From the CEO

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2017 January Sessions are now behind us and the 400 Australian and international students who participated have returned home to commence their final year in high school, full of new knowledge, inspiration and friendships to carry them forward during this pivotal time in their lives.

Both Session A and C were extremely successful and a testament to the extensive dedication and support we received from so many people who support our programs.  In particular, I would like to thank our Chiefs of Staff, Meg Lowry (Session A) and Martin de Rooy (Session C), and our teams of student staff leaders, whose efforts were instrumental to the success of program this year.

I would also like to recognise contributions by the NYSF Corporate staff, our volunteer Rotary parents, aunts and uncles, members of Rotary Clubs across Australia, Burgmann College, The Australian National University (ANU), our communications and teacher program interns, our many distinguished guest speakers and particularly our lab visit hosts, who provided access to leading research and industrial facilities. I encourage you to read back through the NYSF Outlook site to learn about some of the highlights from session.

Finally, the NYSF program could not exist without the financial and logistical support of our Partners and Sponsors. I thank them for their contributions during January and their continued support of the organisation and its programs.

Running in conjunction with the year 12 program in January was the NYSF National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS) – aimed at supporting teachers and their commitment to STEM education in their local communities. A group of 40 teachers from around Australia participated in this long-running professional development program. Teachers were exposed to cutting edge science via lab visits, workshops, and lectures as well as engaging and networking with their peers.

Exciting times are ahead for the NYSF as we continue to develop and grow the organisation. In January, our Chair, Andrew Metcalfe AO, announced the addition of a third January session (Session B) for NYSF 2018 hosted at The University of Queensland (UQ), providing an extra 200 places – 600 students in total at the ANU and UQ.  This is made possible through funding from the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). The extra places will give more students across Australia the opportunity to explore their study and career options in the STEM fields. This is evidence of the value of our year 12 program and its positive effect on students studying STEM subjects.

Although January is over, the NYSF engine room is still running hot with much planned for the remainder of 2017 and beyond. Applications for NSYF International Programs have opened with overwhelming interest.  March is looking busy – applications for NYSF 2018 will open on 1 March and will be accepted until 31 May. The Rotary District Chairs Conference will be held in Canberra, and our alumni will be out and about promoting STEM study and the NYSF at the World Science Festival in Brisbane. Our Next Step Programs for NYSF 2017 students will run throughout April to July in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, with alumni events co-hosted by IP Australia. The Student Staff Leadership Program kicks off in July and another first for the NYSF is our exciting pilot program, STEM Explorer, which will run for the in Adelaide in July 2017.  The STEM Explorer Program is a collaborative initiative between the South Australian Department of Education (DED) and the NYSF, targeting science engagement for school students in years 7 and 8. We also acknowledge the seed funding we received to develop this program from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

In other news, we also announced in January that Professor Tanya Monro, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation at the University of South Australia, has taken on the role of NYSF Science Patron.  Professor Monro, a NYSF alumna (1990), was Chair of the NSSS Board from 2014-2016.  We are delighted that Professor Monro will continue her involvement with the organisation. We have also welcomed Professor Sally-Ann Poulsen and Loren Atkins to the NSSS Board. Professor Poulsen is also a NYSF alumna (1986) and will bring with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in industry and academica.  Loren Atkins (NYSF alumna 2005), the new NYSF alumni representative, holds a Bachelor of Law (Hons), and a Bachelor of Science in Geography and Environmental Science, and currently works for the World Bank as an Associate Counsel.

By now, our NYSF 2016 alumni will have made decisions about the next stage of their education.  Whatever field of study or institution you have decided upon I would like to wish you all the best for your future studies and hope that in some small way the NYSF has helped steer you on your path.

Dr Damien Pearce

CEO

Opening Soon: Applications for NYSF January Sessions 2018

On 1 March applications will open for next year’s NYSF January Program. Applications will remain open until 31 May. With up to an extra 200 places available thanks to a third session running in Brisbane in cooperation with the University of Queensland, we hope you will help to spread the word about our program.

As always, applications are open to students currently in year 11 in 2017, to attend the program in the summer holidays before entering year 12 in 2018.

Have you attended the program in the past? Then help us out by encouraging your friends and relatives who are interested in STEM to apply.

You can also ensure you receive all of our updates if you are a registered alumni through our database. Email communications@nysf.edu.au to make sure you are on the system.

NYSF 2017 January Session Group Photo

The Right Chemistry — Professor Richard Payne at NYSF 2017 Session A Science Dinner

Richard Payne’s story of his journey from small-town New Zealand, via the Universities of Canterbury, Cambridge and Sydney, to receiving the Australian Prime Minister’s 2016 The Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year, resonated with the NYSF 2017 Session A audience where he was the guest speaker at the Science Dinner.

Professor Payne’s talk was well received not just because his work is world-leading and significant, but mainly because his story was one of perseverance, being in the right-place, right-time, hard work, and a commitment to excellence. From his days working as a trolley pusher while at university, to managing his own research lab and commercialising new drug candidates, Professor Payne entertained the audience, while also providing sound advice about being focused on where you want to go, and being pragmatic when it comes to funding research.

Isabel from Canberra said, “Professor Richard Payne was my personal favourite speaker at the NYSF.  He spoke about his research into antimicrobial resistant superbugs (in particular tuberculosis) which I found really interesting. Having lived in South Korea for two years, where I first learnt about TB, Professor Payne’s talk really resonated with me personally.”

Louis from Sydney also enjoyed Professor Payne’s address. “He enlightened us all on his life journey into scientific research and his ground-breaking research in biochemistry; he has really inspired me to study this field.”

Marilee from South Australia, said, “The most memorable speech at the NYSF was from Professor Richard Payne at the Science Dinner. His achievements at such a young age really inspire and amaze me, with his focus on tuberculosis and superbugs was extremely engaging and educational.”

The generosity of keynote speakers who share their insights and knowledge is a valuable element of the NYSF Science Dinners, and the participants at NYSF 2017 Session A were not disappointed.

Learn more about Professor Payne’s work — sydney.edu.au/science/people/richard.payne.phpwww.scienceinpublic.com.au/prime-ministers-prize/2016physical

Generation Beyond — Lockheed Martin’s STEM Program on Display at Avalon Airshow, Victoria

The first person to visit Mars is in school today. Will it be you?

In an Australian first, NYSF’s major partner Lockheed Martin is bringing its Generation Beyond STEM display to the Avalon Airshow in Victoria next month.

Generation Beyond is an educational program designed to inspire the next generation of innovators, explorers, inventors and pioneers to pursue STEM careers.

With a number of fun and interesting interactive displays, Generation Beyond will take visitors on a journey from today, into the future and beyond and will feature the F-35, the Orion spacecraft and Mars exploration.

Generation Beyond will be open to the public on the weekend of March 4 and 5 at Avalon.

IP Australia at the NYSF

After signing on as a major funding partner for the first time in 2016, IP Australia was actively involved in the program for the NYSF 2017 January Sessions. In both Session A & C, IP Australia ran lab visits for the students, introducing them to the world of intellectual property, patents, trademarking and more.

The site visit included a number of activities, starting with an explanation of intellectual property and why it is so important. As an interactive activity the students were each given a KeepCup and asked to think about the design of the product that made it unique, with relation to Intellectual Property rights.

The students had the opportunity to speak with a number of IP Australia Patent Examiners over afternoon tea to discover more on the work they do there. Finally, to finish off the session, the students heard from an entrepreneur about their experience applying for Intellectual Property rights and protecting their inventions.

For many of the NYSF participants this was an aspect of STEM that they had not considered, but realised just how important it could be to their future careers and endeavours. It also showed them another area where they could potentially use their STEM skills in the future, with IP Australia employing hundreds of scientists, engineers and other professionals, all around the country.

“I enjoyed the light this visit shed on careers I had not previously considered, it offered me a fresh perspective on job opportunities in a work environment that I found appealing,” said Jack Roussos (Session A 2017) from NSW.

Representatives from IP Australia also attended the Opening Ceremony at Parliament House, the Science Dinners, and both of the Partners’ Day events where they presented to all of the students, had a stall at the expo and involved a number of IP Australia staff in the Speed-date-a-Scientist session. You can read more about IP Australia’s involvement in the NYSF here in their own coverage of the events.

Matt Lee (Right) from IP Australia at the Session A NYSF Science Dinner

A Newcastle Tea Ceremony

Students from the Newcastle area who recently returned from the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2017 Year 12 Program in January, were treated to an afternoon tea hosted by The Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Cr Nuatali Nelmes.

The Lord Mayor congratulated local students on their achievements and selection to the NYSF program.


“It was my pleasure to host this special afternoon tea recognising the National Youth Science Forum and the number of local alumni who demonstrated the up and coming science, engineering and technology talent in Newcastle’s high schools.”

Also in attendance were Rotarians from local clubs, representatives from The University of Newcastle, local school principals and NYSF alumni, including NYSF 2013 alumnus, Phill Johnson, who was recently awarded Newcastle’s Young Citizen of the Year, and Newcastle City Councillor, Declan Clausen, who attended the NYSF in 2010. Cr Clausen knows first-hand the benefits students can gain from the NYSF program.

“As an alumnus of the NYSF, I know the value it plays in opening doors for young people across Australia in engineering, science and innovation.”

Callaghan College (Jesmond Campus) Student, Meheret Dagemawe, said the afternoon tea with the Lord Mayor was a memorable experience.

“Having the opportunity of meeting the Lord Mayor has allowed me to have an in-depth conversation of my future aspirations, in which Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, took great interest and provided invaluable insight about my choices.”

“The NYSF, although science related, has given me life skills that I could apply regardless of what path I choose to follow. The connections created through laughter and healthy debates with the brilliant minds of like-minded students is what I cherish most. I was also able to take away the most valuable lesson of networking with awe-inspiring scientists and speakers. Going to NYSF has allowed me to widen my career and further study options, it’s enabled me to be able to see different perspectives from a wide variety of people,” she said.

Cr Clausen noted that an additional 200 places will be available for next year’s program and encouraged local students to apply.

“As a region we have been very fortunate to have been so well represented at NYSF in the past, and I strongly encourage young Novocastrians in Year 11 to apply to attend NYSF in 2018,” Cr Clausen said.

Applications for 2018 open on 1 March. Full details at: www.nysf.edu.au

Summer Science Satisfaction for Teachers at NYSF NSTSS

Forty teachers of high school science from around Australia made the most of their own week-long excursion to Canberra in January to re-connect with their inner “nerd” and work out why they were inspired to teach science in the first place.

Participating in the NYSF National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS) offered science teachers with an exciting opportunity to visit a wide range of science and education destinations in and around the Canberra region over the five-day program held each January. Visits included the Canberra Deep Space Complex at Tidbinbilla, the Australian National University’s Mount Stromlo Observatory, CSIRO Black Mountain, Geoscience Australia and other ANU Science facilities. They took part in a variety of hands-on activities that helped them to connect with science in a meaningful way, and also reviewed and shared resources that they could be applied in the classroom.

The NYSF’s NSTSS focuses on scientific engagement rather than exploring pedagogical practice – although no-one can stop teachers talking shop!

NYSF CEO, Dr Damien Pearce explains, “The purpose of the NYSF’s NSTSS is to maintain the spark, or in some cases re-spark, that passion for science that science teachers have when they start their careers. In contrast to other professional development opportunities for teachers, we come from the position that all those who come to the program are great teachers. What we aim to do is show them the latest technologies and discoveries, so they can return to the classroom and share their excitement with their students.”

Another key part of the NYSF NSTSS program is networking. While teachers are able to meet a variety of scientists and researchers during their time in Canberra, they also make meaningful connections with one other.


Long after everyone has gone home, the teachers are continuing to share ideas, experiences and resources. Cornelia Cegai, from Victoria says, “I met almost 40 other teachers searching for something similar at the NSTSS. We learned so much that was awe-inspiring from the researchers involved in the program, but we also gained a wealth of information from each other, such as how to run a fun science class on a budget, or novel ways to deliver the curriculum. Attending definitely reinvigorated my love for and faith in science.”

From practising synthesis and titration skills at the ANU Research School of Chemistry, to feeling the earth move at the Research School of Earth Science, and understanding how – at Geoscience Australia (including the intricacies of the SHRIMP!), the NYSF’s NSTSS continues to meet its goal of engaging teachers of science in the equation of STEM engagement.

NYSF’s NSTSS will run in two locations in 2018 — at The Australian National University and at The University of Queensland. To register your interest for the 2018 program, email nysf@nysf.edu.au

NYSF Updating Amgen Australia

In January, NYSF’s CEO, Dr Damien Pearce, and four NYSF alumni presented to the annual Amgen Australia kick-off event in Sydney.

The Amgen Foundation, the US biotech company’s philanthropic arm, had provided funding to the NYSF in 2016. The presentation was designed to inform the Australian-based staff about the NYSF activities, especially the flagship Year 12 program, and the benefits for the young Australians who attend.

The four alumni — Dr Peter Vella, Anneke Knol, Amanda Ling and Vehajana Janu — all spoke passionately about their NYSF experiences, offering a range of insights about what the Year 12 program covers, their individual experiences, the opportunities that arose from attending, and their subsequent career choices.

Dr Peter Vella, who attended the NYSF in 2003, is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Structural Biology Division at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. Peter studied for his Bachelor of Science and PhD at The University of Queensland, graduating in 2012.

“My work involves discovering new drugs for antibiotic-resistant bugs – to put it simply! So I was really pleased I could participate in this briefing at Amgen. It is good to see private companies being involved in supporting the NYSF, as young people need to know that there are science careers outside of academia. Attending the event with Damien was very interesting. As well as sharing my own experience about the impact of the NYSF, various Amgen staff came to chat with me about their backgrounds, which covered a variety of roles including medical researchers, managers of medical and regulatory compliance.”

Anneke Knol (NYSF 2011) studied Advanced Science (Hons) at The Australian National University, and is currently a Technology Graduate at Westpac Group. “Having the opportunity to talk directly to people in business about the NYSF and its impact was very powerful, and we were very well received by the people at Amgen. Many of them had studied science in the past and were quite passionate about its importance. It was also an opportunity to share stories about the value of a science degree more broadly.”

The NYSF is grateful to Amgen for this opportunity to engage directly with their staff to illustrate the benefits of the Year 12 program and acknowledge the support provided through the Amgen Foundation.

Dr Katie Owens, NYSF 2004 Alumna — A Global Career

Dr Katie Owens attended the NYSF in 2004 and has gone on to have a career in Pharmaceutical research that has taken her around the world.

“Attending the NYSF in Canberra was an incredible experience that I will never forget. I was so inspired by the scientists, Rotarians and other students that were involved in the programme. The NYSF truly motivated me to pursue a career in research. I was also fortunate enough go on the Russian Scientific Study Tour hosted by the All-Russian Youth Aerospace Society as part of the international program, and returned to the NYSF in 2005 as a student staff member.

I count myself very fortunate to work in a dynamic research field with an excellent team of scientists and health professionals. Attending the NYSF played a signficant part in motivating me to pursue an exciting career in science research.

“After finishing high school in Maroochydore, Queensland, I enrolled as a Health Sciences first year student at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. At the end of the year I was accepted into the School of Pharmacy. While studying a Bachelor of Pharmacy, I became interested in research and was able to undertake two summer research studentships during my degree. I thoroughly enjoyed studying at Otago. In my opinion the student lifestyle in Dunedin is second to none. After graduating in 2008, I completed the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand EVOLVE Internship Programme in a community pharmacy in Dunedin.

“In 2010, I received a School of Pharmacy Departmental Award Postgraduate Scholarship at the University of Otago. My PhD project was in the area of clinical pharmacology in patient populations. I also worked part-time as a community pharmacist and undergraduate tutor. I presented my PhD research at several conferences during my PhD (in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Italy).

“After submitting my thesis in 2013, I moved to Paris, France to start a postdoc in the Division of Clinical Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacometrics at the Institut de Recherches Internationales Servier. My project involved developing pharmacometric models of drug response in lymphoma patients, which further developed my skill set and gave me valuable experience in the pharmaceutical industry. On a personal note, it allowed my husband and I to live in Paris, learn French and travel.

The DIDB Program Team at the ISSX Conference, Orlando — Florida (Katie left)

“Since 2015, I have been working as a Research Scientist at the Drug Interaction Database (DIDB) Programme in the Department of Pharmaceutics at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA. The DIDB is an online knowledgebase that is currently used by a large number of pharmaceutical companies, regulatory agencies, contract research organizations and academic institutions worldwide. My role is to manually curate pre‑clinical and clinical drug interaction studies from scientific publications and documentation from the US Food and Drug Administration.

“I count myself very fortunate to work in a dynamic research field with an excellent team of scientists and health professionals. Attending the NYSF played a signficant part in motivating me to pursue an exciting career in science research.”

Carl Pinson, NYSF 2002 Alumnus — A Passionate Science Teacher

Written by Carl Pinson.

In 2001, I was contemplating becoming an Osteopath; I liked the idea of healing using manipulation of the body. Then I achieved a place in the 2002 intake of NYSF. The entire two weeks was amazingly memorable. I met some fascinating characters and enjoyed learning more about the study and application of science. Highlights included visiting the telescope at Mt Stromlo (the big one was still operating until bushfires in 2003), watching people research with lasers at ANU, and participating in a number of thought-provoking discussions and debates.

After that, I was confident that I needed to study something to do with science. I applied for and was granted a NSW Department of Education and Training scholarship to study a Bachelor of Science / Bachelor of Teaching at Newcastle University — this degree offers more than twice the minimum amount of practical teaching, and you’re learning about education all through your degree. I was offered casual work in 2006 before I even graduated, and then was appointed to Chatham High School in Taree.

Working as a teacher is constantly challenging and exciting. I am a people person, so interacting with other like-minded professionals as well as helping inspire and shape young minds is a real positive for me.

Carl (second right) on an excursion at laser tag with his students

Working as a teacher is constantly challenging and exciting. I am a people person, so interacting with other like-minded professionals as well as helping to inspire and shape young minds is a real positive for me. The best teaching experiences I’ve had include coaching the winning team in the 2007 National Solar Boat Regatta at Penrith, going on water bug surveys with Mid Coast Water personnel, and participating in the University of Newcastle Science and Engineering Challenge. I also accompanied students to ANU with Professor Murray Batchelor as part of a Scientists in Schools program through CSIRO. Getting the students out of the classroom helps to show them the relevance of science to their everyday life and also makes teaching much more fun!

I have just finished three years teaching on Norfolk Island, a remote island 1600km from Australia and actually closer to New Zealand! It was a job advertised through the NSW Department of Education and involved a very significant lifestyle change. Activities included scuba-diving, snorkelling on an impressive coral reef, participating in conservation projects and meeting a whole range of wonderful people including the local Flora and Fauna Society. I also urged one of my students to attend the NYSF, which he did at the beginning of 2016. I have enjoyed the opportunities provided in education, and recommend it to suitable people with a lot of patience.

Carl Pinson’s students from Chatham High at the 2007 Solar Boat Regatta

Carl Pinson (right)