Connection and creativity at the Inaugural Dean’s Winter Reception

On 1 August 2019, hundreds of Faculty of Science alumni and friends gathered to celebrate the inaugural Dean’s Winter Reception.

Guests view the Urinotron exhibit at the Science Dean's Winter ReceptionIn the words of Professor Aleks Owczarek, Dean, Faculty of Science, “The Science Dean’s Winter Reception is all about making connection to our alumni community.”

We explored how collaborations expand the traditional boundaries of science and inspire innovative responses to the challenges we face today.

Featuring interdisciplinary innovation

Pop-up displays from Science Gallery’s DISPOSABLE illustrated the collision of art and science. Guests observed mealworms munching on polystyrene, while the Urinotron transformed urine into power.

Associate Professor Devi Stuart-Fox presented BioInspiration, a University of Melbourne Hallmark Research Initiative that looks to nature for creative solutions to big challenges. Some of the ideas being explored include studying beetles for nano-optics and materials, and creating chemical sensors inspired by moth antennae.

According to Devi, "A bioinspired approach can help us address some of the major challenges that face humanity today."

Inspiring future generations

“I was really excited about it,” says Syazwani Saifuddin. Going into year 8, Syazwani is already passionate about maths and science. Her father, Science alum Saifuddin Samat, had brought her to the Reception to get a taste of science research. “I liked how they found a lot of innovative problems to global solutions.”

For alum Holly Khoury, the Reception sparked hope and admiration for her peers.

"You come here, and you realize that these people are doing these incredible things— this out-of-the-box thinking, which is what we really need at the moment. It’s a place that I come to and feel very uplifted by what we’re doing."

Connections surprise

Science alum and A Local Beer co-founder Chris Cefala provided drinks for Reception guests. The connections he made on the night surprised him.

"You simply never know the interesting people you’ll meet or the opportunities that may present themselves,” he says. “It was amazing on the night that we were approached by someone who owned a hop farm, and business cards were exchanged.”

View highlights from the evening below.

The Dean's Winter Reception will run on the Parkville Campus each year. Stay tuned for updates on the 2020 Reception - we hope to see you there!