2016 Vice-Chancellor’s Recognition Reception: INSPIRED by the world of difference we can make

Since the campaign began in 2008 more than 50,000 donors have contributed to the university through our INSPIRED campaign.

This year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Recognition Reception was an opportunity to take notice of the world of difference being made through the passion, determination and perseverance we see every day around the University. We also wanted to thank our community who continue to support the pursuit of ideas that shape our world and to transform lives.

The Vice-Chancellor’s speech highlighted the staggering list of inventions and achievements during the University’s 166 year history. Standing in the Great Hall, he noted that the University was originally built for 35 students.

“What foresight they had to build this hub for the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom that would grow into a university for more than 50,000 students from across the world. It’s this generosity, ambition, motivation and inspiration that have provided the university with such longevity,” he said.

Keeping with the theme, Tim Dolan, Vice-Principal (Advancement), shared a moving story about his own father whose life changed due to an alumna’s, Emeritus Professor Graeme Clark AC, invention – the cochlear implant.

Real lives are transformed every day thanks to inventions that start within our walls. Inventions like the cochlear implant can only happen with continued philanthropic support and there’s no telling how many lives could change on the back of the next creation ignited at Sydney University.

Guests viewed the story of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander uncle and his niece whose lives have both been enriched through the education they’ve received at the University. These powerful stories demonstrate the life-changing impact philanthropy has on our students.

Jack Purdon Trio and group 4 X 6 from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music entertained guests in the Great Hall and attendees were invited to interact with eight exciting exhibits created by our students and academics.

We thank those who joined and presented the demonstrations, which comprised:

Developing biomimetic surfaces
The nano-interfaces laboratory in the School of Chemistry mimics the extraordinary properties of natural surfaces to produce nano-structured coatings that are highly water-repellent. This engineered structure gives them self-cleaning, drag-reducing and anti-fouling properties.

Exploring complex systems from RoboCup to computational neuroscience
The Centre for Complex Systems studies complexity, criticality and computation. This demonstration includes a replay of a final game at RoboCup 2016 – the World Cupof robot soccer – and a reconstruction of brain dynamics using information flows.

Interacting with music and art
Designed by the SPIE OSA Sydney University Chapter, the laser harp is a musical instrument which combines light and sound to make an interactive piece of art.

Journey into inner space
Researchers are creating super-strong and highly ductile steels through a unique atomic‑scale approach. Vehicles made from this steel are much lighter, emit less carbon, and have greater fuel efficiency.

Mapping the ‘breathome’
There is an urgent need for a safe and sensitive screening test for diagnosis of lung cancer. We are using cutting-edge mass spectrometry to map the breathomefrom a patients breath sample to identify how lung proteins change when an individual has lung cancer. This world-first undertaking could lead to the development of a less invasive breath test for earlier lung cancer diagnosis which will ultimately improve patient survival.

Realising the future of dog health and welfare
The doglogbook is a free app for dog owners, veterinarians and dog trainers who need to monitor dog behaviour and quality of life.

Transitioning to sustainability
Researchers are using advanced science to develop next generation energy, water and environmental technologies. They grow gold on trees, reverse engineer butterflies and make nano‑structured energy devices powered by the sun.

Travelling to new worlds
The Applied and Plasma Physics group is working on a new approach to space travel that could make refuelling in space possible. It uses solid magnesium – abundant in space junk– as fuel, so it’s recycling as well.

A special thank you to all donors, volunteers, staff and students, near and far, for your continued support.