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Macdonald Holmes Medal

James Macdonald Holmes was McCaughey Professor of Geography at the University of Sydney during the period 1929 to 1961. To commemorate his achievements over these years, the Geographical Society together with the Geography Teachers’ Association awards, biennially, a medal bearing his portrait and name, to a person deemed to have made a distinguished contribution in the field of geographical education in Australia.

The medal is awarded biennially. An explanation of the procedure and rules and the nomination form are available here.


The 2015 recipient of the medal is Phillip O'Neill.

Professor Phillip O’Neill’s outstanding contribution to the discipline of Geography spans both academia and school education.

Prior to embarking on an academic career Phillip taught Geography in NSW public schools and played a leading role in the development of Geography syllabuses as Chair of the NSW Geography Syllabus Committee. The syllabuses developed under Phillip’s leadership in the early 1990’s are still in use a quarter of a century later. Their longevity highlights the quality of the curriculum developed and the extent to which is reflected, and indeed anticipated, developments within the discipline.

Phillip continues to be an advocate for school Geography and has always been willing to contribute to conferences organised by the Geography Teachers Association of NSW.

Phillip’s academic background is the foundation upon which highly successful career has been based. His qualifications include a BA(Hons), MA(Hons) and a PhDGeo. All completed at Sydney’s Macquarie University.

Phillip is currently Director, Centre for Western Sydney (2014-present) and a Professorial Research Fellow, Urban Research Centre, University of Western Sydney (2012-present). 

Prior to these appointments Phillip was the Foundation Director, Urban Research Centre, University of Western Sydney (2006-2012) and Director Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, The University of Newcastle, NSW (2000-2006).

International appointments include the position of Research Fellow at University of Bristol (1994), University of Massachusetts (1999), National University of Singapore (2003), University of Oxford (2010), and the University College London (2015). Phillip has also served as a member of Editorial Boards of Transactions of Institute of British Geographers (Wiley Blackwell); Progress in Human Geography (Arnold).

Phillip was the Editor-in-Chief, Geographical Research (2009 to 2013).

Current appointments include Member of the Editorial Boards of Environment and Planning A (Pion); Journal of Economic Geography (OUP); Compass (Wiley Blackwell); Regional Studies, Regional Science (Taylor and Francis); Human Geography. Phillip is also a Member International Expert Advisory Board, Build, U.K. (2013 to current) and a Member International Advisory Board, Fourth Global Conference in Economic Geography, Oxford, August 19-22, 2015 (current). He is also a Columnist with Newcastle Herald (2003-present).

Phillip’s research interests include urban infrastructure, regional labour markets, urban food supply chains and state theory and practice. He has authored or co-authored four books, eleven book chapters, and more than 25 research articles and reports.

Phillip’s awards include Fellow of the Institute of Australian Geographers (awarded 2008).

Past recipients of the Macdonald Holmes Medal are:

1977 Edgar Ford 1997 Geoffrey K Connolly
  James B Rowe   Colin Davey
1979 Donald Biddle 1999 Joseph M Powell
1981 John Shaw 2001 Robert Fagan
1983 Alan Tweedie 2003 Nick Hutchinson
1985 Sr Gonzaga Stanley 2005 Deirdre Dragovich
1987 Gilbert J Butland 2007 John Connell
1989 Peter G Irwin   Grant Kleeman
  Trevor Langford-Smith 2009 Susan Bliss
1991 Malcolm Barlow   Gordon Waitt
  John S Emery 2011 Richie Howitt
1993 John H Holmes 2013 Martin Plüss
1995 Bruce G Thom 2015 Phillip O'Neill














Last updated: 16 December 2013 of page