ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt. Photo: Jamie Kidston/ANU

A blazing light of bold ideas

A note from ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt. 

ANU was founded 75 years ago with a singular and powerful purpose — to serve all Australians and drive the prosperity of our nation. Building on the ashes of the Second World War, ANU was to be a blazing light of bold ideas helping Australia chart a new dawn. We have never wavered from this mission. So, it is with a sense of small pride that 2021 marks our 75th birthday.

Our birthday is one of the many themes explored in this edition of ANU Reporter. It is a chance to canvass some of the memorable moments that have shaped our campus and community. But, as noted by historian Dr Daniel Oakman, anniversaries can be tricky — especially as an exercise in history. He outlines the need for ANU, and all universities, to tell their stories in human-centred ways. He has done this with the dynamic ‘Living history’ project, to which I encourage you to contribute.

At ANU we will never rest on the successes of the past, but look to building the future. This is a key theme in the work of Dr Stacey Ward and Dr Laura Wilson, who are pushing the boundaries of accepted wisdom in their field of bioarchaeology. They are rethinking the ethics of profiling individuals based on skeletal data, especially when it comes to gender.

We are also shaping the future by using fundamental research to develop new technologies, new industries and new jobs. These are being delivered in the form of ANU-backed start-ups — what I’ve called our ‘unicorns’. They could one day turn the dream of a billion-dollar company seeded by ANU into reality. 

Reflecting on the University’s fine history, I have been assisted by tips and tricks from memory athlete Daniel Kilov — you should check them out too. I am also reminded that the quality of ANU is built upon the exceptional quality of our people. This includes Sarah Bourke and Dr Garang Dut, who are driving positive change in their communities by coupling cultural knowledge with academic expertise. And sometimes it’s not just people — but pups. Catch up on the antics of Zorro, trained by ANU researchers to help save endangered Australian wildlife.

ANU Reporter is also looking to the future. I am excited that in 2022 the magazine will be complemented by a new website, which will tell incredible stories that inspire all Australians with our work daily. See the back cover to sign up to receive stories and updates by email.

Professor Brian Schmidt AC
Vice-Chancellor and President
The Australian National University