VC's Update - Lindau, NAIDOC events and Canberra Moon Week

16 July 2019

Hi everyone,

It is great to be back on campus. Over the last two weeks I have been at the Starmus Festival in Zurich and the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting in Germany. Starmus brings together astronauts, rock stars and scientists for a festival of ideas that engage the public. Once again I missed Brian May, although promises may or have not have been made for his next visit to Australia. I live in hope.

Lindau is one of the most rewarding events I attend each year. This year it was a gathering of 39 Nobel Laureates and nearly 600 young scientists from 89 countries. These are some of the best and brightest students from around the world, and I was very proud to see Australia represented with a large ANU contingent, led by Professor Chennupati Jagadish from RSPE, of both students and researchers. I had the privilege of delivering the opening keynote address, reflecting on researchers' capabilities and responsibilities to transform the world to be a better place. It was an amazing week that once again emphasised that we have the capability to create a prosperous world for all, but only if the people of the world agree that this aim is a collective priority, because it is of benefit to us all.

Meanwhile, back on campus, 75 students from across Australia attended the final stage of the Tuckwell Scholarship interview weekend. During my time on the selection committee, and now as Vice-Chancellor, these students are a constant reminder of the talent spread across Australia, and how scholarships can change someone's path in life. As the national university, we want ANU to be the place they call home, the place they discover their passion and the place they come to change the world - any way that they see it. The 25 scholarship awardees come from all states and territories, and from an amazingly diverse set of backgrounds. 

Last week was NAIDOC week, and so it was fitting that ANU hosted a group of Indigenous high school students from the Clontarf Foundation. This is just one of many organisations that provide pathways to a better education and employment opportunities for young Indigenous Australians. These students came from all over Australia and spent two days at our Tjabal Centre learning about university life. I was lucky to share lunch with them and can say that they were each outstanding, and will have great futures, whatever path they decide to take.

On Wednesday, I hosted two tables at the National Press Club for The Hon Ken Wyatt's address. Reflecting on his speech, there is still much work that needs to be done to ensure Indigenous Australians are partners in co-designing and planning Constitutional recognition; are represented at peak levels in government and organisations; and that a shared understanding of culture and history underpins a better future for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. And we will continue to work with government and Indigenous communities to close the gap and resolve these issues.

On Thursday Dr Lachlan Blackhall delivered his Entrepreneurial Fellow inaugural address as part of his leadership of the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program.  A huge change is coming about how we generate, store, and dispense electricity, and Lachlan and his team's research program is all about learning how to do this effectively, in practice. In his lecture, he used the history of electricity to frame how we are likely to move forward. It was a highly engaging lecture, and we can expect Lachlan's work to be at the centre of this important area going forward.

Finally, this week is an exciting milestone - the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the Moon.  More than 600 million people from around the world watched those historic steps with the images received from the local Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station. This moment is one of the most profound in human history - and Australia is going to play a pivotal part of the next chapter of space exploration, discovery and research. ANU has already been at the forefront of space research - from Ross Taylor who analysed Moon rocks from numerous Apollo missions, to the work of my colleagues at Mt Stromlo in unlocking the secrets of the cosmos, or the work of InSpace on plasma propulsion and laser communications - ANU is a key player in space research and furthering our understanding of the Universe. To celebrate, there will be a five-day program of activities and events, from space school to talks on space law and health, the astronomy and navigation of Aboriginal Australians, and of course, space trivia. I look forward to seeing how my table goes against the budding space enthusiasts in Canberra!  



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Comment by Terry
2.30pm 16 Jul 2019

Welcome back, Brian. Your blog is always a welcome review of the many exciting things going on at the ANU. This weekend I took my walk around the perimeter of the campus and was impressed by the number of new buildings that are already in use as residences, lecture spaces, offices and display areas. Ongoing building sometimes inhibits the connectivity we can look for in future, and there are still many areas that need better signage to inform visitors about the work going on in these new structures, but for those of us who have been here for a while it is great to see the names of former colleagues recognized in the Kambri and other precincts. This is becoming a campus we can take pride in and the whole community can enjoy.