VC's Update - international travel and President Zelenskky

12 Aug 2022

Hi everyone, 

After five days of summer in Korea my system is somewhat shocked by the cold and wet weather. But I can see my peach buds swelling, the wattles blooming, which means, in the cycle of life - which is ANU-that our Open Day is only weeks away. Showing off the university to potential students and their families is fun for us, and really exciting for them. For those working on the event, thank you. See you all on Saturday 3 September! 

I had a BIG Wednesday last week. Our virtual hosting of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking about the situation in Ukraine, was a remarkable event. His address has been watched by more than 88,000 people on YouTube, and was streamed to 20 other live sites Despite the challenges of being in an ongoing volatile war zone, President Zelenskyy addressed students and answered their questions openly. For those who missed it, I encourage you to watch the address.  

Immediately after that event, I was a guest of the US Embassy to welcome the new Ambassador, Caroline Kennedy, to Australia. It's always a pleasure to see a fellow American, and offer ANU as a partner for research, expertise and events. I think we can look forward to Ambassador Kennedy being a frequent guest and partner of our institution.  

I then headed out overseas at the crack of dawn on Thursday, undertaking a whirlwind trip to South Korea, where I was presenting at the General Assembly International Astronomical Union. I gave a few public lectures directed to High School Students who are interested in science as a career, and wow are they interested! I really got the rock star treatment - rather overwhelming. I took a quasi-infinite number of selfies which turned out to give me a lot of practice learning to make Korean finger hearts. I hope many of these students will take the opportunity to join us here at the ANU in the future. 

In a record breaking (115 year!) rain, I hosted one of the '75 cities' alumni events in Seoul, with 40 of our alumni attending, including the Australian Ambassador to South Korea, Her ExcellencyCatherine Raper It is a great reminder that no matter where you go in the world, you can always find an ANU connection and people making a difference on a global scale. South Korea, with its intense focus on technology behind zero emissions (especially in the manufacturing sector) and its location in our region, makes it a prime partner for Australia but also for ANU, and I look forward to seeing several collaborations come to fruition in the coming years.  

Back on campus from overseas, I attended the book launch for 'Rethinking Social Media and Extremism', a collection of essays, published by the ANU Australian Studies Institute. It is a fascinating insight to the evolution of extremism in the last century - and is incredibly topical when looking at the shifting geopolitical landscape in Taiwan and Ukraine; as well as the rise of social media as a powerhouse of connection and disruption. You can see a copy of the bookonline. 

Looking ahead to next week, it is National Science Week! And although I may be biased, it is truly one of the best weeks of the year to showcase the incredible research and talent we have on campus. There are a range of events, including the 'Sounds of Space', bringing together Indigenous stargazing and music; a Stargazing Soiree and a serious discussion about what an alien scientist looks like. You can see the full line-up of events on our social media channels. 

Enjoy the weekend,