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Some of the best researchers from around the world gather at Deakin Geelong for the three-day ‘Humboldtian Research towards a Sustainable World’ conference.

With 27 short presentations and four keynote addresses from German researchers, Prof. du Plessis says this conference was probably one of the most diverse ever hosted by Deakin.

‘Best of the best’ researchers gather at Deakin for prestigious sustainability conference

Hosted by Deakin University, the 19th Biennial Conference of  Australian and New Zealand Associations of von Humboldt Fellows showcased some of the world’s leading research in sustainability.

Some of the world’s best researchers recently gathered at Deakin University’s Geelong Waterfront Campus for a unique conference aimed at the ongoing challenge of a global sustainability.

In a first for Deakin, the three-day ‘Humboldtian Research towards a Sustainable World’  conference delivered an outstanding range of diverse presentations from some of the world’s finest scholars – all of whom hold connection to the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

The conference was organised and chaired by Deakin Law School’s (DLS) Professor Jean du Plessis – an internationally-recognised researcher and Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow – with assistance from Professor Ross Marceau, Professor Rosanne Guijt, Associate Professor Shiri Krebs and Dr Antje Kreutzmann-Gallasch who were on the organising committee and also chaired conference sessions.

Based in Germany, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is one of the two largest research foundations in the world with research fellowships offered across all disciplines in the natural sciences and humanities.

The foundation’s aim is to promote global academic cooperation and scholarly excellence; selection is made from academic committees across all specialisation fields and based solely on the applicant’s academic record.

Prof. du Plessis says that because there is no quota for any discipline, Humboldt applicants compete against the “best of the best” of the world’s researchers.

‘This means, for example, if someone wants to research historic links between two cities, they are potentially competing with someone who wants to research the effects of long-COVID. This illustrates how good a non-pure sciences application needs to be for success,’ he explains.

Conference delegates were welcomed by Deakin’s Vice- Chancellor Research and Alfred Deakin Professor Professor Julie Owens, followed by opening remarks from Mr Michael Pearce SC, (Honorary Consul General for the Federal Republic of Germany), Dr Thomas Hesse (Deputy Secretary of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation), and the respective presidents of the Australian and New Zealand Associations.

With 27 short presentations, and four keynote addresses from German researchers, Prof. du Plessis says the Humboldtian Research towards a Sustainable World conference was probably one of the most diverse ever hosted by Deakin.

‘It covered a fascinating array of topics from the importance of bees, and agricultural and ecological sustainability to next-generation anti-viral drugs, and genome banking for future survival.’

Conference delegates also had the opportunity to tour Deakin’s Geelong Waterfront Campus  – and learn more about its history and significance to Geelong – and visit the Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus campus and its Carbon Nexus facility and Institute for Frontier Materials.  

At Waurn Ponds, Deakin’s Director Sustainability and Environments Emma Connan spoke about the University’s advanced sustainability practices, the campus’s solar farm, the conversion of its water ponds into Australian bird habitats, and the introduction of a diverse array of indigenous plants.

Prof. du Plessis says the opportunity to host such a significant conference was a unique privilege for Deakin University that reflects its commitment to a sustainable world.

‘Sustainability is one of Deakin’s core values and is embedded into the strategic plan. Our shared future must integrate economic, environmental, and social sustainability through our research, education, and operations.’

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