VC’s Update – A new telescope at Stromlo, new professors, Union Court and more

17 March 2017

ANU is determined to play a major role in Australia's innovation economy and for us to have outstanding leaders from business and industry on the new Board gives us a greater opportunity for us to do that.

Hi everyone,

You'll have to forgive me but this week's blog has a distinct astronomical theme (once an astronomer, always an astronomer). We have a few exciting events coming up involving ANU and my former colleagues at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

To kick off the theme, today I was lucky enough to be at Mount Stromlo to help launch the site's newest telescope that will help to inspire the next generation of space scientists. Known as the McNamara-Saunders Astronomical Teaching Telescope (MSATT), it will be used to host science projects by students in Years 9 to 12 at schools across the ACT region. Funded by private donors Dr Denis Saunders AM and Vee Saunders, and Geoff McNamara, the MSATT is a terrific example of how a passionate teacher such as Mr McNamara, with a great idea, can have such a positive influence on the lives of young people under his care. This telescope will help sow the seeds of enthusiasm for space science that could lead to great careers.

There are some more exciting things coming up over the next few weeks in this area with stargazing activities at Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatory. I'll have more detail about this in my next blog.

On Tuesday we formally welcomed our new Professors into the ANU family and congratulated our Professorial staff who have received academic promotions in the 2016 round. Our Professors play an incredibly important role in life at ANU. We look to them to be leaders in their fields of expertise, amongst their colleagues and the University community. But we also look at their promotions as significant achievements in their careers that also mark their contributions to ANU. It gives me great pleasure to congratulate those Professors who received promotions.

On Friday last week I joined some of the nation's top business leaders at the inaugural meeting of the ANU Business and Industry Advisory Board in Sydney. The meeting, which was led by myself and Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer, saw us engage with leaders from the biotech, aerospace and engineering industries. The Board's aim is to help bridge the gap between business, academics and researchers so there can be better collaboration and investment in shared ideas and knowledge. To add a bit of spice to the day, we had a very happy board member in AI (Artificial Intelligence) pioneer and the CEO of Kaggle, Anthony Goldbloom, whose company had just been acquired by Google.

ANU is determined to play a major role in Australia's innovation economy, and to have outstanding leaders from business and industry on the new Board gives us a greater opportunity to do that.

This coming Monday, 20 March, we'll be having another public forum on the Union Court revitalisation. This is the third we've held in recent weeks and follows a student-specific forum co-hosted with our student associations yesterday, where students were given the chance to ask questions about how the building works will impact them over the next two years. I encourage you to attend the next forum, which will be held at the Haydon-Allen Theatre. You can register here.

In the awards space this week, I would like to congratulate the seven ANU students who have received Westpac Asian Exchange scholarships to study in Asia from Semester 2, 2017. I am a big believer in ensuring our students and staff apply for every opportunity that comes their way because it means they can progress their studies or career paths just that little bit more.

And of course a big congratulations to Engineering PhD student Francesca MacLean who has been awarded the 2017 Young ACT Woman of the Year. Francesca has been a huge advocate and promoter of gender equity at the Research School of Engineering. Her groundwork means the program can continue to be rolled out into our other colleges that teach STEM subjects.



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Comment by Geoff McNamara
2.30pm 24 Mar 2017

It was an honour to have Professor Schmidt, and Professor Ken Freeman, open MSATT for me. As a teacher, for thirty years my goal has been to help kids realise they can achieve great things, just as these two scientists have done. Thank you both.