Head of School’s Report

 

The year 2002 saw many new developments across the University. In February we welcomed Professor Dennis Lincoln as the new Dean of the Faculty of Science. The Faculty had been created the previous year from the merger of the Faculty of Life Science and the Faculty of Science and Technology. Professor Lincoln has the honour of being its first new dean. In July Professor W.R. Hume arrived to take up his position as Vice Chancellor. We look forward with pleasure to working with the University’s new senior management on our many enterprises.

One of the most exciting developments during the year was the initiation of a planning process to radically restructure all of our teaching laboratories. This follows on from a refurbishment of our First Year laboratories last year. Extensive research was carried out by our ITET (Innovative Teaching and Educational Technology) Fellows into the best ways of engaging students in the learning process. Members of our staff visited MIT, the University of British Columbia and UC Davis in order to study the latest ideas and their implementation. After extensive discussion, both within the School and across the University, a plan began to evolve that will give the School a complete set of “world’s best practice” teaching spaces by the end of 2003. These will include not only traditional laboratories, but also flexible learning areas and community spaces.

Another part of the rebuilding of the School has been the construction of a new store and loading bay at the front of the building. This means that deliveries can now be made without the need for trucks to negotiate the narrow laneways at the rear of the building—a hazardous undertaking especially during busy teaching periods. Demolition of the old store took place at the end of the year, but not before the Antarctic astronomy group had occupied it for its final few weeks for a trial assembly of their “AASTINO”.

The announcement that our Centre for Quantum Computer Technology had been designated an Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence confirmed the status of this research team as one of the best in Australia, regardless of discipline. This Centre of Excellence was one of only two awarded to the University in the current round.

The School’s outstanding success in research continues undiminished. We were particularly pleased to win several new postdoctoral fellowships from internal and external sources. Total external research funding for the School (including the CQCT) exceeded $6.2m, putting it in a class of its own. Even without the CQCT, the School’s ARC research funding for other areas of over $2700K places it amongst the top Physics Schools in Australia. Research output also continues to be strong, as does our commitment to communication and outreach via colloquia, seminars and visits to community and school groups.

We were saddened by the passing during the year of two of our former colleagues, Professor Dan Haneman and Dr Ray Simons, both of whom had a long-standing association with the School and had made many contributions over the years.

The year 2003 will be a pivotal one for the School. Under the Vice Chancellor’s leadership the University is currently creating a new Strategic Vision—one aspect of which we hope will be the creation of new, robust funding mechanisms for the fundamental sciences. The School has already defined its own vision for the future, one in which our research and teaching become more closely intertwined and our outreach to high schools and the community becomes stronger. The achievement of this vision will be an exciting challenge for the next few years.

Professor John Storey
Head of School
May, 2003
 

 


 

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