17 September 2003

Air Vice-Marshal Julie Hammer CSC has been named The University of Queensland’s 12th Alumnus of the Year.

The Alumnus of the Year award honours University graduates who have achieved excellence in their chosen fields and have acquired outstanding reputations among their peers. Previous winners include Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty and Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush.

AVM Hammer received her award at the 2003 Courting the Greats Luncheon held at Customs House today Wednesday, September 17, and hosted by UQ Chancellor Sir Llew Edwards.

In addition to The Alumni Association of The University of Queensland Inc.’s Alumnus of the Year award, the University’s Development Office presented a Young Alumnus of the Year award to recognise the achievements of a graduate aged under 35.

The 2003 Young Alumnus of the Year is Dr Dhugal Lindsay, a marine scientist based in Yokosuka, Knagawa Prefecture, Japan.

An electronics engineer in the Royal Australian Air Force, AVM Hammer holds a Bachelor of Science with honours in physics (1976) from the University. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Aerosystems Engineering and a Graduate Diploma in Strategic Studies. Joining the Air Force in 1977, she has served in the fields of aircraft maintenance, technical intelligence, electronic warfare, and command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) systems acquisition and support. Up until her promotion to Air Vice-Marshal in August 2003, she was also Commandant of the Australian Defence Force Academy.

She said she was both astounded and deeply honoured to be chosen as UQ’s 2003 Alumnus of the Year. “I consider this award to be enormously significant not only to me personally, but also as tangible recognition of achievement by women in non-traditional fields. I hope that this award might encourage young women to consider careers in engineering and the physical sciences, in the military, or even better, in both,” she said.

She thanked her parents, Colin and Shirley Hammer, for always encouraging her along a road to success: “They believed girls should have as much opportunity for education as boys and went without comforts themselves to enable their daughters to pursue university educations.”

One of the first women to join the Air Force after some non-traditional roles were opened to women, AVM Hammer has blazed a pioneering trail and become accustomed to many “firsts” in her life and career. In 1985, she was the first female engineer promoted to Squadron Leader and in 1992, the first woman to command an operational unit in the RAAF, the Electronic Warfare Squadron, being awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) for that command. She was the first woman in the RAAF to become a member of the General List on promotion to Group Captain in 1996, and the first serving woman in the history of the Australian Defence Force to be promoted to One Star level, on promotion to Air Commodore in 1999.

She said she counted UQ’s beautiful parklands and playing fields, its stately sandstone buildings and lush lawns of the Great Court as among her most treasured memories of studying at the University.

“I did not realise until after I had graduated that other universities were frequently concrete jungles,” she said.

“The privilege of very small classes in the physics honours stream, the energy of highly motivated lecturers with passion for their subjects and knowing that I am a graduate of one of Australia’s finest universities are other major highlights of my time at UQ.”

She said future plans included influencing and contributing to Defence’s development of its information management capability in her new position as Deputy Chief Information Officer, continuing her work with Engineers Australia as an active Board Member of the Centre for Engineering Leadership and Management as well as maintaining her role as a visible mentor and role model for young women in the military and in engineering.

Career highlights to date included: commanding an operational unit (the Electronic Warfare Squadron); heading up one of the southern hemisphere’s largest IT&T service delivery organisations (for the Department of Defence); and being a role model for the 800 midshipmen and officer cadets at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

Personal highlights included marriage to David Dunlop three years ago, meeting Nelson Mandela when she was one of just 35 participants in the What Makes a Champion? conference, and bungy-jumping from a bridge at Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls in 1999.

Dr Lindsay, who holds a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts (1992) from UQ, received his PhD in aquatic biology from the University of Tokyo (1998). He is a research scientist with the Japan Marine Science & Technology Centre (JAMSTEC), Japan’s premier oceanographic research station.

Dr Lindsay has become a leader in developing new methodologies associated with state-of-the-art manned submersibles and remotely operated vehicles. He has been successful in studying the animals that inhabit the deep sea and in developing a greater understanding of the ecology of deep-sea communities. His research focuses on mid-water ecology, particularly concentrating on gelatinous organisms that are too fragile to be sampled by conventional methods.

“I have always felt drawn to the Sea and its myriad life forms, for as long as I can remember. It is almost as if it were imprinted on my soul as I entered this world. Looking to Japan, an ocean nation like Australia but even more dependent on and linked to the Sea, I saw an opportunity to grasp,” he said.

Multi-talented, Dr Lindsay is also one of Japan’s most accomplished and celebrated young haiku poets. Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry, well known in the west in translation. However, Dr Lindsay’s achievement is to be a prize-winning poet in the Japanese language. Dr Lindsay is the first non-Japanese writer to win the annual Nakaniida Grand Haiku Prize. His first published collection of 290 haiku poems, Mutsugoro (The Mudskipper), contained a deep understanding of haiku’s main themes of nature and the seasons.

Media: For a list of AVM Hammer’s other awards and memberships, please visit: www.alumni.uq.edu.au/index.html?id=11435&pid=273, and for further information, contact Lynne Norris at The Alumni Association of The University of Queensland Inc. (telephone 07 3365 1561, email: alumni@uq.edu.au), Keiran Hargreaves at UQ’s Development Office (telephone 07 3346 3900, email: k.hargreaves@development.uq.edu.au) or Jan King at UQ Communications (telephone 07 3365 1120, email: j.king@uq.edu.au).