While we have been extremely fortunate in New Zealand where the global pandemic has been largely contained, this year has still been very difficult for many of us. Some of us were separated from our families, and the closed borders brought uncertainty of when we could see them again. Some of us experienced major health problems or worried about family members who were sick overseas. Some of us lost loved ones and could not go home to say goodbye. At times in 2020, living in New Zealand felt especially far away from the rest of the world.
But 2020 also had many highlights for our group, and we want to celebrate these great events as well.
- We welcomed new members to the group. Peter Devine started his PhD, Reza Shahamiri joined us as a Senior Lecturer, and Craig Sutherland joined us as a Lecturer.
- We celebrated milestones in PhD journeys. Haris Mumtaz and Sunny Wang both completed their provisional year reviews.
- We had significant funding success with Kelly Blincoe being awarded both a Marsden Fast Start and a Google Research Faculty award this year.
- We published many papers, some of which were first time publications for the students in the group. One even won a Distinguished Paper Award at the IEEE International Conference on Requirements Engineering.
- Reza Shahamiri celebrated the birth of his second daughter in April (right in the middle of our first lockdown).
- We hosted and participated in virtual conferences, we converted to virtual teaching, and we found new ways of working together as a group. We hosted Prof. Daniela Damian as a distinguished visitor, who extended her stay and experienced the first New Zealand lockdown with us. We also had many virtual visitors and exciting virtual talks enabled by our new ways of working.
As 2020 comes to a close, we cherish these accomplishments, and look forward to 2021.