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Pave the Way: 5 stories of the incredible

6 October 2016
Our community makes countless lives better

Gifts to the University can help make incredible things happen. Here are five stories that show what’s possible.

Gifts to the University can have a huge impact on what University people and projects can achieve – researchers have more resources, community services can be more ambitious, and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds can have life-changing education.

In the week of our Pave the Way fundraising campaign, the five stories here are a very small window into what gifts have made possible at the University. To help make more possible, give to Pave the Way now.

1. Unleashing potential through education

By any measure, Richard Smith (BE (Civil) ’61), had a successful career as an engineer. But university was never a given for him. Coming from a family that struggled financially, he knows it was his mother’s immense sacrifice and her belief in education that made the difference.

Richard, in turn, wanted to make that same difference for other talented but disadvantaged people. To continue his mother’s loving legacy, Richard and his wife Robyn established the Frances Marion Smith Scholarship in Civil Engineering.

The first recipient was Alex Gibson who comes from a rural community and a single-parent family. The scholarship has been hugely beneficial to Alex and her family as she works towards her dream of working on large-scale engineering projects.

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2. The Devils’ advocates

In 1996, Australians were shocked and saddened to hear that one of our most loved native animals, the Tasmanian Devil, could be wiped out by a cancerous contagion. Since then, Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) has caused a dramatic 85-90 percent decline in Tasmanian Devil numbers.

There is still no cure, but Faculty of Veterinary Science researchers are working on a captive breeding program for the Devils, while mapping their genomes to ensure the most resistant Devils are ultimately returned to the wild.

The work is expensive but when a crowdfunding campaign was started, the University community showed how much they wanted to help save the Devils. Gifts came in from people everywhere and the campaign made 180% of its target. Even the smallest gift will help ensure the Devils have a future.

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3. Making health breakthroughs

As a past producer and director of the TV show, Play School, Jennie Mackenzie knows what it is to bring joy into the lives of children. Now she’s helping to improve the future health outcomes of children by supporting the work of Dr Melkam Kebede.

Dr Kebede is researching type 2 diabetes which was mostly a disease of adults, but is now affecting much younger people, including children. A lot of this has to do with lack of exercise and poor eating choices, but there is a strong genetic component.

In putting together the genetic puzzle, Dr Kebede will provide new insights into how to treat this debilitating illness, and Jennie will know she is a vital part of the battle to give more people better life-long health.

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4. Helping feline companions

Having an 18 year old cat represents a long friendship. After all those years, the late June Rose Bullock (BSc ’54), loved her cat Lucy so much she wanted to do something as a lasting tribute to their time together. June decided to leave more than $2 million to the University of Sydney for research into cat diseases and treatment.

That money now helps underpin an active program that attracts some of the world’s best feline specialists, further strengthening the University’s position as the premier hub for cutting edge feline research.

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5. Powering technology

The robots are coming. And one place where they’re likely to have a huge impact is in the farming industry. The technology is evolving rapidly, but the trick is to make farm robots affordable. That’s the focus of Salah Sukkarieh, who’s a Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems and also the co-ordinator of the Farmbot for the People project.

The project recently benefited from an anonymous $1.5 million dollar donation, which will help accelerate the development of robot technologies capable of taking on laborious farm duties, monitoring crops and animals and tackling invasive pests and weeds.

Underpinning every advance is Professor Sukkarieh’s belief that access to low cost robots will improve the quality of life for farmers and their communities.

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Pave the Way helps make the way

Every gift to the University, no matter the size, helps us do more for more people. Your gift to Pave the Way will mean we have even more stories to tell of incredible things happening and 100 per cent of your gift will go straight to the cause.

Make your gift now.

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