As the end of December approaches, I’m pleased to say, looking back over the events and achievements of 2014, that the year has been a resounding success for the Australian Synchrotron in terms of both productivity and impact.

Andrew Peele, Director, Australian Synchrotron

The thousands of researchers who use our unique experimental capabilities have published around 450 research papers in scientific journals since January 2014, and added another 400 protein structures to the world Protein Data Bank repository. We’re seeing a substantial increase in our involvement with businesses and industry groups too, with one in five experiments now including an industry partner. Recent major outcomes range from innovative medical treatments and food products to potential new industrial processes and materials. Since ANSTO commenced operations in 2013, our outcomes and impact, particularly on the national stage, continue to grow.

Two researchers who exemplify the outstanding quality of the nation’s synchrotron users are Dr Matthew Hill, who won Australia’s 2014 Malcolm MacIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year, and Dr Claire Weekley, who received the 2014 Australian Synchrotron Stephen Wilkins Thesis Medal. Matthew works with the world’s most porous materials, which have amazingly diverse industrial applications in food production, transport, pollution control, natural gas separation and mineral processing. Claire’s PhD research is helping to reveal the true role of selenium in maintaining our health, and dispel some of the confusion surrounding the value of selenium dietary supplements.

The annual User Meeting, which was held in close association with the New User Symposium, was again very well received by participants ranging from world experts to young students. Around 200 delegates took up the opportunity to learn about the synchrotron, neutron and accelerator facilities available under the ANSTO umbrella – and to see the latest research and developments showcased at our annual meeting. The student posters and poster slam competition were a great success, with the enthusiasm and professionalism displayed by all auguring well for the future of Australian science.

In the context of our discussions with the Commonwealth and other State partners, we have been heartened also by the innovation statement issued by the new Victorian Government under Daniel Andrews. The ‘Plan for Innovation’ signals their determination to support the long-term viability of the Australian Synchrotron, “so it can attract investment in additional beamlines and unlock its economic and scientific potential”. We look forward to a continuation of the bipartisan support that the Synchrotron has always enjoyed – and appreciated. This support and strong State and Commonwealth partnerships will enable the long-term health of our national facility.

At this time of year, it’s vital to remember the value of good health, a topic of major personal and professional importance for many Synchrotron users. New information about the essential process of programmed cell death, and the recent discovery that selenium plays an critical role in female reproductive health are two excellent examples of how the Synchrotron supports the work of Australia’s medical research and pharmaceutical development sector.

And while we’re on the subject of health, I wish you a happy, healthy and safe end-of-year break and another excellent year in 2015, on behalf of all Synchrotron staff. Here’s to your very good health!

Andrew Peele
Director, Australian Synchrotron