Melbourne ranks among worlds top universities by lindahy


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 Vice Minister
 visits University                                              China’s Vice Minister for Science and Technology,
                                                                Professor Cheng Jinpei, was a guest of the
                                                                University of Melbourne early in November.
                                                                  Professor Cheng (centre), accompanied by seven
                                                                officials from the Chinese Government, met with the
                                                                University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor (International)
                                                                Professor Frank Larkins (left), and the Dean of Science,
                                                                Professor Peter Rathjen. Professor Rathjen is one of
                                                                Australia’s leading stem-cell scientists, a particular
                                                                interest of the Vice Minister, who is also interested in
                                                                nanotechnology and biochemistry. While at Melbourne                A stressful life: Researchers Dr Stefan Arnt, University of Melbourne (left), and Dr Zeng
                                                                                                                                   Fanjiang, Chinese Academy of Sciences (right), are investigating the saline tolerance of the
                                                                the delegation toured the University’s Bio21 Institute.            tree species Populus euphratica in the sandy conditions of Xingjian’s Taklamakan Desert.
                                                                Professor Cheng is a graduate of Nankai University,
                                                                and a former vice president, and professor of Organic
                                                                Chemistry there.                                                           Secret to survival explored in
                                                                Photo: Michael Silver                                                        salty Taklamakan Desert
                                                                                                                                   Researchers from the University of Melbourne and the Chinese Academy of

Melbourne ranks among
                                                                                                                                   Sciences are investigating how the first species of plant to have its entire
                                                                                                                                   genome mapped is able to tolerate extremely salty conditions.
                                                                                                                                     Populus euphratica grows in soils        of this tree’s biology and physical proc-
                                                                                                                                   containing up to two per cent salinity,    esses, we will be able to identify and

world’s top universities
                                                                                                                                   and can be found in locations ranging      choose suitable trees for other areas
                                                                                                                                   from the semi-arid northwest of china      affected by salinity.”
                                                                                                                                   through to western Morocco.                  Dr arndt says the problem scien-
                                                                                                                                     University of Melbourne forest and       tists currently face is an incomplete
                                                                                                                                   ecosystem scientist Dr Stefan arndt        understanding of Populus euphratica’s
The University of Melbourne is among the world’s top-performing uni-                    highly regarded by the world’s top         says that Populus trees are interesting    mechanisms for tolerance to salt. he
                                                                                                                                   to biologists because Populus is the first is currently engaged in field research
versities, according to the recent academic discipline rankings released                performers.”
                                                                                                                                   tree, and only the third species, to have  with the chinese academy of Sciences’
by the London-based Times Higher Education Supplement (THES).                             The THES has ranked Melbourne’s                                                     Dr Zeng Fanjiang in Taklamakan Desert
                                                                                                                                   its genome sequenced.
  The University’s ranking has              that Melbourne has performed                Biomedicine and Technology disci-                                                     in Xingjiang.
                                                                                                                                     “researchers are excited about the
moved up in all disciplines surveyed        consistently well in international          plines as No 1 in Australia.               information the genetic sequence may         “Taklamakan’s hot summers, freezing
by the THES. All Melbourne disci-           and national rankings over the                The strong Biomedicine ranking           reveal,” he explains. “Genes active in     winters, sand storms and saline ground-
plines are in the top 30 in the world,      past three years.                           follows the University’s recent success    the response of a plant to its environ-    water make it a tough environment for
                                                                                        in Australian competitive research         mental stresses, such as salinity, can     any living being,” explains Dr arndt.
with three in the top 10.                     “The University of Melbourne
                                                                                        funding in health and medicine where       now be identified and hopefully we           “We are confident we will soon learn
  The       Un iver s i t y ’s  Vi ce -     aspires to be one of the finest
                                                                                                                                   will be able to identify the active gene   the secrets of survival for trees in salty
Chancellor, Professor Glyn Davis,           universities in the world. These            it won more than AU$118 million in
                                                                                                                                   in other plants. With more knowledge       conditions.”
says the latest rankings confirm            rankings show that we are already           funding commencing in 2007.

China years influenced work of famous Australian architect
An exhibition of drawings and plans by the architect AW Purnell –                       created a “remarkable cultural              “Purnell’s decade in China had
who worked in Australia and China in the early 1900s – was launched                     exchange of Sino-Australian ideas”,       significant aesthetic impact on his
recently at the University of Melbourne, attended by a delegation                       and was a small but important ele-        work,” says Dr Groves. “Following his
                                                                                        ment in the developing relationship       return to Melbourne he occasionally
from the Bureau of Culture of Guangzhou Municipal Government.
                                                                                        between China and Australia.              tried to introduce Chinese design
  Members of the Guangzhou delega-            Now given special protection by             The exhibition was curated by the       elements to Australian buildings,
tion were familiar with Purnell’s work      the Chinese Government, the palace          Faculty of Architecture, Building         both residential and commercial.”
through projects in Shanghai and            has become a heritage site visited          and Planning’s Dr Derham Groves.          Cultural links: Dr Derham Groves (right)
Guangzhou. The most notable of these        daily by people from around the               Dr Groves has carried out research      with delegation leader Ms Chen Yuhuan
projects is the South China Cement          world, according to delegation leader       on Purnell, and students from the         of the Bureau of Culture of Guangzhou
                                                                                                                                  Municipal Government (centre) and
Works – later the palace of China’s first   Chen Yuhuan.                                faculty used Purnell’s plans to build     Mr Shi Hongping from Guangzhou
president, Dr Sun Yat-sen.                    She said the “factory-palace” had         scale models for the exhibition.          Municipal Government. Photo: Mark WilSon

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                                                A world-leading university*
                                              World Ranking: 22. Arts and Humanities: 7. Biomedicine: 7. Social Sciences: 10. Technology: 16. Science: 27.
                                                      * World University Rankings 2006 published by the Times Higher Education Supplement, UK.


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