Australia’s first blind female Professor, a dedicated academic, and beloved Head of School of Science and Technology; the mark Linda Agnew will leave on UNE will never fade.

Her time at UNE began in the early 2000s when she decided to finally pursue her life-long passion for the sciences. As the first person in her family to go to university, her academic success is no small feat.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Biomedical Science in 2002, she went on to complete her Honours year with First Class, which saw her receive the coveted University Medal. Wanting to continue on the path of academia, she underwent a PhD which she completed in 2006 with her thesis, Differential leukocyte heat shock protein expression is modulated in health and disease.

It was then that she spread her wings and left UNE for a short period, spending two years at CSIRO undertaking a postdoctoral research fellowship examining the interactions between the neurophysiological and immune systems in livestock as objective measures of animal welfare.

Linda soon returned to the place where she spent her student years, and was appointed as a Lecturer in Biomedical Science in 2009. She quickly developed a reputation for her excellence in teaching and research and her ability to nurture those around her.

However, in 2015, she was faced with a life-changing decision. After being diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition in 2005 which saw her partially lose her sight, Linda had now completely lost her ability to see. Having reached a cross-roads, she had to choose whether to walk away from her passion, or fight for the career she’d worked so hard to build.

Thankfully, she chose the latter.

Since then, she’s gone on to be Australia’s first female blind Professor, and only the second blind person in Australia’s history to be appointed as a Faculty Dean – an interim position she graciously took on at last minute in 2021. In this role, she led the Faculty of Science, Agriculture, Business and Law through the pandemic, seamlessly facilitating the move to online teaching and learning overnight. Late last year, she returned to her previous position of Head of School of Science and Technology.

Linda is also a Non-Executive Director of Vision Australia and an executive advisor to Blind Citizens Australia. She has recently been selected as a mentor for the WILD Collective which is a leadership program for women with disability run by Australian of the Year, Dylan Alcott’s consulting firm, Get Skilled Access. In this role she will support the next generation of women leaders to energetically enter into their chosen careers and leadership roles.

For those who have had the pleasure of working with Linda, her hard work, compassion, and leadership have not gone unnoticed. While her latest achievement is one to be celebrated, it will be sad to wave goodbye to such a beloved colleague and friend.

Linda’s last day will be Friday 29 July, however, she will continue her association with UNE through an adjunct appointment.

If you would like to celebrate Linda’s new chapter, a farewell event will be held before her departure. Details will be released in the coming weeks.