It has been a period of the University delivering on its civic responsibility to foster public debate and engagement.
On October 24, I was privileged to hear Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner, making the opening address at the 2016 Griffith University Equity Symposium. He reminded us of the important civic responsibility of universities in cultivating harmony, understanding and acceptance.
That same night saw this year’s iteration of the Griffith Lecture – another resounding success with international civil rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti CBE delivering a powerful message about fundamental human rights and freedoms and the unprecedented pressures these rights are under today. After training as a lawyer and practising as a barrister, Shami went on to serve as Director of Liberty (the National Council for Civil Liberties in the UK) for more than a decade where she gained a reputation for her fearless and highly effective campaigning against anti-terrorist measures and the erosion of civil liberties. Although Shami was once described by The Sun as the ‘most dangerous women in Britain’, she certainly engaged a large audience with her warmth, humour and passion. To view the Griffith Lecture, see the video above.
Integrity 20 keynote
The Griffith Lecture set the scene for the launch of a highly successful 2016 Integrity 20 Conference on the following morning. A keynote speech by His Excellency Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, a co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize and former President of Timor-Leste, was one of the highlights of the opening day where delegates addressed a range of critical and controversial issues including the global refugee crisis, killer robots, free speech, politics and power and the many facets of terrorism. Congratulations to PVC (AEL) Professor Paul Mazerolle, Event Director and Co-Convenor Rhiannon Phillips and their dedicated team for organising such a diverse and dynamic two day event.
Fruit fly trap
On October 10, I was delighted to join the buzz around the launch of Fruition – the nation’s first non-toxic response to fruit flies. The fruit fly trap is a collaboration between agricultural product company AgNova Technologies and Griffith researcher Professor Dick Drew.
Dick joined the University in 1997 following a 35 year career in fruit fly research which began when he was hired as a research cadet with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock in 1962. Through a unique combination of colour, shape and smell, the Fruition traps attract and catch female fruit flies before they lay eggs in fruit. This remarkable invention has the potential to significantly improve outcomes for farmers and the environment and offers a brighter future for Australia’s $4.8 billion horticulture industry.
The new trap is the culmination of a lifetime’s work and speaks volumes for Drew’s commitment and dedication to undertaking specialised research with demonstrable impact for national and international communities. To cap off a great month, the partnership between Griffith and AgNova was announced as a finalist in the Industry Engagement category of the 2016 AFR Higher Education Awards.
New design studios
Another event with a real sense of occasion was the opening of the new QCA design studios at the Gold Coast campus on October 12. The new multi-million dollar facilities comprise an art and design studio, workshops and an outdoor studio allowing students to take their concepts from design to prototype under one roof. Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate officiated at the launch and was quite taken with our state-of-the-art advanced digital technologies, including 3D printing, scanning, and electronics for new design applications. The Mayor was even given a special memento to take away from the launch – his own 3D printed bust – both a plastic version (in Griffith red) and a bronze replica.
Elected Fellows, champions and awards
Distinguished careers can be acknowledged in a number of ways but being elected to a national academy is one of the most prestigious. This honour was bestowed on Professor Allan Cripps, former PVC (Health), and Professor Paul Scuffham, MHIQ, who were recently elected as Fellows of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. Fellows of the Academy are recognised for their outstanding leadership in the science of health and medicine, and for demonstrating significant and continuing involvement with issues of health care, prevention of disease, education, research, health services policy and delivery.
It was also pleasing to see emerging talent recognised during the month with Dr Sam Capon, Griffith School of Environment, winning the Australian Society of Limnology’s Early Career Excellence Award. The award was a tribute to Sam’s high quality contributions to published limnological research; her contributions as a gifted writer, designer, teacher, facilitator and network coordinator; and the tangible work she has undertaken in improving on-ground water resource management, particularly in areas of restoration and climate change adaptation.
Super swimmer, and current Griffith science student, Cameron McEvoy, was named as Griffith University’s Games Champion at a special ceremony on our Gold Coast campus on October 13. In this new role, Cameron will promote the University’s official partnership with the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and raise awareness of the incredible opportunities the partnership has opened for our students and staff. It was an absolute delight to meet Cameron for the first time at the launch and we could not have chosen a better person to represent the University’s commitment to the Games which is little more than 500 days away. For more information about our Games Champion, see the video here.
National finance winners
Another remarkable story involving Griffith students was the victory by a team of Griffith Business School finance students at the Australian National Championships of the CFA Institute Research Challenge. Congratulations to our team (Elias Greil, Rhyan Nash, Lisa Rawlings, Ruby Sethi, and Riven Zhang) which was able to prevail from fierce competition offered by The University of Sydney (4-time defending champion), Australian National University and the University of Queensland (Runner-up). The teams were grilled by tough questions from top investment executives including Mark Lazberger (CEO of Colonial First State), Olivia Engel (MD of State Street Global Advisors) and Richard Brandweiner (CFO of First State Super). The win at the nationals is a credit to the quality of our student team and to their mentor Dr John Fan and his colleagues in the finance discipline. A terrific achievement by all.
Yet another student exhibiting amazing talent is Robyn Pell who I met in person at the recent Premier of Queensland’s 2016 Export Awards. Robyn, a QCA student, had the distinction of designing and making each of the trophies presented at the award ceremony. Robyn’s trophies are a reminder of the high calibre work coming out of our Jewellery and Small Objects Studio at the South Bank campus. Such talent is also a reflection of the exceptional support provided to our students by Ms Elizabeth Shaw, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art.