A leading Academy Fellow has been honoured for achievements spanning multiple decades, fields of study and sectors.
Professor Emeritus Doreen Thomas, a Board Director and chair of the Academy’s Education Forum, was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women on 8 March – International Women’s Day.
The Honour Roll acknowledges and celebrates the achievements of women in Victoria. Inductees come from all walks of life and have demonstrated inspirational leadership and excellence.
The Victorian Minister for Women, Gabrielle Williams, said of this year’s 21 inductees: “Too often we fail to recognise the achievements and contributions of women. But, we know there is no gender equality without women’s leadership. So, we must continue to raise the profile of extraordinary Victorian women.”
Professor Thomas was awarded in the trailblazer category, with a citation that noted: “Doreen’s long and distinguished career has been inspirational for other women in mathematics and science.
“She has made significant contributions to knowledge with real-world impact, promoted the next generation of women in STEM disciplines, and taught mathematics to generations of engineering students.”
Her career at the University of Melbourne has lasted more than 40 years. In 2006, she was appointed the university’s first female professor in engineering.
She was the first woman at the university to become head of each of the departments she led (Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering), and the first woman in Victoria to become head of two different university departments.
In 2017, she became the inaugural Head of School of Electrical, Mechanical and Infrastructure Engineering.
Professor Thomas applied her mathematical research to software for underground mine tunnel design, reducing development time and haulage costs while optimising usage.
This software has been licensed to some of the world’s largest mining companies and she subsequently directed a start-up company to commercialise it.
Professor Thomas is also a powerful advocate for women in engineering and mathematics.
At the University of Melbourne, she helped create nine research fellowships to launch and accelerate the careers of female engineering academics.