Message from the President—December 2020

December 17, 2020

2020 will be remembered as a year that science came to the service of the nation in a significant way. The Australian Academy of Science has been able to draw on the expertise of its Fellows to respond quickly to the many challenges that have arisen throughout 2020. From bushfires and extreme weather events to a global pandemic, it is clear that evidence-informed decision making strengthens our democracy and ability to build a society that is healthy, safe and free.

In this month’s newsletter you can read about the many ways the Academy has responded this year—all made possible by the Fellowship of the Academy. During December, the 2020 Fellows are being recognised through our extensive social media channels in a series of videos and articles highlighting their contributions to science and to our nation.

I’m pleased that new support from Minderoo Foundation will provide the Academy with capacity to strengthen the operational capability of the Rapid Research Information Forum (RRIF). This highly successful model has provided timely expertise to government throughout COVID-19 and has the potential to become a model for scientific input to inform a wide range of policy decisions in the future.

The Academy continues to support science in a number of other ways. Thomas Davies grants are going to six recipients this year covering diverse topics including rare metal-hoarding plants, mangrove desalination and great hammerhead shark populations. Two scientific conferences have received funding, and the Geoffrey Frew and Selby fellowships have also been announced, bringing distinguished scientists to Australia for valuable meetings about optics and photonics as well as chemical engineering and sustainability.

You can also read about the talented winners of this year’s scienceXart schools photographic competition, which showcases our next generation of scientific and creative thinkers.

If you are searching for a gift or something to inform, inspire and entertain you over the holidays, look no further than our fifth annual Fellows’ Christmas reading and listening list. It recommends books and podcasts for a wide range of ages and interests.

Thank you for your ongoing support through 2020 and I wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season.

John Shine

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