Professor Emeritus Doreen Thomas

An academic with achievements spanning multiple decades, fields of study and sectors

Inducted: 2019
Category: Trailblazer

Professor Emeritus Doreen Thomas is a leading academic whose work has spanned the fields of mathematics and electrical and mechanical engineering. Her career at the University of Melbourne has lasted over 40 years and practical applications of her research have had significant commercial impact.

Doreen served as Head of Department for Electrical and Electronic Engineering (2001– 2006), Head of Department for Mechanical Engineering (2008– 2016) and the inaugural Head of School of Electrical, Mechanical and Infrastructure Engineering (2017). She was also Associate Dean (Research and Research Training) at the Melbourne School of Engineering (2008–2016).

Doreen 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 Doreen subsequently directed a startup company to commercialise it.

Doreen is a powerful advocate for women in engineering and mathematics. She chairs the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Forum at the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. While at the University of Melbourne’s School of Engineering, she helped create nine research fellowships to launch and accelerate the careers of female academics.

In her own career, there have been many notable achievements. In 2006, she was appointed the University of Melbourne’s first female professor in engineering. She was the first woman at the university to become head of each of the departments she led, and the first woman in Victoria to become head of two different university departments.

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.

Reviewed 06 March 2019