VC's update - Ducks, DNA and more

4 October 2016

Hi everyone

Last week we got some very exciting news; two of our academics, Professor Emily Banks and Associate Professor Susan West, were named as winners in The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards for 2016. The Awards recognise and celebrate women who are helping shape the future of Australia. To be named in this list is an outstanding achievement and highlights their commitment to their research and their ability to inspire those around them. I am extraordinarily proud of Emily and Susan and congratulate them on this impressive achievement.

Today I was delighted to announce that ANU will be making a substantial investment of $12.5 million in strategic funds to the School of Music over the next five years to ensure a bright future for music teaching and research at the University. This decision was made in response to the report on a six-month long community consultation undertaken for the University by Professor Andrew Podger AO. I'm committed to ANU having a School of Music that provides high-quality education to students, contributes to the University's research and to the community as a centre of music. This funding will provide a solid foundation upon which we can build a school that befits ANU and the community.

Recently, I participated in the Australia-Germany Joint Research Co-operation Scheme Workshop. The workshop, hosted by ANU, showcased the Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme, the Universities Australia partnership with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the role that research collaboration plays in strengthening Australia's diplomatic relationship with Germany. As part of the workshop we welcomed Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, Co-Chairman of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group, Her Excellency Dr Anna Prinz, German Ambassador to Australia and His Excellency David Ritchie, former Australian Ambassador to Germany. Attracting guests of this calibre and hosting meetings that strengthen Australia's diplomatic relations are key to us performing our role as Australia's national university.

In other news, ANU archaeologists Professor Matthew Spriggs and Dr Stuart Bedford of the School of Culture, History and Language have put to bed an age old debate relating to the origins of Pacific Islanders. Their research has revealed that Vanuatu's first people arrived 3,000 years ago from Taiwan and northern Philippines, and not from the neighbouring Australo-Papuan populations of Australia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands that had been in the region for between 40,000 and 50,000 years. This remarkable discovery provides an extremely important piece to the genetic puzzle and used analysis of ancient DNA to inform its findings.

A quick update on our 2016 ANU Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition winner PhD student Joshua Chu-Tan - Joshua has gone onto win the 2016 3MT Asia-Pacific final! He is the first ANU student to do so, and I congratulate him on his outstanding performance. Check out his award-winning presentation on developing gene therapies for age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the developed world for yourself.

And finally, spring has truly sprung on campus. ANU Student Zoe Maddison snapped this photo of what could possibly be a record brood of ducklings - we counted 26.



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Comment by Tanisha Jowsey
9am 5 Oct 2016

Another fantastic update. Well done to our three minute PhD finalist for Asia Pacific, and well done to Mum and Dad Ducks! Inspiring stuff. Many thanks all.

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Comment by Oliver Kerr
10am 6 Oct 2016

Wood ducks form kindergartens where one set of parents look after other ducklings. Last week I saw a pair in Renmark with 41 ducklings!

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Comment by David Stevens
8.45am 12 Oct 2016

Actually my daughter, Rosanna Stevens won the 3MT people's choice award at the 2014 Asia Pacific 3MT final, so this year's winner isn't the first ANU student to win at the Asia Pacific final. Also, just out of curiosity, she is the niece of Sir Malcolm McIntosh, whose award you won (Brian) in its inaugural year. I guess that makes me Sir Malcolm's brother-in-law.