Introducing Nobel Laureate, Sir Fraser Stoddart: ‘Mingling Art with Science’

Good evening everyone and welcome. I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Bedegal people, the traditional custodians of this land. I would also like to pay my respects to the Elders both past and present, and extend that respect to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders present here today.

It is not only my great pleasure to introduce, this evening, one of the leading chemists of our time and Nobel Laureate, Sir Fraser Stoddart to speak on the topic ‘Mingling Art with Science’…but to welcome many of Sir Fraser’s family members, some of whom have travelled from Boston and Melbourne to be part of this public lecture.

I hear you had dinner last night at the Art Gallery of NSW where you had the chance to see many of the works of the great Australian impressionist, Frederick McCubbin’s.

An occasion with particular significance for you, give your daughter Fiona has married into the McCubbin family. And I believe there was a bit of mingling of art and science when the siren call of the Art Gallery laboratories was too strong to resist.

A tour revealed some interesting insights into restoration and preservation – your special interest, Sir Fraser, the intersection of science and art.

Before I cede the stage to Sir Fraser, I want to take a moment to reiterate how excited we are about your part-time appointment to UNSW’s School of Chemistry.

Building up a research group in your ‘New chemistry initiative’; teaching undergraduates; mentoring and inspiring our next generation of scientists, will only further enhance UNSW’s reputation for teaching and research excellence.

Attracting a scientist the calibre of Sir Fraser Stoddart; being more deliberate in our hiring and retention of academics; and forging strong partnerships with medical research centres like the George Institute for Global health…are all part of UNSW’s Strategy 2025, our 10-year plan to position ourselves among the world’s top 50 universities.

And the persistence and diligence of the UNSW community to realise the vision embodied in our Strategy is paying dividends. Just yesterday, we received word that UNSW had jumped an astounding 31 places in the ShanghaiRanking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities.

We leapfrogged from 133 to 102 – just outside the top 100. It was the highest gain of any Group of 8 university and our highest place since the ARWU rankings were first published in 2003.

It is a cause for celebration and an enormous incentive to continue to strive for even greater results as we head towards our 70th anniversary. But the ARWU rankings were also good news for Australian universities more broadly.

ANU moved up 28 places in from 97 to 69, and the University of Sydney, moved from 83 to 68. We applaud their success, not just for their own sake, but for that of our sector and for Australia.

Every gain in ranking, every elevation of our reputation, is welcomed. It not only makes us a study destination of choice for international students…but brings us a step closer to retaining so many brilliant Australian minds who do not need to look overseas to further their careers.

Australia is a higher education exemplar. Just 0.3% of the world population but home to 25, that is 5%, of the top five hundred ranked universities globally – 16-fold above our size. But our goal is to be even more of a global education phenomenon – to give our homegrown academics and researchers a reason to stay in Australia.

Sir Fraser, we are extremely excited to have you here tonight and eagerly await your return to UNSW next January. I suspect that your sharing of expertise, experience and passion for science – which earned you a Nobel Prize – will prove to be a watershed moment in our institution’s history as we seek to rise to your standard.

It is now my great pleasure to welcome to the stage to speak on ‘Mingling Art with Science’ – Sir Fraser Stoddart.

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