Media contact

Bonnie Gardiner
Division of Philanthropy
02 8936 4749

The awards are a highlight of UNSW’s annual calendar and celebrate the incredible achievements of outstanding alumni who are utilising their education to help transform communities and improve the lives of others.

The night will recognise pioneering medical and engineering minds, human rights advocates, stars of sport and film, leaders of urban innovation, as well as champions of diversity in business, art and STEM. In addition to the 2019 winners, UNSW will welcome Lucy Turnbull AO to the event to collect her 2018 Alumni Award in the ‘Design & Architecture’ category, which she was unable to accept in person last year.

UNSW Chancellor David Gonski AC said the Alumni Awards honour the incredible achievements of the University’s growing alumni community.

“It gives us great pleasure to see our graduates going from strength to strength in their personal and professional endeavours, and I am enormously proud of the difference our alumni have made and are making to the lives of people here in Australia and around the world.”

Rebel Wilson, who completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws with UNSW in 2009, will receive the Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional Alumni Achievement.

The well-known entertainer has regularly shared praise of UNSW and the education she received. In May 2018, Ms Wilson wore a UNSW branded t-shirt to a US College Signing Day hosted by Michelle Obama to celebrate the pursuit of a university education. In addition, earlier this year Ms Wilson spoke publicly on how she applied the learnings from her Law degree to successfully negotiate with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to change the rating of her upcoming film, The Hustle.

The Alumni Awards will also celebrate award-winner Professor Yang Qixun, pioneering electrical engineer and UNSW’s first ever Chinese student. Professor Yang was among the first batch of 200 students selected by the Chinese Government to study overseas following China’s Reform and Opening Up Policy in 1978.

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said with an alumni network now exceeding 300,000 people from 137 different countries, it was not surprising that there were so many outstanding nominations this year.

“The 2019 Alumni Award recipients represent the best of UNSW, embodying the values which we strive to instil in all of our graduates – creativity, ingenuity, and a commitment to a just society.

“As Australia’s global university, we are proud to honour our diverse alumni, so many of whom have gone on to become leaders in their fields. It is always a thrill to learn how they are making a positive impact on the world and to celebrate that success.”

Each year UNSW staff, students and the broader community are invited to nominate star graduates for one of the 11 awards categories. Running since 1972, the Alumni Awards represent an important tradition for UNSW, with previous winners including Turia Pitt, Del Kathryn Barton, Shemara Wikramanayake, Mike Cannon-Brookes, and Scott Farquhar.

The awards will be held at the Kensington campus on Tuesday May 28 and jointly hosted by Professor Jacobs and Mr Gonski.

2019 UNSW Alumni Awards winners



Degree Aff

Available for interview

Chancellor's Award for Exceptional Alumni Achievement

Rebel Wilson

BA 2009, LLB 2009


Art & Culture

Khaled Sabsabi

MArt 2005



Dr Jennifer Westacott AO

BA 1982, HonDLitt 2017


Design & Architecture

Jacinta McCann

BLArch 1981



Professor Fariba Dehghani

PhD (Chemical Eng) 1997


Professor Yang Qixun

PhD (Electrical Eng) 1982


Medicine & Health

Associate Professor Kelvin Kong

BSc (Med) MB BS 1999


Science & Technology

Dr Edith Chow

BSc 2002, PhD (Chemistry) 2006

Yes (print media only)

Social Impact & Public Policy

Dr Simon Adams

BA 1994, PhD (History) 1998


Sports & Sports Administration

Prue Watt OAM

BSc 2017


Young Alumni

Associate Professor Eric Chow

MPH 2012, PhD (Medicine) 2014


Student Volunteer

Ke Sun

BMed/MD - current student


Brody Smith

BE (Mechatronics/Biomedical) - current student