I'm writing this blog from London where, last night, I delivered the 2019 Menzies Lecture at King's College. I think my talk about Australia's effort to understand the Universe, was a welcome diversion from the Parliamentary goings-on here. We also signed an MOU with King's to host a satellite of the Global Institute for Women's Leadership, led by a Board chaired by our own former PM Julia Gillard. This partnership will be an opportunity for ANU to play a leading role in research that promotes gender equity in Asia and the Pacific. We are also taking the time to meet up with many of our UK-based alumni - London is literally teeming with ANU graduates. Next week I am off to Switzerland for more meetings, and to participate in two international higher education events.
Last weekend we held our 2019 Open Day, and I would like to thank everyone who helped to show off what a great place ANU is to come and study. Our students helped remind everyone that we are a great institution that celebrates the contesting of ideas and different views which allow people to have their say. I thank them for respectfully raising their concerns - and yes, we are listening.
I really enjoyed Open Day; I got to meet lots of new faces, and make liquid nitrogen ice-cream (although next year I might bring my own vanilla). I spent my morning in the Marie Reay Teaching Centre, hearing from academics, including 2019 Eureka Prize recipient, Professor Barry Pogson, about the different study pathways available at ANU. The only slight fail of the day was a less than electrifying encounter with Professor Jodie Bradby at the Physics stall... normally our conversations are full of spark!
Not really being an aficionado of reality TV, I got out of my comfort zone on Monday evening at Questacon, having a conversation about science and astronomy with the Bachelor and Astrophysicist, Dr Matt Agnew. Although he blushed when accepting my rose, my ego was a little battered after doing lots of selfies with the audience - I was definitely not the centre of attention. This was all part of the Australian Academy of Science 'adults-only-science' event, which featured many people from ANU, including some of our students who travelled to the Lindau Nobel Laureates' meeting with me a few months ago.
Last week we opened the Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri-Technology (CEAT) Innovation Hub in the Gould Building. It already has five industry partners located in the Gould building, and I'm very pleased to announce that negotiations are underway to elevate CEAT to the status of an ANU Innovation Institute, led by the 2019 Vice Chancellor's Entrepreneurial Professor, Owen Atkin. CEAT is a joint investment by ANU, CSIRO and ACT Government, and as one of our Innovation Institutes, we hope that it will enable our staff, students, and partners to work with industry to create a whole new set of advances that will help create a sustainable agriculture future for the world. This is inherently an interdisciplinary effort - so you don't need to be a plant scientist to get involved.
It is easy to forget sometimes that not all of our students get to study on our Acton campus, and I would like to thank PARSA for helping reach out to these students. Earlier today, postgrad students in Melbourne and the Canberra Hospital were brought together through a 'Distance Connect' event. I'd like to thank PARSA for hosting these events to ensure everyone, no matter where they are studying, feel part of our community.
Finally, I would like to reflect on Chris Grange, our Chief Operating Officer, who is leaving the University next week. Chris has been a wonderful member of our community, and has left a huge legacy in modernising the ANU, and being absolutely instrumental in realising all of the University's major projects, including the Kambri precinct. Throughout his time here, Chris has been a fierce advocate in supporting the University and its mission, and I will miss Chris' omnipresence around campus. With Chris' departure, we welcome Paul Duldig to ANU. Paul has a distinguished track record at both the University of Melbourne and the University of Adelaide, and brings huge experience to this role. Please welcome him to our campus. I am looking forward to working with him to continue to improve the University, and create the best possible environment for our entire community.
I hope you have a great weekend, and for those on break, I hope you are enjoying some time to recharge.