From the Director

Welcome to the June 2014 issue of NYSF Outlook. It has certainly been a busy time for the NYSF.

Firstly, I am pleased to advise that Australia’s new Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, AK MC (Retd) has accepted an invitation to become the Patron of the NYSF. Sir Peter’s acceptance follows on from that of Dame Quentin Bryce, AD CVO, and we are honoured that Sir Peter has agreed to take on this role.

In addition, the Chief Scientist for Australia, Professor Ian Chubb AC has accepted our invitation to become the NYSF’s Science Patron.  Professor Chubb has had a long involvement with the NYSF, both in his current and past roles, and we value his engagement with the program.

In May, we made the difficult decision to cancel Session B in Perth for 2015. When it was decided to conduct a third session of the NYSF in 2009, Perth was identified as a reasonable host location due to the booming West Australian economy and the perceived interest in a range of study and career opportunities associated with that. This was certainly the case and the program was very successful, offering a different NYSF experience for those who travelled to Perth. But with the passage of time, increased funding pressures and the current uncertainty within the higher education policy settings, our major university partners in WA have been unable to continue supporting the NYSF.

While this situation is regrettable, through the support of The Australian National University, the NYSF will be able to offer 80 additional places in sessions A and C for students from the 144 allocated to Session B. So instead of offering a total of 432 places in 2015, there will be 368 places available. This reduction in numbers does place pressure on our selection processes, however, we are confident that those students who will benefit most from coming on session will be selected by our Rotary partners to attend.

The NYSF International Program (see story below) is in full swing at the moment. A group of students has recently returned from the Canada-Wide Science Fair, after reportedly having a rewarding experience. In the coming weeks and months we have young people heading to South Africa, London, Copenhagen, Heidelberg, Boston and for the first time, Israel.

With the decision to cancel Session B, we have sadly farewelled Tom Grace and Francesca Phillips from the NYSF Corporate team. We thank them for their hard work and commitment to the program during their time with us. Additionally, Professor Jo Ward from Curtin University has resigned from the Council. Dr Elisabeth Truswell has retired from the Council, and that position has been assumed by Professor Jenny Graves as the representative of the Australian Academy of Science. We also welcome Julie Maynard to the Corporate team’s Communications and Partnerships portfolio.

Applications for the NYSF 2015 January Sessions have recently closed; we received about 1,200 applicants, which is consistent with previous years’ numbers. With the oversight of the respective Rotary District Chairs, selection for places on session has commenced and will be finalised by the middle of August.

Until then, we continue to work hard developing the program and planning for the next tranche of work associated with NYSF 2015 and into the future.

Damien Pearce


The Next Step was Brisbane

More than 70 students from the 2014 January Sessions of the National Youth Science Forum took part in the Brisbane Next Step program, which was held in April.

Brisbane Next Step 2014A full day was spent at our partner university, The University of Queensland, where students learned about life on campus at UQ.

UQ Next Step Brisbane 2014

They visited the Queensland Brain Institute, and research labs investigating speed breeding and plant diseases, as well as the scanning electron microscope.

Dr Marc Kamke from Queensland Brain Institute

Dr Marc Kamke from Queensland Brain Institute

“My favourite part of the UQ visit was actually the session I did in the afternoon on animal diseases,” says Kass from NSW. “I really enjoyed being able to roam the lab and ask questions about different aspects of the research taking place there. Since I was in such a small group and the scientists were so friendly, we were able to be less formal and have more of an open dialogue, which I found more interesting and informative.”

Jennifer from NSW says, “Professor Frederic Meunier was engaging and funny! Brilliant! I loved the facilities at QBI and the content. The electron microscopy facility was awesome and our presenters were fun and engaging!”

The Queensland Institute of Medical Research’s Berghofer Institute hosted a group of students in their teaching labs, where Dr Simone Cross (pictured below) conducted a hands-on experiment identifying anti-microbial agents.

QIMR Lab visit Brisbane Next Step 2014 Simone Young QIMR Lab Visit Brisbane Next Step 2014  QIMR Lab visit 3 Brisbane Next Step 2014

“This was my favourite activity of Brisbane Next Step!” says Brittany from NSW. “The presentation, whilst quite in-depth, was interesting and easy to follow, and it was great to perform a hands-on activity.”

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) also hosted the students for an afternoon tour of The Cube, QUT’s Science and Engineering Centre.

QUT Brisbane Next STep 2014

Nobel Laureate, Professor Brian Schmidt (pictured below) was also visiting the QUT campus, and kindly found time to speak to the students about his research and life in science.

Professor Brian Schmidt makes a point at Brisbane Next Step QUT 2014

“Brian Schmidt’s (presentation) was perfect. He made it clear that you should always ask questions; never doubt yourself, and follow what you truly are. He made it so relevant to everyone,” says Sophie from Maryborough, Qld.

Students also visited the State Library of Queensland’s The Edge facility, which is designed to provide an opportunity to explore creativity across the arts, technology, science and enterprise.  At The Edge, students did two activities – one focusing on memory, the other on electronics.

“The Edge was the most fantastic and inspiring visit,” says Claudia from the ACT. “I felt really encouraged by their attitude of  ‘if you want to do something, go ahead and do it!’. Loved their programs and ideas. All the presenters were friendly and enthusiastic.”

University of Queensland also hosted a Speed Date a Scientist night, where students could talk to researchers about their career paths and work, and the Young Scientists of Australia Brisbane Chapter hosted a trivia quiz.

Speed date a scientist at UQ Brisbane Next Step 2014

The final evening was spent cruising the Brisbane River, letting off steam and munching on “the biggest pizzas in the southern hemisphere” – a claim that wasn’t an overstatement.

River cruise Brisbane Next Step 2014

Internationally speaking

Congratulations to the NYSF 2014 students who were selected to take part in the NYSF International Program, attending science extension activities in Canada, South Africa, London, Heidelberg, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Geoff Burchfield wrote in our last newsletter about the difficulty in selecting the students who will attend these programs – the standard of applications is always so high.  We look forward to hearing about the students’ experiences in the coming months.

Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF) – 9 – 25 May 2014

Tarra Brain, NT

Riley Le Lay, NT

Emily Grace Nicholson Gartley, SA

Courteney Paton, NSW

Kenny Purohit, NSW

Shoshana Rapley, NSW


Euro-Science Open Forum (ESOF) – 17 June – 6 July 2014

Andreas Baruhas, Vic

Sam Glazebrook, NSW

Harley Gray, NSW

Aaron Murphy, Qld

Charlie New, NSW

Jake Sheath, NSW


Research Science Institute (RSI) – 21 June – 2 August 2014

Lochie Ferrier, ACT

Lachie Oberg, Qld


London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) – 20 July – 6 August 2014

Amy Behrendorff, ACT

Charlott Brew, NSW

Emily Chen, NSW

Jordan Epstein, NSW

Brody Hannan, NSW

Savannah Reali, NSW

Hannah Ryan, Vic

Bec Spillane, NSW

Ainsley Sydun, NSW

Michael Valceski, NSW


National Youth Science Week (NYSW), South Africa – 23 July – 11 August 2014

Andy Douw, Qld

Sarah Morcom, Qld

Veronica O’Mara, NSW

Lee Schultz, SA

Jake Silove, NSW

Erica Soon, NSW

Ben Webster, Qld

Karli Williamson, Vic


International Science Summer School Heidelberg (ISSSH) – 27 July – 25 August 2014

Timothy Gilchrist, NSW

Lachlan Patterson, NSW

Scott Watts, NSW


Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS) – 21 November – 22 December 2014

Matt Snell, Vic

Dechlan Victory, SA

Our thanks to NSW Trade & Investment for the funding support it is providing to the NSW students.


We also need to thank the three chaperones who are accompanying the students this year on the programs where provision of a supervisor is a program requisite:

Canada – Matt Dodds (a science teacher from Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School in Tamworth, New South Wales who attended the National Science Teachers Summer School in 2014);

South Africa – Tayla McKechnie (an NYSF alumna and 2014 Chief of Staff [Session C]); and

Copenhagen – Sebastian Kohli, (a science teacher from Charleville State High School in Queensland, who also attended the National Science Teachers Summer School in 2014).

These chaperone roles are voluntary and it takes a special kind of person to give up their free or holiday time for a job like this … really!

To those people who put in the time and effort to apply for the chaperone roles, please note that we are keeping your applications on file for future opportunities as they arise.

Another international opportunity came our way recently when our colleagues at Australian Science Innovations (ASI) asked NYSF to identify two of our alumni to be part of an Australian delegation to attend the World Science Conference Israel in August 2014.  WSC Israel is initiated by Nobel Laureate Professor Roger Kornberg (USA), in collaboration with the Hebrew University, the Ministry of Science and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the state of Israel.  The WSCI will bring young students from all around the world for an intensive five-day program. During the conference the participants will have a chance to attend lectures, to interact, and to be inspired by 20 Nobel Laureates and other leading scientists from around the world. The students will also experience a unique opportunity to meet and get to know some 300 bright students from around the world.

Again, identifying NYSF candidates was a difficult task; ultimately Rebecca Ainscough (2013 alumna) and Alec Pokarier (2013 alumnus and staff member 2014) are heading off to Israel, along with Shoshana Rapley (2014 alumna) who was selected by ASI to attend.  This promises to be a very unique experience, and we wish them well.


Flying high

Jo Hume attended the NYSF in 1997. After completing Year 12 she joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1998 and studied a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). In 2011 she completed a Masters in Engineering Science through University of New South Wales (UNSW) ADFA Campus.

Jo has completed over fifteen years in the Royal Australian Air Force and is currently posted to Canberra in the Defence Material Organisation as the Deputy Engineering Manager for the KC-30A acquisition project.

After graduation from her Bachelor degree, Jo has had a broad range of postings in the aerospace engineering field including sustainment, minor projects, major aircraft platform projects, operational maintenance engineering and training. She has worked with four aircraft platforms, F-111 strike and reconnaissance, PC-9/A training aircraft, F/A-18 hornet fighter and the Multi role tanker transport KC-30A (air-to-air refuelling aircraft). Her roles have developed skill sets in maintenance practices, software design, simulators, avionics systems (including navigation, communications, radar, oxygen, digital computers, instrumentation, etc), training, failure and safety analysis, design and testing programs, logistics and finance, contract management, leadership and management, training development, airworthiness regulations, WHS implementation and quality and auditing.

Jo says, “Attending the NYSF provided me with a fantastic opportunity to explore a range of careers in science – and particularly engineering – in an environment that fostered learning and pathways to success. The experiences and knowledge helped me to focus in my final year at school to achieve entry into the university courses I wanted, opening opportunities and leading into my chosen career.

The lessons I learned contributed to the foundations of my career and I have continually reflected on the valuable time I spent at NYSF and afterwards in the networks we developed.”


The Governor General, Sir William Deane, welcomed the students in 1997

Disease fighter goes to the people

Dr Danielle Stanisic attended the NYSF in 1993, and went on to study at the University of Queensland.  Today, she works as a medical researcher at Griffith University, trying to outfox malaria.

Dr Danielle Stanisic

Dr Danielle Stanisic

“You have got to admire the malaria parasite, says Dr Danielle Stanisic. “It’s just so clever.”

Danielle has dedicated herself to researching a vaccine against the disease and she is the first to admit she is up against a wily foe.

“It can evade the immune system, it can modify the host immune system so that it doesn’t target the parasite, it changes the immune cells, it can hide in the immune cells – it’s developed all these ways to get around the immune system so it can stay in the human body.”

It is not just the malaria parasite that has Danielle fascinated. She grew up around science – her father was a scientist who worked on snails – so her interest in science began at an early age. However, her passion took off when she attended the National Youth Science Forum, which included a tour of the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra.

“We were interacting with laboratory heads who introduced us to the research they were doing and gave us some hands-on work,” Danielle says. “It was fantastic, and it made me start thinking about medical research as a career.”

While studying parasitology at the University of Queensland, she heard a guest speaker talk about malaria vaccines and decided that was her calling.

Danielle is now a fully-fledged malaria vaccine researcher, based at Griffith University. Her work has also taken her to malaria-afflicted areas of Papua New Guinea, which she describes as a career highlight.

“Unless you actually go to where you see people who have the disease that you’re working on, you don’t truly appreciate why you’re doing the work,” she says.;;

This story was first published in Australia’s Future, a publication promoting science, technology, engineering and maths careers.  To read other stories, go to


Importance of science communication

NYSF was represented at a networking event hosted by Inspiring Australia in Sydney last month.  Alumni and student staff leaders, Steven Falconieri and Rhys Kilian were among about 100 people from across New South Wales who attended the event, which was part of a series of talks given by science communicator, Malcolm Love.

Malcolm Love talks about FameLab at the Inspiring Australia event in May 2014

Malcolm Love talks about FameLab at the Inspiring Australia event in May 2014

Malcolm spoke about his role providing media and presentation training for FameLab participants. This international competition is held annually and requires participants to do a three-minute presentation of their thesis topic in layman’s terms.

“This event was very beneficial,” says Steven.  “It gave Rhys and myself an opportunity to learn more about the importance of being able to communicate clearly about our science.  But it also gave us a chance to chat with others about the NYSF and the possible interactions we might be able to have in the future.

Malcolm also talked about the FameLabAcademy, which is a junior version of FameLab, and I believe many of our students would benefit from being involved in this if it was to be available in Australia.”

Further information:

Water Corporation releases desalination education unit

The Water Corporation education team’s newest Australian Curriculum lesson has been developed for year 11 and 12 science students who want to learn about desalination. This lesson uses Integrated Science: Unit 3 – Water and Earth and Environmental Science: Unit 3 – Managing Earth Resources to help students understand what desalination is, the different types, where it occurs throughout the world and the different processes involved in seawater desalination.

“Like all of our lessons, teachers can save this lesson to their profile by logging into the Teachers section of our website.  All of our lessons are developed by teachers, for teachers and contain student activities, teacher background information and a downloadable PDF to help teach the subjects,” says Emily Rockwell, Team Leader Education.

The Desalination lesson encourages students to research desalination methods, produce an investigative report, trial osmosis and reverse osmosis experiments and develop a group presentation.

Visit Water Corporation’s website for the full lesson description.

UNSW Women in Engineering Camp opens girls’ eyes to possibilities

For girls who love maths and science, the second week in January is shaping up to be fun and inspirational. UNSW runs an annual Women in Engineering Camp for girls in year 11 and 12 who want to get a taste of what it means to be an engineer. Hands-on activities, problem solving and field trips are all on the agenda for the young women who attend. They also get to stay on campus for the week and experience what uni life is really like. During all of this, the participants make new friends who have similar interests and even mingle with current students and successful engineers working at the uni and in industry.

The 2015 camp runs from Monday 12 to Friday 16 January 2015. Applications open on Tuesday 5 August 2014.

For more

UNSW Women in Engineering camp runs in January

UNSW Women in Engineering camp runs in January

Interested in Physics at University?

High school students can get a free taste of university Physics, via University of New South Wales’ first free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) which starts in August.

Using videos and animations, this fun & dynamic 8 week course will give students a solid grounding in the fundamentals of physics, from particles to planets – and entertain along the way!

 Check it out and enrol here:

University of Queensland Open Days this August

Discover your study options at The University of Queensland at the UQ Open Days in August. You can visit the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) precinct to find out more about the engineering, science, IT, environment and agriculture programs available at UQ.

Download the program or create your own itinerary of information sessions, tours and interactive activities for the day at