Director's blog

Bio21 Director's Message - Dreaming of Conference Destinations - 18 September 2020

Did you cancel your trip to a conference this year? Were you dreaming of boarding a plane and heading to New York, or Bern, Singapore or Siena? Like most people’s holiday plans this year, SARS-CoV-2 has meant conference plans have either been postponed or they have become “virtual”.

Bio21 Guest Message - Prof Emeritus Andrew Holmes - A Journey Through Bio21 - 31 August 2020

Bio21 was established to harness, communicate and exploit the numerous opportunities in the field as a result of the presence of the richly endowed Parkville biomedical precinct. It has provided the best laboratory facilities that I have ever experienced.  It really is a palace. With the expectation of interdisciplinary collaborations over a wide variety of disciplines there is ample opportunity for every member to conduct creative and productive research at the interface. As Chemistry is such a central science it is perfectly positioned to capitalise on these opportunities as has become evident from the productive output of my colleagues in Chemistry as well as from the many other occupants of Bio21. It is a special privilege to be able to work in Bio21.

Director's Blog - Respect Now Always - 17 August 2020

As Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ‘AOC’, US congresswoman for the 14th congressional district in New York said, dehumanising language is not new. It’s also not new to Australians. It’s not new in public life, where it is laid bare for all to see. Unfortunately, it’s not new in academic life either. In recent years, at the University of Melbourne as in other institutions, there has been a growing realisation that indeed these problems are cultural.

Bio21 Guest Message: Professor Eric Reynolds - A reflection on 15 years in Bio21 - 4 August 2020

I am profoundly grateful to every Bio21 colleague who has helped us on our research journey over the last 15 years.

Bio21 Director’s Message - 16 July 2020 - Honouring our elders

Does wisdom correlate with age? Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ had some points to make on the topic and a few of our more senior global leaders appear to be sorely lacking when it comes to their approach towards the coronavirus pandemic and other urgent global crises.

Bio21 Guest Message: Professor Ary Hoffmann – 19 June 2020 - A COVID-19 Experience

In late January with a sense of dread, I noted the detection of COVID-19 in Australia. In February, I attended a scheduled meeting in Singapore with the Dengue Expert Advisory Panel; my last overseas trip since the travel ban. With Covid-19 starting to spread across the globe, I had to weigh up the risks of exposure to myself, and likely quarantine on returning to Australia, in order to participate in a meeting about a more well understood, but also very serious pandemic.

Bio21 Director’s Message - 10 June 2020 - Research and Reconciliation

Reconciliation begins when we recognise and sincerely show remorse for the harm we’ve inflicted, perhaps unknowingly or even with good intention. Science has also caused harm. In the name of science, 19th century researchers, particularly anthropologists, took sacred ceremonial items and even remains of the deceased from Aboriginal tribes. To mark the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s first voyage to Australia in 2019, Manchester Museum became the first UK institution to return ceremonial items to Aboriginal groups. The repatriation project run by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), said it had identified more than 100,000 sacred items in 220 institutions across the world. Rather than being the object of research, indigenous people are being empowered to conduct their own research.

Bio21 Guest Message - 22 May 2020 - Professor Phil Batterham

Speaking at a dinner to mark the opening of the Bio21 Institute the then Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Ian Renard AM, drew parallels between the quality and diversity of research activities to be conducted in the new Institute and the joy of taking in the culinary delights of the many great cafes lining Brunswick Street.  This comparison prompted me to smile knowingly because, even in those very early days, the point that Ian was making was already resonating with my experience.  Walking the corridors of Bio21, I sensed the creativity and energy emanating from the great labs that populate the Institute. Back then it was a new and fresh experience.  I only knew my colleagues by reputation, but over time I have come to understand the quality of the research upon which those reputations are based.  More than that, I have reaped the benefits of generous collegiality.  

Bio21 Director’s Message - 12 May 2020 - The challenge of STEM education during the COVID-19 pandemic

The warning ‘Don’t try this at home’ has become partly obsolete in the Covid-19 era, as we are all doing our best to work and to make it work from home. Some things like writing grant applications and papers, reading and reviewing or consuming coffee can be done from home. Experiments and field work not so much. Meetings, events and conferences, possibly? Lectures and pracs, STEM education and school engagement – it’s a challenge! 

Bio21 Director’s Message - 24 April 2020 - Looking after ourselves and others..…

Scientific teams are diverse, international and comprised of younger and older members. For some of our team members working from home will be much more isolating than for others. In particular, we need to support our colleagues, who are far away from their home country and family and may be worrying about family members in countries that are currently experiencing a high number of cases and fatalities, such as Iran, Korea, Italy, Spain and the US. At times like these, we realise how interconnected we all are.


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