UQ honorary doctorate for conservationist Terri Irwin
Conservation advocate Terri Irwin recently received an honorary doctorate recognising more than a decade of support for high-quality science at the University of Queensland.
UQ Chancellor John Story conferred the award of Doctor of Science honoris causa during the university’s July graduations.
More than 4300 students are graduating from UQ this season, joining more than 225,000 alumni in over 170 countries.
UQ Provost and Senior Vice-President Professor Max Lu said Mrs Irwin provided opportunities to UQ PhD candidates, Study Abroad students, senior researchers and honours students through her role as owner-operator of Australia Zoo, its wildlife hospital, and three Queensland properties.
“Mrs Irwin has granted UQ students and staff access to physical, intellectual and financial resources that would otherwise be beyond their reach,” Professor Lu said.
Mrs Irwin’s contributions to public understanding of wildlife and wild places have added to the evidence-base for improved environmental management. Her work with saltwater crocodiles has dominated her public image, but her efforts encompass a wide range of species, including koalas and sea turtles.
“Australia Zoo has partnered UQ in three Australian Research Council Linkage projects, and Mrs Irwin has co-authored two peer-reviewed scientific papers and is currently a co-investigator on a Linkage project,” Professor Lu said.
“Since 2009 she has supported the annual Steve Irwin Memorial Lecture, one of the Faculty of Science’s most popular public lectures.
“Moreover, through her unique role in the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve on Cape York Peninsula, Mrs Irwin enables researchers and students to continue the world’s largest crocodile tracking program.”
“While it is estimated that Australia Zoo’s investment in UQ research equates to more than $3 million over the past decade, the profile that the relationship delivers is of incalculable worth.”
Annually, Sunshine Coast landmark Australia Zoo attracts about 700,000 visitors—25 percent of them international—who can learn about the UQ links, and occasionally hear guest lectures from academics and postgraduate students.
Mrs Irwin was made an Honorary Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for her outstanding dedication to wildlife conservation and the tourism industry.
She has industry laurels including a Queensland Telstra Business Women award and a Marie Watson-Blake Award for outstanding contribution to Queensland tourism.
Mrs Irwin is also an Honorary Senior Fellow of the University of the Sunshine Coast.