The network is based on a Collaborative Agreement among the member universities. Under this agreement, one university serves as lead partner and hosts a small secretariat. The secretariat is responsible for the overall coordination of the network and based in the office of the AAUN Chair, a senior academic in the lead university, currently the University of Sydney.

The network is led by a Steering Group, representing a set of seven Australian member Universities active in Africa and seven African member universities. The Steering Group has two co-chairs, currently Professor John Hearn on the Australian side, and Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Pretoria, on the African side. The Group meets by teleconference.

A Consultative Group, representing specific expertise in African engagement and not restricted to official university representatives, provides key input across the thematic areas of engagement. It meets during annual fora and general meetings and may also meet on an ad hoc basis at other times. Consultative Group membership is open to nomination by a member institution at any time.


Professor John Hearn, University of Sydney

Professor John Hearn, Co-Chair, University of Sydney

Professor John Hearn is a Professor of Reproductive Physiology in the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Sydney. He was awarded his PhD from the Australian National University (ANU) and served for 6-7 years each in leading research, teaching and administrative positions at the Universities of Edinburgh, London UCL, Wisconsin, ANU and Sydney. Most recently he was Vice President (Research) at ANU 2000-4, and Vice President (Academic and International) at Sydney 2004-13. He teaches first year and advanced students in science and biomedicine. He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Professor Hearn has published 210 research papers and edited six books in reproduction and fertility, stem cell biology and biotechnology. A committed international citizen, he has worked globally in research capacity development, especially in China, India, Thailand, Kenya and Brazil. He is a senior adviser to the Australian Government, World Health Organisation and the OECD. He was (to 2013) a Board member of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and Chairman of the Board of the Sydney Confucius Institute.


Professor Cheryl de la Rey, University of Pretoria

Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Co-Chair, University of Pretoria

Prof Cheryl de la Rey has been the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria since November 2009. Her previous executive positions include being the Chief Executive Officer of the Council on Higher Education, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town and Executive Director at the National Research Foundation. She has published books and several journal articles in her discipline, Psychology. Professor De la Rey is registered as a Psychologist by the Health Professions Council of South Africa, is a fellow of the Psychological Association of South Africa, a fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and of the Academy of Science of South Africa. She is a member of a number of boards and committees such as the national Human Resource Development Council, the Council of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, International Council of Science’s (ICSU) Strategy and Planning Committee and the Talloires Network.


AAUN Steering Group:

Steering Group Members, Africa
  • Prof Cheryl de la Rey, University of Pretoria (Chair)
  • Prof Danie Visser, University of Cape Town
  • Prof Ebenezer Owusu, University of Ghana
  • Prof Isaac Adewole, University of Ibadan
  • Prof John Ddumba-Ssentamu, University of Makerere
  • Prof JDK Saka, University of Malawi
  • Prof Dhanjay Jhurry, University of Mauritius
  • Prof Peter Mbithi, University of Nairobi
  • Prof Stephen Simukanga, University of Zambia
Steering Group Members, Australia
  • Prof John Hearn, University of Sydney (Chair)
  • Prof Adrian Little, University of Melbourne
  • Prof David Morrison, Murdoch University
  • Mr David Doepel, Murdoch University
  • Prof Kevin Hall, University of Newcastle
  • Prof Kadambot Siddique, University of Western Australia
  • Prof Deborah Sweeney, Western Sydney University
  • Mr Innes Ireland, University of Technology Sydney
  • Prof Prem Ramburuth, University of New South Wales
  • Prof Alex Frino, University of Wollongong
  • Mr Rongyu Li, University of Queensland
  • Prof Seth Kunin, Curtin University

Research Theme Leaders

AAUN has appointed Research Theme Leaders within the Network’s key areas of research, namely food security, public health, education and mining & development.  The AAUN Research Theme Leaders aim to facilitate leadership and progress of the Partnership Research and Development Fund projects.

Research Theme Leaders, Africa
  • Prof Idowu Olayinka, Education
  • Prof Mavis Mulaudzi, Public Health
Research Theme Leaders, Australia
  • Dr George Odhiambo, Education
  • Prof Amin Mugera, Food Security
  • Mr David Doepel, Mining