Welcome from the Head of School (HoS)

Welcome to my first HoS newsletter.  It’s hard to believe that I have been in the role for a year.  It is a year that has flown past, with a steep learning curve, yet one that has been most challenging and rewarding.

I am enormously proud of the School’s performance this year.  I am sure that Palli will update you with all the School’s success; I just want to highlight a few things here.  Firstly, congratulations to Scientia Prof Justin Gooding, who was awarded a prestigious Laureate Fellowship from the Australian Research Council.  This is an elite fellowship, and the first to be awarded in the School.  Congratulations to Justin and appropriate recognition of his fantastic research outcomes over many years.

Several other people have also been awarded Fellowships and Prizes, but I just wanted to highlight the first award of the Michael Guilhaus Award from the Australian and New Zealand Society of Mass Spectrometry, which was presented to Dr Alex Donald this year.  The reason for highlighting this award is that Mike Guilhaus was a member of the School when he carried out his groundbreaking research in mass spectrometry.  It is fitting that the first such award, commemorating Mike’s career, comes to a member of the School. 

On the research front, our grant success keeps going up, both in number of grants and the dollars associated with them.  There are a record number of post-docs and PhD students doing research projects in the School.  Of course these two things are strongly linked;  research grants provide the means by which post-docs are employed and provide many PhD scholarships.  The School also produced the most papers that anyone can recall in 2015, including papers in Nature Communications, Chemical Science, JACS and Angewandte Chemie.

Teaching is also undergoing some radical changes, especially in the First Year Lab, where we have moved the lab assessment to largely one based on lab skills, rather than purely what students write in lab reports. Members of the School have been successful in winning a number of UNSW Learning and Teaching grants to support this innovation. The highlight of the L&T year was the award of a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Learning and Teaching to Dr Luke Hunter.  Well deserved!

Of course, all this success comes at a price, which is that space is an ever increasing premium in the School.  Trying to resolve this issue is consuming a large amount of my time, and will continue to do so throughout 2016.  None-the-less, I am looking forward to this year with enormous optimism.  These are exciting times.  May they continue! 

-Scott Kable

Head of School