Professor Brendan Burkett joined the University in 1998 following an international sporting career and as a professional engineer in Australia and overseas on the oil rigs in the North Sea. As a past international sports person Brendan was fortunate enough to represent Austalia for 13 years as a swimmer and was the Paralympic Champion, World Champion, World Record holder, Commonwealth Games and Australian multiple medallist. Brendan has been fortunate to lead the Australian team on several occasions, such as the Australian Team Captain for the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games, and as the Opening Ceremony flag bearer in Sydney 2000 – Australia’s most successful sporting team. The combination of engineering and human movement qualifications with sporting experience enables Brendan to understand human health and performance.
The impact of Brendan's research in human health is demonstrated with research grants and publications in this discipline. The impact in human performance is evident through his appointment as national sport science coordinator for the Australian Paralympic Swim team for the 2002 World Championships, the 2004 Paralympic Games, and the 2006 World Championships. In addition, Brendan was the Institution of Engineers, Australia, Professional Engineer of the Year in 2000. The combination of sporting and professional achievements has been recognised as Brendan is the recipient of several awards such as the Australia Day Sporting Award, the Order of Australia Medal (OAM), as an Ambassador for the Sydney Paralympic Games, and Australian Sports Medal recipient.
In 2007 Brendan was an invited scholar for the Erasmus Mundus Masters in Adapted Physical Activity, which is part of the European Masters in Physical Activity. In 2007 he was also inducted into the Swimming Queensland Hall of Fame, and in 2008 Brendan was part of the Prime Minister's 2020 Summit in the specific theme area of a developing a “long-term health strategy”.