October 2022

11 October 2022

Welcome to my October blog.

It was great to be in Bendigo last week for our ‘In Conversation’ webinar. Thanks to Julie Rudner for doing such an excellent job in moderating it. Thanks also to all the staff that took the time to talk with us about their work. I’ve really enjoyed the new format for the webinars this year and it was terrific to take the show on the road to Bendigo. 

A regional focus will be a key component of our webinars next year, so that we can share more of the great work happening across all of our campuses.Thanks to Claire Bowers, Sharyn Brady, Tory Dillon, Craig Coster and all the staff that have done a brilliant job to deliver the new webinar format this year.

There have been some other great moments at the University recently, especially the joy in looking out from the stage at the Union Hall at the Melbourne campus to see a room full of happy graduands and their proud families and supporters. The experience of walking across the stage to doff your cap to the Chancellor and receive a well-earned testamur is a cherished memory for anyone who has been to university – and being there as a teacher, member of our support staff, or university manager is one of the most rewarding parts of our job.

Well done to Danielle Mengel, Prue Kasby, Jennifer La Torre, Holly Evans, Nick Duncan, Emily Razmovska, Ashtyn Williams and all the staff who worked so hard to deliver such a fantastic graduation experience for 3,000 students across 15 ceremonies. It really was wonderful to feel the atmosphere of a packed graduation hall once again.

As usual, I’d now like to share some of the recent achievements and activities from across the University.

The other grand final

Few people will argue that Geelong were deserving winners of this year’s AFL men’s premiership, but there was another important grand final in September – I’m very pleased to report that the La Trobe University Football Club (LTUFC) defeated Swinburne University to take out the 2022 Division 4 VAFA premiership! Well done to coach Ricky Nolan and everyone involved with the Club in winning their first premiership since 2010.  Ricky was named coach of the Division 4 VAFA team of the year, which included five La Trobe players. Well done to all.

200 tales from ancient Rome

It was fantastic to be at ACMI last week for the 200th edition of the brilliant Emperors of Rome podcast, presented by Rhiannon Evans and Matt Smith. If you think about the best podcasts of all time, people will mention Serial and This American Life or, closer to home, Leigh Sales’ and Annabel Crabb’s Chat 10 Looks 3Emperors of Rome sits comfortably alongside these acclaimed series: it was featured on Apple’s spotlight page for International Podcast Day in September – a huge achievement.

Congratulations to Rhiannon and Matt on your 200th episode. We are so proud that La Trobe is home to such a pioneering and successful podcast.


Congratulations to Brian Abbey from LIMS, who has led development of the NanoMslide over the last five years. The technology, which modifies the surface of conventional microscope slides to create contrasts in microscopic cell samples that can reveal the presence of disease, won the 2022 Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology. I remember watching Brian pitch his idea for the NanoMslide several years ago and it’s been brilliant to watch his success ever since. Well done, Brian!

Winning research

Well done to LIMS physicist Nadia Zatsepin on receiving a 2022 ARC Future Fellowship, one of the most prestigious research grants available in Australia. Nadia will use her Fellowship to develop a new type of antibacterial that is not subject to antibiotic resistance.

And congratulations to Benjamin Riordan, Paul-Antoine Libourel, Joel Anderson and Ashleigh Butler on being awarded funding from the ARC's 2023 Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme. It was terrific to see four La Trobe researchers share in $1.6 million under the national scheme designed to support the nation’s most promising early career researchers.

Spotlight on research

Anyone who wants to follow in the footsteps of our Future Fellow and DECRA winners should get involved with Research Month at La Trobe during October.

There are some great events being held during the month, including our five Research Theme leads taking on the Three Minute Thesis challenge last Friday. There are more than 20 sessions being presented over the next four weeks, including Set Yourself Up for Success with the Ethics, Biosafety, and Integrity team on 12 October; Social Change and Equity – Building Industry Partnerships on 20 October; Human Research Ethics and HUSS on 24 October; Harnessing the Power of Your Publications on 26 October; and an all-day Research Infrastructure Expo on 4 November.

Doing business in Bendigo

Last month, Sue Dodds and I visited our industry partners in Bendigo at Ceramic Oxide Fabricators Australia (COFA). Peter Crowhurst and his team at COFA are working with funding from the Federal Government’s Strategic University Reform Fund (SURF) on high-tech equipment including electron microscopes that are used in the research and development of oxygen sensors and are exported globally. The partnership also provides our Engineering students with Work Integrated Learning opportunities and supports an Industry PhD project.

A decade of excellence

Gayle Tierney, the Victorian Minister for Agriculture, will be visiting our Melbourne campus today to help us celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Centre for AgriBioscience, our joint venture with Agriculture Victoria for agricultural biosciences research and development. AgriBio has become a major international facility for plant, animal and microbial biosciences and biosecurity research and diagnostics. The facility has also made a huge difference to our research capability and attracted numerous PhD students over the last decade. I’m looking forward to the festivities.

Making biodiversity count

I encourage you to get involved with the Great Southern Bioblitz 2022 that records and showcases organisms and biodiversity in our region. It’s the largest citizen science activity in the Southern Hemisphere. There are some special events as part of the Bioblitz that will be held throughout the Nangak Tamboree corridor at the University’s Melbourne campus, Darebin Creek corridor, and surrounding bushland across Darebin and Banyule.

Staff giving month

The generosity of our staff in supporting La Trobe’s Golden Lanyard Staff Giving Program has supported over 50 students with full access scholarships to study a range of disciplines across all of our campuses, including Nursing, Archaeology, Criminology, and Business. It’s Staff Giving Month in October, so please visit the website to find out how you can get involved in this year’s Program. If you need any evidence of the value of the Golden Lanyard Program, there’s a terrific video about the support being provided to one of our students from Syria, Philip, that demonstrates the impact we can have by contributing to the Program.

Pressing on

We established the La Trobe University Press, our publishing partnership with Black Inc., in 2017. I’m incredibly proud of the books we’ve published over the last six years. The Press has rightly earnt a reputation for publishing works of substance, originality, and quality.

Recent publications will only cement this reputation, including Ross Garnaut’s follow-up to the best-selling Superpower, The Superpower Transformation: Making Australia’s Zero-Carbon Future; Daniel Mulino’s Safety Net: The Future of Welfare in Australia; Ross Walker’s biography Harold Holt: Always One Step Further; and Black Lives, White Law: Locked Up and Locked Out in Australia by La Trobe Adjunct Research Fellow Russell Marks. I’m also looking forward to the publication of Frank Bongiorno’s survey of Australian political history, Dreamers and Schemers: A Political History of Australia, out next month.

Bright ideas

It’s been another stellar year for the La Trobe Ideas and Society series curated by our Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow Robert Manne. Don’t miss the next two events in the series, which feature some of the biggest names in the country on topics that concern all of us. Tomorrow night, James Curran will be in conversation with former Prime Minister Paul Keating about the challenges of Australia’s relations with China; and Ross Garnaut will discuss his new book with Tim Flannery on 25 October.

Awards season

Don’t forget to nominate your colleagues for our 2022 staff awards, including in the new categories for professional staff this year alongside our teaching, research, and cultural qualities awards. Nominations close on 21 October.

In closing

That’s it for another very productive month at La Trobe. Good luck to those who are in the final weeks of teaching for Semester 2 and gearing up for end-of-year exams.

I’d like to finish by encouraging you to make the most of the Campus Coffee Time program that started up again yesterday. We’ve partnered with campus retailers so you can have a free coffee (or another beverage of your choice) at every campus on Mondays and Wednesdays from now until the end of the year. It’s a great way to catch up with colleagues and recharge your batteries when you’re working on campus – I look forward to seeing you at Campus Coffee Time.