KING'S BIRTHDAY HONOUREE

Professor Ross Coppel » AO Vic

An Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to science as a microbiologist, to tertiary education, to board and advisory roles, and to innovation.

Professor Ross Coppel
Professor Ross Coppel

Professor Ross Coppel has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to science as a microbiologist, to tertiary education, to board and advisory roles, and to innovation.

He has been Professor of Microbiology at Monash University since 1994 and is the named inventor of 10 patents for inventions in malaria, primary biliary cirrhosis and novel antibiotics.

Coppel, author and co-author of over 500 scientific publications, said he was shocked, surprised and happy to hear of his honour.

“I was so thrilled because I’ve had a long career doing things that I thought were important; worth doing; and beneficial to various groups, whether scientific research or leadership. And it was a nice validation that people thought it worthy of a nomination,” he said.

As a student at Mount Scopus, he didn’t know what he wanted to do and ended up doing medicine because he didn’t think he was clever enough to be an inventive mathematician.

“One day, I wandered into a lecture given by Sir Gustav Nossal, and it was just riveting. I was so blown away that I rang up the next day and said can I come work at the Hall Institute? I went there for a year and was hooked. That’s where I started,” he explained.

Coppel said the one emotion he felt the deepest on receiving this honour is his incredible gratitude to Australia. His parents were survivors of the camps where lives were shattered.

“They came out here and they started a new life, and they were given safety and an opportunity,” Coppel said.

His father, in particular, worked very hard to rebuild some sort of financial security for his family but died tragically, very young in the 1960s.

His brother is also a Queen’s Birthday Honours recipient from a few years ago.

“We are a bit chuffed about that and I feel very grateful to Australia, this country that gave us that opportunity,” he said.

“I think that’s something worth reflecting on, particularly exactly at this moment when it’s somewhat scary to be a Jew in Australia, anywhere in the world.

“This country was good enough to take those people in, and we had an environment where we could achieve, and we could give back.

“I feel that is a very big part of what I have always been doing. A, to make my parents happy and B, to recognise and try to pay back something to the country.”

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