We are proud of our standing, our history and our achievements. In the past 70 years we have produced four Nobel Laureates, some of Australia’s most pre-eminent scientists and thousands of graduates with a world-class education in science.
Comprising four initial research institutes, ANU became Australia’s only fulltime research university in 1946.
Our story began through two of these founding institutions: medicine and physics. Instrumental to the inception of ANU was one of the world’s most eminent scientists, Lord Howard Florey.
Testament to the University’s success, within the next fifty years the founding institutions expanded into a broad range of disciplines including mathematics, chemistry, biology and Earth sciences.
With two observatories, ANU was at the forefront of astronomical research in the southern hemisphere and also became the first institution in the country to establish a research centre dedicated to the interaction between resources, environment and society.
Professor Brian Schmidt AC, together with international colleagues, was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for the extraordinary discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.
Appointed in 1949, the long-standing contribution of microbiologist Professor Frank Fenner is unprecedented. A visionary in his philosophy, Fenner was distinguished by his ability to advance cross disciplinary research. Combining scholarly expertise in medicine with evolutionary biology, Fenner’s work on the myxoma virus changed the way the scientific community thought about the evolution of disease.
His establishment of the Centre for Resources & Environmental Studies resulted in the first research centre in Australia to focus on the interaction between resources, the environment and society. Six decades on, the multidisciplinary structure of the ANU College of Medicine, Biology & Environment and the ANU College of Physical & Mathematical Sciences builds on Fenner’s legacy, by bringing together diverse fields to tackle the most challenging problems of our time, both at a human and scientific level.
The University's illustrious research history continues to contribute to its ranking as one of the world’s top ten institutions for education in environmental, earth and marine sciences, whilst placed in the top fifty for a broad range of scientific research areas including physics and astronomy, metallurgy and materials, mathematics and chemistry.
Our intensive research culture shapes our core educational priorities, providing students with state of the art resources and the opportunity to interact and learn from staff of the highest calibre. Nationally recognised for our excellence in education, we have received over half of the University's Australian Awards for University Teaching in the last three years.
In 2017 distinguished scientist Professor Graham Farquhar AO, became the first Australian to win a Kyoto Prize – the most prestigious international award for fields not traditionally honoured with a Nobel Prize. Dr Farquhar has won the 2017 Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences for his life’s work in plant biophysics and photosynthesis, which has involved research on water-efficient crops and the impacts of climate change.
Professor Brian Schmidt, 2011 Nobel laureate
Professor Graham Farquhar, 2017 Kyoto Prize recipient.
Dr Elizabeth Bradford, 1962, the first woman to receive a PhD in physics at ANU.
The Australian National University is established by an Act of Federal Parliament.
Foundation stone is laid for the Research School of Physical Sciences.
Laboratories for the Research School of Physical Sciences, the University's first permanent buildings, are opened.
In association with the Department of Astronomy in the Research School of Physical Sciences, Mt Stromlo Observatory formally becomes part of ANU.
The School of General Studies, inclusive of the Faculty of Science, opens and the first undergraduate students commence at ANU.
The first female professor at ANU, Hanna Neumann, is appointed in the School of General Studies, Department of Mathematics.
The Australian Forestry School accepted its first students as a department in the Faculty of Science.
The Research School of Chemistry and the Research School of Biological Sciences are established.
The Research School of Earth Sciences is created, separated from the Research School of Physical Sciences.
The Centre for Resources & Environmental Studies is established by Professor Frank Fenner.
The North Australia Research Unit is established in Darwin to facilitate research in northern Australia.
The School of General Studies formally becomes 'The Faculties'.
Closely affiliated with the Department of Astronomy in the Research School of Physical Sciences, a 2.3 metre telescope is opened at the Siding Spring Observatory.
The Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring observatories become part of the Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Professor Brian Schmidt, together with international colleagues, is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the extraordinary discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.
ANU launches ANUx open online courses, with the first course on astrophysics course taught by Professor Brian Schmidt and Dr Paul Francis.
Professor Graham Farquhar from the Research School of Biology wins the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for his work on photosynthesis modelling.
ANU scientists, including Professors Susan Scott and David McClelland from the Research School of Physics and Engineering, formed part of an international team who discovered gravitational waves.
Dr Graham Farquhar AO from the Research School of Biology becomes the first Australian to win a Kyoto Prize - the most prestigious international award for fields not traditionally honoured with a Nobel Prize.
The ANU College of Science is formed, incorporating the fields of physics, biology, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, environmental science, earth science and science communication.