Annual Report 2022


Vice-Chancellor's introduction

2022 has been a year of recovery, adaptation and reflection for ANU as well as for the nation we serve. While the COVID-19 pandemic and its social, economic, and political aftershocks is not over, we have been able to look forward to what lies ahead with more clarity, certainty and precision.

We started this year by continuing our celebrations of the first 75 years of our national university - the people, research and outstanding educational reputation that is the hallmark of ANU. In February, our emeritus faculty published Life Celebrations, a collection of 650 obituaries paying tribute to some incredible academics across all fields at ANU. Reading their stories reminds me of the lasting impact and reach our academic community has had over the last three-quarters of a century. This includes Professor Richard Johnson, the first Classics Professor at ANU, who founded the Classics Museum in 1962. Today, members of the public and students can visit the collection and hold objects, some more than 3,000 years old, which tell stories of a bygone era.

In May, Australia went to the polls. Our experts analysed and provided commentary on the wave of support for new political movements and the extraordinary shift in Australian politics - both during the election and in the post-election period. Professor Ian McAllister co-authored the 2022 Australian Election Study, one of the most comprehensive election analyses published. The report found that most 'Teal' voters were not 'disaffected Liberals' as widely reported in the media, but former Labor and Greens voters.

Following the election, we also had the opportunity to host members of the Crossbench for a confidential briefing on major policy issues, demonstrating our non-partisan role supporting Australian democracy. As for the term 'Teal' - this became the 2022 Word of the Year as selected by the ANU Australian National Dictionary Centre.

The advancement of First Nations Australians remains a key priority and an essential cause for the national university to champion. We continue to work with, and be guided by Indigenous peoples of Australia as we work towards a reconciled future. The ANU National Centre for Indigenous Genomics hosted an inaugural oration, delivered by Pat Anderson (AO) on behalf of Professor Megan Davis, and focused on the troubling gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. I was also delighted to see two of the seven First Nations students to receive the prestigious New Colombo Plan scholarship were from ANU, demonstrating the enduring reach of this program as a way of providing new study pathways for young Australians.

In June, we hosted a series of landmark discussions around Indigenous economic self-determination. The First Nations Portfolio, led by Professor Peter Yu, brought together senior leaders and experts in Indigenous economic development from Australia and around the world for the Marramarra Murru First Nations Wealth Forum and Economic Development Symposium. The symposium showcased the existing and potential power of Indigenous Australian communities to activate their assets and take charge of their futures. It considered issues of policy and institutional design that would be required in a post-treaty, post-constitutional reformera Australia.

In August, we proudly hosted a key global event. As war raged, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave a moving speech to ANU - and through us to Australia - about the importance of freedom, diplomacy and international law. More than 88,000 people watched the event from across Australia, and our students and those from 20 other Australian universities, had the opportunity to ask questions directly of one of the most influential leaders of our generation. The President's address was a demonstration of freedom and an act of international diplomacy that exemplified the national role and global standing of ANU.

This year has also been one of creating bridges between research and industry - translating fundamental research into applied technologies. Eight new companies were spun out of ANU and several existing spinouts had big years.

Among these, Samsara Eco, founded by ANU chemists, has utilised findings from fundamental enzymatic research to develop technology that breaks down plastic to its core molecules with the potential to lead to infinite recycling and zero waste. The start-up has raised over $54 million in investment. Instaclustr, an opensource data management and workflow platform, was acquired by Netapp, one of the world's largest software companies. The acquisition of Instaclustr demonstrates how our universities are creating the jobs, products and industries of tomorrow today. VAI Photonics, founded by ANU physicists, will enable vehicles to navigate with precision and confidence when GPS is either unavailable or unreliable.

I have also been proud of the accolades and recognition our extraordinary academic leaders have achieved, in Australia and beyond. In October, we celebrated Distinguished Professor Susan Scott winning the prestigious Blaise Pascal Medal - the first woman and first Australian to do so - for her work on gravitational waves and advancing our understanding of physics. Two of our young researchers were recognised at the highest level at the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science. Dr Adele Morrison received the 2022 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year for her research on the Earth's complex system of ocean circulation and its impact on rising sea levels and climate. Professor Si Ming Man received the 2022 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for his world-leading work on immunology and infectious diseases.

In November, we officially opened the ANU Research School of Cybernetics, the first in the southern hemisphere, headed by Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell. This school is at the forefront of combining artificial intelligence, engineering and anthropology to understand the world and the intersection of technology and culture. Graduates from the school will help to shape an emerging field and be able to sit across disciplines, which is crucial in today's shifting landscape.

To round out the year, we relaunched the University's flagship publication, ANU Reporter, as an engaging digital platform. Building on a 40-year legacy, it demonstrates our commitment to making our knowledge and research accessible to the nation.

Finally, our students have continued to demonstrate their unwavering resilience and commitment to study during a pandemic - both remotely and on campus. While we moved largely back to campus in 2022, we also took advantage of opportunities to use online tools to improve accessibility, connect those from far away and ensure we remain at the forefront of educational offerings. To our students - especially those who were unable to join us on campus - I acknowledge and thank you for your support throughout this year.

As we have ridden out the storms of the past three years - continuing to serve Australia and live up to our commitment to excellence in all that we do - I have never been prouder to lead this fine institution.

Professor Brian P. Schmidt AC FAA FRS
Vice-Chancellor and President

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