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College of Medicine and Dentistry Our College Dean’s Teaching Excellence Awards Winners

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Dean’s Teaching Excellence Awards Winners

Our goal in the College of Medicine and Dentistry (CMD) is to empower our students to succeed and also allow our teachers to thrive as educators. Our teachers are central to student success and it is clear from the many nominations received from year to year for the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence that the CMD is rich with ideas and innovations and that we’re passionate about teaching.

Receiving a CMD Learning and Teaching award is an esteemed accomplishment. Please consider nominating a colleague who you believe meets one of the following criteria:

We wish to acknowledge the expertise, passion and focus on student success that exists across the CMD community.

Be inspired by some of our amazing staff:

Clara Jo

Awarded for Promotion of, and advocacy for, improvement of learning and teaching.

Clara is the Year 5 Coordinator for the Dentistry program.

“Clara has always provided student-centered, evidence-based pedagogy foremost in her work and has embarked on a role within the dental school which is hard to perceive as being possible by just one person!”

“The students have expressed their appreciation of Clara’s work and acknowledge her advocacy on their behalf to improve not only the individual experience that students have at JCU, but for the dental school as a whole and the team that work within”

“Clara has tirelessly advocated for improvements and innovation at a time where challenges are being experienced on all levels and has tackled problems with solution-based strategies with optimism”


Lauren Finlay

Awarded for Commitment to, enthusiasm and passion for, learning and teaching.

Lauren is a Senior Lecturer in the College of Medicine and Dentistry, teaching into the Year 4 medical program in Cairns.

“Lauren teaches with a great deal of enthusiasm and energy, demonstrating her passion for ensuring that students are equipped with the knowledge to serve as a strong foundation for their clinical placements in years 5 & 6”

“Her enthusiasm and commitment to finding the best way to deliver the program to the students has led to a number of changes and improvements in delivery and materials and will leave a lasting impact on the program”

“Lauren has adapted her teaching style to suit different types of learners, and tailors her teaching to suit individual needs to create a safe and positive learning environment for the students”


Anura Ariyawardana

Awarded for commitment to, enthusiasm and passion for, learning and teaching

Anura is a Senior Lecturer in Oral Medicine and Oral Pathology within the College of Medicine and Dentistry, Cairns.

“Anura’s enthusiasm and commitment to learning and teaching in Dentistry has been outstanding and sustained. Both in his former role of Senior Lecturer and his current position of Adjunct, Anura makes a significant contribution to the quality and reputation of the Bachelor of Dental Surgery program at JCU.

“Since becoming an Adjunct staff member, Anura has contributed to providing high quality teaching into the program, contributes to clinical examinations and publishes with students whose Year 4 projects he has supervised”


Joint award for Poornima Roche and Gill Dewar.

Jointly awarded for their Commitment to, enthusiasm and passion for, learning and teaching.

Poornima and Gill hold the position of Senior Lecturers-Clinical Skills within the College of Medicine & Dentistry and they teach into the Year 4 medical program in Townsville. Poornima is also the Academic Coordinator – Curriculum.

“Both Poornima and Gill have led the integration of case-based teaching of basic and clinical science in solving clinical problems. This enforces a deeper scientific understanding of disease process improving student’s clinical performance”

“Both ladies have introduced a constant feedback system from all clinical and basic science staff in improving the teaching, taking input from students and clinical staff”

“They are the silent workers with great commitment to teaching and supporting students.”


Sharron Long

Awarded for Commitment to, enthusiasm and passion for, learning and teaching.

Sharron is the Laboratory and Clinical Support Advisor in Dentistry

“Sharron is the underdog of the pre-clinical years; she goes above and beyond the responsibilities of her role. Though she undoubtedly has many other commitments, Sharon puts aside time from her day to give students opportunities to solidify their knowledge”

“During the pandemic Sharron has taken it upon herself to go above and beyond to help dental students reach their academic goals, by organizing sessions outside of the normal academic calendar to ensure the students can be prepared for their upcoming practical exams. Her teaching is engaging, involves intellectual discussions and she always guides students in finding the answers for themselves”


Sue Gorton

Awarded for Commitment to, enthusiasm and passion for, learning and teaching.

Sue is a Senior Lecturer and Academic Coordinator for Paediatrics within the College

“Hard work and dedication are the bedrock of every great achievement. Dr Sue Gorton’s commitment to teaching is outstanding. She is dedicated to quality teaching and assessment and highly supportive of students’ learning”

“The strength of Sue’s achievement is rooted in the depth of her passion and her can-do attitude, even more so behind the scenes without blowing her horn. This has a positive impact on student learning”

A/Prof Bunmi Malau-Aduli
Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching

Andy Gavan and Mitch Russell

Awarded for Creativity and innovation in traditional or technology-based learning environments.

Andy is the Team Leader of Laboratories and Technical Support for MedTech. Mitch is a Technical Support Advisor for MedTech.

“In December 2020 and January 2021 our selection team carried out the single largest Zoom endeavor in JCU’s history, which accounted for approximately 10% of the total average Zoom usage, in redesigning our selection interview processes in 2020 in response to Covid-19. Andy Gavan and Mitch Russell were integral parts of that team and in fact, we would not have been successful without their support.”

“Whilst this was a team effort, the skills, knowledge, commitment and dedication shown by Mitch and Andy, in particular, was a testament to the success we had.”


Dr Amar Sholapurkar

Awarded for Commitment to, enthusiasm and passion for, learning and teaching.

Amar is a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Dentistry and Oral Radiology and Discipline Lead of Oral Radiology within the College of Medicine and Dentistry, Cairns.

"Dr. Amar has single-handedly reconstructed the subject, 'dental radiology' at JCU. We the present JCU dental students are very fortunate to receive an “Extraoral Radiography license” upon our graduation. This was only accomplished by the hard efforts, initiative and dedication of Dr. Amar. He took an initiative and received accreditation from the Queensland Radiation Health Brisbane for JCU’s "Extraoral Radiography Licensing Course". This was a revolutionary change to the JCU dental curriculum. The accreditation of this course has meant that JCU dental students can obtain their Extraoral Radiography License (under the supervision of Dr. Amar) and therefore, no external courses would be necessary (for JCU students) after graduation in order to obtain this ".

"Dr Amar is incredibly knowledgeable and this is evident when he was teaching us about OPGs and Lateral cephalometric radiographs". "Excellent lectures and excellent student communication. Very quick email response and very helpful".


Deanne Cassidy

Awarded for Commitment to, enthusiasm and passion for, learning and teaching.

With her position as a Clinical Skills Lecturer / Medical Education for the MBBS program within the College of Medicine and Dentistry,

“Deanne has been an integral member of the colleges’ clinical skills department for numerous years, providing high quality clinical teaching with a signature vibrancy that is impossible to ignore. Dee has taken on a myriad of roles during her time within the department, but arguably the most effectual and longstanding of this is her mentoring of our first year medical students.

“Dee empowers students to take control of their own learning by offering a range of learning opportunities that are engaging and enjoyable while also being educational. Her dedication to making the learning experience fun is truly beyond the level that is required and makes her an exceptional educator.”

“Deanne’s clearly infectious joy in her teaching is transcribed into the work she delivers in every single workshop or clinical interaction she is a part of. Her clear advocacy for lifelong learning, coupled with her impressive clinical career, positions her as an ideal mentor for students and colleagues alike – I have been fortunate enough to receive this mentoring and can only strive to instill the same clear love for learning as I begin my career.”


Dr Dileep Sharma

Awarded for Mentoring of students and/or other educators.

Dileep is a Senior Lecturer in Periodontics with the College of Medicine and Dentistry teaching into the year 4 program in Dentistry.

“Dr Dileep Sharma has been involved in coordinating and leading the undergraduate research stream activities since he joined James Cook University (JCU) in 2016. He has been instrumental in introducing various enhancements within the research stream that form an integral part of year 4 program in Dentistry.”

“Passion for research is at the heart of all the activities that Dileep is involved with, at both undergraduate and postgraduate (Honours) research. I have been involved, as a secondary advisor, with most of the Honours students and I see Dileep as an excellent mentor and ambassador for championing research in the field of Dentistry at JCU”

“Dileep is also the main organizer for the annual JCU Dentistry Clinical Day, a full day Continuing professional Development day attended by 200+ dental professionals in the North Queensland region. The highlight of the day is year 4 student research poster and podium presentations that have been well received and acknowledged as the event to showcase the student research projects within Dentistry.”


Dr Aileen Traves

Awarded for Mentoring of students and/or other educators.

Aileen is a Senior Lecturer who coordinates the year 5 GP term in Cairns amongst other responsibilities.

“Aileen has played a central role in the growth and development of the Cairns Clinical School. One of the ways that she has assisted with its growth is by her mentoring of the academic and professional staff to ensure that there is a consistent quality learning experience for the students. This has also had the additional benefit of providing a quality working experience for academic and professional staff members. Aileen’s significant influence is due to her passion for quality teaching and her level of care for staff and students.”

“She is dedicated and willing to take the time to work with tutors who have an interest in medical education and has spent countless hours outside of her standard working hours to provide this mentorship. Our students receive a much better-quality education because of the time Aileen has put in working with the junior medical educators. This dedication is also shown in her work with the professional and technical staff. Her relationships with all staff are a true exemplar of how a team should work together. Aileen is an excellent mentor to students, academic and professional staff and I believe is very deserving of recognition for her contributions.”

“If Aileen is representative of the quality of staff in the Cairns Clinical School, then we have a right to be very proud of our team.”


Associate Professor John Smithson

Awarded for Promotion of, and advocacy for, improvement of learning and teaching AND Commitment to, enthusiasm and passion for, learning and teaching.

“Assoc Prof Smithson has been working relentlessly to promote, advocate and improve pharmacy learning and teaching. He leads the way by example, has successfully led to offer pharmacy program in two additional campuses (Cairns and Mackay). The innovative approaches in teaching and learning enabled Prof Smithson and his team to successfully commence the new pharmacy program.”

“John puts his heart and soul into teaching, inspiring and encouraging the future of the pharmacy profession- his students. His effort, dedication and determination to nurture, shape and teach his students is so evident through the amount of work that he not only puts into his lectures, but also tutorials/GLS’s, assessments and practical activities.”


Congratulations to the 2021 award recipients once again, this is a small token of our appreciation for your efforts. I also recognise and thank all CMD staff for their continued and relentless efforts in providing CMD students with a safe and engaging learning environment.

A/Prof Bunmi Malau-Aduli
Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching