Lumen - The University of Adelaide Magazine The University of Adelaide Australia
Lumen Winter 2014 Issue
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1990s: Exceptional research expertise

Natasha Stott Despoja AM

Natasha Stott Despoja AM

Dr Andy Thomas

Dr Andy Thomas

Bob Cowan and his wife Gayle with Cowan Grant recipients

Bob Cowan and his wife Gayle with Cowan Grant recipients

The early 1990s was a time of intensive preparation for the University's merger with Roseworthy Agricultural College and the SA College of Advanced Education. The relationship with Roseworthy dated back to its foundation in 1883 when it was Australia's first agricultural college, while the merger with SACAE saw new disciplines of drama and dance included in an expanded Elder Conservatorium to become a Faculty of Performing Arts.

The University successfully lobbied to be included in the Group of Eight research intensive universities on the grounds of its exceptional record, routinely ranking first or second both nationally and regionally in terms of competitive research income per capita.

Professor of Mathematical Physics Paul Davies won the 1995 Templeton Prize for progress in religion, the world's largest prize for intellectual endeavour. Little did Davies know that he was continuing a dialogue between science and religion that the University's founding father, Augustus Short, had already addressed publicly as early as 1876.

Working side-by-side

In 1992 the University, the State Government and the CSIRO formally agreed to support more than $80 million of new developments at the Waite campus in the 1990s to create a research and education precinct with the largest concentration of expertise in the southern hemisphere in agricultural and natural resource sciences. Scientists from the University and partner organisations were located together in buildings based on their research interests to further enhance collaborations. The new Plant Research Centre, with its futuristic glasshouses, was opened in 1995 as part of the redevelopment.

Passion for politics

Natasha Stott Despoja is among a distinguished group of graduates from the University of Adelaide who have carved successful political careers in Canberra. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1991, Natasha went on to become the youngest woman at that time to enter the Australian Parliament after being elected as a Senator for South Australia at the age of 26. She was the longest serving Democrat Senator in the party's history before leaving in 2008 after almost 13 years. In 2011, she was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her service to the Australian Parliament, education and as a role model for women.

For the past six years Ms Stott Despoja has funded an undergraduate scholarship to support a financially disadvantaged female student of academic merit to study humanities full-time and in 2013 she was appointed Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls by the Federal Government.

Helping those in need

The Cowan Grant Trust was established by Marnie Cowan and her son Bob in 1994 to help University students experiencing financial hardship. The Cowan family's longstanding connection with the University of Adelaide spans three generations - starting with Bob's father, Bill Cowan, who was the University of Adelaide librarian for 31 years from 1933 to 1964. The Cowan Trust supports Music students through the Marnie Cowan Elder Conservatorium of Music Scholarship, postgraduate students through the Bill Cowan Barr Smith Library Fellowship and has also provided up to six scholarships per year for rural students living at the Roseworthy campus.

In 2014, the trust is also supporting travel grants to encourage financially disadvantaged students to undertake an overseas study experience for one semester.

New wine science laboratory

Members of the Hickinbotham family took a personal interest when the University's wine science teaching was transferred to the Waite campus in the 90s. They donated funds towards the building of a new state-of-the-art science laboratory at the Waite which was opened in 1998 and named the Hickinbotham Roseworthy Wine Science Laboratory. The building honours Alan Robb Hickinbotham, one of the founders of the winemaking course back in 1936, and his grandson Stephen Hickinbotham, a promising young winemaker who was killed in a plane crash at just 30. It also honours the long tradition of wine education at Roseworthy Agricultural College.

Milestones and achievements

1991 Roseworthy Agricultural College becomes part of the University of Adelaide

1992 Establishment of the Women's Studies Department

1992 Co-location agreement at the Waite between the University, South Australian Government and CSIRO

1993 The first Adelaide Big Day Out held at the University of Adelaide's North Terrace campus

1993 Former graduate Ong Teng Cheong became the fifth president of Singapore and the first directly elected

1996 Former graduate Andy Thomas became the first Australian-born NASA astronaut to travel into space

1996 Wirltu Yarlu established as a dedicated centre for Aboriginal education

1998 Departments of Chemical and Mechanical Engineering, and local company Fuel & Combustion Technology win contract to design the flame technology for the Sydney 2000 Olympic torch and the fuel and burner system for the Olympic Cauldron

1998-1999 Yvonne Clark is the first Aboriginal student awarded a Master's degree in Psychology


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