It is with deep sadness that I start this newsletter by offering my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Stephen Wooldridge who died last week. Steve was admired by all who knew and worked with him at UNSW. He was a friendly, approachable, caring and generous man who played an important role at UNSW as Director of Development in the Faculty of Engineering, leading our fund-raising efforts. Before his role at UNSW, he had already established a special place in the hearts of Australians as one of the country's most decorated cyclists, winning Olympic and Commonwealth gold medals and world championships. Steve was an outstanding man who will be deeply missed by his colleagues and the wider UNSW community. I take this opportunity to note that if you or someone you know needs support or advice having heard this news, you can contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36, or visit www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
The debate about the government’s higher education funding proposals continues. The Go8 and UA remain firmly opposed to the plans to place more of the burden of tuition fees on students, and to reduce funding to universities. The opposition have made it clear that they do not support the proposals, so the outcome is likely to depend upon the position taken by crossbenchers in the Senate. Unless, that is, the bizarre debacle around nationality and citizenship requirements for Members of Parliament prevents the proposals reaching a vote. That was the topic of some interesting comments from our own Scientia Professor George Williams, Dean Faculty of Law, in the Sydney Morning Herald last week.
A key development this month was the publication by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) of the results of a survey of over 30,000 students experience of sexual harassment and assault. I make no apologies for including a lengthy section below on this topic. The findings are of great concern and require action by all in the higher education sector. At UNSW we have been working to address this issue for many months and will continue to do so. We will implement the recommendations of our own internal audit, the AHRC report and of our UNSW Australian Human Rights Centre report ‘On Safe Ground’led by Professor Andrea Durbach. This will require a determined sustained approach in which our efforts will be assisted by the recent appointment of Professor Eileen Baldry as Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Inclusion and Diversity.
Many of you will have read the announcement about our discussions with the ACT Government, to explore the possibility of increasing our footprint in Canberra. It is noteworthy that this opportunity arose at the time of the 50th anniversary celebrations of UNSW Canberra led so memorably by my predecessor as Vice-Chancellor, Sir Rupert Myers (see below). UNSW has a long and successful history in the capital city, and the extension of our activity in Canberra could offer exciting opportunities for our educational, research and innovation objectives. We will only pursue this opportunity if we are convinced that we can provide added value working in partnership with the government, other education providers, and business.
I bring to your attention the 2017 Student Experience Survey (SES), one of the suite of surveys administered externally by the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) initiative of the Australian Government. The SES measures five specific aspects of the student experience: skills development, student support, learning resources, learner engagement, and teaching quality. The data also uses a sixth measure for Overall Quality of Education Experience in the survey results. All UNSW students studying in Australia will be invited to participate in the survey which opened 4 August and will close 5 September. Please encourage our students to contribute to this survey. Data from the SES and myExperience surveys will assist us in identifying areas where improvements can be made to enhance the student experience and our learning and teaching. If you have any questions, contact email@example.com
You can read below about several new UNSW resources, opportunities and facilities including: UNSW’s cutting edge facilities in the Ramaciotti Centre for Genomics located in our superb new Biosciences building; a $1m donation to establish the Gail Kelly Global Leaders Scholarship; the acquisition of a new aircraft by our School of Aviation; and the new course in Fundamentals of Humanitarian Engineering for 3rd year students.
Events and developments have included a rich mix of contributions related to our thought leadership efforts covered below in this newsletter: the appointment of Associate Professor Lyria Bennett-Moses as lead of our 4 Grand Challenge “Living with 21st Century Technology”; PLuS Alliance events on inequality and global security; the Big Anxiety Festival linking arts and mental health to be launched in September; the 22ndGifted and Talented Children World Conference held at UNSW; the visit of the inaugural Global South Fellow, Dr Babere Chacha to UNSW; the lecture at UNSW by Pritzker Prize winning architect Alejandro Aravena; a superb student organised TEDxUNSW event on building ideas and networks; UNSW contributions to Science Week and the Sydney Science Festival including a “Women on Mars ” event; two Grand Challenge events at the Sydney Opera House on refugees and migrants “Breaking the Deadlock” and climate change “The Madhouse Effect”; the 2017 Australian Human Rights Centre Annual Lecture given by Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, in partnership with our Inequality Grand Challenge; a wonderful interview with Dr Jane Goodall by Professor Emma Johnston our Dean of Science; the contribution of Professor Richard Kingsford to the Four Corners program about water theft from the Murray-Darling Basin; and an important review of Australia’s climate change science capability by Scientia Professor Trevor McDougall. I enjoyed attending an event to celebrate and thank staff donors to UNSW for their generosity, and meeting with a group of our students at the start of their month of field work in Gulu, Uganda.
There have been notable awards, achievements and appointments: the recruitment of the historian Professor Alison Bashford from the University of Cambridge through our SHARP process; a record number of UNSW staff shortlisted for the Eureka Prizes; Scientia Professor Jane McAdam’s award of the Calouste Gulbenkian Prize for her work in human rights; Professor Matt England’s award of the Tinker-Muse Prize for his research in Antarctic science; Engineers Australia awards to Professor Melissa Knothe Tate and Professor Ana Deletic; the UNSW Women in Engineering awards including the Ada Lovelace Prize to Kathryn Fagg; the John Fries Award to UNSW Fine Arts graduate and staff member Kuba Dorabialski; the Walkley Women in Leadership in Media Award to a UNSW press author; a key funding award to our UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing for important work in dementia; the award of the NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship to Associate Professor Rebecca Guy in our Kirby institute for her work on sexually transmitted infections; new Alumni residencies in the School of Arts and Media; the efforts of the UNSW CREATE and Runswift students in the QUT Droid Racing Challenge and Robocup; the AMY award to our External Relations team for the best website in Learning and Education; the award of the 2017 Sulman Art Prize to UNSW Art & Design graduate Joan Ross for her work, Oh history, you lied to me; and the 2017 Sidney Myer Fund award to UNSW Art & Design graduate Jenny Orchard for her work, The Imagined Possibility of Unity.
I enjoyed attending two uplifting events on campus on Saturday. The first was to see the final performance of a production of the Addams Family Musical by NUTS (NSW Uni Theatrical Society) in the Science Lecture Theatre. It was wonderful – great singing, dancing, music and lots of fun. My congratulations to the Director Carly Fisher and everyone involved in the superb cast, crew, and orchestra. If you missed out you can go to the next NUTS production, the T.S. Eliot play “The Cocktail Party” from September 19-23.
I went on to a conversation in the UNSW Council Chamber between Paul Stanhope, the Artistic Chair of the Australian Ensemble, and Mark Grandison, the composer of the winning work in the inaugural Blakeman National Composition Prize. The prize was endowed by Jonathan Blakeman, who many of you will remember as an outstanding Vice-President of Finance and Operations at UNSW for six years, until his death in 2015 (you can read his obituary written in 2015 by then Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer AO here). Jonathan was passionate about music and, as well as donating his music collection to the university, he provided this prize. His wife, Heather Worth, who is Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW, attended the conversation, which was followed by an Australian Ensemble concert featuring Roussel, Dring, Schubert and Mark Grandison’s winning piece “Riffraction”. The Australian Ensemble is resident at UNSW and has a reputation as Australia’s finest chamber music ensemble. The Ensemble performs several concerts a year at UNSW, of outstanding quality and it would be great to see more students and staff in the audience. The next Saturday evening concert is at 8pm on September 16 and there is a lunchtime concert at 1.10pm on September 12. To find out more go to the website.
Best wishes, Ian
RELEASE OF AUSTRALIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION REPORT
On 1 August, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released its report on sexual assault and sexual harassment in Australian universities. Initiated by the Vice-Chancellor’s of all 39 Australian universities through the peak body Universities Australia, the survey gave, for the first time, a comprehensive, national account of the nature and prevalence of sexual misconduct at universities, as well as examining students’ reports of their experiences of misconduct, and university responses. The national and UNSW specific data are available online here. The findings are troubling. Sexual assault and harassment are undeniable and unacceptable realities for our universities, and this data is a critical step on our journey to ensuring that every one of our students, staff, and visitors is safe. UNSW supports, and will implement all of the recommendations made in the AHRC Report, which I regard as a call to action in achieving the behavioural change we must take as a community. I want to again thank all the students who participated in the survey. Some of the UNSW specific findings are as follows:
- Of the 727 UNSW students who responded, 1.3% reported being sexual assaulted in a university setting in 2015 and/or 2016, a figure comprising 1.5% of female respondents and 0.7% of male respondents.
- 29% of respondents reported being sexually harassed at university in 2016. 32% of female respondents and 29% of male respondents reported being sexually harassed at university.
- An even higher proportion of our students reported being sexually assaulted and sexually harassed in their lives beyond the University. Overall, 5.5% of UNSW respondents reported being victims of sexual assault in 2015 and/or 2016. 52% reported experiencing sexual harassment.
- 74% of those who were sexually harassed at university said the perpetrator was a student of the university, or a student in their place of residence; 9% said the perpetrator was a tutor, lecturer, or non-academic university staff member of the university.
- 83% of those who were sexually harassed at university said the perpetrators were males, or that males and females were both involved.
- 25% of students reported being sexually harassed on public transport to or from university.
- Only 4% of students who were sexually harassed at university indicated that they sought support and assistance from the university.
- A high proportion of respondents, over 70%, indicated that they did not report sexual harassment because they did not think it was serious enough.
- More than half of the respondents indicated that they had little or no knowledge of UNSW policies on sexual harassment and assault, of where to seek support/assistance, and of where to go within the university to make a complaint.
Since the start of our close involvement in the ‘Respect.Now.Always.’ campaign, UNSW has implemented a number of initiatives to prevent sexual harassment and assault and improve reporting processes, support, and resources for victims and survivors, and training for staff in responding to these issues. We have much more work to do on a sustained basis, and are committed to addressing the issues the AHRC Report reveals. Our actions include:
- Continuing the process of implementing, in full, the recommendations of a UNSW Internal Audit into prevention of, and responses to, sexual misconduct completed in February 2017.
- Behavioural change training for staff and students to address attitudes that are drivers of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
- An independent external review of UNSW’s procedures and policies around preventing and responding to sexual assault, sexual harassment, and inappropriate behaviour.
- Training volunteer staff and students to be ‘first responders’ to disclosures of sexual assault/misconduct, so that they know what to do when a person discloses information about sexual assault or harassment. Over 200 staff and students have now completed this training, run by the University’s Gendered Violence Research Network (GVRN). While not counsellors, they are able to respond appropriately and respectfully to concerns, and guide people making a disclosure, or reporting such an issue to the right services.
- A new portal for reporting sexual assault and sexual harassment launched in July, which provides easy to find and navigate, up-to-date information on how to report sexual assault and harassment, and where to go for immediate and long-term support. It allows anyone to report an incident of sexual assault or harassment, whether they are someone who has been directly affected, a witness to an incident, or a support person. (Reports can be made anonymously and/or confidentially). The portal, developed in consultation with students and the GVRN, will also play an important role in data collection, allowing for patterns of behaviour and the effectiveness of procedures to be better assessed and evaluated.
In a further step, the good practice report ‘On Safe Ground: A Good Practice Guide for Australian Universities’, produced by the UNSW Australian Human Rights Centre, was released this month, and will inform further developments at UNSW in this area. On Safe Ground is the first Australian report to thoroughly examine responses to sexual assault and harassment in a university setting, and draws strongly on the experiences of students, and international examples of university approaches to the issue. Launching the report, I restated my commitment on behalf of this University to providing a safe, respectful, and non-discriminatory environment for all students and staff. UNSW fully supports the recommendations and will be working with the AHRCentre on implementation. As Professor Andrea Durbach, Director of the AHRCentre and lead author, noted, while Australia’s universities are increasingly aware of the extent of the issue and are working to address it, we need to deal with institutional barriers to reporting, change the culture surrounding the issue of university sexual assault and harassment, and provide visible and vocal senior leadership on this issue. ‘On Safe Ground’highlights six principles to underpin Australian university policies and procedures regarding sexual assault and harassment, including:
- Integrated and inclusive framework;
- Comprehensive, consistent and coordinated design and content;
- Accessible, transparent and enforceable processes;
- Resourced, interconnected and responsive support services;
- Collaborative links with external sexual assault services;
- Institutional commitment to a prevention framework.
The report makes 18 recommendations which include:
- the development, by Australian universities, of stand-alone policies for responding to sexual assault and harassment, that include a prominent statement of expressed prohibition and clear definitions of proscribed conduct;
- the establishment, by Australian universities, of formal student advisory mechanisms to enable substantive student engagement with university leadership in the formulation and evaluation of sexual assault and harassment policies, support services and prevention programs;
- the establishment of integrated sexual violence support services on university campuses that provide holistic support (medical, counselling, academic) for victims of sexual assault and harassment;
- the implementation, by Australian universities and residential colleges, of evidence-based sexual violence prevention education programs specifically designed for the university environment, relevant and applicable to diverse student groups, and delivered by professionally trained experts;
- the establishment, by Universities Australia of a national cross-university taskforce to implement the recommendations of the ‘On Safe Ground’report and the Australian Human Rights Commission report.
A copy of the ‘On Safe Ground: A Good Practice Guide for Australian Universities’ As well, The Guardian Australia published a comprehensive report on the issue, and Professor Durbach and Dr Damian Powell also wrote an extensive opinion piece on their findings.
Note: If the release of the AHRC report has raised concerns, or if you or someone you know needs support or advice on this issue, you can use UNSW’s new portal to identify and access options. If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct, support is available 24/7 at 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 737 or www.1800respect.org.au for counselling and information. Universities Australia has also established a new national 24/7 support line that will operate until 30 November 2017, run by a specialist trauma counselling service, Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia. The number is 1800 572 224.
PROFESSOR EILEEN BALDRY APPOINTED DVC INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY
As I mentioned briefly in my last newsletter, NSW Justice Medal winner and social justice champion, Professor Eileen Baldry, has been appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Inclusion and Diversity, becoming UNSW’s first female DVC. A member of the University’s Management Board, Eileen brings an exceptional depth of skill and experience to this landmark appointment. An expert in equity issues and one of the country’s leading academics in the field of criminology, she was awarded the prestigious NSW Justice Medal in 2009 for her ‘indefatigable’ support for justice-related causes. She was named as one of NSW’s 100 most influential people by Sydney Magazine in 2011, and was listed in the AFR/Westpac 100 most influential women in Australia survey last year. A recognised authority in her field, recently she was called to give evidence to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory in Darwin, and has been retained by the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. Her appointment recognises and celebrates the equity, diversity and inclusion goals we are embedding as key values, targets, and requirements across the university.
RAMACIOTTI CENTRE LAUNCHES NEW GENOME FACILITIES
With almost every human ailment having some basis in our genes, genomics is rapidly becoming the key to curing many diseases – and UNSW has just taken a giant leap into that exciting future with the official opening by NSW Chief Scientist Professor Mary O’Kane of new custom-designed facilities housing UNSW Science's Ramaciotti Centre for Genomics, the largest university-based facility of its kind in Australia. Located in the new $165 million Biosciences Building on the Kensington campus, the Ramaciotti Centre will house two new state-of-the-art ‘next generation’ sequencing platforms that put NSW at the forefront of international genome sequencing capabilities. Professor O’Kane raised a few laughs when she said, ‘I’m an engineer by training but I’m a Big Data nut, so I get excited about machines like this,’ referring to the Centre’s newest acquisitions – the Illumina NovaSeq 6000 technology that offers high-throughput sequencing, and the PacBio Sequel platform which can sequence up to one million single molecules of DNA simultaneously. The Ramaciotti Centre - established in 1999 with a grant from the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Foundation - has been recognised and funded as National Research Infrastructure since 2007 and has received 16 successful ARC LIEF grants since 2000. It is also supported by funding from the NSW Government’s Research Attraction and Acceleration Program (RAAP), and with investment from UNSW Sydney. The Centre’s Director, Professor Marc Wilkins, said the new facility and platforms would deliver internationally competitive genomics to the Australian research community in biomedicine, conservation, the environment, agriculture, and biotechnology. This is a tremendous asset that places UNSW at the leading edge of one of the most exciting fields of science today.
LEAD APPOINTED FOR LIVING WITH 21ST CENTURY TECHNOLOGY GRAND CHALLENGE
Following a competitive EOI process, led by Grand Challenges Academic Lead Scientia Professor Rob Brooks, Associate Professor Lyria Bennett-Moses from Law has been chosen to lead our fourth UNSW Grand Challenge, Living with 21st Century Technology. Impressive EOIs came from nearly every faculty, and Lyria stood out with her overall perspective on technology, and her ability to harness existing networks and structures to drive a Grand Challenge with impact. This is a vital role that reflects UNSW’s strong past and present in technology research and its implications: all of us at UNSW are acutely aware of the major challenge to societies, given the pace of technological change and the speed of the resulting disruption, whether in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, the biosecurity implications of new technologies like CRISPR/CAS9 gene editing, and the mental health implications of our increasingly digital world. How will these technologies change the ways we live, think, work and die? And what newer technologies on the horizon should we be watching, discussing, and debating? Teamed up with our other three Grand Challenges, on Climate Change, Refugees and Migrants, and Inequality; Living with 21st Century Technology will provide stimulus for debate and cross-fertilisation of ideas across all faculties. Congratulations and good luck to Lyria in what I’m sure will be a dynamic leadership role.
PLuS ALLIANCE FORUMS ON INEQUALITY AND GLOBAL SECURITY
Following last month’s successful inaugural event in London of thePLuS Alliance’s alumni and friends - which brought together experts from Arizona State University, King’s College London and UNSW Sydney to discuss the mounting global refugee crisis - Vinita Chanan and her PLuS Alliance team in Sydney recently hosted our colleagues from all three institutions, as well as students, alumni, friends, and industry, for the PLuS Alliance Forum on Inequality, a two-day Grand Challenges/PLuS Alliance collaborative event of meetings, workshops, talks, and presentations at the Kensington campus on the issue of inequality and how the combined expertise of the PLuS Alliance can begin to address this far-reaching global issue. I had great pleasure in opening the forum, which generated new research ideas across the Alliance’s three universities around gender issues and violence, housing affordability, homelessness, technology for people with disabilities, health and mental health, and immigration. A stirring and very moving keynote address by Liesl Tesch AM MP, ‘From the Personal to the Political’, followed her journey from a diagnosis of paraplegia at 19 through to global success as a Paralympian, philanthropist, and politician. This was followed by an insightful panel discussion that included Ms Tesch with Professor Rosalind Dixon (UNSW), Professor Richard Holden (UNSW), Professor Eileen Baldry (UNSW), Professor Mark Henderson (ASU) and Dr Jelke Boesten (King’s) exploring inequality and positing potential solutions. The Forum’s discussions worked through the four PLuS Alliance themes of sustainability, global health, social justice, and technology and innovation. You can see and read full coverage here. We also hosted a one-day PLuS Alliance forum on global security, focusing on the prevention, detection, and mitigation of threats in violent conflict and war, cybersecurity, terrorism, disasters, and biosecurity. Among the presenters were leading thinkers and practitioners in the field, including PLuS Alliance Fellows and experts in global security. Jacinta Carroll, Head of the Counter Terrorism Policy Centre at Australian Strategic Policy Institute, delivered the keynote address. Professor Luca Vigano (King’s) spoke on current issues in cybersecurity, Scientia Professor George Williams (UNSW) on Australia’s anti-terrorism laws, followed by Professor Anthony Burke (UNSW Canberra) on violent conflict, ethics and security governance, Associate Professor Brian Gerber (ASU) on natural disasters and violent conflict, and Professor Raina MacIntyre (UNSW) on data, technology and bioterrorism. Read a full report on that event here. We are now starting to see strong benefits and outcomes from the PLuS Alliance, including the appointment of 116 PLuS Alliance Fellows from our three member universities; already four global symposia; seed funding for 11 projects; the PLuS Alliance Prize for Innovation; we have made available 200 online global programs for learners; and we are stewarding over 45 high-level meetings between researchers. As well, we have just appointed an Advisory Board of high-level leaders and thinkers - I look forward to introducing them in the near future.
2017 UNSW AUSTRALIAN HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE ANNUAL LECTURE
I enjoyed attending the 2017 Australian Human Rights Centre Annual Lecture on 10 August at the UNSW Law Faculty, co-hosted by the UNSW Grand Challenge on Inequality. The lecture was given by Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, and John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. In addressing the question Why does it matter if others have more? How extreme inequality and poverty violate human rights, Professor Alston discussed the connections between extreme poverty, extreme inequality and human rights, noting that inequality in both wealth and income has reached record levels in many countries and is growing. He noted that this threatens the foundations of democracy and many of the human rights that we take for granted. He gave powerful examples to illustrate that in responding to the poverty that accompanies this extreme inequality, governments are often more concerned with finding novel ways to stigmatise those living in poverty than in crafting solutions, often using 'punitive language' when characterising welfare recipients. He noted that little attention was paid to the interaction between these issues: economists and development specialists often excluded human rights from their programs on poverty and inequality, and, more surprisingly, a lot of human rights groups thought they could not address the issue of inequality. Professor Alston highlighted the importance of acknowledging the threat that economic insecurity represents to human rights, and put forward a strong argument for a universal basic income, describing it as “a bold and imaginative solution”. It was a privilege to introduce the lecture and to award Professor Alston, Doctor of Laws honoris causa in recognition of his contribution to human rights and justice globally as an internationally renowned law scholar, and human rights practitioner. An audio recording of the full AHRCentre lecture can be found here. Professor Alston’s visit was generously sponsored by law firm, Maurice Blackburn.
CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF EDUCATING AUSTRALIA’S DEFENCE LEADERS
Former UNSW Vice-Chancellor Sir Rupert Myers, led 50th anniversary celebrations last month marking Australia’s longest-running educational partnership - the signing of an agreement between UNSW and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to provide officer cadets with degree studies. When the agreement was signed, in 1967, Australian troops were in South Vietnam fighting an escalating war that divided the nation - and Sir Rupert, who is now 96 years of age, recalled having to overcome resistance from then UNSW colleagues who felt an academic education could not be delivered in a military environment, and from the leaders of other universities who feared the potential controversy generated by a link with the military, as the Vietnam War became deeply unpopular. The agreement allowed newly recruited Navy and Army officer cadets at the Royal Australian Naval College (RANC, Jervis Bay) and the Royal Military College (RMC Duntroon) with an opportunity to undertake degree studies for the first time. As Sir Rupert told the Canberra audience at the anniversary luncheon, ‘In the context of a complex and controversial war that would not end for another five years, the need for uniformed officers to receive a balanced and liberal education seemed to me self-evident.’ Sir Rupert noted that his last official duty before retiring as Vice-Chancellor in 1981, was signing the agreement to establish the University College [UNSW Canberra] that would operate within the Australian Defence Force Academy. ‘It was a moment of immense pride,’ he said, ‘and what I still consider as one of my most satisfying contributions.’ You can read the full text of Sir Rupert’s memorable speech here UNSW Canberra Rector, Professor Michael Frater, said the relationship between UNSW and the Australian Defence Force has come a long way in 50 years - we now enrol around 2000 Defence-sponsored students in undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs at our Canberra campus. See The Canberra Times report here on the anniversary event.
“BIG ANXIETY FESTIVAL” AIMS TO TRANSFORM APPROACHES TO MENTAL HEALTH
Planning is well under way for the The Big Anxiety Festival, the biggest mental health and arts festival in the world – being hosted by UNSW Sydney and the Black Dog Institute, in association with over 25 partners across Greater Sydney – to explore and re-imagine the state of mental health in the 21st century. Leading national and international artists, scientists, technology experts, and thinkers will assemble across the city for the Festival from 20 September to 11 November. ABS figures show anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia: on average, 1 in 4 people – 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men – experience anxiety in their lifetimes, and the Festival is aiming totransform the ways people think about, and deal with mental health, through innovative experiences including immersive, international art exhibitions, theatre and performance, contemporary dance, interactive media events, and public forums. The majority of events will be free and wheelchair accessible, and selected events will also be Auslan interpreted, audio described, and with tactile tours. Executive & Artistic Director of the Festival, Professor Jill Bennett from UNSW Art & Design, notes there is resounding evidence that the arts can substantially contribute to mental well-being, far beyond simply promoting awareness. I agree, and urge everyone to get involved. I can think of no better use of UNSW technology, research, and innovation than developing imaginative new ways to communicate the experiences of mental illness, recovery, and resilience. The Big Anxiety Festival sponsors include the Australian Government, City of Sydney, Bridging Hope Charity Foundation, Neilson Foundation, and the Mental Health Commission of NSW. You can find the full Festival program here.
GAIL KELLY AND UNSW ESTABLISH $1M GLOBAL LEADERS SCHOLARSHIP
In her role as CEO of the Westpac banking group, Gail Kelly was seen as a champion of business, and particularly of women in business. Now I’m pleased to say she’s a champion of philanthropy at UNSW. Born in South Africa, Gail has donated $1 million and her skills and experience as a business leader and mentor for The Gail Kelly Global Leaders Scholarship - an international exchange program between UNSW and the University of Cape Town (UCT) that will provide one business student from each university with the opportunity for a transformative exchange experience in the other country. It will include direct mentoring and leadership advice from Gail before and after the program. Since her retirement from Westpac in 2015, she has devoted her time to global corporate advisory roles, as well as supporting the leadership aspirations of others. She is also an Adjunct Professor at UNSW, and has been writing up her views on business leadership: the resulting book Live Lead Learn (published by Penguin Random House Australia) was launched recently at our UNSW CBD campus in O’Connell Street. Given Gail’s track record across 35 years in business, the undergraduate scholarship will help UNSW create the next generation of outstanding business leaders. Each scholarship is valued at $20,000, including on-campus accommodation and meals. Candidates will be selected based on academic merit, leadership potential, and a commitment to contribute to the Australian/South African business community. Potential applicants can find out more here, and see a video with Gail Kelly explaining her aims with the scheme. The first scholarship awardees are expected to take up the exchange in 2018.
GRAND CHALLENGES EVENTS AT SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
The Grand Challenges team has had a busy month with a two major events being held at the Sydney Opera House. Breaking the Deadlock (Grand Challenge on Refugees & Migrants) was a discussion around possible solutions to the refugee issue, featuring Paris Aristotle AO, UNSW Professor Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, Professor Gillian Triggs and Huy Troung, a Vietnamese refugee and now corporate executive. I was away for that event but managed to attend the Opera House later that week to hear a lively discussion The Madhouse Effect (Grand Challenge on Climate Change). This featured US climatologist Michael E. Mann, psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky, and activist Anna Rose sharing their ideas on how to disseminate accurate and evidence based information about climate change and how to address it in a debate chaired by ABC TV’s Emma Alberici.
WORLD GIFTED CONFERENCE DRAWS 700-STRONG AUDIENCE
Reports of resoundingly positive feedback followed the 22nd World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (WCGTC) Biennial World Conference hosted by the UNSW School of Education last month. I had great pleasure in welcoming conference attendees at the Clancy Auditorium – over 700 people, including more than 300 international visitors from over 35 countries. Researchers, practitioners, parents, and other stakeholders gathered to hear presentations from international experts, with over 250 speakers discussing the conference theme, Global Perspectives in Gifted Education. UNSW has a long history in this field, particularly through the work of Emeritus Professor Miraca Gross, who gave several presentations during the conference. The GERRIC unit has been a focal point for research and practice in gifted education since the early 1990’s. GERRIC senior research fellow Dr Jae Jung explained why he believes gifted students are neglected in Australia’s education system - because teachers are not being given the necessary training to meet their needs. And delivering his keynote address, Mark Scott AO, Secretary of NSW Department of Education, announced NSW was planning an overhaul of its procedures for selective school placement as part of a review of its gifted and talented policy, and noted that the policy review came against a backdrop of a slide in performance among high achievers on international and national assessments, with Australia lagging behind some major English-speaking economies like the US and England, and well behind major Asian high achievers. The full text of Mark Scott’s speech can be found here, and the full conference program, including abstracts, is here.
SHARP APPOINTMENT: UNSW PROFESSOR IN HUMANITIES AND LANGUAGES
Another terrific SHARP appointment to announce. A world-leading historian of modern imperialism and environmental history, Professor Alison Bashford, will join the School of Humanities and Languages in October. Among her numerous honours, Alison is a Fellow of the Academy of Humanities in Australia, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She was appointed to the Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at the University of Cambridge in 2013. Alison has written extensively on population changes and population thought in the 19th and 20th centuries, and her research - reaching across the disciplines of history, geography, medicine, environmental humanities, and international studies - aligns well with our research strength in history at UNSW Arts & Social Sciences (recognised through an ERA 5 rating). Prior to her Cambridge appointment, Alison was Professor of History at the University of Sydney in 2009-14, and Professor of Australian Studies at Harvard University in 2009-10. She brings with her a strong record of success in ARC grants, and an established network of Australian and UK collaborators. Alison says she is delighted to be returning to Australia to join UNSW Arts and Social Sciences, and has some exciting collaborative research projects in the planning. We look forward to welcoming her to the UNSW community.
SCIENCE WEEK AND THE SYDNEY SCIENCE FESTIVAL
Congratulations to everyone involved in this year’s Science Week and the Sydney Science Festival activities, which again saw the Opera House play host to UNSW for the Women on Mars event. This incredibly successful event was hosted by Professor Emma Johnston and saw female high school students introduced to leading NASA scientists, including Dr Abigail Allwood - the first Australian and first woman to lead a team at NASA. In addition, UNSW Science and New Scientist hosted an event on campus which brought experts from the Australian Museum and CSIRO together to discuss Wildlife Detectives - how insects and animals help scientists to solve crimes through the use of cutting-edge technologies and techniques.
ARTS & SOCIAL SCIENCES’ STUDENTS EMBRACE GULU FIELDWORK
Our links with Gulu University in Uganda continue to expand, and deepen. In partnership with the UNSW Global Development Institute, 30 students from Arts & Social Sciences and Engineering participated in a fieldwork course on conflict resolution in Northern Uganda last month. The students joined local Gulu students for an intensive week-long fieldwork course at Gulu University (taught by staff from both universities), before being deployed to the field to hone their new skills for three further weeks. Once a site of long-standing conflict between army, government, and regional groups, Gulu is now peaceful and the villagers are working to build new lives. The students’ testimonials reflect the authenticity and excitement of what was obviously for all an invaluable experience: ‘It was truly the experience of a lifetime! You will get to go into the most rural communities and converse with locals! You will learn skills that employers will find highly attractive, and will assist you in any career you choose to pursue,’ said one. And another, I have absolutely fallen in love with the country and I know others will too.’ As many of you know, I have been to Uganda often and I completely understand their urge to embrace of this remarkable country, its ability to overcome adversity, and its faith in the future. I hope that in years to come we will continue to develop our links with Gulu University as part of the UNSW Global Initiative and through other projects.
SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES WELCOMES VISITING KENYAN SCHOLAR
We are hosting a special visitor to UNSW from Africa - Dr Babere Chacha, the inaugural recipient of the School of Social Sciences' Global South Fellowship. Dr Chacha comes from Laikipia University, Kenya, and during his six-month fellowship, he will be working with the School on a range of research events and seminars, engaging in learning and teaching, and also drafting a manuscript on political assassinations in Kenya. A key aim of his visit will be to build links with UNSW staff, laying the groundwork for a collegiate relationship with his home institution, Laikipia University. We welcome Dr Chacha to UNSW.
This year’s TEDxUNSW event attracted a large audience to Leighton Hall to hear ten speakers share their experience of building ideas and networks piece by piece, to grow enterprises under the theme 'small pieces, big picture'. I heard some of the inspiring talks from UNSW students, staff and alumni and a range of talented individuals who are all making a big difference in their areas. The speakers included Lucy Thomas – creator of Pocket Rockit, a youth driven movement against bullying, hate and prejudice; Andrew Hughes – a Clinical Practitioner of NLP, motivational speaker, author, Chairman, executive coach, and leadership consultant; and Belinda Dunstan - an associate lecturer at UNSW Design Futures Lab, and one of Australia’s rising leaders in the field of social robotics.
My congratulations to the team of students who have put so much work in to organising this high quality event. TEDxUNSW is a great way to highlight the talent we have in the UNSW community and to bring the experiences of other talented people to UNSW to share their stories.
RECORD NUMBER OF EUREKA PRIZE FINALISTS FOR UNSW
Restoring underwater forests, improving medical masks, turning hydrogen into fuel, and many other projects - UNSW had a record 12 finalists in the running at this year's Eureka Prizes, which celebrate Australia’s most exciting scientific advances. Our shortlisted researchers came from the faculties of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, including from the Kirby Institute, Children’s Cancer Institute, and the George Institute, and they highlighted the diversity of research endeavour going on at UNSW. Presented annually by the Australian Museum, the Eureka Prizes are the country’s highest-profile science awards, recognising excellence in research and innovation, leadership, science engagement, and school science. Leading the field as a finalist in two categories is UNSW Scientia Professor Justin Gooding, nominated as Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers, and also for the ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology. Professor Gooding has a program of individualised mentorship to develop the next generation of research leaders in bio-nanotechnology and nanomedicine – focusing on developing innovative, entrepreneurial and passionate researchers who can become talented mentors in their own right. He has also, withcolleagues Dr Parisa Khiabani and Dr Alexander Soeriyadi, been nominated for a Eureka for a simple and affordable sensor that tells the wearer when they should seek shade or apply more sunscreen. For a list of UNSW finalists and their profiles, click here. The winners of these ‘Oscars of Australian science’ will be announced at a gala dinner in Sydney on 30 August, so good luck to all!
SCIENTIA PROFESSOR JANE MCADAM AWARDED 2017 CALOUSTE GULBENKIAN PRIZE
Another major award to one of our senior academics - Scientia Professor Jane McAdam has become the first Australian to be awarded the Calouste Gulbenkian Prize for outstanding work in the field of human rights. This is one of the world's most prestigious awards in this field. Jane, the Director of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW, and academic lead of the UNSW Grand Challenge on Refuges and Migration, shared this year’s 100,000 Euro prize with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, an NGO working with refugees. The jury highlighted the global scope and impact of Jane’s ideas, observing that their practical effect on legislation, jurisprudence, and policy had led to better lives for thousands of refugees and migrants. They specifically cited Jane’s pioneering, transformative work on climate change and disaster related displacement, and also noted that her research on the protection of individuals facing serious human rights abuses (for example, torture) had led to major reform in the law. The prize honours Calouste Gulbenkian, an oil industry pioneer, diplomat and philanthropist, whose life journey, from childhood in Istanbul to his latter life in Portugal, influenced the Foundation he created. This is a wonderful personal achievement for Jane, and a terrific reflection of what we are seeking to achieve in the 2025 Strategy.
UNSW CLIMATE SCIENTIST WINS TOP INTERNATIONAL AWARD
This year’s prestigious Tinker-Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica has been awarded to Scientia Professor Matthew England of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, in recognition of his outstanding research, leadership and advocacy for Antarctic science. Professor England won the US $100,000 prize - presented annually to an individual whose work has enhanced the understanding and/or preservation of Antarctica - for his ‘sustained and seminal contribution to Antarctic science through profound insights into the influence of the Southern Ocean on the continent and its role in the global climate system.’ Matthew is currently the lead on our Grand Challenge on Climate Change, and has led a superb program of events, discussions and debates. He is globally recognised for his significant leadership roles in international programs such as the Climate and Ocean – Variability, Predictability, and Change (CLIVAR) project, and the Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) project of the World Climate Research Program, where he has shown a strong commitment to collegiality, capacity building, and the global impact of Antarctic science. The Tinker-Muse Prize citation noted that ‘Professor England has consistently shown a rare ability to translate global issues to local impacts, and in an engaging and accessible way to the general public.’ Matthew has dedicated his career to the southern oceans and this award duly recognises his enormous contributions both to science and UNSW. We congratulate him heartily and take pride in his achievements.
UNSW PRESS AUTHOR SCORES IN MID-YEAR WALKLEY AWARDS
The CEO of UNSW Press Kathy Bail was pleased to pass on the news that a prominent author with our NewSouth imprint, freelance journalist Catherine Fox, has won the Walkley Women’s Leadership in Media award. A significant part of Catherine’s entry was her book Stop Fixing Women: Why building fairer workplaces is everybody’s business, which NewSouth published in April this year. As the blurb says, ‘Millions of words have been spent in our quest to explain men’s seemingly never-ending dominance in boardrooms, in parliaments, in the bureaucracy and in almost every workplace. So why is gender inequality still such a pressing issue?’ Catherine Fox’s writing shows how business, defence, public service, and community leaders might achieve gender equality rather than just talking about it. It’s also a great example of why Australia’s university presses are now more important than ever, giving voice to critical issues in our society, and helping to drive agendas that matter.
CHeBA’S SUCCESS IN BOOSTING DEMENTIA RESEARCH
UNSW’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) Research Fellow, Dr Nicole Kochan, has won funding to systematically evaluate and compare several prominent and widely-used computerised neuropsychological test batteries - used for assessing cognition in older adults with and without dementia. Dementia is a major health problem with 200 Australians diagnosed every day and early diagnosis is seen as critical – but objective assessment of cognitive abilities is essential for accurate diagnosis at these mild or early stages. Dr Kochan sees tests using tablet computers and internet delivery as offering excellent opportunities for large scale implementation of cognitive screening and monitoring, and anticipates her study will have a major impact on cognitive testing in those with suspected cognitive decline. The projects supported are part of a $200 million funding program announced in the 2014-15 Federal Budget. CHeBA Co-Director, Professor Henry Brodaty, also had success in this round as an investigator on two separate studies led by Monash University and the University of Sydney. Australia has an excellent track record in dementia research, and grants like this demonstrate both a strong Government commitment to address a burgeoning health issue, and UNSW’s continuing strengths in this vital field.
PROFESSOR BRUCE BREW AWARDED DSC
Professor Bruce Brew, Director of Neurology at St Vincent’s Hospital, and Professor of Medicine at UNSW, was recently awarded a Doctorate of Science by the University for his sustained and stellar leadership in clinical research in the areas of AIDS dementia and neuro-inflammatory processes. Bruce has led these fields over several decades, published widely, and continues to be a great role model for those aspiring to become clinician researchers. Thank you Bruce, and congratulations.
NEW AWARD HONOURS INDIGENOUS ELDER IN RESIDENCE
A new award has been created at UNSW Art & Design to honour Indigenous Elder in Residence, Yuwaalaraay man Vic Chapman PSM, a longstanding educator and seminal mentor within Indigenous arts and cultural communities. Named the Vic Chapman Equity Award, the initiative aims to provide a supportive pathway for a talented student, and to recognise Mr Chapman and his late wife Ruth, by celebrating and reflecting their enduring contributions to our society. The Award was launched with a reception at UNSW Galleries. Uncle Vic, as he is known to many on the Art & Design campus in Paddington, was the first Aboriginal person to qualify as a teacher in the New South Wales education system, later becoming the first Aboriginal principal appointed to a New South Wales public school. Now 85 years old, he has been actively involved in bettering the lives of Indigenous young people for more than 65 years. This fund will support an equity student, and aims to offer one top-up award every year of $5,000 for the year. Art & Design has set up a donation site where students, staff, and friends can contribute.
UNSW EPIDEMIOLOGIST RECOGNISED FOR PUBLIC HEALTH RESEARCH
Kirby Institute epidemiologist, Associate Professor Rebecca Guy, has been honoured at the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Excellence Awards for her work on HIV and sexually transmitted infections. She has been awarded the Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship, one of three awarded annually for the top-ranked female applicants in 2016, in the clinical, biomedical, and public health areas of the Research Fellowship scheme. This makes Rebecca the fourth outstanding woman researcher from UNSW to win the Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship in the past three years. She is working to translate her research findings into population health outcomes for people at greatest risk of STIs, including youth, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, men who have sex with men, and pregnant women and children in low-income countries. UNSW Conjoint Lecturer Dr Julie Brown also won a Career Development Fellowship for her research with NeuRA on preventing road crash-related injury to children, the elderly, and motorcyclists by improving protective equipment. The fellowships, aimed at fostering the careers of female researchers, are named after Australian-American Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, who was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Speaking at the awards dinner, NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said the winners were ranked by expert peer reviewers and the awards recognised ‘truly outstanding research and researchers.’
ARCHITECTURE CAN HELP SOLVE POVERTY, INEQUALITY & SEGREGATION
I was pleased to welcome Pritzker Prize winning Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena – renowned for his humanitarian and activist approach to design - to the Kensington campus last month to talk about creative solutions to the challenges facing society. Aravena is best known for his work with Elemental, an architecture group that aims to alleviate poverty and eliminate slums by engaging local communities in the design process. Its low-cost Quinta Monroy housing development in Chile consisted of building frames and essential rooms, leaving the rest for residents to complete themselves over time. The 2016 recipient of the Pritzker, architecture’s ‘Nobel’ prize, spoke of the key problems of the world - poverty, inequality, segregation – and how architects had the skills to deal with them ‘if they listen to all the forces at play.’ Referring to the pressing need for social housing globally, he noted three billion people were now living in cities, and a third of them were below the poverty line. In response, UNSW Built Environment Dean Professor Helen Lochhead said the Social Agency stream in the Architecture program recognised the imperative for UNSW graduates to use their skills to address broader urban challenges. She said projects such as Aravena’s low income housing model had achieved a real step change in social housing by enhancing the potential to move out of the poverty cycle. UNSW Built Environment is a partner of the C+A Talks series, which sponsors lecture visits to Australia by distinguished international architects.
DR JANE GOODALL TALKS TO UNSW ABOUT LIFE WITH CHIMPANZEES
In a wonderful, inspiring interview, world-renowned British primatologist and activist, Dr Jane Goodall, told UNSW Dean of Science Professor Emma Johnston that, at 83 years of age, her overwhelming feeling is one of hope for the future. This might appear contradictory coming from someone who has witnessed up close the destruction of animal habitats, and the disappearance of animal species, but Dr Goodall says she draws confidence from the resilience of nature - and an indomitable human spirit that makes people continue the struggle for change. Dr Goodall was recently in Australia on a lecture tour, and Emma had the opportunity to record this video interview with her, which I highly recommend. As a young woman with no scientific training, Dr Goodall began observing the wild chimpanzees of Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania in 1960, and quickly discovered they made and used tools – challenging understanding about what it meant to be human. Today she is a keen advocate of new social media technologies that let people around the world raise their voice in unison on issues such as climate change, and work out ways to alter their lifestyles. But her main hope for the future rests with young people, she says, those who have ‘chosen to do projects to make the world better for people, animals, and the environment, and who are learning there really are no distinct barriers between people of different nations, cultures, and religions.’ To have, into one’s eighties, such enthusiasm and optimism for the future (more so given the current state of the world) is pretty remarkable.
CONFLICTING VIEWS ON MURRAY-DARLING WATER CRISIS
UNSW’s Professor Richard Kingsford played a prominent role in thought leadership last month, appearing in an ABC TV Four Corners program that raised grave doubts about the integrity of Australia’s vast Murray-Darling Basin plan. The program highlighted alleged cases of water theft by some farmers, claiming they had taken more water from the river than they were entitled to - prompting the Federal Government to order an interstate review of water use in the basin. In an opinion article published by Fairfax Media, Professor Kingsford, Director of the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science, argued that the tragedy of the Murray-Darling river system was man-made, and not the result of cyclical droughts as was often claimed. He noted that in the five years since $13 billion was allocated by the federal government to save the critical river system and the surrounding environment, little had been done to alleviate the intense competition over access to water, nor to provide clear data for good management of the Basin's water flows. Professor Kingsfords scientific research on the wetlands of eastern Australia during the past 30 years has shown that construction of dams, and diversion of water from the Murray-Darling Basin have led to a more than 70 percent decline in waterbird numbers.
THANKING UNSW STAFF FOR THEIR GENEROSITY
Last month I had the pleasure of hosting a Staff Giving Appreciation Afternoon Tea to recognise and thank UNSW staff who have made financial contributions to projects at the University. For the occasion I donned a chef’s hat and apron and served afternoon tea, as did other attending members of the Executive Team: Professor Brian Boyle (Deputy Vice-Chancellor Enterprise), Fiona Docherty (Vice-President External Relations Professor Ross Harley (Dean UNSW Art & Design), Shahina Mohamed (Operations Director), Jon Paparsenos (Vice-President Philanthropy), Professor Chris Styles (Dean UNSW Business), David Ward (Vice-President Human Resources) and Scientia Professor George Williams (Dean UNSW Law). It was great fun but also enabled us to express our sincere gratitude for the generosity displayed by staff, and it highlighted, I think, the special nature of those who work in an organisation and donate to projects run by it. Our thanks again to all involved, for philanthropic giving at its best.
NEW AIRCRAFT FOR UNSW SCHOOL OF AVIATION
While no threat (yet) to Qantas or Virgin, UNSW is gradually building up its air fleet. Our latest acquisition is a brand new $1 million twin-engined aircraft for training of aviation students in the Science Faculty’s School of Aviation. The Piper PA-44 Seminole has two 180 horsepower engines, a cruising speed of about 300 kilometres an hour, and a range of around 1300 kilometres. At the handover ceremony at UNSW’s facilities at Bankstown Airport, the Head of the School of Aviation, Professor Gabriel Lodewijks, said the purchase was important for maintaining the high quality of the school’s academic programs and research. Former Head of the School, Professor Jason Middleton, said the Piper Seminole was renowned as a very reliable aircraft, and was fully fitted for flying under instrument flying conditions. “It can be flown into Sydney airport on a dark and stormy night, just like any big airline aircraft," he said. UNSW owns six single-engine Diamond DA40 aircraft and leases another Piper Seminole for training, plus an older Piper Seminole used for airborne research, including laser surveying of NSW beaches. The new aircraft was built in Florida, where it was test flown prior to being dismantled for road transport across the US, then shipped to Perth. It was reassembled and test flown in Perth, then flown to Sydney, and test flown again by UNSW pilots.
UNSW SCIENTIST LEADS MAJOR CLIMATE SCIENCE REVIEW
A comprehensive review by the Australian Academy of Science into Australia’s Climate Science Capability, led by UNSW Scientia Professor Trevor McDougall, has recommended an urgent increase in the number of climate scientists. The Academy instigated the review to assess how well Australia’s climate science sector is positioned to meet current and future demands for weather and climate knowledge, in the context of increasingly powerful and sophisticated tools, and methodologies. It surveyed all of Australia’s climate research agencies and centres, including the Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO, the Australian Antarctic Division, and universities, to identify how many Australian researchers are working across the various disciplines and sub-disciplines of climate science, and how well these different areas are performing. The report recommended mechanisms to ensure better coordination of climate research across Australia’s universities and climate agencies, as well as increasing climate science capability in critical areas. Professor McDougall identified under-resourcing in specific areas, and noted that Australia’s climate research sector was a fraction of the size of those in America or Europe, while having to cover most of the Southern Hemisphere in terms of climate modelling and understanding. Read a media release about the report, or the full report here.
SCHOOL OF THE ARTS & MEDIA’S ALUMNI RESIDENCIES ANNOUNCED
The School of the Arts & Mediahas just announced this year’s recipients of its Alumni Residency Program, which supports recent graduates from all disciplines in the School in their professional creative endeavours. This year saw a record number of applications, and a strong collection of projects, so the selection panel decided to share the residency between two groups. The first is to Sonya Holowell and Elia Bosshard, for several performances of the musical work Three Voices by Morton Feldman at this year’s Sydney Fringe Festival; and the second, to the Fillibuster Theatre Company (Nick Atkins, Kevin Ng, Ryan McGoldrick), to stage performances of ‘Little Business’ from August to November this year at Customs House, as part of the City of Sydney’s Late Night Library series. The artists will have access to SAM facilities and resources, including rehearsal spaces, recording studios, audio-visual equipment, workshops, and props and costumes stores, and will gain the expertise of staff in the UNSW Creative Practice Lab (CPL) and the UNSW Arts & Social Sciences Technical Resource Centre. This includes technical and production advice, access to industry networks, and design advice.
UNSW WOMEN IN ENGINEERING AWARDS
I was pleased to attend the annual UNSW Women in Engineering Awards reception held at The Mint, central Sydney’s oldest public building. Kathryn Fagg, a board member of the Reserve Bank and Boral, and President of Chief Executive Women, was awarded the Ada Lovelace Medal for Outstanding Woman Engineer, a national award that recognises the contribution Australian women have made to the profession, and to wider society.
Professor Mark Hoffman, UNSW Dean of Engineering said: “Kathryn Fagg is an outstanding member of the engineering profession who built a substantial and impressive career in traditionally male-dominated worlds of petroleum exploration, steel making, logistics, and banking. She is an inspiration to us all, particularly young women. She shows that engineering is a discipline that can take you anywhere.” The Ada Lovelace Medal is named for Augusta Ada Byron, later Countess Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician who worked on Charles Babbage’s revolutionary mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised today as the first computer algorithm, making her the world’s first computer programmer. The two other awards were the Judy Raper Award for Leadership, won by Cordelia Selomulya, a professor at Monash University, and leader of its Biotechnology and Food Engineering group; and the Maria Skyllas-Kazacos Young Professional Award For Outstanding Achievement, won by Narelle Underwood, the Surveyor-General of NSW. The awards are part of a concerted effort by UNSW’s Faculty of Engineering to attract more women to the profession. Since 2013, the faculty has boosted by 48% the number of women starting first-year engineering at UNSW, and more than quadrupled the number of girls attending its annual Women in Engineering Summer Camp. The Faculty has set a goal to raise female representation among students, staff, and researchers to 30% by 2020. Currently, 23% of UNSW engineering students are female (versus the Australian average of 17%), up from 21% in 2015. In industry, only about 13% of engineers are female, a ratio that has been growing slowly for decades.
UNSW ENGINEERS RECOGNISED FOR BREAKTHROUGHS
The pioneering efforts of two UNSW-affiliated Engineers, Professor Melissa Knothe Tate and Professor Ana Deletic, have been recognised in Engineers Australia’s awards for Most Innovative Engineers for 2017. More than 200 engineers were nominated, highlighting the outstanding work of Australians in this field over the past two years, and 30 engineers made the final list across 10 categories. Professor Tate received an award in the Research and Academia category for developing imaging technology for the treatment of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. This breakthrough technology developed under the project, ‘Cell's-eye view of human hips’, enables researchers to navigate and zoom into bones, which can be analysed at cellular and subcellular levels, a radical approach that brings together cutting-edge imaging technology, multi-beam scanning electron microscopy (mSEM), and rendering of these massive data sets using geospatial approaches enabled through the Google Maps API. Work that once took 25 years can be done in weeks. The winner in the Community category was Professor Ana Deletic, UNSW’s new Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), who developed low-energy water treatment technologies in a project called ‘Green-blue walls’. These vertical walls, made of planter boxes and vines, conceal filters designed to treat storm water and grey water, which is recycled to irrigate urban gardens – innovative technology that can help transform cities to become green, cool, and clean. You can see the list of Most Innovative Engineers here, in the July issue of Engineers Australia’s Create magazine.
NEW ENGINEERING COURSE FOR A BETTER WORLD
Is humanitarian engineering the next big thing? By focusing on how to create the best engineering solutions to increase the wellbeing and welfare of individuals and communities in disadvantaged circumstances all over the world, humanitarian engineering targets two main areas: disaster response and preparedness, and long-term sustainable community development. From 2018 onwards, third-year engineering students at UNSW will be offered a new multidisciplinary course called Fundamentals of Humanitarian Engineering through the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CVEN). Senior Lecturer in CVEN, Dr -Fiona Johnson, one of the academics leading the development of the course, says it’s aimed at creating ‘global citizen engineers’ who can address humanitarian problems. ‘We’ve had ad-hoc offerings in this space for years,’ she says, ‘but we’ve had a more structured approach recently through our partnership with Engineers Without Borders (EWB).’ Fiona says the concepts of ‘appropriate technology’ and ‘capacity building’ are fundamental to the subject, providing context in the planning and design of infrastructure and technology in areas such as water and waste management, and energy supply and distribution. Students will learn through case studies, guest lectures, and workshops that illustrate humanitarian engineering principles, to broaden their thinking from the technical to the greater ‘human idea’. Fiona is looking for inputfrom engineers working in humanitarian engineering who would like to contribute their experience and expertise. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
UNSW ART & DESIGN GRADUATE WINS 2017 SULMAN ART PRIZE…
Celebrated Sydney-based artist and UNSW Art & Design graduate Joan Ross (UNSW BFA and UNSW MFA) has won the 2017 Sulman Prize for her work, Oh history, you lied to me. The Sulman Prize, hosted by the Art Gallery of New South Wales along with the Archibald and Wynne Prizes, is awarded for the best subject painting, genre painting, or mural project by an Australian artist. Ross describes her winning subject painting as a ‘continuation of my interrogation of colonial collecting and of Australian colonisation. I imagine history is an unfaithful lover, in his own bubble with his lies, seduction and manipulation, only seeing from his position. Recreating the Leverian Museum, a catacomb of curiosities including those from Captain Cook’s voyages, and using my signature hi-vis as a metaphor for colonisation, I am critical of the collecting mentality as an ongoing disease fuelled by superiority and greed.’ Established within the terms of Sir John Sulman’s bequest, the prize was first awarded in 1936. Other alumni of UNSW Art & Design among the Sulman Prize finalists this year were Abdul Abdullah, Michelle Cawthorne, Jason Phu, Tom Polo, Nick Swann, Angela Tiatia and Caroline Zilinsky.
UNSW ART & DESIGN GRADUATE WINS 2017 JOHN FRIES AWARD
Now in its 8th year, the John Fries Awardpresents new and experimental works by emerging artists from across Australia and New Zealand, and is considered a launching pad for early career visual artists. This year’s winner is UNSW Master of Fine Arts graduate and staff member Kuba Dorabialski for his video installation titled Invocation Trilogy #1: Floor Dance of Lenin’s Resurrection (2017). Selected from a field of more than 600 Australian and New Zealand early career artists as one of only 12 finalists, the installation was created as new work for the award, exploring a range of themes from architecture to literature, and praised for its high production values, complexity and finely tuned humour. UNSW Art & Design also fielded three other finalists for the 2017 Award; Amanda Williams, Angela Tiatia, & Claudia Nicholson.The Prize was established by the Fries family in memory of former Viscopy director and honorary treasurer, John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of the organisation. Guest curator of the Award for 2017 – 2018, Consuelo Cavaniglia, and exhibiting artists will be taking audiences through the exhibition in a discussion about the artworks and the Award on August 31 at the UNSW Galleries as part of the John Fries Award 2017 Curator and Artist Talk. The exhibition of all the works is on display until September 2.
…AND ANOTHER WINS 2017 SIDNEY MYER FUND AWARD
The 2017 $50,000 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Art Award, Australia’s most prestigious prize in ceramics, has been awarded to UNSW Art & Design graduate Jenny Orchard. Her winning work, The Imagined Possibility of Unity (2017), is described as a wild and arresting compilation of large sculptural pieces - bulbous, colourful, and breathtakingly unpredictable. The judges were united in their description of Orchard’s work as a ‘tour de force that reveals an artist ... whose work has an unquestionable contemporary relevance.’ Orchard, who has spent more than 30 years working as an artist investigating issues around genetic modifications and industrial farming, calls her pieces ‘zookinis’ or ‘interbeings’; surreal hybrids of plants and animals. She said she was both honoured and humbled to have been named the winner of this premier acquisitive ceramics art prize, and noted her work was an attempt to provoke questioning: ‘I choose not to use shock, but to try to express wonder, and a gentle probing or provocation to look at the diversity and connections in the lively world around us.’ Jenny Orchard's success follows on UNSW Art & Design lecturer Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran's recognition with the Award in 2015.
UNSW'S ROBOT SOCCER CHAMPS IN WORLD PLAYOFFS
Australia’s five-time world champions of robot soccer, UNSW’s Runswift team, facing powerful teams from Germany and the USA, fought hard in Japan to try and recapture the international trophy for a record sixth time – but alas, without success. The UNSW RoboCup team did battle at the 2017 RoboCup World Championships in Nagoya, where 24 teams from 15 nations competed in the Standard Platform League (SPL), the premier category in which teams use common hardware: 58 cm-tall ‘Nao’ bipedal robots. Acting autonomously, the robots have to rely entirely on the software in their on-board memories – developed over the previous year by their human engineers writing the best software for movement, vision processing, decision-making and strategy – to win a game. UNSW enhanced its ‘walk engine’ this year, and also overhauled its vision system, which let the team down last year in Leipzig. In the SPL, UNSW reached the Quarter Finals in the Main Competition; gained third place in the Mixed-Team competition, pairing with TJArk from Tongji University China; and reached the semis in the Penalty Shoot-out challenge. This year, for the first time, UNSW also entered a team in RoboCup@Home’s Domestic Standard Platform League, which aims to develop robots to help with tasks around the home, using Toyota Human Support Robots as basic platforms. Teams have to pass a series of benchmark tests to evaluate their ability and performance in a realistic, dynamic home environment, such as computer vision, object recognition, object manipulation, and ambient intelligence. The result? UNSW was eighth out of 10 teams. The application of software engineering to competitions like these helps boost the skills of our UNSW students - so win or lose, we win anyway!
UNSW AGAIN WINS STUDENT RACING CHALLENGE
Still on robotics, the UNSW CREATE students comprising Team Mature – Harry Dudley-Bestow (Mechatronics), Jabez Thomas (Computer Science) and Jack Scott (Mechatronics) – took out the QUT Droid Racing Challenge in Queensland last month, for their second year running. The team competed against 10 others from seven Australasian universities. The contending vehicles are autonomous – tiny versions of what could be driverless cars of the future – and they ‘self-race’ around the course, avoiding lines and obstacles designed to derail them. The big challenge this year was the changing light conditions on the outdoor circuit which threw shadows, glare, and reflections across the track, but the UNSW vehicles’ computer vision was able to interpret the conditions and keep the cars on course. Team Mature paid tribute to its main competitors University of Queensland (in second place), and Macquarie University – both had faster platforms but were not able to avoid obstacles and stay within the lanes with the same level of reliability and accuracy of our winning UNSW group. Flush with success, I hear they are already planning next year’s assault.
APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR AURORA INTERNSHIPS
Current students and graduates of Social Sciences, particularly those from Anthropology, Environmental Management, History, Human Geography, and Sociology, are encouraged to apply for the Aurora Internship Program, which provides opportunities to work in native title, policy development, research, and social justice, all with an Indigenous focus. Interns will have the chance to work with anthropology and research staff at a host organisation including Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs), Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs), Indigenous organisations, Government bodies, Community groups, and Policy organisations. These internships provide an excellent opportunity for students and graduates to consider careers in these fields, while also providing additional resources to organisations that need assistance. Host organisations are located in a wide range of locations, from Alice Springs to Armidale, Broome to Brisbane, Camooweal to Canberra, Newcastle to Nhulunbuy.There are two intakes for interns annually, during the summer and winter university breaks, for five to six weeks, with some flexibility for graduates. Applicants should preferably be in be in their final year of study, or have graduated. Applications for the summer 2017/18 round will be accepted online via the Aurora website until 5pm Friday 25 August 2017.
UNSW INTERNATIONAL WEBSITE WINS INDUSTRY AWARD
Congratulations to Sagar Dave and his talented colleagues in the new External Relations team, winners of this year’s AMY Award for the best website in the Learning and Education category. The AMY awards are run by the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA), part of the ADMA Group, and the digital industry’s representative body in Australia. The annual awards recognise outstanding and innovative digital work.