Re-engaging with the world

Alison Gill working in the field and Dr Nam Nghiep Tran at theVietnamese Biochar plant

Alison Gill working in the field and Dr Nam Nghiep Tran at theVietnamese Biochar plant

Now that COVID has subsided, and the world is once again open for business, the University of Adelaide has been able to resume its strong engagement around the world.

This work continued virtually and online throughout the pandemic. Now, happily, our students, staff, alumni, and University partners are once again able to re-enter the world and meet each other in person.

The links we share as a University span every continent. The University of Adelaide, as a top 100 university, is a true global citizen with students and staff drawn from around the world – and partnerships in dozens of countries.

These partnerships include linkages with business, governments, researchers and universities with whom we share our expertise, and from whom we learn. Of course, we also have our family of thousands of alumni scattered around the world as our ambassadors.

In recent years, our Adelaide campuses have suffered, along with the rest of the world, from this lack of interconnectivity. Without our international students – indeed for a while without any students – our University was a very different place.

Now, gladly, all of our students are back, and life is getting back to normal.

The connections we forge are at every level, each of them important, with many leading to lifelong academic and business partnerships.

A recent example of this is PhD candidate Alison Gill from our School of Agriculture, Food and Wine. Ali has recently returned home after her time at the University of California, Berkeley, as a Fulbright Scholarship recipient.

Her study is particularly pertinent for this issue of Lumen with its focus on sustainability.

Ali wrote about her “privilege” to have been able to spend nine months living and studying in the USA, describing it as “transformative, both professionally and personally”.

“My project investigated the effect of soil management and variety on the productivity of dry-farmed tomatoes,” she wrote.

“Dry farming is a method of growing crops without irrigation during a dry season, historically used by Indigenous groups and Mediterranean farmers.

“My time as a visiting researcher in the Agroecology Lab was an incredible learning experience that expanded my technical and research skills.

“I am confident that my new networks will be important as I navigate my future career.”

No doubt many readers - staff, students, faculty, alumni - will understand what she means from their own experiences, and the vital importance of these linkages.

I have little doubt Ali’s experiences and new academic relationships will continue to evolve – and her research in the field of arid farming has obvious applications to our own State as we learn how to adapt to our changing climate.

Forming face-to-face bonds like these are exactly why the Vice-Chancellor, senior leaders, faculty heads and I will undertake five missions this year – to countries including India, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, USA, UK, France and Germany.

These missions are a critical way for us to continue to strengthen our relationships with our alumni as well as attract research and funding, and forge ongoing and new linkages with universities.

This ongoing relationship development has already created numerous fruitful partnerships and collaborations which are ongoing and significant.

Some snapshots include:

Phillip Fredericks, Lori Hocking, Jessica Gallagher and JohnWilliams meeting the Phillipines delegation, March 2023

Phillip Fredericks, Lori Hocking, Jessica Gallagher and John Williams meeting the Phillipines delegation, March 2023

“The Plants4Space mission is to re-imagine plant design and bioresource production to enable off-Earth habitation – and improve sustainability of life on Earth.”Dr Jessica Gallagher, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement).

Vietnam – carbon removal

The University is an active partner in a project to establish a facility in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta to turn waste biomass from agricultural activities into biochar.

Biochar is a durable form of permanent carbon storage which can also be used as soil conditioning, water filtration and as an animal feed that lowers emissions.

This work, led by Dr Nam Nghiep Tran, Associate Dean, International Strategic Partnerships (South East Asia), within the Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology, aims to create green jobs, improve livelihoods and reduce air and water pollution in the area.

Separately, the University recently took a group of students on a study tour to Vietnam, funded under the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan.

They investigated sustainable water management, hosted by key partners including the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Can Tho University and the Ho Chi Minh University of Technology.

Artist’s impression of a Mars living environment. Image Bruce Moffett University of Adelaide

Artist’s impression of a Mars living environment. Image Bruce Moffett University of Adelaide.

Global collaboration - Plants for Space

Our University now has a new research centre – the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre for Excellence in Plants for Space (P4S).

P4S is a major global collaboration comprising 15 academic institutions, five space agencies, five controlled- environment agriculture companies, six education providers and seven government and technology partners across the US, Switzerland, Germany, France the UK and Australia.

The centre, led by Professor Matthew Gilliham, will focus on channelling international expertise to find ways to provide the next generation of space explorers with nutritious foods, and on-demand materials and medicines.

The P4S mission is to re-imagine plant design and bioresource production to enable off-Earth habitation – and improve sustainability of life on Earth.

France – Artificial intelligence

Based in Adelaide, the International Research Laboratory CROSSING is focussed on human autonomous agents teaming.

This is an area of research at the interface of artificial intelligence, computer science, engineering, technology, human factors and psychology.

CROSSING is a collaboration between the University of Adelaide, the French National Centre for Scientific Research, Flinders University, the University of South Australia, French technological university IMT Atlantique, and Naval Group.

The University’s Australian Institute of Machine Learning is bringing its expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning to this collaboration.

All of these linkages, all of these friendships, all of these collaborations, can only be of benefit to the University of Adelaide and our community.

In terms of sustainability, building bonds like these are critical as we deal with the common climate and sustainability problems which unite us all.

Story by, Dr Jessica Gallagher, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement).

Tagged in Lumen winter 2023, lumen, sustainability, alumni