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60 seconds with... Kerry Hourigan

28 May 2008

Caricature of Professor Kerry Hourigan


Name: Kerry (aka Kyriakos) Hourigan
Org. Unit:  Division of Biological Engineering
Title: Professor and Director
Faculty:  Engineering

How long have you been with Monash University?

Ever since I have been at Monash, both as a student in more turbulent times and as an academic since 1995, I have been 180 cm long.

Prior to working at Monash, where were you located and what was your role?

Before Monash, I was at the CSIRO leading a team of fluid dynamicists, following a NASA research fellowship at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. My role had morphed from astrophysics to fluids engineering for manufacturing and mineral processing, and then to aerospace and automotive engineering. OK, I admit it, short concentration span.

What challenges are ahead in your current role?

More recently, as my role has evolved into biological engineering, the challenge is to develop research programs and teams with connections to undergraduate teaching that apply novel engineering techniques to the biological sciences, such as cardiovascular, renal and respiratory problems. This means having fun using big toys, such as the Australian Synchrotron and the Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing facilities.

What is it about your job that holds your interest or is particularly satisfying?

By far the greatest contribution an academic makes to our community and one that is immensely rewarding is the education and training of many highly talented young people who then become leaders in industry, academe and public life. By comparison, all else we do is stamp collecting.

Of all the places in the world you would like to visit/re-visit, what is your favourite?

Although the soaring peaks of the Himalayas and the volcanic caldera of Santorini are stunning, it must be Provence where we share a cotutelle PhD program and I have returned to many times. It is a stimulating place to do research plus it has a wonderful, historical, sun-drenched countryside and the art of dégustation -- a love, appreciation and respect for food, wine and conversation.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

From my father, a Confucian saying -- "many hands make light work." In the often intensely individualistic and competitive world of academe, a little bit of teamwork can go a long way and is so much more fun than a garret in an ivory tower.

What is something about yourself that most of your colleagues wouldn't know?

A penchant for seeking out the meanest roller coaster rides around the world -- a kind of primal screaming therapy.

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