Humans in space and dark stuff: are you curious?

What happens to the human body in space? How small is a nanoparticle? And just what is dark matter? Nova, the Australian Academy of Science’s website for curious minds, has been answering these questions since its launch just four months ago.

Nova’s most popular topics include the enhanced greenhouse effect, the chemistry of cosmetics, and bio-plastics. With all things ‘space’ hitting the headlines, Nova has added topics exploring what happens to the human body in space, the realities of colonising Mars, the possibilities of life beyond Earth, and the dark stuff of our universe. Other new topics include nanoscience and noise pollution.

AAS cosmetics-interactive

New content is added weekly, so there’s always something different to explore. And Nova is proud to announce that its engaging and intuitive design has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Australian Graphic Design Association awards.

With the success of our first two collaborative videos on bees and dark matter, the Nova team, backed by some of Australia’s brightest scientists, is working with German animators Kurzgesagt on another video which will explain quantum computing. Watch this space!

Indulge your curiosity at, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Got an idea for a possible topic? Then tell us about it…you never know, it might make the cut!

Monash Science – where biology can take you

Monash University biology student, Lucy W, is in the second year of her studies, and has had some amazing opportunities during in her course. Read her story about volunteering in the Amazon:

“One late night I was looking up biological field research stations around the world and I came across Los Amigos which is a site run by the Amazonian Conservation Concession. I was fortunate to be offered a position with the United States Department of Agriculture whilst the long-term employees went home for Christmas.

Every day I would walk roughly 10km through the jungle collecting insect samples from fly traps to analyse when back in the lab.


Squirrel Monkey, Southern Peru

There were 50 waypoints with designated traps. I would cover 10 per day, with a two-day weekend. The traps were fitted with antifreeze and fly bait. The particular species of fruit fly was Anastrepha, which has a beautiful and distinctive wing pattern.

The count of this species per trap was recorded. The aim was to also complete the study at another Biological research station situated at a higher altitude and compare the niche spaces of Anastrepha to better understand their habitat requirements.

My second role was to collect fruits, which had fallen on the forest floor. I would assign a waypoint marking where I found them on the GPS, open them at the lab, collect the larvae which had been laid inside, rear them and record the life cycle from larvae – pupate – insect.

This highlighted the preferred fruit for laying and the time to maturity (or at least final stage of metamorphous). Anastrepha is a serious pest to American agriculture and improving our biological understanding of the species may improve pest-control methods.

The Amazon Jungle in Southern Peru is teeming with biotic activity. It’s great to wake up every morning to a family of Squirrel monkeys outside my room. Going to sleep every night with a cacophony of noise and insects crawling all over you can be a bit rough at first but eventually it just adds to the charm of being so deep in nature.

It was unfathomable how isolated the research station was until I arrived. Everything was so far from the familiar that saying I was ‘overwhelmed with excitement’ is an understatement.

Capybaras, coatis, peccaries and a wide variety of monkeys would casually traipse across my daily path. Aguaje, Carambola and other exotic fruits could be hit with a long stick straight from the tree and freshly eaten.

The station itself is completely self-sufficient (solar power, water being pumped from the mountain and in-situ waste management) with only a once a fortnight food drop-off.

This did mean cold showers however the tropical heat negated the need for warm water. I was the first Australian to have ever visited and was lucky that to have such a hospitable and welcoming team show me the ropes (even if I ‘no hablo español’).

They have a volunteering program (which is still in progress), which I would recommend. However this experience is surely not for the faint hearted. It will push you to your limits and it is world changing.”

 Further information about studying science at Monash University:

News from the University of Queensland

Digital faculty guides now available online

The University of Queensland’s Faculty guides are now available for download.

The 2016 guides include: Architecture, Arts, Education and Social Science, Engineering, Health, Business and Economics, Information Communications and Technology, Law, Science and new programs in Agriculture and Animal Science at Gatton.

Hardcopies are available by contacting the UQ School Liaison office.

Free public lecture – What is a research mathematician?

Date: 8 December 2015

Time: 5.30pm

Venue: Abel Smith Lecture Theatre, The University of Queensland

Speaker: Professor Jonathan Jedwab – Simon Fraser University, Vancouver

How is it even possible to do research in mathematics? Jonathan will examine these questions by reference to the mathematics and philosophy of Jacques Hadamard, born exactly 150 years ago on 8 December. He will prove that a research mathematician is a combination of problem solver, nitpicker, big picture thinker, experimental scientist, aesthetician, and dreamer.

Overall Position (OP) results advice night

Date: 21 December 2015

Time: 4.00pm-7.00pm

Location: St Lucia Campus

OP results advice night provides students with information regarding study choices and provides an opportunity to speak face-to-face with experts from all study areas.

UQ’s friendly team will help you find pathways to your desired program and advise on preference changes, entry requirements, scholarships and QTAC processes.


News from the Australian National University

ANU Internships – because there is life after university

It’s hard to know what to study at university. Luckily you can change your mind.

Meet Jessica Cregan who completed a genetic counselling internship with The Canberra Hospital.

Read more…

Jessica Cregan

Jessica Cregan

ANU science students branch out in Japan

A group of ANU students recently travelled to the University of Tsukuba in Japan to complete a course on biodiversity and biotechnology. ANU science students enjoy a vast range of study opportunities from internships to study overseas programs.

Bring your passion for science to ANU and we’ll help you take it abroad.

Watch the video

Shell Questacon Science Circus comes to town

Community venues and local schools will be overflowing with exciting, hands-on science when the Shell Science Circus and their colourful semi-trailer roll into towns through Queensland in November to stage public exhibitions of their ‘pop-up’ science centre.

Visitors of all ages can enjoy over 40 interactive science exhibits and watch spectacular science shows as Science Circus presenters hold fire in their hands, lie on a bed of nails and levitate beach balls.

The Science Circus comprises 15 postgraduate students studying a Master of Science Communication Outreach at The Australian National University. The students spend three months visiting communities all over Australia to engage people with science and technology.

This year, the Science Circus is celebrating 30 years on the road.

The Shell Questacon Science Circus is a proud initiative of Shell, The Australian National University and Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre.

To learn more visit,

Exploring a new range of possibilities at the London International Youth Science Forum

Emma Wignell was one of 25 NYSF 2015 Alumni selected to attend the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) in July and August 2015.

The LIYSF has been operating for more than 50 years and attracts over 450 students from almost 65 countries for a two-week session.

For Emma, attending LIYSF and the follow-up trip to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research Discovery Program, was an opportunity to experience world-class science facilities, and to visit some incredible laboratories across Europe, meeting remarkable individuals from across the globe and exploring her passion for science.

I enjoyed meeting scientists from a wide range of fields and I also had the opportunity to discuss their work with them

LIYSF 2015

LIYSF 2015 (Emma on right)

Emma says that before going to London, she had intended to study  science at university followed by a career in research. However, the LIYSF opened her up to a new range of possibilities. Now she wants to study an undergraduate science degree with a postgraduate degree in law, in the hope of becoming a lawyer – with a focus on the interplay of science and ethics in an ever-changing and modernising society.

The LIYSF program allows participants to pick their own lab and site visits. Emma chose to visit the Queen Mary School of Physics and Astronomy in London, Airbus UK in Bristol, and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy Research. “I enjoyed meeting scientists from a wide range of fields and I also had the opportunity to discuss their work with them.”

She also attended a lecture by behavioral scientist Dr Simon Kyle from University of Oxford who presented his research discussing the interaction between sleep disorders and mental illness. Dr Kyle answered questions ranging from why we sleep walk to the ‘falling’ sensation we sometimes feel on the verge of falling asleep.

Another standout lecture was from Dr Michael Londesborough from the Czech Academy of Sciences. His lecture was an interactive presentation on boron hydrides and their application in the wider world.

The opportunity to network with students from all over the world was particularly valuable. “I made new friends with people from England, Ireland, Malaysia, Spain, Malta, the Netherlands, Germany, and of course fellow Australians.”

The CERN Discovery Program facilitated by the LIYSF saw participants travelling to Geneva via Paris, taking in the sights. The highpoint in Paris for Emma was a visit to the Cite des Sciences with her favorite exhibit focused on young scientists and inventors and the planetarium section on aviation development.

At CERN the students had a guided tour of the cryogenic test facility, the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, the ATLAS detector, and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment, which looks at dark matter, antimatter and missing matter from a module on the International Space Station. They met with scientists from diverse fields and were given the opportunity to ask questions, take photos and learn about what goes on inside the Large Hadron Collider.

“The 2015 London International Youth Science Forum and the CERN Discovery Program have been the highlight of 2015 to date. Being selected to represent my country at this prestigious forum was not only inspiring but also enjoyable and that’s what makes the LIYSF so special to me.”

“I hope that by sharing my LIYSF experience will inspire others who are interested in pursuing a career in science, and I hope that one day I too can play my part in bettering the world.”

Emma Wignell LIYSF 2015

LIYSF 2015