VC's update - New Academy of Social Sciences Fellows, teaching citations and more

23 September 2016

Hello everyone,

This week I've been taking part in the Fourth Annual Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany, which brings together laureates of the Abel Prize, Fields Medal, and Turing Award with 200 young scientists from more than 50 countries, including Australia.  Every year they invite a Nobel Laureate, and I am that person this year.  In a world where our interactions are becoming ever more virtual this forum provides a great opportunity to spend time with the next generation of scientific leaders in person. It has been a delight to meet and talk to so many young researchers from around the world, as well as meet the inventor of the internet, the solver of the Fermat's last theorem, and a former member of ANU and Turing award winner, Raj Reddy.

On the theme of inspiring the next generation, ANU has much to celebrate with three of our academics receiving Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning as part of the Australian Awards for University Teaching administered by the Department of Education and Training. These educators go above and beyond to inspire their students and enrich their learning experiences. They are an exemplar of what teaching should be and I am proud to count them among our own. On behalf of the entire ANU community I'd like to congratulate Dr Alexandra Webb from the Medical School, Jeremy Smith from the Research School of Engineering, and Dr Joanne Wallis from the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre on their awards.

I am also delighted to celebrate the announcement of nine ANU academics who have been newly appointed as Fellows of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. Their induction into the Academy is in recognition of their scholarly distinction in research and the advancement of social sciences. This is a great honour and I congratulate them all on their success. The ANU cohort represented just over a fifth of all newly elected Fellows into the Academy, an extraordinary achievement that reflects the University's long history of excellence in social science. My congratulations to Professor Laurajane Smith, Professor David Stern, Dr Carolyn Strange, Dr Philip Taylor, Professor Rabee Tourky, Professor Jenny Corbett, Professor Nicholas Evans, Professor Melanie Nolan and Honorary Professor Fiona Haines.

This week ANU lost one of its greats, Emeritus Professor John Mulvaney, who passed away aged 90. Affectionately known as Australia's 'father of archaeology' Professor Mulvaney was the founding professor of what is now the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology. He will be remembered for his extraordinary contribution to his field and as an active campaigner for the protection of Indigenous and historic sites and artefacts.

On Tuesday evening at the invitation of John XXIII students and ANUSA, Human Rights Commissioner Professor Gillian Triggs spoke to the ANU community on a range of issues, including the distressing increase of reports of sexual assault and harassment occurring within Australian universities.  ANU is an active supporter of the Universities Australia and the Australian Human Rights Commission Respect. Now. Always. national student survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment. The survey aims to examine the nature, prevalence and reporting of sexual assault and harassment at universities.  Three thousand ANU students will be randomly selected and asked via email to fill out the survey.  Any student not selected in this sample can also make an anonymous submission online via the Australian Human Rights Commission's website. I encourage all students to participate by completing the survey or by making a submission. Unwanted sexual attention is not welcome on our campus, and your contribution and honesty will help us better understand and more effectively deal with the issue.

On a lighter note, I would like to congratulate PhD student Joshua Chu-Tan who has won the 2016 ANU Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. Joshua won the competition with his presentation on developing gene therapies for age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. Presenting one's research in three minutes is a difficult feat - I would know, I tried and failed earlier this year.

I hope you all have a great long weekend.

Brian