“Scientists need to listen more” – Heather Bray, NYSF Alumna 1987

The guest speaker at the NYSF 2016 Session A Rotary Dinner was Dr Heather Bray, a Senior Research Associate at the University of Adelaide, and an NYSF Alumna from 1987. In an engaging and enthusiastic talk, Dr Bray shared her experiences of the then National Science Summer School, and where her study path has taken her since then.

Dr Bray’s initial area of interest and research lay within the agriculture industry, looking at the effect of heat stroke in pigs. She discussed how her love of agriculture was largely due to the fact it combines science and humanities, two fields she finds particularly fascinating.


Dr Heather Bray, NYSF Alumna 1987, at NYSF 2016 Session A Rotary Dinner

Dr Bray also discussed the issue of mental health in the academic world, reflecting on her personal journey dealing with grief and loss. “Sometimes life doesn’t go to plan, but it’s okay and vital to ask for help.” She reminded the audience that even if our immediate plan is not working, that does not mean we’ve failed, nor does it mean that we will fail to achieve our life goals.

In conjunction with agricultural research, Dr Bray has also worked in science communication for several years. She provided educational science programs for young children, CSIRO workshops for teenagers and educating the general public about genetically modified food – another area that she has pursued.

A key point of Dr Bray’s lecture was to remind the audience that science communication is not just about the science. “We’ve (scientists) been doing a lot of talking, but not a lot of listening.” She said that she had realised that just providing the scientific facts was not helpful in encouraging individuals to embrace change in a particular area – for example, GM foods – so in order to better understand why, Dr Bray began a Masters of Education. Dr Bray now works in the Department of History, School of Humanities at The University of Adelaide, researching the animal food industry as well as human behaviour.


“Best audience ever!” Heather Bray on Instagram @heatherbray6

To find out more about Dr Heather Bray, please follow the link below. http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/heather.bray

Being the NYSF Rotary Dinner, Monica Garrett, Governor Rotary District 9710 spoke with the students about Rotary’s involvement in the NYSF; and Rotaract’s Rebecca Bamford encouraged the students to reach out to Rotary/Rotaract not only to pursue other opportunities through various youth programs, but also as a way of giving back to the community.


Story by Charlotte Brew,

NYSF2016 kicks off on Monday 4 January

On Monday 4 January 2016, the first of 400 year 12 science students will begin arriving in Canberra to participate in the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2016.

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Coming from all over Australia, the NYSF allows students the chance to explore possible options for tertiary study in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in a supportive environment, and learn about the varied career opportunities available to them through that study path.

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Staying on campus at The Australian National University (ANU), the NYSF program comprises 196 lab visits and site tours over the two back-to-back January Sessions, as well as lectures, debates, personal development skills, and social activities.  NYSF funding partners – including Lockheed Martin Australia, CSL Ltd, and Grains R&D Corporation – will present to students about their organisations and the work that they do on Partners’ Day.

Bronte with her interest group at NYSF 2015 (image supplied)

The NYSF has operated for more than 30 years, and has a long history of encouraging young people to continue on a study and career path in STEM. Students are selected for the NYSF through Rotary clubs in their local communities, ensuring participation from regional and remote parts of Australia is high at around 40%.

As well as hearing from a wide range of exciting speakers during the program, at the NYSF 2016 Science Dinners, students will hear from two distinguished Australian scientists:

At the NYSF 2016 Science Dinners, students will hear from two distinguished speakers:

  • Dr Nick Gales, Director of the Australian Antarctic Division (Wednesday 13 January 2016);
  • Dr Ranjana Srivastava, renowned oncologist, academic and author (Wednesday 27 January 2016).

For further information about the NYSF 2016 program, contact Amanda Caldwell, 0410 148 173; Amanda.caldwell@nysf.edu.au