PROFESSOR MAREE GLEESON

Professor Gleeson is the Director of the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), responsible for developing and implementing strategies to enhance health and medical research in the Hunter region and promoting the research undertaken by HMRI. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health, and the Hunter community.

Professor Gleeson was the Inaugural Director of Medical Research in the NSW Ministry for Science and Medical Research (2004 – 2006), where she was responsible for strategic planning for growth and innovation of medical research in NSW and funding of health and medical research programs of the NSW Government. She has previously held a number of leadership roles within the Hunter’s research sector, including Director of Immunology, Hunter Area Pathology (2002-2004).

Professor Gleeson is an Immunologist and conducts research with the University of Newcastle and the Australian Institute of Sport on the impact of respiratory infections in elite athletes. Other research focuses are the development of asthma and allergy in children and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

In addition to serving on a number of Federal and State Government scientific advisory committees, Professor Gleeson is a Member of the Board of Directors of Alzheimer’s Australia NSW and Research Australia.

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JEFF McMULLEN

"STRONG AND SMART"
In Jeff McMullen's experience, the essence of finding the balance in  health and work is education.

Drawing on his work with numerous remote Indigenous communities and  many urban programs  for all young Australians he shares some pathways to be 'strong and  smart'.  Inspired by leaders  he has met in many other countries Jeff is optimistic that Australian  can create one of the world's  most reasonable societies. Our effort must be based on the common  good, he says, and a willingness  for all communities to develop creative educational opportunities for  all age groups.

An ABC foreign correspondent for 20 years, a Four Corners and Sixty  Minutes reporter, Jeff returned  to ABC television last year for the 33 part issues series, "Difference  of Opinion". He is also the Honorary  CEO of Ian Thorpe's Fountain for Youth, developing early learning and literacy in remote Aboriginal  communities; a trustee of the Jimmy Little Foundation working on improving health care; and a director  of AIME which connects university undergraduates as mentors for high school students. 

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ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR RICK VAN DER ZWAN

Associate Professor Rick van der Zwan is a behavioural neuroscientist working with to understand the neural mechanisms mediating our perceptions of others and ourselves. He leads research projects in neuroscience, in applied mental health, in behaviour change strategies, and in healthy aging. He has an international reputation as a behavioural neuroscientist and vision researcher. Rick has authored more than 40 scholarly articles and numerous other reports and consultancies. He has edited an on-line Introductory Psych text and with his colleague Dr Anna Brooks is editing a text on Cognitive Neuroscience. He is co-director of a research lab supporting more than 10 postgraduate researchers and almost the same number of undergraduate students. Rick works also as Director of Research in Psychology at Southern Cross University and as a Priority Area Leader of an Australian Government supported national research network with more than 400 members. He speaks every week with regional ABC radio to make contemporary research and mental health issues accessible to the general public.

Rick van der Zwan obtained a BSc from the University of Sydney. Majoring in Psychology and Anatomy, he went on to achieve First Class Honours in Psychology. Rick then completed his PhD, also at the University of Sydney. His doctoral research led to his winning a postdoctoral appointment with Professor Esther Peterhans in the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital in Zurich. There Rick worked on monkey models of visual cortical processing with Professor Peterhans and Dr Rudi Baumann. In 1995 Rick was invited to replace his former supervisor Professor Wenderoth in the Department of Psychology at the University of Sydney. In 2001 he moved to James Cook University where he was Campus Coordinator and Head of Discipline on the Cairns campus. Rick moved to Southern Cross University in 2003 to lead the development of the research programme of the Department of Psychology and has set up the University's first research labs in Coffs Harbour. In 2008 he was appointed to the Rural Clinical School of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of NSW as a Conjoint Associate Professor.

Rick’s work in Behavioural Neuroscience focuses on the cortical mechanisms that mediate recognition of the actions of others; what others are doing, how they feel, who they are, and so on. Those studies now are being extended to non-human species to understand evolutionary contributions to brain functions and processing. In addition to the laboratory in Coffs Harbour, Rick shares projects with Professor Olaf Blanke, Head of the Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (a research programme led by Dr Anna Brooks), with Professor Karl Verfaillie of the Catholic University of Leuven, with Associate Professor Roberta Daini of the Universita Degli Studi de Milano-Bicocca, and with Professor Mel Goodale at the University of Western Ontario.

While passionate about his lab-coat, Associate Professor van der Zwan has extended his research into applied fields. In particular his research group is investigating strategies for treating spatial neglect following stroke and other head traumas and at mechanisms for reducing falls in those with Parkinson’s disease. With colleagues Anna Brooks and Lynn Davies he is investigating also the use of seclusion in mental health units. By working with the ABC he hopes to help to popularise and demystify the neurosciences and the brain for the general public. 

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JOHN MARSHALL

“When life seems unfair, you need to get up and get on with it.”

John Marshall embodies all the ideals of a police sergeant: strong, capable, reliable and above all, dedicated.

It is these qualities that have seen John recover and return to work with the NSW Police Service following a horrific motorcycle accident that left him a paraplegic.

Through his rehabilitation John discovered a passion for archery, a sport that requires all the attributes of a good police officer: accuracy, attention to detail, strength of mind and body, and a determination to succeed against the odds.

John’s dedication to archery was rewarded when he was selected to represent Australia at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, an experience he will never forget.

John has competed in the able-bodied National Archery Championships, winning gold as part of the NSW team.

John was a qualified and experienced scuba diver before his accident, and after returning to work requested a transfer to the NSW Police Diving Unit. He is now responsible for maintaining and servicing all police diving equipment, including two decompression chambers.

As an athlete proudly sponsored by WorkCover NSW, John is an excellent example of someone who against the odds and through the support of his family, friends, and employer was able to return to the career in which he is a valued and respected leader.