Message from the Chief Executive—August 2021

August 31, 2021
Ann-Maria Arabia

The Australian Academy of Science has added its voice to that of other national academies of the G20 countries urging Afghan authorities to uphold universal values of culture, science and education, so that all scientists including women can undertake their work peacefully.

This month, we also continued our sustained focus on climate change by urging decision makers to act on the latest global IPCC report. In the statement, Academy President Professor John Shine expressed that the evidence is overwhelming that human activities are rapidly changing Earth’s climate, meaning all countries have to act, and it’s in Australia’s national interest for all to act quickly. The report reveals how Australia is highly vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, a point also clearly made in the Academy’s report earlier this year on the risks to Australia of a three degrees warmer world. The Academy will continue to be a vital communicator of the need for action based on scientific evidence, and of the many solutions already available and able to be implemented at scale.

The Academy, along with Australia’s four other learned academies, has proudly endorsed the Uluru Statement from the Heart, committing to participate in the creation of a harmonised, national research culture through tangible actions. We recognise the need to do more to acknowledge and understand the deep knowledge held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and we will continue to evolve our Reconciliation Action Plan to guide positive change.

In exciting international news, I warmly congratulate the winner of the 2021 APEC ASPIRE Prize, Dr Jessica Bogard from CSIRO. Dr Bogard is leading innovations to increase access to healthy and sustainable food for vulnerable people in low- and middle-income countries. Dr Bogard was nominated for the prestigious ASPIRE prize by the Academy and is the third Australian to win the prize since its inception in 2011. We also congratulate Mr David Luchetti, Director of the Square Kilometre Array Project, who has been selected as an Honorary Member of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The Academy is Australia’s National Adhering Organisation to the IAU through its National Committee for Astronomy, which nominated Mr Luchetti for the honorary membership.

Keep an eye out for the outcome of this year’s scienceXart competition for primary students, which has the theme ‘food for thought’. The National Committee for Nutrition and Dietitians Australia have collaborated to enable this competition. With many students currently learning from home it’s been a great opportunity for them to get creative as well as think about the science of food and nutrition. We’ll let you know who the competition winners are later this year.

Join us at the coming Academy award events on 7 and 14 September as part of Science at the Shine Dome. These events celebrate and recognise the Academy’s career honorific award recipients, with the awardees each giving a short presentation about their scientific achievements followed by audience Q&A. You can join us by registering at the event website.

On a more sombre note, this month we mourn the passing of Professor Roger Short FAA, a reproductive biologist elected to the Academy in 1984 who touched the lives of so many through his scientific achievements and mentorship. Professor Short was interviewed for the Academy by Robyn Williams in 2010 and I encourage you to read about a life well lived. He was married to Academy Fellow Professor Marilyn Renfree to whom we offer our deepest condolences. Vale Roger.

I hope you enjoy reading the August newsletter. Stay safe and well.


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