Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Reception for the Academy of Science

Rod and I warmly welcome you to Government House.

It is a pleasure not only to honour Professor Varghese’s eminent work, but also to acknowledge the important role of the Australian Academy of Science in championing, celebrating and supporting excellence in Australian Science.

Standing here, I am reminded that one of my predecessors as Governor was world-renowned nuclear physicist Sir Mark Oliphant, your founding President.

There are many others from Adelaide whose achievements have had significant impact on the world.

We are proud of our many Nobel Prize laureates, among them such luminaries as Lord Florey and the Braggs, father and son.

Each of them is honoured with a bust in Prince Henry Gardens, just outside the front wall of Government House, as is Sir Mark.

My husband, Rod, has long been a fan of George Jauncey, an early quantum physicist and significant physics educator.

As a graduate of the University of Adelaide myself, albeit in economics, I am proud of the innovation and research that is being conducted in our universities and scientific institutions.

To maintain this tradition of excellence, we need young and emerging scientists who are passionate about the quest for solving the up-to-now unanswerable questions.

We need our best and brightest not only to achieve breakthroughs on these issues, but also to search for what future challenges will need to have solutions.

In that regard, I congratulate the Academy for building public awareness and understanding of science.

With my former diplomat’s hat on, I was particularly pleased to learn that one of your roles is to promote international scientific engagement.

It was a privilege to witness our nation’s outward looking role in our region, and indeed the world, to share knowledge, learn from others and improve communities.

To Professor Varghese, I congratulate you on being awarded the Hannan Medal for 2021, which is further testament to your achievements in a distinguished career in pure mathematics.

Your work is acknowledged as ground-breaking and with international significance. I am advised it is critical to the understanding of topological space.

I was fascinated to learn that your interest in mathematics was sparked by reading about famous mathematicians and their puzzle solving ability, reading which took place in a library above a supermarket in Bangalore, while your mother did the grocery shopping

Such is the power of stories!

Professor Varghese, I speak for all South Australians in thanking you for choosing to bring your expertise and knowledge to Adelaide.

While COVID-19 has meant that the Academy could not have a ceremony in Canberra, I am assured your medal is in a safe place there.

In the meantime, a certificate to be presented shortly is our symbol of gratitude and appreciation for your outstanding achievements.

Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC


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