Science Pact for Impact, Wellness Warriors, Garvan’s cellular sequencing and a toothy tiger gives paws – 4 April 2024

04 Apr 2024
The Vice-Chancellor and Wellness Warriors on campus

Dear colleagues 

I hope you enjoyed a restful long weekend with loved ones after what has been a busy start to 2024. Last week, UNSW Science launched its Pact for Impact, a collective commitment with our valued partners to define and measure the impact we make together through science. The event highlighted the strong spirit of collaboration at UNSW and the importance of partnerships in driving positive societal impact.

Already, more than 50 partners that share UNSW’s ethos for making a positive difference have signed the pact. It’s pleasing to see so many organisations willing to commit to improving the world we live in through science. Congratulations to Scientia Professor Sven Rogge, Dean of Science, and his team in driving this fantastic initiative. Find out more about Pact for Impact

Garvan Institute transforming health

A fascinating visit to the Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Professor Merlin Crossley, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Quality, and I visited the Garvan Institute of Medical Research recently, one of UNSW’s key partners in health. The research at Garvan is another reminder of the power of collaboration in achieving positive outcomes for our community.

It was a pleasure to meet with Garvan’s Executive Director, Professor Benjamin Kile, and key members of the Institute’s scientific leadership team and hear about the remarkable ways in which Garvan’s research is transforming health. The Garvan Institute’s focus on core strengths in cancer, immunology and genomics are areas of significant synergy and partnership with UNSW.

During the visit we toured the Garvan Cellular Genomics Platform and learnt that Garvan is the third largest sequencer of single cells in the world. This is extraordinary! You can read more on the Garvan Institute website.

Acting on insights

Last year the Insight staff engagement survey was carried out to identify what was working well across the University and opportunities for improvement. The survey found that just 55 per cent of continuing and fixed term staff agree that at UNSW we act on promising, new or innovative ideas. To increase our collective capacity to drive innovation, an Innovation Working Group has been formed to determine where and how innovation succeeds at UNSW and draft a roadmap for building a stronger University innovation ecosystem. Read the Inside UNSW story for more information about how you can be involved in the process.

Dean of Medicine & Health appointed

I am pleased to share that Professor Cheryl Jones has been appointed Dean of Medicine & Health at UNSW Sydney, following a global search. Prof. Jones is a world authority on childhood infectious disease, an internationally recognised clinician scientist and a key opinion leader in research, research training, clinical practice, and health workforce education. Prof. Jones is currently the Head of School and Dean of Sydney Medical School. I’m sure you will join me in welcoming Cheryl when she commences in her new role in June.

I would like to thank Professor Adrienne Torda, Acting Dean of Medicine & Health, who has done an outstanding job of leading the Faculty during this time of transition.  

Ramadan Mubarak

Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs and students gather at Fig Tree Hall for a pre-dawn meal during Ramadan

It was an honour to join the Dean of Fig Tree Hall College, Rasheed Khan, and students for a pre-dawn meal at 5.10am last Wednesday during Ramadan. We are fortunate to have colleges like Fig Tree Hall which is a culturally diverse, inclusive and supportive college community. Every year throughout Ramadan, Fig Tree Hall welcomes students from across UNSW’s residential colleges for pre-dawn meals. For the first pre-dawn meal of Ramadan, students and staff from all on-campus accommodations are invited. I was grateful to spend time at Fig Tree Hall and very much enjoyed experiencing this tradition. Thank you to the students and to Rasheed for hosting me most graciously at their home away from home during this special time.

Wellness warriors spread stress-busting message

As I was walking around campus last week, I met a wonderful group of students (pictured, top) promoting mental health and wellbeing to our student community. These Wellness Warriors chose different topics to focus on, and last week’s was the importance of taking time out in nature as an aid to wellness. I couldn’t agree more. Taking a moment to connect with, reflect on, (and hug!) our natural environment is a fantastic way to help re-centre on hectic days. A big thank you to these students for volunteering their time to spread the wellness message and support others.

There’s even more to read Inside UNSW…

  • Scientia Professor David Waite has been honoured with a prestigious Jiangsu Friendship Award for his work on transformational environmental technologies that have helped communities in Jiangsu Province, China. Congratulations David!
  • I also extend my congratulations to Professor Johannes le Coutre who has been elected as a Fellow of the International Academy of Food Science & Technology for his outstanding contributions to the global food industry. 
  • A reminder that our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider is changing. The EAP phone number is now 1300 687 327. You can find out more about the new EAP Provider, Converge International, on the Wellbeing page.
  • Have you ever wanted to hold a tiger’s paw while it has its teeth fixed? Read this week’s profile of Liz Riley, Domestic Undergraduate Marketing Lead in Future Student Recruitment to find out more!

Best regards

Professor Attila Brungs
Vice-Chancellor and President