NASA scientist and design futurist share 2020 Advance Global Australian Award

Dr Abigail Allwood and Tim Kentley Klay win prestigious awards for work on Mars 2020 Rover expedition, and in autonomous mobility and design 

A NASA research scientist and a cutting-edge technologist whose work ranges from creative design to self-driving cars have been awarded joint honours as the 2020 Advance Global Australians. 

Advance, the organisation that identifies and recognises the achievements of members of Australia’s global diaspora will celebrate global Australians Dr Abigail Allwood and Tim Kentley Klay at the 2020 Advance Awards on Thursday, 15 October. These awards recognise the outstanding achievements of Australians living and working around the world and this is the first time the prestigious top gong, has been bestowed upon more than one person. 

Dr Allwood is a world-leading field geologist, astrobiologist and research scientist with NASA’s prestigious Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She has been recognised worldwide for her cutting-edge research of space exploration and is the Principal Investigator leading the team developing the Planetary Instrument for X-Ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), which will examine rock chemistry as part of the Mars 2020 Rover expedition. PIXL is considered one of the most advanced instruments NASA has flown to the surface of another planet and is the first instrument to have AI.

Not only is she the first Australian, but also the first woman scientific lead on a Mars mission.

Yasmin Allen, Chair at Advance said: “Dr Abigail Allwood is a name every child in Australia should know. A true hero in her field of space technology and the first woman and Australian, to be invited on a Mars mission.”

Dr Allwood’s early work gained notability for finding evidence of life in 3.45 billion year old stromatolites in the Pilbara formation in Australia, which was featured on the cover of the journal Nature. Named as one of Australia’s Brightest Minds by Cosmos Magazine in 2006, she holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Geoscience (QUT) and a PhD (Macquarie).

Tim Kentley Klay is a creative and technical entrepreneur whose companies XYZ Studios and Crayon work globally in the creative arts. In 2014, Kentley Klay founded autonomous mobility company Zoox which he led for the next four years, helping the company to a $3.2 billion valuation. Kentley Klay also sat on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation, and was invited to testify to the Senate Commerce Committee on autonomous mobility policy.

“Tim Kentley Klay embodies that rare and wonderful mix of commercial and creative nous that stretches possibilities,” says Allen. “He has demonstrated what it takes to create and commercialise ideas, scale and shape new companies and markets, including his latest venture HYPR.”

Yasmin Allen says, “We can all feel very proud that Australia produces many exceptional leaders and trailblazers who are making a significant impact around the world. It’s critical that our expatriate community remains strongly connected to Australia while they live and work overseas. We want to recognise and support their contribution. The Advance Awards shine a spotlight on these high achievers and provide a wonderful opportunity to share their important work with all Australians.”

We had over 295 nominations to consider in selecting the 37 finalists and 13 winners to find the Advance Global Australians 2020,” said Allen. 

“Sharing the stories of our global Australians at the cutting edge of their chosen field, gives us all hope. It reminds us that Australians can and will continue to lead, with the determination and imagination needed to solve problems and create inspiring new opportunities.

“Our winners remind us that the global market is 7 billion people strong. They show us that the million Australians in our diaspora, including the 300,000 who have returned to Australia this year, act as an important bridge to global capital, customers and expertise. Together, we can unlock opportunities for the benefit of all Australians.” 

The 2020 Advance Award Winners

  • Alumni Award – Premesh Chandran, CEO and Co-Founder at Malaysiakini; Asia Mobiliti
  • Arts Award – Christopher Doyle, Filmmaker at Hong Kong Society of Cinematographers
  • Commercial Creatives Award – Tim Kentley Klay, Zoox, XYZ Studios, Crayon and HYPR
  • Education Award – Olivia Humphrey, Founder and Executive Chairman at Kanopy
  • Financial Services Award – Jennifer Nason, Global Chairman, Investment Banking at J.P. Morgan
  • Life Sciences Award – Professor Jill Banfield, Professor of Earth Science, Ecosystem Science and Materials Science and Engineering departments at The University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • Social Impact Award – Nicholas Wyman, CEO and Founder at the Institute For Workplace Skills and Innovation
  • Sustainability Award – Dr Bart Kolodziejczyk, Chief Scientist and Managing Director at Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. / Scientists in Residence Ltd.
  • Technology & Science – Dr Abigail Allwood, world-leading field geologist, astrobiologist and research scientist with NASA’s prestigious Jet Propulsion Laboratory


  • Advance Global Icon Award – Sophie Blackall, Illustrator, Artist and Designer
  • Asia Impact Award supported by KPMG – Dr Rossa Chiu, a professor in the department of chemical pathology and Associate Dean for Development at the Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Emerging Leader Award – Dr Susan Graham, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Dendra Systems
  • Global Impact Award sponsored by Atlassian Dr John G McHutchison AO, CEO and President at Assembly Bio 


  • Global Australian Award 2020 – Jointly awarded to Abigail Allwood and Tim Kentley Klay


More than 250 nominations were received from all around the world and the 13 winners of the Advance Awards were selected by a judging panel of renowned Australians who represent the country’s diverse entrepreneurial culture. Chaired by Advance Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Ken Allen AM, the judging panel includes Jillian Broadbent AO, Darren Burns, Michelle Garnaut AO, Alexi Glass-Kantor, Carla Zampatti AC and Bob Isherwood. 

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Additional resources can be found here

– ENDS –

About Advance is the trusted platform that connects global Australians with one another and with Australia. We do this to unlock the economic and cultural opportunities through collaboration, investment and innovation. We are the only organisation to recognise and celebrate the achievements of global Australians who are at the forefront of their field to inspire the next generation. Advance is the only Australian organisation that does this. 

We have as our Patron, the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP. The board is chaired by Yasmin Allen and the CEO is Maria MacNamara We have a strong network of volunteer Advance Ambassadors in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and China. We are also supported by an Asian Advisory Committee led by Michelle Garnaut AO. Our program of work in 2020 is captured here. Anthony Pratt is an active and engaged Patron of 

About the Advance Awards

The annual Advance Awards is the flagship event for Advance at which we recognise and celebrate the most influential global Australians who exhibit remarkable talent, exceptional vision and ambition in a number of categories. The Awards are the only of their kind to recognise the contributions of the one million Australians living abroad, and those who have returned home. 

Media contact 

Amy McGregor
The PR Group
+61 (0) 426 106 070 
[email protected] 


Alumni Award Winner | Premesh Chandran, CEO and Co-Founder at Malaysiakini; Asia Mobiliti

Premesh has demonstrated success in multiple fields, with his Australian education playing a formative role in his life. In a country where traditional print and broadcast media were strictly regulated and controlled by the government, Premesh is a maverick in his field, having founded Malaysiakini with the vision of reporting news without censorship or influence.

The website and Premesh have been touted by industry experts and academics as integral facilitators of change and reforms in the first change of government, culminating in the end of Malaysia’s one-party rule in 2019 – the country’s first since independence.

The Arts Award | Christopher Doyle, Filmmaker at Hong Kong Society of Cinematographers

Doyle was born in Cronulla and was educated at Catholic school. He left Australia at 18 to travel the world, where he drew on a strong value system which has led to his success. During his travels, Doyle lived in a convent with nuns in India. He tried to walk to China, got put in gaol and then thrown out. Doyle then decided to master a language – and chose Chinese – then ended up in Hong Kong. 

Commercial Creatives Award | Tim Kentley Klay, Co-Founder and Director of Zoox, XYZ Studios, Crayon and HYPR

Based in California, USA, Klay describes himself as a painter, designer, animator, film-maker, trouble-maker and thinker. As a hands-on, creative entrepreneur, Klay has demonstrated his versatility, vision and business acumen, having founded and grown a number of successful businesses – Zoox, XYZ Studios, Crayon and HYPR. His motivation is to expand what is possible. Not easily categorised in any one industry, Klay is hard wired to pioneer creative projects that live at the vanguard of invention. He leads teams with frontier technologies that sit at the intersection of art and science, that can transform for the better our communities and environment. 

Education Award | Winner | Olivia Humphrey, Founder and Executive Chairman at Kanopy

Humphrey’s vision, nous and management skills enabled Kanopy to lead a new model of education, supporting the development of online education and visual literacy. Kanopy has built a position from which it can now support the future of the independent film industry, providing a sustainable distribution channel to foster a thriving documentary and indie/arthouse film industry. Building a successful global, category-defining technology company is one thing. Yet, Humphrey’s exceeded this by: 

  1. Being a woman in an ecosystem that funds less than 5% of female founders
  2. Being from the origins of Perth (which at the time had very limited support or talent infrastructure for startups, particularly those in media, making it perhaps one of the hardest locations to found a tech company)
  3. Starting and uprooting her family (Olivia gave birth in 2013, three months before moving her family to the USA) and; 
  4. Having no financial support (Olivia fully boot-strapped and self-funded the company until 2017) – is a completely different story. 
  5. The time Olivia sold the company and stepped down as CEO in 2018, the team at Kanopy was 60% female and 70% under-represented groups – amongst the highest rates of any companies in San Francisco. 

Financial Services Award | Jennifer Nason, Global Chairman, Investment Banking at J.P. Morgan

Nason’s impressive professional trajectory demonstrates a genuine, progressive and innovative approach to senior leadership in a competitive industry. However, her success and influence extend far beyond her career success. She is a leading advocate for gender equality, dedicated to advancing opportunities for all women in a traditionally male-dominated sector. 

In addition to being the first female Chair of the American Australian Association (“AAA”), she is an active member of the Australian Women in New York network, a dynamic group of women of all ages and backgrounds who maintain a connection with Australia. Nason is committed to providing enhanced educational opportunities for talented students to become tomorrow’s leaders and change-makers. In her leadership of the AAA, Nason encourages the promotion of education through her own personal philanthropy and support of alumni programs. 

In 2017, Nason and her family established an AAA fellowship in Media in the name of her late brother, David Nason, a long-time journalist with The Australian newspaper, as part of the American Australian Association’s philanthropic efforts in education.

Life Sciences Award | Professor Jill Banfield, Professor of Earth Science, Ecosystem Science and Materials Science and Engineering departments at The University of California, Berkeley, USA

Professor Banfield is a brilliant and distinguished scientist recognised by the American Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society and Australian Academy of Science. In addition, she is a wise and generous mentor. Professor Banfield has trained many of the up and coming stars of her field and has strongly supported their career advancement.

Global Impact Award | Dr John G McHutchison AO, CEO and President at Assembly Bio 

Dr McHutchison has played a central and critical role in developing the curative treatments for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). To develop this treatment is a remarkable accomplishment. Dr McHutchison has made a major contribution to improve the health of many millions of people. 

Many researchers have contributed to the discovery of therapies offering permanent cure for virtually all HCV infected patients. However, none has been leading the field in all its incremental and seminal stages more than Dr. McHutchison. His intellectual and clinical research talents resulted in him developing the antiviral drug combinations, Sovaldi®, Harvoni® and the more broad-spectrum anti-HCV (“pan-genotypic”) Epclusa® that collectively cure nearly every patient infected with HCV. 

This represents a 30-year personal investment as he has attempted to understand this disease.  The importance of this accomplishment cannot be overstated: cure of any disease is a major achievement. He has now turned his sights to curing HBV infection, of which there are 250 million infected people world-wide. 

Australian Global Icon Award | Sophie Blackall, Illustrator, Artist and Designer 

Blackall is a Brooklyn-based multi-award winning Australian artist who has illustrated over forty books for children and was the first Australian to win the 2016 Caldecott Medal (the most prestigious award for an illustrated book in the United States). Her 2012 MTA Arts and Design subway poster was displayed in trains throughout New York City. Blackall has collaborated with UNICEF creating artwork for immunisation advocacy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and India, and with Save the Children, promoting children’s literacy in Rwanda and Bhutan.

She is an ongoing ambassador for The Measles and Rubella Initiative (MRI) – a partnership of UNICEF, The American Red Cross, WHO, CDC and the UN Foundation. Blackall travelled with MRI to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012 and India in 2013 to visit communities affected by the measles epidemic, and produced a series of illustrations to promote the elimination of measles through immunisation. 

The illustrated posters and materials were used in Congo, India and Cambodia in the field to advertise immunisation campaigns in communities with low literacy; literally showing people what to expect and what to do and when to come. Within the industry, epidemiologists and consultants alike appreciated being told a story, which they found moving and effective in an area usually dominated by data and graphs. In 2014, Blackall was one of 40 artists to contribute to The Art of Saving a Life, a Gates Foundation project, celebrating 40 years of global immunisation. 

Social Impact Award | Nicholas Wyman, CEO and Founder at the Institute For Workplace Skills and Innovation

Wyman has built up an international expertise in changing the status quo in job skills training.  His ambition is to break down the myths and misconceptions around careers that involve learning by doing. Wyman’s purpose is to inspire others to think differently about workforce, skills and training and encourage employers to give more young people a go.His research work and expansive knowledge of all facets of vocational education and training, apprenticeships, and innovative education models is internationally recognised, and he is regularly sought after by global governments and organisations to provide expert analysis. The education systems of both Australia and the U.S. continue to benefit from Nicholas’ innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurship. 

The social impact of Wyman’s advocacy for and promotion of apprenticeships and vocational education are measured by the thousands of students in Australia and the U.S. that have been positively impacted by his work with policymakers and political leaders. He has the ability to inspire the next generation of Global leaders. In 2017, he was named an AFR True Leader in recognition of his educational leadership ability.

Sustainability Award | Dr Bart Kolodziejczyk, Chief Scientist and Managing Director at Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. / Scientists in Residence Ltd.

Dr. Bart Kolodziejczyk is a true innovator and technology pioneer who is addressing health, energy and climate change issues by developing new technologies. He moved to Perth to become a Hydrogen Specialist, and now the Chief Scientist at Fortescue Metals Group. This builds on his decade long experience with hydrogen and de-carbonisation projects. Kolodziejczyk has co-founded two successful not-for-profit organisations in Australia, that expose students to STEM opportunities and have provided more than 100 internships. IAESTE Australia provides overseas technical experience for Australian students; and Scientists in Residence Ltd. enables scientists from Australian universities to participate in policy-making processes, science outreach events and workshops for high school students. 

Scientists in Residence hold an annual Indigenous Sustainability Forum where Indigenous Australians share sustainability practices and traditional knowledge with non-Indigenous Australians. Kolodziejczyk is a nanoscientist whose portfolio includes three tech startups and three not-for-profit organisations. He is internationally recognised as a pioneer in his field and has received numerous prestigious accolades, including:

  • One of MIT Technology Review’s 2016 Innovators Under 35 for his conductive polymers, which reduce the cost of solar panels and are applied in medicine and bio-sensing
  • 100 Visionary Leaders by Real Leaders Magazine 2017
  • Victorian Government’s 2017 International Alumnus of the Year Award
  • 2018 Victoria Fellow for the physical sciences
  • 2018 Austrade – Australia China Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • 2018 Victorian Premier’s Volunteer Champion Award
  • 2020 Environmental Professional of the Year finalist, by the UK Society for the  Environment

Kolodziejczyk is a global citizen, having lived in his native Poland, Hungary, USA, UK, Singapore, China, France, Spain, Iceland, and Denmark, and now a permanent resident settled in Australia.