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Media are invited to attend the graduation ceremonies. There will be a media meeting point outside University Hall. Please arrive at least 45 minutes prior to the ceremony. Contact the UOW Media Office with any specific interview requests.

India Glyde, Media and Public Relations Coordinator, T: +61 428 082 977 | E:
UOW Media Office, T: +61 2 4221 4227 | E:

Research achievements in the spotlight at graduation

Students from three faculties celebrate end of their studies

Hundreds of students will bid farewell to their time at the University of Wollongong this week during a day of spring graduation celebrations tomorrow (Wednesday 31 October).

Undergraduate and postgraduate students from three faculties – Law, Humanities and the Arts; Social Sciences; and Science, Medicine and Health – will don their caps and gowns across two ceremonies.

The ceremonies will recognise the outstanding achievements and personal triumphs of students from a range of academic fields, including law, creative arts, psychology, education, nursing, and medicine.

The University’s outstanding higher degree research will be in the spotlight this week, with more than 45 students receiving doctorates.

Five human geography students from the Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space will graduate together, after all beginning their PhDs around the same time more than four years ago. These students – Dr Chantel Carr, Dr Shaun McKeirnan, Dr Elyse Staynes, Dr Susannah Clement, and Dr Charles Gillon – have studied a range of fascinating subjects that reflect how people interact with their culture and environment, including the concept of fast fashion, invasive weeds in the Bega Valley region, and the impact of erosion on coastal communities.

Dr Robert Sawyer has completed his PhD into the impact of fire on carbon stocks on forest soil, which examines the impact of climate change and fires on carbon sequestration. The research has strong personal significance for Dr Sawyer, a former volunteer firefighter who was involved in a deadly fire incident in the early 1980s that left him with severe burns and physical disabilities, and killed several of his fellow firefighters.

Dr Bridget Dougherty, from the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry, will celebrate the end of her PhD, which examines the concept of love in contemporary culture. Her research found that romantic love, as we know it, is destined to fail, and instead, relationships should be based on ‘confluent love’. It has been a long journey to graduation for Dr Dougherty, whose husband passed away 10 years ago, just as she was beginning her research.

Dr Esther Davis, from the School of Psychology, focused on how we can provide better care for those at the end of their lives. Her research examined how to provide adequate support for people with a terminal illness, and their family and friends. Dr Davis’s PhD provides a roadmap as to how we can change the way we approach and talk about death.

Among the undergraduate cohort, Cleo Patrizi, from the School of Law, is celebrating the culmination of her Bachelor of Laws (Honours). Passionate about social justice, Cleo has spent the past three months volunteering for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency in Katherine, Northern Territory.

Jack Simmons, who is graduating with an International Bachelor of Science, majoring in Chemistry, has spent much of his time at UOW giving back to local high school students as a science mentor. Last year, Jack spent two months aboard the CSIRO Investigator research vessel as it voyaged to Antarctica. He conducted research on behalf of the Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry at UOW, a rare experience for an undergraduate student.

Since its foundation, UOW has awarded more than 140,000 degrees and diplomas.