VC's Update - Awards and Thanksgiving turkey

25 Nov 2022

Hi everyone, 

I am still recovering from last night's Thanksgiving dinner. VC duties kept me very busy for the day, and so for the first time, cooking responsibilities were handed over to Jenny and Adrian, who did a masterful job, and managed to not leave the kitchen looking like a bomb hit it like I do each year. Thanksgiving is the big American family holiday - and it is a time to reflect on all that is good. On that note - this fortnight has been filled with accolades and awards.

First up, you may have seen two ANU researchersreceived the Prime Minister's Prizes in Science.Dr Adele Morrison and Professor Si Ming Man received the 2022 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year and the2022 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year respectively. This is an extraordinary achievementand I am delighted that Adele and Si Ming's work has been recognised at this national level. I wasn't able to attend the ceremony in person as I was hosting Dr Kevin Rudd as he delivered the JG Crawford address as part of the 2022 Australian Crawford Leadership Forum and China Summit. It was a poignant few days to discuss Australia and China relations with the world's leading experts. You can view Dr Rudd's keynote online.

The Australian Research Council Discovery grants were announced yesterday, with ANU having the highest success rate of any of the major players, and 50 per cent over the average in the sector. So congratulations to the 40 CIs who got up - but commiserations to the 107 of you who were unsuccessful. While ARC grants are really important, I encourage each us to remember the most valuable thing we have is our own time to think and do, and that you have a supportive university that wants you to succeed. The reason I was not unable to cook the Turkey this year was because I was meeting the Prime Minister and Science Minister as part of the National Science and Technology Council Meeting. While we have not yet seen any major changes, the Government is asking the right questions in order to do the right thing for the nation. So I remain optimistic, but we will all need to remain patient. 

Last week, I also attended the Sydney Peace Prize at the Carriageworks, along with colleagues from the across the University. It was a powerful night to be a part of - I can't help but feel there is real momentum building in the First Nations space, especially with the Uluru Statement of the Heart recognised; along with speeches from noted Australians including Senator Pat Anderson and ANU alumna Professor Megan Davis.We can expect a lot of activity next year at the University, and I encourage everyone to participate on this defining questions for the nation. 

Also this week, it was great to read that Christine Helliwell has won the prestigious Les Carlyon Literary Prize for her non-fiction book, Semut: The untold story of a secret Australian operation in WWII Borneo. Feedback on the book has been outstanding - with Christine shining a light on the untold, and often written-out stories, of the Dayak people of north Borneo. Christine was honoured at the Australian War Memorial and is also nominated for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards. Good luck Christine!

Back in Canberra, we held the 2022 Alumni Awards at the National Arboretum - the first in person ceremony since 2019. The finalists and winners are remarkable - and I cannot tell you how proud I was of our students, Clare McBride-Kelly and Prime RagandangHeidi Yates, our 2022 Alumna of the Year, was recognised of her work as the Victims of Crime Commissioner to support the most vulnerable people in our community. Heidi has continued to engage with ANU as an alum and as an advocatefor ending domestic violence, including her support to launch the ANU Sexual Violence Prevention Strategy in 2019. It's fitting as today, 25 November, marks the start of '16 Days of Activism' a campaign focused on preventing gendered violence. I encourage you to get involved and if you are someone who needs support, please reach out because we are here for you.

The School of Cybernetics is being launched over the next 10 days until December 2nd, with a remarkable exhibit that will take you back and forward in time throughout the Birch building. While you can show up and look around with your ANU id,may I suggest signing up for some of the many activities.  

I am also conscious that many staff and students have been impacted by the widespread flooding across the east coast of Australia. We have a series of student support measures in place, from accommodation assistance, to emergency financial support and special consideration for assessment. Impacted members of our community should contact the Student Wellbeing team.  

Enjoy what looks to be some fantastic weather this weekend. I am doubling down on antihistamines.