Message from the President—September 2021

September 30, 2021
John Shine

The pandemic has helped us all appreciate that science is an international endeavour. The sharing of research, data and lessons learned has brought us far over the last 18 months, and we continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with researchers and science academies around the world. To this end, the Academy has signed a joint statement with other academies in the G20 entitled ‘Pandemic preparedness and the role of science’, which will be delivered to heads of state in late October.

In a new collaboration, the Academy is working alongside the Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia (AASSA) and the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) to launch STEM Women Asia, an online directory to increase the visibility of women in Asia and Oceania working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This project is based on the Academy’s Australian STEM Women directory, which within its first two years has made demonstrable progress towards gender equity in STEM.

Closer to home, we have joined with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering through our National Committee for Information and Communication sciences to call on the government to strengthen Australia’s competitiveness in the emerging ‘digital economy’, as we risk falling behind relative to the OECD.

Despite the ongoing lockdowns, Australian scientists continue to demonstrate excellence. I was privileged to be a jury member for Falling Walls Lab Australia earlier this month where I witnessed ground-breaking pitches from nine young scientists. I congratulate Dr Jiao Jiao Li, Chamikara Liyanage and Dr Lokman Norazmi, who were selected from the event to represent Australia at the Berlin Falling Walls Conference in November. Congratulations also to Academy Fellow Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, who will join Professor Warwick Bowen and Professor Geoffrey Spinks as global finalists in the Falling Walls’ Engineering and Technology category of Science Breakthroughs of the Year. I wish all these scientists the best in this exciting global event.

As a particular highlight, I was also fortunate enough to enjoy the presentations and discussions from our career awardees at two Science at the Shine Dome events this month, which included recipients of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 awards. I hope you will join us in November for the two remaining Science at the Shine Dome events, where our new Fellows of 2020 and 2021 will give their presentations online.

The Academy continues to create a wide range of articles and videos explaining fascinating topics—from snakes and bettongs to supernovae and climate change. This content is aimed at a broad audience and is readily shared on social media.

I hope you are keeping safe and well and I hope you enjoy this September newsletter.

John Shine

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