Two University of Melbourne researchers have been recognised with a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in this year’s Australia Day Honours.

The Companion of the Order of Australia is awarded for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or humanity at large.

A world-leading clinical neurologist along with an internationally renowned physicist have both been honoured.

Professor Sam Berkovic, Laureate Professor in the Department of Medicine, University  of Melbourne and Director of the Epilepsy Research Centre at Austin Health, is a clinical neurologist who discovered the first known epilepsy gene.

Professor Berkovic’s clinical work combined with research has contributed to a deeper understanding of the causes of epilepsy and has had a major impact on epilepsy research worldwide and on strategies for diagnosis and development of new treatments.

He has authored more than 420 peer-reviewed journal articles largely related to epilepsy and genetics.

Professor Berkovic’s work has placed Australia at the forefront of the world’s epilepsy research. He is not just Australia’s leading academic neurologist, he is an acknowledged world leader in the clinical and molecular genetics of epilepsy.

Renowned physicist Professor Bruce McKellar is an honorary professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale.

He is an internationally recognised physicist and an accomplished administrator and facilitator of research policy development and international collaborations.

He joined the University of Melbourne as the Professor of Theoretical Physics where he published his definitive study on nucleon forces, famously known as "Tuscon-Melbourne" force. Later he branched out into quantum physics and is also known famous for the “He McKellar Wilkens” phase, a seminal quantum physics theory. His other work has applications in photography, atmospherics physics and geophysics, and implications for pure mathematics.

His achievements include being an instrumental member of the first Australian Research Council, Foreign Secretary of the Australian Academy of Science and a contributor to the United Nations Conference on sustainable development.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis congratulated Professors Berkovic and McKellar on their recognition.

 “On behalf of the University of Melbourne and the wider Australian community, I congratulate Professors Berkovic and McKellar on being named a Companion of the Order of Australia,” he said.

“Their quiet determination to share their knowledge and enrich our community is a valuable strength. They have made exceptional contributions to their individual fields.”

Professor Davis also congratulated all those associated with the University of Melbourne who have been honoured on Australia Day 2014. These include, Professor Ed Byrne, Peter Jopling QC, Rev Fr Michael Eliigate, Professor Rob Moodie, Professor Ruth Fincher, Dr Rosemary Lester, Associate Professor James King, Professor John Olver and actor Geoffrey Rush.