Alex Schumann-Gillett, NYSF 2010 Alumna

Alex Schumann-Gillett attended NYSF in 2010.

“Growing up, I always had a keen interest in science and was extremely excited when I attended Session C of the NYSF 2010 in Canberra (I’m in the front row with the white t-shirt in the picture below). Attending NYSF really transformed my interest in science into a passion for it. After NYSF, I returned to my high school (Moreton Bay College in East Brisbane) so excited to start university that I wished I could fast forward through year 12 and start doing the science that NYSF had given me a taste of.

In 2011, I enrolled in a Bachelor of Science at the University of Queensland (UQ), and chose to major in biophysics. After completing my BSc in mid-2015 I enrolled in Honours at UQ. My project was at the interface of computational chemistry and structural biology. I used computer simulations to characterise the interactions between a protein on the surface of pneumonia-causing bacteria and a protein on the surface of human throat cells. After completing my honours project in mid-2015, I moved to Canberra to work as a research assistant at the Australian National University (ANU)—where I had attended NYSF five years earlier!

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NYSF 2010

In January this year, I commenced PhD studies in computational chemistry at ANU. In my PhD project, I am using computer simulations to explore the effect that different types of molecules, like fats and proteins, have on the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Coincidentally, the supercomputer used to run my honours and PhD simulations is one that I visited during NYSF.

What my NYSF experience taught me is to get amongst it, put myself out there and to not be scared to ask questions. 

I loved the experience that I had at the NYSF, which opened my eyes to what really doing science was like. Consequently, it was a major driver in the path I’ve taken. Now I get to do science every day, and I love it!

Alex Schumann-Gillett in her office at ANU

Alex Schumann-Gillett in her office at ANU

What my NYSF experience taught me is to get amongst it, put myself out there and to not be scared to ask questions. Because of that, I have been fortunate enough to receive several awards and scholarships for my work. These include a Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship to support my PhD work and the UQ Biochemistry Alumni Prize 3 2016. These are humbling accolades, but they show that if you back yourself and can articulate your belief in what you’re doing, others are more likely to back you too. So I encourage you to get amongst it, learn about the world you live in and enjoy exploring!

NYSF Alumni news

NSW Minister’s Award for Excellence in Student Achievement

National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2016 alumna, Olivia Flower, received the prestigious New South Wales Minister’s Award for Excellence in Student Achievement in September.

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Olivia was one of 35 students who was recognised by NSW Minister of Education, The Hon Adrian Piccoli, and Mr Mark Scott, Secretary, Department of Education.  The awards are given to students who demonstrate a high achievement in academic excellence, sporting successes, arts, leadership and commitment to the school and education community in NSW public schools whilst displaying values such as integrity, excellence, respect and responsibility.

Michelle Stanhope from the Public Education Foundation said, “These awards are a tribute to the talents, expertise, dedication and tireless commitment to excellence that can be found across the breadth of NSW public schools.”

School Principal of the Northern Beaches Secondary College, Mackellar Girls Campus, Mrs Del Gallo nominated Olivia for the award.

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As co-captain of her school this year, Olivia has been working very closely with Mrs Del Gallo, initiating many community and charity projects.  “I think this work,” she says, “along with my involvement in NYSF and the NYSF Student Staff Leadership Program, led to her decision to nominate me for the award. I was genuinely surprised by the nomination, however, and honoured to have been selected.”

“It was also great to be able to meet the other 12 recipients of the Minister’s Award for Excellence in Student Achievement from all across the state,” Olivia said.

The NYSF would like to congratulate Olivia on her outstanding achievement and we are looking forward to seeing her again at January’s National Youth Science Forum, Session A, as one of our Student Staff members.

Tuckwell Scholars for 2016

Congratulations to NYSF 2016 alumnus Michael Taylor, who was successful this year in being selected as a Tuckwell Scholar at The Australian National University.

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These prestigious scholarships are the result of significant philanthropic support from Graeme and Louise Tuckwell and aim to support students to reach their full potential both on an individual and community basis. Michael joins a number of former NYSF participants who are Tuckwell Scholars on campus at the ANU.

Tuckwell Scholarships are awarded each year – application information is available at http://tuckwell.anu.edu.au

 

Thomas Tsang – an HSC Ninja

Recently featured in regional newspaper, Manning River Times, was former NYSF participant Thomas Tsang. Thomas attended NYSF in January 2016 and is currently in the final stages of his HSC.

What sets Thomas apart is the website that he and brother Kenneth have created, initially as a study aid for themselves. The website is called HSCninja and offers students the opportunity to practice using questions that were used in previous years’ exams.

Kenneth told the Manning River Times, “With HSCninja, users select the syllabus dot point they want to revise, and have instant access to a list of past questions on that topic.”

hsc-ninjaThomas refers to his NYSF experience as providing him with the motivation to make HSCninja available for the general public, after noticing a disparity in the number of students doing STEM subjects in city vs rural schools. He hopes the site will be a valuable resource for rural students, supporting them to continue pursuing STEM subjects.

Anyone interested in Thomas and Kenneth’s cool school tool can click through to the HSCninja website here.

The original article can be found here

A passion for all things science and engineering – Claire Oakley, NYSF 2011 Alumna

Claire Oakley attended the NYSF in 2011. She is in her final year of studying Chemical Engineering, at Monash University.

“Five years on from my participation in NYSF, it’s an interesting exercise to try and identify all of the ways attending the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) has affected where I am now, and to predict how it will affect me in the future. Currently, I’m a 5th year engineering-commerce student at Monash University, with my engineering major being chemical engineering.

Firstly, NYSF showed me the benefits of attending a Group of Eight university: the ground breaking research opportunities, the benefits to my resume, and the high calibre of both staff and students


claire-oakley-1One of the strongest impacts the NYSF has had on my journey from there to here is my choice in university. I’d known long before NYSF that engineering was what I wanted to do, so the question at that stage was how, not what. Firstly, NYSF showed me the benefits of attending a Group of Eight university: the ground breaking research opportunities, the benefits to my resume from attending a university that is internationally renowned, and the high calibre of both staff and students

Additionally, through connections made at the NYSF, I was able to visit Monash early in year 12, and talk to current students honestly about what life was like in engineering at Monash. But from there, I was sold! The common first year, where I could take a few units from each engineering discipline before deciding what discipline I wanted to major in, the leadership programs available, and the on-campus lifestyle that I’d had a taste of on NYSF were all things that contributed to my decision to apply for Monash.

It was definitely the right choice for me. There have been good moments and bad moments of course, but overall, it’s been a good experience. Starting university, I was convinced that civil engineering was my dream career, but the common first year was enough to convince me that chemical engineering was really what I enjoyed and am good at. I have been fortunate enough to be involved with a fantastic engineering leadership program, which was notable for attracting a curiously high proportion of NYSF alumni in the cohort! I’ve just begun the chemical engineering final year project, where as the leader of a team of seven of my classmates, we have been asked to create a conceptual design for a factory to make methanol from carbon dioxide and waste methane: a sustainable, carbon negative source. This promises to be incredibly challenging and equally rewarding.

Overall, reflecting on how far I’ve come in the last five years is a positive experience, and NYSF has definitely been part of that.

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Claire Oakley (right) on an internship at a winery

Along the way, I’ve also had some fantastic internships and work experience opportunities. After year 12, I was able to set up a position as a lab technologist in a local winery. The work wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was experience, it was paid, and it was science. After doing that for two summers, I had a unique resume, particularly compared to my fellow engineering students. With opportunities provided through the leadership program, I was able to leverage this experience into an ongoing relationship and industry sponsorship with one of Australia’s largest food manufacturers, Simplot Australia. With them, I’ve worked at several sites across Australia, helping make everything from French Fries to Lean Cuisine frozen meals! Most recently, they became involved with the Monash University Industry Based Learning program, and so I was able to complete the research component of my degree in their company, writing standards for all of their engineering teams across Australia. It was the first time this company had participated in an Industry Based Learning scheme, but the relationship grew to be beneficial for all. I’ve also taken up other opportunities that I’ve come across, most recently working at a bioplastics manufacturing firm.

Overall, reflecting on how far I’ve come in the last five years is a positive experience, and NYSF has definitely been part of that. Not only through the choice of university, but also through providing long lasting friendships and passion for all things science and engineering.”

CSL Fellowship funding supports vital research for Alzheimer’s disease and leukaemia

 

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Image courtesy of CSL

Two Australian scientists have been awarded $2.5 million in support of ground-breaking research into Alzheimer’s disease and leukaemia.

Brisbane scientists, Professor Geoff Faulkner and Associate Professor Steven Lane, were the first recipients of the CSL Centenary Fellowship and will each receive $1.25 million, over a five-year period to continue their research.

Professor Faulkner from the University of Queensland believes long-term memory may be stored in our brain’s DNA, and he wants to test this theory on the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.  His research aims to give us a better understanding of Alzheimer’s and hopefully bring us closer to finding a cure.

Associate Professor Lane from the AIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, will use his fellowship to conduct research into leukaemia treatments to reduce relapse rates in older patients.

For leukaemia patients over 60, the prognosis is bleak with only 10 percent surviving beyond 12 months, compared to an 85 percent success rate in children.  Associate Professor Lane wants to change this by identifying new drug pathways and explore the repurposing of existing drugs to target resistant leukaemia types.

SL established the $25 million Fellowship program this year to mark their centenary with the intent to cultivate excellence in Australian medical research by fostering mid-career scientists to pursue world-class research at an Australian Institution. Two individual, five-year fellowships are awarded each calendar year.

“Australian research punches above its weight on the world stage with an excellent track record in new discoveries to potentially address the world’s unmet medical needs,” said CSL CEO & Managing Director Paul Perreault.

“At CSL, we are driven by our promise to save lives and protect the health of people around the world. We’re extremely proud to support research that holds the potential to save and change many lives. Our Centenary Fellowships honour CSL’s long legacy of contributing to innovative medicines, particularly for patients suffering serious diseases.”

CSL Chief Scientific Officer Andrew Cuthbertson says Professor Faulkner and Associate Professor Lane are the embodiment of what the Fellowships recognise.

“Growing skills and expertise through well-funded, long-term support is essential in order to help the Australian research community continue to thrive,” Mr Cuthbertson says.

The CSL Centenary Fellowships are competitively-selected grants offered to mid-career (3-8 years post-doctoral) medical researchers. Applications for the CSL Centenary Fellowships open annually on 1 June.  For further information about the program visit   http://www.csl.com.au/centenary/fellowships.htm

NYSF 2013 alumnus Lachlan Arthur

lachlan-arthurlachlan-arthur“The transition from high school to university is one of the greatest periods of flux anyone will experience in their life.  The change in academic environment coincides with ‘learning’ how to be an adult in terms of managing your own time, money and responsibilities, and it also often includes moving away from home and having to develop new relationships with strangers who will become your teachers, mentors and friends.

Now that I am 18 months into my time at ANU, I am glad to say that although the transition to university life for me was somewhat abrupt, overall it went pretty smoothly and I believe this is largely due to the support I have been offered as a Tuckwell Scholar and PhB (officially known as the Bachelor of Philosophy – Science (Honours)) student at the ANU.

I was first offered a place at the ANU the same year I completed Year 12 in 2013.  I decided that deferring for a year was the best option for me as firstly, I wasn’t sure if the ANU was the right place for me (at that stage I had not even visited the ANU – I was one of the last students to attend NYSF Session B at UWA) and secondly, when my family and I received the bill for residential accommodation we were caught off-guard by how much of a financial investment it really is, and it wasn’t a burden I wanted to put on my family for something I wasn’t 100% sure about.

Taking a year off to decide what I wanted to study and was the best thing I ever did

Taking a year off to decide what I wanted to study and was the best thing I ever did, and as long as you can find something productive to do for a year between school and university, it is something I would recommend to anyone planning to attend university.

It was during my year off in 2014 that I applied for the Tuckwell Scholarship and was lucky enough to be offered a spot in the 2015 cohort of scholars.  Being awarded the scholarship, and being sold on the ANU during the Tuckwell interview weekend, sealed my future as an ANU student.  The financial support of the scholarship has made it possible for me to live on campus at John XXIII College, which is definitely the most enjoyable part of my university life.

At college I have the awesome opportunity to live with 300 other students who are now some of my closest friends, and act like my extended family.  Being a resident at Johns meant that as soon as I arrived at the ANU I had people to study, play sport and party with, and it also came along with the added bonus of having a bedroom that is only a 5 minute walk from lecture theatres and labs.

The Tuckwell Scholarship gives me an extra level of support outside of my residential college through the opportunity to be a part of a group of scholars from an array of backgrounds and subject areas, who all have the common goal of using the opportunities they have been given to give back to the world.

Through the scholarship program I am also lucky to have a number of mentors who are always there to offer guidance on any topic when it is needed.  This ranges from my general mentor who is an Associate Professor of Law at the ANU, to my academic mentor who is the Head of the John Curtin School of Medical Research, to my medical mentor (I am also fortunate to be on a guaranteed pathway to the postgraduate MChD medical program at the ANU) who is the Director of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Unit at the Canberra Hospital.  Overall the ANU and the Tuckwell Scholarship have given me a licence to explore my interests and do my best without facing the financial burdens and lack of support that many university students encounter.  After initially considering offers from universities across Australia, Asia and the US, I can unequivocally say I am glad that I chose the ANU, and above all, I am glad they chose me.”

Further information: http://tuckwell.anu.edu.au

 

GRDC launches secondary school resources

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The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), which has been a proud supporter of the National Youth Science Forum over several years, has recently released a range of curriculum-linked resources which explore the latest science, technology, engineering, mathematics, nutrition, research and innovation in the Australian grains industry.

The resources present the professional nature of grain production and reference the types of technology that grain growers use on-farm. They also embed relevant Australian grains science and technology into a range of food and fibre teaching units, enabling teachers to teach mainstream subjects (such as science, geography, agriculture, home economics and nutrition) using grains as the teaching context. Each set of enquiry based resources includes activities, practicals, investigations and discussions.

The resources have been developed with input from reference teachers, researchers and growers and have been trialled at schools throughout Australia – with feedback hugely positive.

The resources include:

Agricultural Studies

  • The cost of frost – investigating weather (Year 9-10)
  • Smart grains – technology on farms (Year 9-10)

Geography

  • The importance of soil for growing great grain (Year 9-10)

Home Economics and Nutrition

  • Good grains for good gut health – the benefits of fibre (Year 9-10)
  • Grains, gluten and carbohydrates – focusing on grains as part of a healthy diet (Year 9-10)

Science

  • Science behind dough quality (Year 10-11)
  • Science of stems, stomata and sustainability (Year 11)
  • Science of crossing and crops – plant breeding (Year 10-11)
  • Science of living soils – focus on nematodes (Year 10)

The full suite of resources are available to download from the GRDC website www.grdc.com.au

Or contact Sarah McDonnell for further information sarah.mcdonnell@agcommunicators.com.au

 

Rebecca Johns NYSF (NSSS) 1990 alumna – the beginning of a lifetime of science and teaching

Rebecca Johns attended the NYSF (then called National Science Summer School (NSSS)) in January 1990, and was totally inspired by her time. Not only because of the variety of research labs and scientists she visited and learned from, but for the enthusiasm of her fellow students for science in its many forms.

“I came from a small rural high school in Mossman, North Queensland and gained a lot from the opportunity to mix with different people with big dreams. My experiences at the NSSS encouraged me to apply for a Bachelor of Science at the University of Queensland after finishing high school.”

Rebecca also enjoyed studying physics and maths in her first two years of university but found her real passion was for chemistry. “I ended up gaining first class honours after working with Dr Trevor Appleton on cis-platin compounds in my honours year. I also received a scholarship to participate in a summer research session back at The Australian National University (ANU) at the end of my third year, which brought back many memories of my time at the NSSS.”

After completing her honours year, Rebecca wanted to experience something different. She started working as an analytical chemist at an aluminium smelter in Tasmania. “After nearly two years in this position, where I was involved in both regular environmental monitoring processes and quality control of different instruments, I was transferred to the research section working on developing a more effective electrolytic cell design. Not long after my transfer the government cut research and development support. My department lost a number of staff, including me.”  

“It was very exciting to be involved with this world-class facility.”

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Rebecca Johns at Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station

This sudden change in circumstances prompted her to return to university, after receiving a scholarship to undertake her PhD studies. “My environmental monitoring work at the smelter had sparked my interest in the atmosphere and I was able to immerse myself in a project investigating the effect of non-methane hydrocarbons in baseline air. I worked for the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research at the Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station and the University of Tasmania. Cape Grim station is located on the western tip of Tasmania and receives the cleanest air in the world. This is where baseline carbon dioxide, methane, and CFCs have been measured for many years and shown to be increasing. It was very exciting to be involved with this world-class facility.”

Rebecca did not complete her thesis as her focus shifted to looking after her young family, but as her youngest approached school age, she returned to university to train as a teacher to pass on her love of science – especially chemistry, to another generation of students.

“I completed my Diploma of Education at La Trobe University in Bendigo and was keen to work at a rural school, given my personal background and current location in a small country town.”

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Rebecca Johns (right) with Lachlan Twigg (centre) at Rotary dinner

For the last five years she has been teaching maths, science and VCE (year 12) chemistry at East Loddon P-12 College, located in a farming area 40 minutes drive north of Bendigo. “The school teaches 240 students from prep to year 12, with one class of students per year level. This results in some very small VCE classes, with my chemistry classes ranging from one to four students.” 

“I hope to continue encouraging students to attend NYSF as the need for scientists and scientifically literate people continues to be an issue for Australia.”

“One of my students, Lachlan Twigg, was particularly outstanding and I strongly encouraged him to apply for the NYSF. He took on the challenge and ended up attending the NYSF in 2014. He also thoroughly enjoyed the experience and in turn encouraged Sarah Collins to apply. She was selected to attend the New Zealand session in 2015, which was a huge experience for her as she was the first member in her immediate family to board an aeroplane, let alone travel overseas. Sarah also found the experience very inspiring and it encouraged her to not only finish Year 12 but go on to apply for university courses in agricultural science.  Both students said the highlight was definitely meeting other participants who were also passionate about science.”

“I hope to continue encouraging students to attend NYSF as the need for scientists and scientifically literate people continues to be an issue for Australia.”

Science meets Business 2016

The NYSF participated in the Science meets Business conference this month, presented by Science & Technology Australia (STA), Australia’s peak body for the science and technology sector. The conference aims to build collaboration and forge new relationships among the science and business community in Australia.

As well as the Hon Craig Laundy, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, and the Hon Kim Carr, Shadow Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the conference keynote paper was presented by Dr Joanna Batstone from IBM Australia and New Zealand who briefed the participants on IBM’s research in areas as diverse as mining, skin cancer research and pollution monitoring.

Panels discussed issues such as the inhibitors to business and research sector working together; how to build start-ups to be sustainable; the potential for technology-based industries; and how to identify the next big growth area in industry.

For more detail, and information on other STA activities, go to its website, www.sta.org.au.

For the full round up of the day’s highlights, view the Storify version of events here.

Calling high-achievers: be unique and get innovative!

Australian National University – College of Engineering and Computer Science

If you’re a high-achieving student, look no further than the Australian National University’s distinguished research and development (R&D) degrees. Unlike any other degree in Australia, you’ll have the opportunity to take advanced courses and work alongside leading researchers on innovative research projects.

Watch this video to find out more about ANU’s elite degrees. Further info can be found on the ANU website here.

 

What’s happening at The University of Melbourne? News and updates from Parkville

COURSE INFORMATION DAYS IN DECEMBER – ON CAMPUS & ONLINE

After you’ve got your ATAR, come to Course Information Day on Wednesday 14 December 2016 at the Parkville campus to find out what you can study at The University of Melbourne in 2017.

  • Talk to our friendly staff about your study options in 2017.
  • Course information sessions will give you all the details about our undergraduate course and pathways to graduate study at Melbourne. You can also find out more about scholarships and our special entry schemes like Access Melbourne.
  • Tour our beautiful Parkville campus, located right on the fringe of Melbourne’s CBD, and take a look at our residential colleges.

Located in a rural area or interstate, or just can’t make it to the Parkville campus? Not a problem!

The Online Course Information Day on Thursday 15 December 2016 gives you the chance to learn more about your options, even if you can’t come and meet us in person. Log in and chat with our friendly staff, and get personalised advice about the undergraduate courses, pathways to graduate study, scholarships and special entry schemes that are relevant to you.

To learn more and register, visit the Change of Preference website: www.cop.unimelb.edu.au.

THE EMPTY BOWL – EMPTY CALORIES NO MORE

A biofortified rice high in iron and zinc is set to combat hidden hunger in developing countries.
Billions of people depend on rice as a staple food, but a shortage of key nutrients in the grain puts them at risk of malnutrition. Researchers at the University of Melbourne are now on the cusp of making a real difference.

Find out more about this amazing research here!

STORIES FROM OUR STUDENTS – IN THE FIELD: MADAGASCAR

Many researchers are bursting with field stories; tales of arduous travel to far-off places, of courageous food choices, of staring at the stars listening to the sound of the jungle. And, of course, of juggling kilo upon kilo of rocks in their backpacks.

For Catherine Wheller, a final-year PhD student in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, these field stories include ancient rocks, perilous roads and a newborn Malagasy girl named ‘Wheller’.

Learn more about Catherine’s research adventures in Africa here.

EUREKA! SUCCESS IN MATHS & STATS

The Eureka Prize is one of the most prestigious science awards in Australia. Every year, the best scientists and research are nominated for pushing boundaries and making breakthroughs across science and medicine.

Associate Professor James McCaw, from the School of Mathematics and Statistics, was part of a University of Melbourne team that won a Eureka Prize for their work on malaria.

Read more here!

VIDEO – EXPLORE THE BACHELOR OF SCIENCE

If you’re an enthusiastic science student keen to study a degree featuring more than forty different major areas of study across the health sciences, physical sciences, environmental sciences, engineering and IT, then take a moment to check out the new Bachelor of Science video here!

Don’t forget that among the many exciting opportunities offered through the Bachelor of Science program, students can now undertake a Science and Technology Internship Subject which will provide 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.