UpFront: News in Brief

All UNSW's top news stories, from our diversity champions and quantum research honours, to high praise in the national book industry awards.

Diversity champions

UNSW staff Diversity Champions: Eileen Baldry (front), Warwick Dawson, Laura Poole-Warren, Vanessa Lem and Andrew Lynch. Photo: Quentin Jones.

Our Diversity Champions

Five Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Champions will help the University achieve its 2025 Strategy aim to better reflect the demographics of the communities it serves.

The Champions are Professor Laura Poole-Warren, who is leading the University’s Athena SWAN pilot program and is the Gender Champion; Professor Vanessa Lemm (Culture); Professor Andrew Lynch (Disability); Professor Mark Willcox (LGBTQI); and Mr Warwick Dawson (Flexible Work and Leave Options). The five will advocate for their respective areas and work with staff and students to explain the changes that will take place at UNSW over the coming decade.

All will be part of the UNSW Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Board that meets quarterly and will play a key role in raising awareness across the university. A UNSW Indigenous Strategy led by an Indigenous Advisory Council is also being developed.

The benefits of equity and diversity are clear, says Professor Eileen Baldry, who will work with the Champions in her capacity as the Board’s Academic Chair.

“Diverse workplaces produce better results than mono workplaces. Flexible workplaces produce better results than inflexible workplaces. Workplaces that are inclusive produce a better culture of work,” she says.

Baldry says she was overwhelmed by the number and calibre of the expressions of interest for the diversity roles. “We had dozens and dozens of applications from people who are clearly very passionate about diversity and equity,” she says.

Baldry is also encouraged by the enormous interest shown by students. “The students are as keen as mustard to get involved. They say ‘of course this is the way we should be going’. For them, this is a no-brainer.”

New leadership line-up

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Fiona Docherty

UNSW has announced a major expansion of its senior management board, introducing three new members to ensure the best team is in place to spearhead the implementation of the 2025 Strategy.

A new post of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) Enterprise will be responsible for integrating activity across the innovation and enterprise portfolio, working closely with the DVC Research and DVC Education. The position is currently being recruited.

Professor Eileen Baldry, Academic Lead for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, will join the Management Board to help drive this critical aspect of the UNSW 2025 Strategy.

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Nicholas Fisk

Also appointed is Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) Fiona Docherty, who will join the Board as Vice-President International to lead the University’s global impact priorities, including international education, partnerships and global development.

“These arrangements mean that the Management Board will have representation in three areas of great importance to UNSW – Enterprise, Diversity and International – and Eileen’s input will strengthen the voice of the Humanities,” President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said, announcing the changes in a message to staff.

The appointments follow the naming of new leadership in the Research portfolio.

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Emma Johnston. Photo: Maja Baska

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Nicholas Fisk will take up his role in early August and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Emma Johnston began her new position in May.

Fisk will join UNSW from the University of Queensland, where he is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Prior to his appointment as Executive Dean in 2010, he was the inaugural Director of the University of Queensland’s $70 million Centre for Clinical Research.

Johnston comes to the position of Pro-Vice-Chancellor from the Faculty of Science, where she heads the Applied Marine and Estuarine Ecology Lab and was the inaugural director of the Sydney Harbour Research Program at the Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences.

Innovators and entrepreneurs to gather in San Francisco

Some of the Asia-Pacific’s leading innovators and entrepreneurs will gather in San Francisco 23-24 June for UNSW’s inaugural Alumni Entrepreneurs and Innovation Summit. The summit builds on the launch of the UNSW Innovation Statement, the opening of the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre and UNSW Innovations’ continuing cultivation of an innovation ecosystem at UNSW.

The meeting will feature talks from prominent UNSW alumni and researchers who are leaders in their respective fields of finance, IT, health, technology and social innovations.

Confirmed speakers include Robyn Denholm, Vice-President Juniper Networks, ‘In Conversation’ with Scott Farquhar, co-Founder and co-CEO of Atlassian on ‘Taking Australian start-ups and innovations to the world’. Also delivering a keynote address is UNSW Scientia Professor and Laureate Fellow Michelle Simmons, Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T), whose speech ‘From Silicon Valley to Quantum Harbour’ will cover the future of computing. For more details go to alumni.unsw.edu.au

Michelle Simmons

UNSW Scientia Professor Michell Simmons

Quantum research ‘the best in the world’

For her world-leading research in the fabrication of atomic-scale devices for quantum computing, Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons (pictured) has been awarded a prestigious Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology.

Two international Feynman prizes, named in honour of the late Nobel Prize-winning American physicist Richard Feynman, are awarded each year in the categories of theory and experiment to researchers whose work has most advanced Feynman’s nanotechnology goal of molecular manufacturing.

Professor Simmons, director of the UNSW-based ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T), won the experimental prize from the Foresight Institute for her work in “the new field of atomic-electronics, which she created”.

Her group is the only one in the world that can make atomically precise devices in silicon. They have produced the world’s first single-atom transistor as well as the narrowest conducting wires ever made in silicon, just four atoms of phosphorus wide and one atom high.

President of the Foresight Institute Julia Bossmann said the US$5000 prizes reward visionary research. “Our laureates realise that big innovation is possible on the nanoscale. The prizes acknowledge these pioneering scientists and inspire others to follow their lead.”

Professor Simmons said: “I am delighted to win this award. Feynman once said: ‘What I cannot create, I do not understand’.

“By creating electronic devices atom by atom, we are gaining a very fundamental understanding of how the world behaves at the atomic scale, and it’s phenomenally exciting,” she said.

In April, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited UNSW to open new laboratories at the CQC2T headquarters. He said: “There is no bolder idea than quantum computing” and UNSW’s research in the transformative technology was the “best work in the world”.

The laboratories will double the productive capacity of the CQC2T, and will be central to commercialising the quantum computing research and establishing Australia as an international leader in the industries of the future.

Double win in book industry awards

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A UNSW creative writing lecturer and the University’s publishing company have won major prizes at the annual Australian Book Industry Awards in Sydney.

The Other Side of the World, by UNSW lecturer Stephanie Bishop, was named the Literary Fiction Book of the Year, and UNSW Press’s publishing and sales division NewSouth Books was named Best Small Publisher at the awards ceremony held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in May.

Described as a story of love, marriage and geographical dislocation, The Other Side of the World tells the story of a young English woman and her husband as they emigrate to Perth in Western Australia in the 1960s.

“It’s such an honour to win the Australian Book Industry Award for Literary Fiction Book of the Year – I really didn’t see this coming and am so thrilled and grateful. It was an incredible shortlist, and a real privilege to be in such fine company,” Bishop said of her win.

NewSouth was named the Best Small Publisher for 2016. This division of UNSW Press creates general and illustrated non-fiction books and scholarly titles, manages the sales and marketing of these books and also represents other independent publishers from Australia and around the world.

UNSW Press chief executive Kathy Bail said the industry recognition alongside Bishop’s award was an “excellent double” for the University and “demonstrated that our authors and publishers continue to stimulate public debate and policy making. Books published by NewSouth have a real impact – nationally and globally”.

Roadmap for a clean energy transition

UNSW is hosting the Leadership Forum on Energy Transition, an initiative that brings together leaders from business, academia and the community to develop a clean energy blueprint for the nation.

The Forum, an initiative of the Australian Conservation Foundation, is being hosted and chaired by UNSW as part of the University’s Climate Change Grand Challenge.An influential grouping of diverse partners will create a roadmap to create a clean energy future, as part of a new Leadership Forum on Energy Transition for Australia.

The Forum brings together 17 partners who recognise the significant dangers and disruptions to Australia that are already occurring due to climate change and that will worsen as the globe continues to warm.

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“The forum members accept the science of climate change and the evidence that the way energy is produced and consumed is a fundamental driver of global warming and that a fair and just transition to clean energy is essential for Australia’s future,” a statement announcing the grouping said.

“If Australia is to honour the international commitments made at the climate negotiations in Paris last year, all of those in leadership roles must contribute to tackling the problem of pollution from energy production in Australia,” the statement said.

“Without a national plan to transition from emissions intensive energy to clean energy, the growth of clean energy in Australia will stagnate and forum members fear the nation’s contribution to international greenhouse pollution will continue to rise.

“The forum will develop a blueprint for energy transition in Australia that is in the best interests of the Australian community, economy and environment; it will offer this evidence-based plan for transition to political decision makers.”

To assist the next Australian government in leading the energy transition, the forum will produce the blueprint within 100 days of the upcoming federal election.

The Forum includes Professor Ian Jacobs (Chair), President and Vice-Chancellor, UNSW; Mr Geoffrey Cousins AM President, Australian Conservation Foundation; Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, former Governor-General of Australia; Ms Jillian Broadbent AO, Chair, Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Swiss RE Life and Health Australia; Mr Andrew Vesey, CEO, AGL Energy; Mr David Thodey, Chair, CSIRO and former CEO, Telstra; and Ms Maria Atkinson AM, co-founder of Green Building Council of Australia and board member, Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Zero tolerance for sexual harassment on campus

UNSW has launched a new campaign to prevent sexual assault and harassment, partnering with all Australian universities on a major national initiative.

Developed by peak body Universities Australia, the campaign – Respect. Now. Always. – highlights the determination of Australia’s universities to ensure that students and staff are safe from sexual assault and sexual harassment.

UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs, who is also lead Vice-Chancellor for equity and diversity for Universities Australia, said the campaign built on longstanding work at UNSW and across the Australian university sector.

“It is essential that universities are places of safety and respect,” Professor Jacobs said.

Respect. Now. Always. will raise awareness among university students and staff that sexual assault and harassment are unacceptable, and provide clear pathways of support for those who need it.

“I hope the campaign is giving people confidence to report inappropriate behaviour and where necessary change ethos and culture,” he said.

Respect. Now. Always. was launched at UNSW with a special screening of US film The Hunting Ground, which focuses on sexual violence in American universities and highlights the importance of developing effective prevention strategies and reporting mechanisms to address sexual harassment.

BRIEFS

Alumni high achievers

A philanthropist novelist, a business leader, a mental health educator and an Australian cricketer were among a group of high achievers to be recognised at UNSW’s 2016 Alumni Awards and dinner. The awardees join a select group of fewer than 200 winners, drawn from a UNSW alumni community of over 277,000 graduates across 146 countries. Among the winners were acclaimed contemporary artist Shaun Gladwell; company director, social entrepreneur and novelist John M. Green and his wife Jenny Green; business leader Robert (Bob) Cameron; mental health educator Betty Kitchener; University of Melbourne Provost Professor Margaret Sheil; and international cricketer Usman Khawaja.

Luminis scholarships

Corporate advisory firm Luminis Partners has committed $1 million to launch a prestigious MBA scholarship program at UNSW. The program will provide full tuition fees and a stipend for a fulltime MBA student each year for 11 years. It will include international exchange at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the world’s leading business schools, as well as access to an exclusive business network. Guest of Honour Lucy Hughes-Turnbull, the Chief Commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission, unveiled a classroom named in honour of the Luminis Foundation.                           

Top science honours

Three UNSW academics are among 21 leading scientists to be elected to the Australian Academy of Science, Australian science’s highest honour. Professors Justin Gooding, Fedor Sukochev and Toby Walsh were recognised for their outstanding contributions to chemistry, mathematics and artificial intelligence respectively. Meanwhile, UNSW Professor Richard P Harvey has joined scientific luminaries Einstein, Newton, Florey and Hawking as a Fellow of the Royal Society, the oldest continuously operating academy of science in the world. Since its inception in 1660, the Royal Society has played a part in some of the most significant and life-changing discoveries in scientific history.