VC's Update - the World Economic Forum, our new Dean for Higher Degree Research and more

23 January 2017

Hi everyone,

This week's blog comes to you from the chilly but very scenic Davos in the Swiss Alps, where the 2017 World Economic Forum took place. My Alaskan heritage means that I enjoyed the -15C temperatures and snow.

This year, ANU was one of 14 Universities from around the world to be part of the World Economic Forum discussions, and Professor Carola Vinuesa, Professor Emily Banks and Dr Kamalini Lokuge, joined me in attending this year's Forum. The three of them each presented in multiple sessions at the forum and contributed to the discussions around human health including the work on finding a cure for cancer, personalised medicine and health in humanitarian settings. All of us did a presentation together on delivering health outcomes effectively that was moderated by none other than Francis Collins, the leader of the US-based National Institutes of Health (NIH) and formerly the head of the Human Genome Project.

This is the fourth time I've attended the World Economic Forum. I know that Davos conjures a lot of negativity in some people, so I think it worthwhile to share why we are here. Yes, Davos has the rich and famous, but it is dominated by a diverse range of some of the most talented people from around the world who come together with the aim to improve the state of the world.

If we want what we do at ANU to help change the world (and I do), then my experience is that the forum provides a unique place to build the relationships, to exchange knowledge, and to start programs that can have profound impact. It is both a privilege and an acknowledgment of what ANU can contribute that we are able to be one of the few universities that is invited to Davos.

While in Davos, the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann and I co-hosted a reception for Australians attending the Forum. These included Australian business leaders, young Australian entrepreneurs working in everything from social enterprises to software, and a diverse Australian diaspora that included several of our Alumni, and Alumni of other Australian Universities. Every year it is my hope to bring along a small group of academics to both the China and Davos World Economic Forum events to help us remain highly engaged with the world. I thank Carola, Emily and Kamalini for doing an outstanding job representing the University. 

Back home, we have had some exciting news in the research area.

Our new Dean, Higher Degree Research, Professor Imelda Whelehan has started at ANU. Professor Whelehan brings a wealth of experience from the UK and more recently from the University of Tasmania (UTAS), where she has worked with graduate research students. While at UTAS, she was the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Training) and Dean of Graduate Research. I am delighted that Professor Whelehan has joined us to further our goals in the Higher Degree Research space.

Meanwhile Distinguished Professor Chennupati Jagadish continues to be honoured for his amazing research over the years. He's been elected an Honorary Fellow of the Indian Academy of the Sciences, one of only two people to be inducted in 2017. Professor Jagadish's expertise includes work in nanotechnology and he also works with a range of universities across Asia. Congratulations Jagadish on this fitting recognition.

I was pleased to see that we've made 1,111 offers to domestic undergraduate students in the main round of university offers, on top of the early round offers made to more than 2,600 new students announced earlier this month. I'm really looking forward to welcoming our new students to campus in a few weeks. Please join me at our commencement ceremony during O-week.