Welcome to our School’s first newsletter for 2020! I hope everyone managed to get some time to rest and relax over the Christmas period.

The start of the new year coincided with two very unfortunate major events – the devasting bushfires and the COVID-19 outbreak. These have made it both a challenging and worrying time for all and I hope everyone stays safe and well.

I will begin with a reflection on some major student and staff achievements announced in late 2019. Jianqiang Zhang was deservedly promoted to Professor and Lucy Zhang was the recipient of a 2019 Dean of Science Staff Excellence Awards in the area of Operational Excellence. At our End-of-Year Celebration, two of our sessional staff, Adam O'Neil and Ayda Khosravanihaghighi, received the School of Materials Laboratory Demonstration Award. There were also a number of awards received by our students, including Scarlett Kong’s Best Student Poster award from DMTC and Student’s Pitch Academic’s Choice Award from ISAF conference, and Florence Lui’s award of a prestigious Fulbright Future Scholarship to carry out part of her PhD research in USA!

In November, our PGSOC hosted the 2nd Year Higher Degree Research Student Poster Competition. This event not only promotes our students’ research, but builds important visual, written and oral communication skills through the poster itself, accompanying abstract and short presentation to an expert panel of judges. I am happy to announce that first, second and third place, respectively, went to Thomas Molley, Richard Winkler and Jonathan Hopkins!  All posters were of exceptional quality and will be on display throughout the year on each of our floors in the Hilmer Building.

Another area for celebration is the recent staff successes with grant funding.  Prof. Veena Sahajwalla secured nearly $1 million in NSW government funding to commercialise a technology for transforming waste materials into value-added products for use in the built environment. Staff also secured two ARC Discovery and two ARC Linkage grants for commencement in 2020. Prof. Jianqiang Zhang and team received $554k to study high temperature corrosion of steels, Prof. Paul Munroe and team received $600K to develop novel gradient coatings for extreme environments, Prof. Alan Crosky and team received $675K to investigate the microbiological effects on stress corrosion cracking of steels in underground mines, and A/Prof. Dewei Chu and team received $423k to develop high performance cathode coatings.

Partnership is one of UNSW’s 2025 Strategic Priorities and a major priority for the School. A/Prof. John Daniels and his team hosted 47 Engineering Studies Teachers across NSW at the Institute of Technology Education Conference 2019.  Through the NSW Circular Economy Network and SMaRT Centre, Prof. Veena Sahajwalla and her team are collaborating with Mirvac to transform recycled materials into sustainable homeware. We highlight these stories in this issue.

The School extends well beyond our excellent teaching and research and is constantly active in promoting our discipline to the wider community. Students and staff took part in many events, including the L’Oréal Girls Science Event, hosting work experience groups from several local schools through to the Materials Australia intervarsity student presentation day, where our students picked up several awards.  Our student societies, MATSOC and PGSOC, have also been exceptionally busy in engaging our students and have already organised several events so far this year. The School warmly welcomes the incoming 2020 executive committees and thank the outgoing committee members for their exceptional contributions to student life in the School throughout 2019.

In latest news, Dr Pramod Koshy was honoured with a 2019 UNSW Teaching Award in the General Category of Teaching Excellence.  This is such a well-deserved award as Koshy is an amazing educator who attracts some of the highest myTeaching evaluations in the University.  This new award adds to Koshy’s long list of exceptional  achievements in teaching and highlights his love of teaching in the School. Congratulations Koshy!

Looking ahead, the long-awaited South East Light Rail network is almost complete. The L2 Circular Quay to Randwick Line opened in December 2019 and the L3 Kingsford Line is due to open in March 2020 with a stop conveniently situated close to our School at the Anzac Parade entrance to UNSW. It will provide a more efficient and environmentally sustainable transport option for all staff, students and visitors travelling to UNSW’s Kensington campus.

After 23+ years as an academic staff member of the School, Professor Mark Hoffman will soon commence a new position as Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic at the University of Newcastle. Mark made major contributions to the University since commencing in the School as a Lecturer in 1997. From 2008 to 2013, Mark was Head of School where one of his greatest legacies was convincing the University to invest in a new Materials Science and Engineering building, which is one of the most state-of-the-art materials buildings in the world and our current home on campus.  We wish Mark all the very best for the future and are happy that he will stay in close contact with the School through his position as Visiting Professor!

I close with a big thankyou to Vanessa, Jeremy and the numerous support staff and students, both within the School and University, for their tireless effort in publishing our quarterly newsletter!

Wishing you all the very best for 2020.

Professor Michael Ferry
Head, School of Materials Science and Engineering

Ralph Bulanadi received first class honours in the combined BE (Materials) / MBiomed degree program and he will commence his PhD at the University of Geneva.

Mia Maric will commence her PhD at Manchester University