2022 Award Citations

Chris Wallace Research Award

The Chris Wallace Research award is presented to an academic for post-PhD research undertaken within a university or research institution in Australia or New Zealand. The program of research should constitute a notable contribution of particular significance to the field.

This year's award goes to Dr Nengkun Yu from UTS.

Dr Yu has made groundbreaking contributions to quantum learning theory, quantum program verification and debugging, as evidenced by several publications in high quality conferences such as LICS, PLDI, STOC, and journals such as IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. Notably, his article on `Quantum Abstract Interpretation’ received an ACM SIGPLAN Distinguished Paper Award for partially resolving the scalability problem of quantum programming verification. In addition, Nengkun’s work on ‘Sample-optimal Tomography of Quantum States’ closed a gap between lower and upper bounds for quantum tomography, and was celebrated as a breakthrough result by eminent scientists in physics and computing. 

John Makepeace Bennett Award 

The John Makepeace Bennet award is made for the "best" PhD thesis in our field, finalised during the year. This award was renamed the "John Makepeace Bennett Award" in 2011 in recognition of his enormous contribution to the field. 

This year's John Makepeace Bennett Award for best PhD goes to Dr Natasha Fernandes from Macquarie University for a thesis entitled “Differential Privacy for Metric Spaces: Information-Theoretic Models for Privacy and Utility with New Applications to Metric Domains”.

Dr Fernandes' thesis on metric differential privacy contributes both theoretical and applied results on parameter selection, comparing privacy mechanisms, inference attacks and optimality.  The thesis organisation is exceptional in the thought put into the narrative for foundations, analysis, and applications of the research contributions.

The panel found the examiners' comments on originality and innovation compelling, in observing that the thesis showed a remarkable level of sophistication and improve[s] considerably over the state of the art, and noting its significance and scale. The panel was impressed by the range and depth of her results. Her approach based on Quantitative Information Flow, and on a new application of geometric ideas in the data privacy setting, allowed for a unified framework for privacy, utility and attacks and new insights for comparing privacy mechanisms. The panel felt that the optimality result of the Laplacian mechanism, and the techniques she had to develop to prove it, are particularly impactful.  The thesis is also exceptionally well presented, not only mathematically rigorous but also enjoyable to read.

CORE Teaching Award

The CORE Teaching Award recognises the importance of providing high quality teaching for undergraduate and postgraduate students in Computing. The award is for an outstanding contribution to teaching, or an exemplary innovation in teaching by a team or an individual and specifically recognises the ability to arouse students’ curiosity, interest, creative endeavour and enthusiasm for computing.

This year's CORE Teaching Award goes to Dr David Chen from Griffith University.

Dr Chen is a passionate educator with a strong focus on evidence-based pedagogical approaches. His course and tool design focus has been on significantly improving student engagement and on removing technological barriers in learning how to program and develop complex software systems. David leads by example and facilitates reflection of others in their teaching practices. He implements innovative practices, tools, and teaching strategies towards significant improvements in positive student attitudes, self-efficacy, performance and experience in programming courses.

John Hughes Distinguished Service Award

The John Hughes award recognises Outstanding Service in the IT community.

This year's John Hughes Distinguished Service Award goes to Steve MacDonell from Auckland University of Technology.

Professor MacDonell has made notable contributions through leadership in education and research and through CORE, ITP and other bodies that are essential to the quality of education, research and professionalism in computing in New Zealand and Australia. He helped establish the foundations of software engineering research as a discipline in New Zealand, being a founding member and deputy chair of Software Innovation New Zealand, contributing to the professional and educational foundations of software engineering through his own research and teaching, and helping define its internationally regarded body of knowledge, SWEBOK. He has lobbied for and provided policy in government circles for funding computing research, and co-led a CORE submission on challenges to ICT funding in Australian and New Zealand. 

He has been instrumental in establishing professional accreditation for IT education programs in New Zealand as founding chair of the accreditation board of ITP professionals. He has been a significant worker on the CORE ranking of conferences and journals, with benefit to the standing of the disciplines of computing and information systems academics and researchers and their home universities, across Australia and New Zealand.