Meagan Lowe, NYSF 2008 Alumna — Sea, Sand & Science

Meagan Lowe attended the NYSF in 2008 and has been busy ever since taking on exciting new science related adventures and challenges. In her own words…

 

“I am lucky to have already had many interesting and diverse experiences in my academic and early professional career. Attending the NYSF in 2008 certainly opened my eyes to the huge range of disciplines and opportunities in science, and it inspired me to seek them out for myself. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the best part was hanging out with other students from all over Australia, and generally having a great time!

Fighting bushfires in Victoria

Given my strong interest in the environmental sciences, I chose to study a Bachelor of Science (Honours) at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Geography and Ecology, while also completing a Diploma of Modern Languages (French). I specialised in Coastal Geomorphology in my fourth year, and completed an honours thesis investigating the stability of artificial beaches in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria.
Following my undergraduate studies I moved to Anglesea, on the southwest coast of Victoria, to work as an Environmental Planner for the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (now DELWP). This role involved processing Coastal Management Act consents for use and development of coastal Crown land, and providing advice to communities and land managers on coastal management issues. Alongside this work I gained my General Firefighter Accreditation, and responded to bushfires in the Alpine National Park, Grampians National Park, and planned burns along the Great Ocean Road.

Meagan carrying out beach surveying work

Feeling up for a new challenge, in late 2014 I moved to New Zealand to take up a role as Coastal Scientist for a small coastal science consulting company, Coastal Research Ltd. In this role I used a coastal hazard analysis framework to investigate the risk of drowning and injury at beaches around New Zealand, coupled with analysis of incident statistics, demographic data, and user resilience. This information was provided to territorial authorities and surf lifesaving organisations to guide use of current and future resources, such as recommended surf lifeguarding service lengths. This work enabled me to travel all over New Zealand, and even to Malaysia to present at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in 2015.

However, I was always keen to return to the world of research, and I am now back in Australia in the second week of my PhD in Coastal Geomorphology, whilst also continuing to work part-time for Coastal Research Ltd. My PhD project will investigate the morphodynamics of low-lying reef islands in the western Pacific Ocean, and their vulnerability to erosion under future climate scenarios. I am excited for the challenge ahead, to grow my research skills, and to make a contribution to the wider body of geomorphological knowledge.

My best advice for NYSF participants and other young scientists is: be confident to choose your own path, not the one you think people expect of you, and don’t be afraid to change up your career. You’re young and intelligent, and you can only benefit from exposure to a wide range of people, ideas and experiences.”

While working in New Zealand

NYSF featured in Lockheed Martin Australia STEM dialogue in Canberra

Five NYSF alumni were honoured to be part of the Lockheed Martin Australia STEM dialogue hosted in Canberra last week. Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson applauded the National Youth Science Forum’s (NYSF) efforts in encouraging thousands young Australians to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Ms Hewson underscored the importance of innovation and STEM skills to Australia’s future, noting this was the reason the aerospace and defense industry leader had made the three-year commitment to the National Youth Science Forum in 2015.

During the dialogue, recent NYSF alumni reflected on key moments in their lives that inspired their interest in pursuing STEM fields and how industry and government can inspire more young people to study STEM. In particular, the alumni talked about how the NYSF inspired them, by exposing them to tangible problems, introducing them to potential opportunities in STEM, and by showing how science is applied in a wide array of fields to improve the world.

In photo with Ms Hewson (centre), National Youth Science Forum Alumni (from left):              Ms Ashley Dunne, Ms Bella Mortimore, Ms Matilda Dowse, Mr Andrew George and Ms Kaliopi Notaras

Ashley Dunne, originally from Perth but now studying Engineering at The Australian National University (ANU), attended the NYSF in January 2013, and shared the impact of the program on her decision-making.

“On my return home after the NYSF I began applying for engineering degrees at interstate universities, something that I would never have had the confidence or skills to do previously.

“Since graduating from high school, the NYSF has continued to open doors for me. I have made contacts both in universities around Australia and in industry who have opened their doors at the very mention of the NYSF program. Even when I first moved to the ANU to begin my degree, I think I was far more prepared to start university that a vast majority of my cohort, because of the skills learned on the program.

Without attending the NYSF, I wouldn’t be at ANU, I wouldn’t be doing innovative research at a local hospital and I certainly would not be able to stand here this evening and speak to you. The NYSF program has given me this self-confidence and that is the most valuable thing I could have asked for.”

Matilda Dowse attended the NYSF in January 2016 and completed year 12 at Canberra College that same year. She has just begun a double degree of Engineering (R&D) and a Bachelor of International Security Studies. “The Lockheed Martin dinner was a fantastic opportunity to interact with some of the leading national and international innovators and policymakers in STEM. Being allowed to seriously discuss important issues in the future of STEM education and industry with leaders from our community gave me valuable, critical insight into my dream field, and what we can do to improve it.”

Position Available: Project Officer

The NYSF currently have a position available working as a Project Officer within the Programs Team.

“Working in a small team, the Project Officer will report to the Manager, Programs and undertake a broad range of administrative and planning tasks relating to the delivery of the suite of programs delivered by the National Youth Science Forum. These programs include the January Sessions for Year 12 students and the related Next Step follow-up events, the National Science Teachers Summer School, the NYSF International Program, the Student Staff Leadership Program, and the STEM Explorer Program for years 7 and 8 students.”

To read the entire Position Description please follow this link – Project Officer Position Description – March 2017

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 Cefai, 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