Brigid Heywood started her five-year tenure as UNE's vice-chancellor in July - and her first month and a half has been manically busy.
"I'm trying to navigate around all the new things," Professor Heywood said; "trying to remember the campus layout, the names of people and things; how to navigate in and out of Armidale without taking a different route every single time I journey in; and trying to capture the essence of the community."
The biological scientist and chemist was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Tasmania (2016-19) and assistant vice-chancellor at Massey University, New Zealand (2011-15).
In her native UK, she was pro-vice-chancellor at Keele University, Staffordshire (1996-2005) and of the Open University (2005-2011). She was also the first woman to hold an academic chair (Inorganic Materials Chemistry, at 33).
The UNE campus is bigger than she expected, an awe-inspiring blend of historic and modern buildings. Her own office is in Booloominbah House, one of the 19th century's biggest country mansions.
Professor Heywood finds New England beautiful. "I like small rural towns," she said; "I'm not a big city girl!"
She enjoys cycling to farmers' markets, and likes that school music concerts and sports matches are genuinely community events.
"I do have Girl Guide written down the middle of me, a bit like a stick of rock," she joked.
Not Blackpool, though; she is a native of Yorkshire. Her father encouraged her childhood interest in science. As they walked along the beaches, or visited places of 'scientific interest', he would explain natural processes to her.
"He was unbelievably tolerant of my endless stream of 'Why, why, why?' questions," Professor Heywood said.
She collected shells and played with chitons (a seashore mollusc). At 10, her father gave her her first microscope, taught her how to prick her finger, put her blood on a slide, and examine it.
When she was 16, Brigid Heywood fell in love ... with metal. Not the music; the sort on the periodic table.
She attended a lecture by Oxford chemist R.J.P. Williams on chemicals associated with life functions - including calcium.
She listened rapt to how the body used calcium to build muscles, bones, and teeth; to see; and to keep the heart beating and the kidneys functioning. By changing the amount of calcium present, scientists could trigger biological processes.
"I was completely captivated by a metal, and that's how I selected all the things that I did in the rest of my academic career," Professor Heywood remembered. "I fell in love - and that was it."
Her move to New Zealand in 2011 fulfilled a childhood dream, sparked by a book of paintings she picked up in an Oxfam shop at seven. Did the land of the long white cloud live up to her expectations?
"And then some!" New Zealand was the greenest place Professor Heywood had ever seen; and she enjoyed learning Maori customs, and living in a nation committed to biculturalism.
From New Zealand, she went to Tasmania. She relished the challenge of developing educational opportunities in an island state with two major cities, a distributed population, and a great need for improvement.
"I pay good rent to the seven princes of Serendib," Professor Heywood said. "I'm very fortunate that roughly about every seven years, someone has said: 'We've got a job. Would you be interested?' I've been brave enough to pack my boxes, and give it a go - and it's always paid out for me."