Research excellence celebrated with the announcement of six Distinguished Professors

Distinguished Professors with Professor SweeneyNewly appointed Distinguished Professors with members of the existing cohort at the University’s annual Professorial Dinner. They are pictured here with Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Research, Enterprise and International) Professor Deborah Sweeney.

The excellence of a world-leading cohort of Western Sydney University researchers was celebrated last night with the announcement of four Distinguished Professors and two Distinguished Professors, International Engagement.

The title – the highest Western Sydney University honour awarded to academics based on international influence, intellectual leadership, a commitment to excellence, and impact – was presented by Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover AO at the University’s annual Professoriate Dinner.

“Universities are only as good as their people and at Western our people are exceptional. It is their work and dedication to excellence, change-making and innovation that underpin our University’s outstanding success and global recognition, which, this year, includes being named number one in the world in the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking for our contribution to delivering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” said Professor Glover.

“I am delighted to announce four new Distinguished Professors, adding to an already stellar cohort, as well as the bestowal of the title of Distinguished Professor, International Engagement on two worthy recipients who have been integral to the development of vital international partnerships and collaborations. Each of these members of the professoriate is held in the highest esteem and it is an honour to celebrate and recognise their significant achievements.”

The four new Distinguished Professors are (full bios via link):

  • Professor Kathryn Holmes(opens in a new window):  Professor Kath Holmes’ research focuses on student educational and career aspirations, gender equity, STEM education, and student wellbeing. She has been integral to the development of key University initiatives, including the STEM Decadal Plan and in her former leadership role as Research Theme Champion for Education and Work.
  • Professor Brajesh Singh(opens in a new window): Professor Brajesh Singh from the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment is an internationally recognised expert in the field of functional ecology and soil biology. His applied research results contribute to increased farm productivity, sustainable development, environmental protection and food security.
  • Professor Anthony Uhlmann(opens in a new window): Professor Anthony Uhlmann, from the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, is a world-renowned expert in the cognate areas of contemporary and modernist literature. He is recognised as an outstanding and accomplished leader in his field, boasting multiple monographs and collections published by leading international presses, Cambridge University Press among them.
  • Professor Ian Wright(opens in a new window): Professor Ian Wright, from the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, is a world leader in global analyses of plant functional traits, trait-environment interactions, and deriving general narratives of plant function from twinning optimality theory with big data. As a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre for Plant Success in Nature & Agriculture, Professor Wright focuses on understanding adaptations to heat and water stress within the Australian flora, including in crop wild relatives.

The two new Distinguished Professors, International Engagement are (full bios via link):

  • Professor Basant Maheshwari(opens in a new window): Professor Maheshwari has developed solutions to the global challenges of delivering safe water to communities around the world. His Managing Groundwater Use and Aquifer Recharge through Village-level Intervention, or MARVI program has improved the security of irrigation water supplies and enhanced livelihoods across rural communities in India and Africa. MARVI transforms local villagers, including training local groundwater champions, delivering effective surface and groundwater management.
  • Professor Peter Reich(opens in a new window): Professor Peter Reich was Chief Scientist at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University from 2011 to 2021. His expertise as scientific advisor and mentor to HIE at its earliest stages of development helped shape one of Western’s most internationally renowned research Institutes.


4 August 2022

Media Unit.