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