Dear Colleagues

I hope this week has been kind to you – the opportunity to see friends and family for the fully vaccinated, giving you that much needed dose of connection. This pandemic continues to make an indelible mark on our history and our future – our community not yet in the clear. But with the aid of vaccines, the incredible determination of frontline workers, and our own personal sacrifices, we are making our way through to the other side.

As you will have seen in Damien’s email last Friday, lockdown ending does mean there is an opportunity to begin the return of some activities to campuses. We will be following a phased approach mapped out in our COVID Safe Transition Plan. Of course, this approach follows all Public Health orders and the Reopening of NSW Roadmap. I for one am looking forward to a safe return and seeing you all in person soon!

In related and promising news this week, the NSW government has announced a $98 million RNA pilot facility, to develop mRNA and RNA drugs and vaccines to combat disease and save lives. The facility will be established in partnership with UOW and other NSW universities, bringing together the state’s leading experts in relevant research areas. This is a very exciting initiative, and as a University, we look very forward to combining forces, contributing to job creation, and fighting to make real impact where it matters most – for the health and safety of our community. My thanks to Antoine van Oijen and Jennifer Martin for their leadership in this initiative.

As Global Climate Change Week comes to a close, I’d like to thank everyone involved in making it happen, especially the academics, students and local communities who came together to share ideas, seek solutions and take action. Thank you to Belinda Gibbons and colleagues for an exciting and innovative week of events.

It can sometimes feel like not much, but these voices really can make a huge difference and lead to a renewed commitment for a healthier planet. With the upcoming UN Climate Change Talks (COP26) in Glasgow this month, countries are being asked to consider 2030 emissions reductions targets, aligning with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. At UOW we are developing strategic approaches, and leveraging the passion and expertise of our students, faculty and community partners to embark on our own ambitious journey to address climate change. In their recent submission to the United Nations 16th Conference of Youth on Climate Change (COY16), UOW’s Student Advisory Council have worked closely with University leadership to develop an impressive roadmap to focus our activities. Based upon this consultation, our key goals are to work towards carbon neutrality by 2030; support sustainable transport solutions; improve energy management; cultivate research excellence; and educate the community. I’m very pleased global leader in sustainability, Professor Tim McCarthy, will be leading the University in addressing these complex challenges. We stand ready to leverage the expertise, talent and resources we have here at UOW, to make sure the natural beauty of our region, our country and our world are available for generations to come.

In other news, I’d like to send my congratulations to Distinguished Professor Willy Susilo, Director of Institute of Cybersecurity and Cryptology in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, for his recent election to fellow of the Asia-Pacific Artificial Intelligence Association. Well done Willy!

Lastly, I’d like to thank our final-year Assistants-in-Medicine students, Taara Hamer and Will Lampe, who are currently filling critical doctor shortages in the Riverina and furthering their practical and leadership skills at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital. Special thanks must also go to their UOW teachers and UOW support network. Stories like this are only possible because of the hard work that takes place here at UOW each day. And I thank you all for that. See the full story here.

Stay safe and enjoy your well-deserved weekend.