NYSF International Program pays off – XLAB in Goettingen, Germany

NYSF 2016 alumnus Tom Houlden participated in the XLAB International Science Camp hosted at The University of Goettingen, Germany in June this year, and recalls his experience.

The Göttingen science camp was an absolute eye opener for me

“Nineteen students attended XLAB International Science Camp in Göettingen, Germany, coming from eight different countries across four different continents, speaking roughly twelve different languages. It would be a feat to distinguish what was more impressive – the cultural cocktail achieved in this experience or the huge variety of scientific activity, from experiments to lectures, or tours to presentations by esteemed scientists.

Tom Houlden

Tom Houlden, with the participants in XLAB Summer Science Camp, Goettingen, June 2016

The Göttingen science camp was an absolute eye opener for me – actually being on the frontier of science; I was extremely fortunate to have this experience at the perfect time in my life. It gave me a chance to assess the reality of my intentions for the future, while I still have time to consolidate them. This camp provided a glimpse into what research is actually like, the failures, the tedium, the obsession with detail, the endless data collection, the successes and most importantly, the dedication to ‘finding things out’.

The three-week camp comprised of three individual one-week courses designed to target sub-fields in biology, chemistry and physics. I spent my three weeks primarily in the biology department, taking courses in neurophysiology, molecular biology and immunology. A goal of these courses was to expose us to current research methods and technologies in these fields. Because of this objective I now have a relatively good knowledge of exactly what methods I can use to analyse blood samples for specific antigens, genetically alter bacteria, stimulate neuron signals and analyse the visual system of insects amongst other very fundamental scientific practices.

The highlight of the experience might have been, narrowly, my time working with bacteria in the molecular biology course. Here I inserted DNA containing genes removed from florescent jellyfish into bacteria which I cultivated and watched as they began to become fluorescent under ultraviolet light.

Tim Houlden1

We then analysed the process that bacteria, like humans, undergo to produce proteins (in this case, ones that glow in the dark) from genes. Here I conducted different experiments on the bacteria, isolating the DNA, other genetic material and eventually managing to separate the proteins themselves. This process not only confirmed the theory which I studied extensively back at school with a real life demonstration of this process which had fascinated me so much, but it also managed to consolidate my passion for this kind of scientific enquiry.

As well as the strong scientific element of the course, we also had the opportunity to discover nearby parts of Germany. Visiting historically significant towns such as Goslar, culturally rich towns such as Kassel and sobering sites such as the Buchenwald concentration camp, we managed to get a feel for the country outside of the scientific hub where we were living. It is these visits and immersion into the German culture (which apparently flourishes at the time of the European Cup which fortunately coincided with our trip), which has forced me to consider looking at Georg-August-Universität (the university that Göttingen is famous for) as a destination for further studies in the years to come.

I have come away with a renewed sense of direction

XLAB was a place where my passion for science was able to collide with the enthusiasms of my international peers. Ultimately I have come away with a renewed sense of direction in terms my aspirations for a scientific career as well as a newfound passion for connecting with others from across the globe, particularly in regards to my concreted understanding of science and human exploration in general as an international endeavour.”

New science programs at the Australian National University (ANU)

If you’re interested in maths or the environment you may like to read about our new Bachelor of Mathematics and Bachelor of Environment and Sustainability programs.

The Bachelor of Mathematics is designed for those who see the beauty in maths and want a challenge. Because we’re ranked #1 in Australia for mathematics we thought it fitting to introduce an elite degree in this field. Our recent maths graduates have followed careers into Google, Macquarie Bank and the Bureau of Statistics, to name just a few.

If you’re more concerned about issues such as climate change and creating sustainable solutions to these types of challenges, check out our new Bachelor of Environment and Sustainability. It’ll give you opportunities for field-based learning, hands-on applications and internships. Please note that this program will be available from 2017.

Science Pathways 2016: Future Leaders meeting – Sydney September 2016

The Australian Academy of Science’s Early and Mid-Career Researcher’s fourth national meeting, Science Pathways 2016: Future Leaders, will be held in Sydney at UNSW Australia on 26-27 September 2016. The event will bring together EMCRs and scientific leaders from academia, industry and government.

As Australia’s National Innovation and Science Agenda and Chief Scientist have highlighted, our scientific industries can no longer prosper in isolation. Instead, the next generation of science leaders must be skilled in working across science sectors, collaborating with academic institutions, private companies, government and NGOs.

This meeting will provide insights from nationally and internationally recognised leaders who will explain what leadership in their industry means, and how to develop yourself as a leader in their sector. EMCRs will be provided with opportunities to network with other future leaders from different backgrounds, and share their ideas on how to shape Australia’s scientific and innovative future.

 Registrations will close on 9 September 2016.

For more information, visit the event website.

The science of MURDER – poisons, venom and a peek in to what makes a killer: Brisbane show


The Australian Academy of Science’s successful series on the history of poisons and venoms in war comes to Brisbane. Learn about the ingredients that make a murderer; modern murders with strange new weapons; and ways in which we’re using poison to murder cancer cells.

Join MC Bernie Hobbs to learn more, as Dr Aaron Sell pulls back the curtain on the mind of a murderer, Dr Harendra Parekh peers into poison, and Associate Professor Bryan Fry shares what he’s learned from a life studying venom.

When: 6.00pm, Friday 16 September 2016

Where: Queensland Museum, Corner of Grey and Melbourne Streets

For more information, visit the event website.

University of Melbourne News – two new science majors

The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Science has recently added two new majors to the Bachelor of Science: Data Science & Environmental Engineering Systems. Each new major is being introduced to offer students the opportunity to combine a number of disciplines to lead to new combinations of knowledge and skills.

Data Science Major

Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in the amount of data available worldwide. Trillions of bytes are now captured daily from mobile devices, web logs, sensors, and instruments. Organising and making sense of this information requires distinctive new skills. The Data Science major has an emphasis on statistics and computer science. It will support students in developing a strong foundation in the statistical aspects of data analysis (data collection, data mining, modelling and inference), as well as the principles of computer science (algorithms, data structures, data management and machine learning). This major is designed to provide students with an intellectual understanding of how to integrate and apply statistical and computing principles to solve large scale, real-world data science problems.

Careers – through this major, students will develop skills in business, technology, mathematics and statistics, all of which are increasingly important in research and industry. This may lead to careers in:

  • Information technology and communications
  • Research and education
  • Health and medical industries
  • Business and financial services
  • Sales and marketing
  • Engineering and mining
  • Climate and weather forecasting
  • Government

Graduate Pathways – students with a major in Data Science will be well prepared for graduate study in the newly-launched Master of Data Science, as well as the Master of Science (Computer Science) and the Master of Science (Mathematics & Statistics). You might also pursue graduate study in fields such as software engineering.

Environmental Engineering Systems

There is a steady demand for engineers who work at the interface of engineering technology and bio-physical and natural environments. The Environmental Engineering Systems major focuses student learning on the interactions between physical materials and processes, and human and non-human organisms. Students who successfully master these tools will be in a strong position to apply them as environmentally literate scientists in industry, or to continue their study in the field of environmental engineering to become a professional engineer.

 Bachelor of Science – Science and Technology Internship

A reminder that Bachelor of Science students can now undertake a Science and Technology Internship subject which will offer real experience working in a science or technology related workplace. The internship will help students to identify and articulate their knowledge and skills and apply them to relevant contexts and work-settings, produce original work in an appropriate format which demonstrates analytical, research and problem-solving skills, understand the value of industry and professional networks and their importance to lifelong learning and career progression and develop greater confidence in their ability to contribute to a science-related workplace, awareness of the strengths they offer to a future employer as well as areas to further develop beyond their degree.

To learn more about his exciting new subject, click here: http://science.unimelb.edu.au/students/enrich-your-studies/science-technology-internship.

If you have any questions or require more information about the University of Melbourne, please contact Nicky Haslinghouse via hnicola@unimelb.edu.au

Defence civilian 2017 undergraduate sponsorship in IT and engineering

What if you could study at one of the best universities in Australia, get paid work experience placements and complete your degree with no HELP debt?

The Defence Civilian Undergraduate Sponsorship (DCUS) is open to aspiring university students who wish to pursue a degree through the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA).

There are two disciplines available in 2017: Engineering (Mechanical, Electrical, Aeronautical and Civil and Computer and Cyber Security

Applications are open from 15 August – 15 September 2016.

Want to know more? Email student.opportunities@defence.gov.au call (02) 6127 2138 or visit the website.

University of Queensland News – undergrad biomed/tsunami science/MOOCs

University of Queensland now offering more undergraduate program options in biomedical science

Biomedical scientists provide the foundation of modern healthcare, and in 2017 you will have more ways to study biomedical science at UQ than ever before. In addition to our flagship three-year Bachelor of Science program (majoring in Biomedical Science), UQ now offers three new biomedical study options:

  • Bachelor of Biomedical Science (3 years)
  • Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) majoring in Biomedical Science (4 years)
  • Bachelor of Biomedical Science/Bachelor of Science dual program (4 years).

The Bachelor of Science (majoring in Biomedical Science) and the Bachelor of Biomedical Science are ideal for those seeking a career in biomedical science, or a pathway to medicine and other allied health programs. The Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) majoring in Biomedical Science is a great choice for people considering a research career, and an excellent option for students interested in clinical research.

Visit the website for more details.

SCIENCE TEACHERS: Participate online in live events with earthquake and tsunami researchers

Does your school want to access leading scientific opinions about the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Indian Ocean communities in 2004, killing more than 250,000 people?

University of Queensland PhD candidate Sarah Kachovich from the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management and scientific colleagues from around the world will take part in a live video broadcast about the Sumatra Seismogenic Zone with school teachers and their students over the next few months.

“We will take groups on tours via live video, and handle questions and answers about our work,” said Sarah.

“We will also be blogging our findings through the Joides Resolution website so students can individually follow our research in live time. This is also the portal for live chats if teachers are interested.”

School groups and teachers wishing to take part in live video broadcasts can fill out a request form or visit Joides Resolution website.

BrisScience: Is science any use for saving species and habitat?

 Watch our latest BrisScience recording about how optimisation can be used as a framework to make the tough decisions for environmental conservation.

You can subscribe to the BrisScience mailing list to be notified about upcoming events, or watch video recordings from past events through our website.

Immerse yourself in science with SPARQ-ed

Year 10, 11 and 12 students are invited to apply for the SPARQ-ed research immersion program. You can assist researchers at UQ’s Diamantina Institute on real research projects during the holiday break.  Find out more and apply at www.di.uq.edu.au/sparqed-rip

Students participating in the research immersion programs can opt to complete an additional assessment piece which can earn them a point under the University of Queensland’s Bonus Ranks Scheme.

Schools can also apply for a SPARQ-ed Cell and Molecular Biology Experience. These half to two day programs provide senior secondary students an opportunity to explore concepts and use techniques not normally covered in a school laboratory. Find out more and apply at www.di.uq.edu.au/sparqsingle

TROPIC101x Tropical Coastal Ecosystems MOOC

Do you want to develop the skills and knowledge needed to help preserve tropical coastal ecosystems? These habitats provide goods and services for hundreds of millions of people but human activities have led to their global decline. TROPIC101x will introduce you to the incredible plants and animals that create these unique ecosystems.

THINK101x The Science of Everyday Thinking MOOC

 Explore the psychology of our everyday thinking: why people believe weird things, how we form and change our opinions, why our expectations skew our judgments, and how we can make better decisions. You will use the scientific method to evaluate claims, make sense of evidence, and understand why we so often make irrational choices. You will begin to rely on slow, effortful, deliberative, analytic, and logical thinking rather than fast, automatic, instinctive, emotional, and stereotypical thinking.