Message from the Chief Executive—April 2021

April 29, 2021
Anna-Maria Arabia

I am thrilled to announce that Science at the Shine Dome, the Academy’s annual signature event, is back in 2021! Traditionally held as a three-day annual event in May, this year we are delivering a series of online and hybrid events running from May to November. I warmly invite you to explore the rich and unique program and register for individual events or for a series pass. There is no other event where you can hear about cutting edge science from top scientists across a range of disciplines.

This month we had the rare opportunity of placing a time capsule under the copper roof of the Shine Dome for future generations to uncover. Included were reflections from our Fellows and early- and mid-career researchers on what they hope will have been the impact of their work by 2100 and what challenges they hope science will have overcome by then. In our note to the future, we asked that they be the judges of our actions and inactions and we offered a message of hope that the knowledge we have created today can assist future custodians of our planet.

I wish to warmly congratulate the 26 leading Australian early- and mid-career researchers who have been granted funding to connect and engage with other researchers in the Asia–Pacific region in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers will work in areas as diverse as mental health, artificial intelligence, telemedicine and data sharing. The Academy is proud to be managing the Regional Collaborations Programme COVID-19 Digital Grants on behalf of the Australian Government, and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of the research.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge two historic moments for the Academy.

We received with sadness the news this month that His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh had passed away. Prince Philip attended Government House when Her Majesty The Queen presented the Royal Charter to the founding Academy members in 1954, establishing the Australian Academy of Science.

Interestingly, our archives show that the initial idea had been to have Prince Philip, a keen supporter of science, present the Royal Charter. He suggested, however, that the situation was important enough for the Queen herself to do the honours. He said that a Royal Charter had not been presented in person by any monarch since King Charles II presented one to the Royal Society of London in 1662. It turns out that this wasn’t quite correct—while King Charles signed the Royal Society’s charter, he did not deliver it in person. That makes this Academy perhaps the only body in the Commonwealth to receive its Charter directly from the hands of the monarch.

I hope you enjoy reading this month’s newsletter.


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