established new systems of improving food safety around the world. 

Prof Thomas McMeekin pioneered the development of predictive microbiology and established the University of Tasmania as the world leader in predictive modelling of microbial behaviour in foods. 

The founding father of the world-renowned Food Safety Centre at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture in Hobart, Tom was also involved in the development of a refrigeration index for the meat industry which is now mandated by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.

Tom has contributed to more than 200 publications, and was the author of the influential monograph Predictive Microbiology: theory and application

After coming to Australia from Northern Ireland in 1974, the McMeekins intended to stay for only three years.  Their decision to make Australia their home has enriched our reputation as a global leader, not only in the field of microbiology, but also in science innovation, research and education.

Dr Christina Henri, 64 years old of Kingston, has been awarded Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year 2014 for her work as an artist.

Conceptual artist Dr Christina Henri is taking Australia’s female convict story to the world.  After visiting the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site in South Hobart in 2003, Christina was captivated by the plight of convict women and their children.

Christina’s Roses from the Heart project is the first memorial to the 25,566 women sentenced as convicts and transported to Australia from 1788 to 1853. Christina invites people from around the world to make and contribute a servant’s bonnet to symbolise the life of each convict woman.

So far, Christina has received more than 23,000 bonnets for what will eventually become a permanent memorial in Tasmania. 

Christina holds regular public events and performances world-wide such as ‘Blessing of the Bonnets’ ceremonies and talks for community groups and students to highlight the female convict story. 

Christina completed her PhD in visual and performing arts in 2011, and has been the honorary artist in residence at the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site since 2003.

Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year 2014, is 28 year old medical researcher, Dr Clare Smith from Hobart.

Dr Clare Smith is playing a critical role in the eradication of a disease which affects millions of people around the globe each year.  Malaria, the mosquito-borne infectious disease, kills almost a million people every year – most of them children under the age of five.  

A PhD graduate and medical researcher from the Menzies Research Institute, Clare used genetic and pharmacological techniques to investigate the role of host enzymes in malarial infection. 

Clare’s innovative thinking, willingness to take risks, enthusiasm and hard work has paid off – she has become an international leader in research into malaria, through her discovery of a new antimalarial compound. 

This novel approach may avoid the rapid development of resistance common to the current generation of antimalarial drugs. 

Clare’s discovery will have an immense global impact, with clinical trials on the patented research now underway.  If they are successful, the trials will cement Clare’s critical role in saving the lives of millions of vulnerable people in third world countries.

Mark Linfoot, 59 years old of Eaglehawk Neck, has been awarded Tasmanian Local Hero 2014 for his tireless work as a volunteer fire brigade chief.

Mark Linfoot lost his wife of 35 years after she suffered a heart attack in the early hours of Boxing Day 2012.  Nine days later, the volunteer fire brigade chief from Eaglehawk Neck was fighting to save his community from the catastrophic bushfires that decimated parts of south-eastern Tasmania. 

Mark had stood down from his position while he tried to come to terms with his loss, but nature had other ideas. 

His brigade received its first call at Charmaine’s wake on 3 January to attend a blaze at Stormlea.  The following day the Forcett fire exploded only a few kilometres from Eaglehawk Neck. 

The crew of 11 fought the fires 18 hours a day for the next 10 days.  Mark is an exceptional example of a ‘quiet achiever’ who rolled up his sleeves and worked hard to help his community, despite his own grief.  Mark believes his wife would have wanted him to battle the blaze.

The Tasmanian award recipients will join recipients from the other States and Territories as finalists for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2014 in Canberra. 

National Australia Day Council CEO, Jeremy Lasek, said the Tasmanian award recipients were great Australians of which we can be very proud.

“The Tasmanian award recipients show the true diversity of the talents of Tasmanians. The awards acknowledge all of the work the recipients do from working at a local level to keep communities safe, recognising our history through art, through to world leading scientists,” said Mr Lasek.

“These talented individuals will do Tasmania proud by representing their state at the national awards on 25 January.”

The Commonwealth Bank has been the major sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards for more than 30 years. Chief Executive Officer Ian Narev congratulated the Tasmanian award recipients.

“The Commonwealth Bank is proud to recognise your outstanding achievements. Congratulations on becoming national finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards - you should all be very proud,” said Mr Narev.

“We are pleased to be able to celebrate and acknowledge your ongoing dedication to building a better country for us all.”

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit

Media contact: Zannie Abbott 0418 274 291 or Nicole Browne on 0414 673 762

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