Academy reports COVID-19 response and other achievements of 2020

May 31, 2021
Australian Academy of  Science 2020 Annual Report

National leadership and collaboration in support of Australia’s response to COVID-19 are among the many achievements highlighted in the Academy’s recently published annual report for 2020.

The Academy created a COVID-19 news and resources hub and played a proactive role in the Australian pandemic response by joining with the Chief Scientist and other learned academies to form the Rapid Research Information Forum, providing timely and expert advice to government.

The Academy also developed an expert database that connects 1800 experts with stakeholders, and shared accessible evidence-based information for a broad audience through its online communication channels. It developed and adapted education resources for teachers, parents and students to support emergency remote teaching, and initiated Global Science TV in partnership with the International Science Council.

“2020 was an extraordinary year for society and for science. The Academy demonstrated its strength and relevance in guiding decision-making and we were able to reinforce the importance of the Academy’s independent voice for science in Australia,” said Academy Chief Executive Anna-Maria Arabia in her introduction to the report.

“Through analysis of Australian media reports in June, the Australian Science Media Centre revealed that the Academy was among the top 10 most prominent institutions in the pandemic, illustrating the vital role experts play in building public confidence.”

Academy Fellows received many Australian and international honours and awards. Emeritus Professor David Blair, Professor David McClelland and Professor Susan Scott, with their colleague Professor Peter Veitch, were jointly awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for their significant contribution to the first direct detection of gravitational waves, while Professor Thomas Maschmeyer was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation.


Other achievements featured in the annual report included:

  • publishing a statement on the link between the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and climate change
  • producing a series of evidence briefs on the 2019–20 bushfires
  • announcing two new career honorific awards to start in 2021
  • supporting early- and mid-career researchers in a variety of ways
  • hosting the Catalysing Gender Equity conference in collaboration with SAGE.

The Academy welcomed more than 5.4 million visitors to its websites and published nearly 90 videos that were embedded in online mainstream media strories more than 700 times.

It also weathered a severe hailstorm that damaged its two historic Canberra buildings, including the heritage-listed Shine Dome.

“The bushfires, hailstorm and the pandemic have shown that when confronted by crises, the science sector is resilient, able and generous,” Ms Arabia said.

“I am immensely proud of the Academy’s work, made possible by the guidance and support of our Fellows and the generosity of our donors. We thank Fellows for generously giving their expertise and time to the Academy and recognise that their contribution to the pandemic response has been nothing short of extraordinary.”

© 2022 Australian Academy of Science