Showcasing our passion for discovery

Discovering the origins of our species

In June, Griffith’s Dr Adam Brumm and Professor Rainer Grun created a global buzz as part of an internationalteam ofresearchers who announced the discovery of ancestors to the Liang Bua hobbit discovered more than a decade ago on the Indonesian island of Flores.

As reported in the 9 June edition of Nature, fossil remains of hominins that are similar in size to the Liang Bua hobbit but at least ten times older have been excavated at Mata Menge in Indonesia.Dr Brumm directed the fossil dig while Professor Grun undertook radioisotopic dating of fossil teeth.This pioneering research is the most significant breakthrough yet to help with our understanding of the origin of hobbits.

Adam and Rainer are part of ournewly formed Research Centre of Human Evolution (RCHE) —the world’s first academic centre specifically focused on the subject of human evolution in our region. The RCHE was officially launched by the HonLeeanne Enoch MP, Minister for Housing and Public Works and Minister for Science and Innovation, at a special ceremony Friday 8 July.

Pat Weller honoured

Recently, a Griffith legend was recognised at the official naming of Room -1.07 in the Glyn Davis Building (Nathan campus) asthe ‘Professor Pat Weller Boardroom’.

Pat is acknowledged internationally as a leader in the study of politics and as one of Australia’s foremost social scientists. Hehas made a seminal contribution to research and practice in public administration, executive government and federal-state relations. It is especially fitting that a physical reminder of Pat’s contributions should be placed in the buildingwhere so much of his work was undertaken. The naming ceremony on 28 June provided a wonderful opportunity to both congratulate Pat on a distinguished career and to thank him for his significant contributions to Griffith over the last thirty-two years.

Frank Fenner award winner

Congratulations toDr Kate Seib from the Institute for Glycomicswho has just received the2016Frank Fenner awardfromThe Australian Society for Microbiology.This prestigious award recognises distinguished contributions in any area of Australian research in microbiology by scientists in a formative stage of their career. Kate’sresearch focuses on understanding how certain bacteria cause disease in humans, with the aim to identify vaccine and drug targets.The award is named in honour of Professor Frank Fenner, an Australian pioneer of viral research who played a central part in the global eradication of smallpox. Well done Kate on this important recognitionof your work.

Banking in the South Pacific

The South Pacific Studies Group (SPSG), housed within the Griffith Asia Institute and headed by Dr ParmendraSharma, was established in 2012 to enhance Griffith’s engagement with our closest and geo-politicallyimportant neighbour, the South Pacific.

The success of the SPSGincollaborating with South Pacific institutions and organisations was highlighted in the inaugural symposium “Central Banking in the South Pacific – Opportunities and Challenges in the 21st Century”,hosted on our South Bank campus on 10 June.

The symposium, the first of its kind convened by an Australian tertiary institution,attracted leaders from central banks in Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Australia, as well asdelegates from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia-Pacific Islands Business Council and major Australian banks.Congratulations toParmendra on his leadership in convening this signature event.

Marathon success

I’m delighted to report that for the fourth year in a row Griffithfielded the largest team for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon which was run over the first weekend in July. Team Griffith’s 955 runners -cheered on by our own cheerleaders -comprised 411 staff, 165 students, 93 alumni and 286 family and friends.Griffith also retained the title for most distance travelled in all events across the weekend: an impressive total of just under 16,300 kilometres.Meanwhile, the Griffith tent was the place to be with staff serving barbecue breakfasts and refreshments, and weary runners receiving massages from our physiotherapy students. A big thanks to the OMC team and all the volunteers for your help in supporting another successful event in 2016.

Rio here we come

Tests of stamina will also feature in the Olympics in Rio next month.In August, we will see 15 Griffith students and four alumni representing Australia,and two students representing other countries, in this year’s Olympic Games. And in September, three of our students will represent Australia in the Paralympics. In terms of the total number of current studentscompeting, this will be Griffith’s largest contingent ever at the Games. To celebratethe achievement of Olympic selection, I was honoured to join our elite athletes,together withparents, friends, coaches and supporters, at a specialfarewell ceremony at the Gold Coast campus on 27 June. I’m sure the entire Griffith community will join me in wishing our athletes their best possible performance in Rio.