TIME Top 100, Provost appointment and celebrating research excellence – 19 September 2023

19 Sep 2023
3 minute thesis participants posed on stage with the Vice-Chancellor

Dear colleagues

I’m delighted to share that Scientia Professor Megan Davis, Pro Vice-Chancellor Society and the Director of the Indigenous Law Centre, has been included on the esteemed TIME100 Next List, which recognises emerging leaders around the world. The accolade acknowledges Megan’s unwavering dedication to the rights of First Nations and Torres Strait Islander peoples and her pivotal role in the dialogue surrounding the Voice to Parliament at this crucial moment in our country’s history.

Megan has worked on constitutional recognition at UNSW Law & Justice for 20 years and is a shining example of the impact our people can have in shaping the future of Australia and improving lives. You can read more about her work on the UNSW Newsroom.

UNSW Director of Entrepreneurship named Top 100 Innovator

Director of Entrepreneurship at the UNSW Founders Program, David Burt, has also been named on a recent top 100 list – The Australian Newspaper’s Top 100 Innovators list. Congratulations David! UNSW Founders has supported more than 60 graduating startups to raise more than $70 million in investment capital post-program, created more than 175 jobs, and generated more than $250 million in enterprise value. UNSW Founders is Australia’s most comprehensive university entrepreneurship program providing support to take ideas from the curiosity stage to successful startup. Last year, a quarter of The Australian Top 100 Innovators List heralded from UNSW. Last Thursday, our next generation of entrepreneurs competed in the Peter Farrell Cup, read more below.

Professor Vlado Perkovic appointed Provost

It is my pleasure to welcome Scientia Professor Vlado Perkovic as UNSW’s new Provost, commencing this week, following four years at UNSW as Dean of Medicine & Health. As I mentioned in my email to staff earlier this month, we are deeply fortunate to have a leader of his calibre, experience and vision taking on the position of Provost, one of the most critical leadership roles at the University. Read more on the UNSW Newsroom.

I would like to thank Scientia Professor George Williams, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Planning & Assurance and Professor Claire Annesley, Dean of Arts, Design & Architecture, for sharing the role of Provost with Vlado over the last six months. The dedication, collegiality, leadership and support they have provided has been instrumental to the leadership of the University.

Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister visits UNSW

Fiji visit

Pictured with Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister The Hon. Manoa Kamikamica

It was an honour to welcome Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister The Hon. Manoa Kamikamica, a distinguished UNSW alum, back to our University recently. UNSW has a long and valued relationship with Fiji and is proud to support research, training and policy development in the region with current projects in areas including water, health and energy.

During the visit, we explored areas for further collaboration including entrepreneurship and creating liveable cities, and Deputy Prime Minister Kamikamica invited UNSW experts to visit Fiji to meet with the government, to deepen our engagement and increase our impact for the people of Fiji – an invitation we are delighted to accept.

Plenary sessions

Last week we held plenary sessions over two days which brought together senior leaders from across the University to review progress against the 2023 Operational Plan and help develop the 2024 Operational Plan. It was wonderful to see the great collaborative and productive discussions about achievements as well as identifying initiatives which are off track or slower than originally anticipated and how to support them. We engaged with opportunities and challenges on topics including assessment reform, improving the student experience and research strategy. I shall keep you updated about the progress of the 2023 plan and share the 2024 Operational Plan as it is developed over the coming months, including opportunities to provide your input as it takes shape.

Celebration of Research Excellence

Two weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of attending an event to celebrate our outstanding research community and acknowledge UNSW’s researchers for their dedication, passion and relentless pursuit of knowledge.

We are very fortunate to have researchers of the highest calibre across all Faculties and Divisions. On top of that we are fortunate to have an incredibly generous and supportive research community, a community which sets the very highest bar while simultaneously helping colleagues vault over that bar. What an exceptional group of people!

3 Minute Thesis competition showcases UNSW talent

In another celebration of research excellence, I was privileged to be on the judging panel of this year’s 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition (pictured top). PhD candidates have just three minutes and one PowerPoint slide to explain their innovative, intricate research and its impact on the world. I was blown away by the quality of the presentations and the passion and focus of candidates on making the world a better place.

It really is one of my favourite events because it demonstrates not only how broad and innovative our research is at UNSW, but the incredible talents, creativity and passion of our students and early career research community. It’s also a fantastic way for candidates to gain exposure for their research and experience in presenting their thesis to an audience.

Dr Sascha Spencer from the School of Clinical Medicine at UNSW Medicine & Health won first prize with her presentation on improving the education of doctors specialising in the treatment of eye conditions. Congratulations Sascha and all presenters!  You can find more details about the competition on the UNSW Newsroom.

Peter Farrell Cup

Peter Farrell Cup

Celebrating the winners of the 2023 Peter Farrell Cup

I had my judging hat on again on Thursday night for the Peter Farrell Cup, UNSW Founders’ startup pitch competition. It’s a great program that provides students and HDR candidates with industry mentors and coaches to support taking their ideas from ideation through to test and pitch, and possibly launch. It was a very enjoyable evening, with an astonishing array of startups competing for the Cup, from an AI based storytelling mobile app specifically crafted to empower primary school aged children who struggle with mental health, to smart and cuddly robotic pets powered by compassionate AI. The impressive ideas and pitches did not make my job easy! Congratulations to all the competitors and winners.

UNSW’s Planning & Assurance Division gets a new name

The Planning & Assurance Division is gaining a reputation for solving difficult problems and helping to drive positive and lasting change across the University. Originally, the Division included four business units, and that number has now grown to 10. To reflect how much its activities and responsibilities have evolved since it was formed back in 2020, the Division is getting a new name. What is the new name you ask? Watch this video for the grand reveal.

Visit to Chemical Engineering 

Chemical Engineering visit

Professor Attila Brungs, students and Professor Yansong Shen from the Lab of Process Modelling and Optimisation of Reacting Flows

I enjoyed meeting Professor Yansong Shen, Director of the Lab of Process Modelling and Optimisation of Reacting Flows, and his wonderful group of students recently. The team is doing great work in the resource and energy sectors, working closely with industry to assist in optimising and developing new, cleaner and more efficient technologies with measurable industrial outcomes. I had a great time – still an Industrial Chemist at heart.

Spring is in the air

Spring has certainly sprung with this glorious weather we have been having, despite the smoke haze. It’s fantastic to see our campus buzzing with activity, and students and staff enjoying the outdoors. On Wednesday 27 September we are holding the Spring Social event, with lots of great activities for staff to come together, relax and socialise. And on that note, Recharge Week is coming up next month, so if possible, try to schedule fewer meetings for the week beginning 16 October to free up some calendar and headspace for planning or catching up.

Best regards

Professor Attila Brungs
Vice-Chancellor and President