A Newcastle Tea Ceremony

Students from the Newcastle area who recently returned from the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2017 Year 12 Program in January, were treated to an afternoon tea hosted by The Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Cr Nuatali Nelmes.

The Lord Mayor congratulated local students on their achievements and selection to the NYSF program.


“It was my pleasure to host this special afternoon tea recognising the National Youth Science Forum and the number of local alumni who demonstrated the up and coming science, engineering and technology talent in Newcastle’s high schools.”

Also in attendance were Rotarians from local clubs, representatives from The University of Newcastle, local school principals and NYSF alumni, including NYSF 2013 alumnus, Phill Johnson, who was recently awarded Newcastle’s Young Citizen of the Year, and Newcastle City Councillor, Declan Clausen, who attended the NYSF in 2010. Cr Clausen knows first-hand the benefits students can gain from the NYSF program.

“As an alumnus of the NYSF, I know the value it plays in opening doors for young people across Australia in engineering, science and innovation.”

Callaghan College (Jesmond Campus) Student, Meheret Dagemawe, said the afternoon tea with the Lord Mayor was a memorable experience.

“Having the opportunity of meeting the Lord Mayor has allowed me to have an in-depth conversation of my future aspirations, in which Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, took great interest and provided invaluable insight about my choices.”

“The NYSF, although science related, has given me life skills that I could apply regardless of what path I choose to follow. The connections created through laughter and healthy debates with the brilliant minds of like-minded students is what I cherish most. I was also able to take away the most valuable lesson of networking with awe-inspiring scientists and speakers. Going to NYSF has allowed me to widen my career and further study options, it’s enabled me to be able to see different perspectives from a wide variety of people,” she said.

Cr Clausen noted that an additional 200 places will be available for next year’s program and encouraged local students to apply.

“As a region we have been very fortunate to have been so well represented at NYSF in the past, and I strongly encourage young Novocastrians in Year 11 to apply to attend NYSF in 2018,” Cr Clausen said.

Applications for 2018 open on 1 March. Full details at: www.nysf.edu.au

Volunteering develops passion for crop genetics and research

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Ellen de Vries with Sally Walford from CSIRO

Ellen de Vries is from regional Victoria, and attended the NYSF in 2014. She is currently studying a double major in Genetics and Food Science with a concurrent Diploma in Languages (Italian) at the University of Melbourne.

“Without the NYSF I would not have had the confidence nor the contacts to discover and develop my passion for crop genetics and research.”

“Since attending the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) in 2014 I have been really fortunate in pursuing the many opportunities offered to me. During the NYSF I met CSIRO researcher, Sally Walford, and she invited me to do volunteer work in her cotton genetics research lab in the summer after I attended the NYSF. This was my first real taste of research and I enjoyed every minute of. It consolidated in my mind that I really loved research and wanted to potentially spend the rest of my life doing it.

Through this experience and the NYSF I really developed my passion for researching plant genomes and genetic manipulation. In my first year of university, this led to me being a research assistant to a PhD student at the University of Melbourne, giving me a better understanding of how research projects work.

At the beginning of 2016 I returned to the CSIRO and spent a week in the wheat genetics lab. I continued to develop my interest in the manipulation and expression of genes in cereal crops – specifically wheat plants.  There is a lot of potential to increase the yield of wheat crops, which would be of benefit to the Australian grains sector, and the economy more broadly .  This volunteer experience has motivated me to contact AgriBio Victoria to seek more lab work in the plant genetics field.

I am about to finish my second year at University of Melbourne, and am hoping to pass and go on to do my honours, and hopefully onto a PhD in cereal crop genetics.

Without the NYSF I would not have had the confidence or the contacts to discover and develop my passion for crop genetics and research. I know my experience with the NYSF is not a unique one and is shared by everyone who attends. The opportunities have been so incredible and they’ve really encouraged me to pursue my passion.”

Meet our Communications Interns for the NYSF 2017 January Sessions

Four National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) alumni have been selected as this year’s Communications Interns, given the task of capturing the experiences of 400 students during the January Sessions.

As alumni of the NYSF program, the four interns will have a great insight into what students will experience during their time at the NYSF. Covering Session A is Jackson Nexhip and Daniel Lawson, and in Session C are Megan Stegeman and Veronica O’Mara .

 

Jackson Nexhip

Jackson Nexhip (NYSF 2013 alumnus) will be commencing his third year of a Bachelor of Advanced Science in Chemistry at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 2017. He also recently completed a year-long research project for a biomolecular design competition called BIOMOD.

BIOMOD is an annual undergraduate research competition in biomolecular design founded by The Wyss Institute at Harvard University. This year the competition was held at The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and capped at 24 entrants from universities from various countries including the United States, Canada, Germany, India, China, Korea and Japan.

In early 2016 Jackson set up the UNSW team, which was the only team from Australia and the southern hemisphere to compete this year.`

“Our project involved using a technique called DNA origami to build a nanoscale box which can capture specific molecular cargo – kind of like a nanoscale mousetrap. The box can capture cargo such as potent pharmaceuticals used in chemotherapy and can be modified to specifically deliver that cargo to diseased parts of the body, reducing non-specific interactions with healthy cells and minimising side effects”. nexhip

The five students on the UNSW team had to juggle the BIOMOD commitment with their university assignments and full-time course loads, while the other teams had the luxury of working on their projects over their summer break. In late October the UNSW team flew to UCSF for the final conference (a few weeks before exams), and took out the grand prize!

“Regardless of where we came in the official rankings of the competition, we had already won in our minds. The real experience of BIOMOD, and any other competition for that matter, isn’t the prize you get at the end but rather the things you learn and the person you become along the way.

With that said though, the win was a nice cherry on top.”

You can view a 3-minute YouTube video summarising the teams entry Here, or visit the website with all of the teams work in detail Here.

Jackson said he was really looking forward to coming to the NYSF in January.

“It was extremely exciting and motivating to meet so many like-minded people at the NYSF, who were so incredibly passionate about what they do. Post-NYSF I found myself much more determined to become the best I could be in science and with science communication. And of course I also scored a heap of amazing new friends and an invaluable insight into university life and careers in science.”

“The NYSF is what you make of it. Turn up keen and ready to go hard and you will have one of the greatest times of your life.”

Daniel Lawson

 NYSF 2015 alumnus, Daniel Lawson, recently completed his first year of study at the Australian National University (ANU), majoring in physics and applied mathematics. He is focusing on undergraduate research and aims to make one quarter of his course load related to research for the next two years of his undergraduate degree. Daniel is also preparing to begin his second year as an undergraduate resident of Burgmann College while looking for more opportunities to inform students about STEM possibilities in the Canberra region.nysf-2017-launch_0018

Daniel believes that the NYSF is best enjoyed with an open mind-set.

“Before I attended the NYSF I wanted to study engineering in Queensland. This changed when at the NYSF I was exposed to research opportunities which greatly influenced my study and career goals. The NYSF showed me the possibilities of scientific research, particularly during my undergraduate education. It was through an NYSF alumni that I discovered research focused degrees at ANU, in particular the PhD science program. Through the PhD program I’ve contributed to the SABRE experiment jointly run by the University of Melbourne and the ANU, with the goal of detecting dark matter through WIMP (weakly interacting massive particles) interactions.”  To find out more about the SABRE experiment click HERE.

Megan Stegeman

Megan (Meg) Stegeman (NYSF 2014 alumna), is currently at The University of Queensland, studying a dual degree in Science and Arts, Majoring in Genetics, Psychology (and possibly journalism) and plans to complete a PhD after her Bachelor.  She hopes to combine travel with her career. megan-steggeman

Meg said she is looking forward being a Communications Intern at the coming NYSF January Sessions.

 So excited to not only have a part in the program that helped shape my future, but to work behind the scenes and to get an idea of how much work and commitment is put in to achieve great outcomes.”

Veronica O’Mara

Veronica O’Mara (NYSF 2014 alumna), is about to start her second year studying Advanced Science and Law at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) following a gap year in England and Europe.  Her long term goal is to complete a PhD in genetics and work in medical research.1655856_723943020957353_1634706806_n

The NYSF experience helped Veronica shape her career goals and increase her confidence in public speaking.  And her advice to this year’s NYSF cohort?

“Make the most of it! It might seem daunting at first, meeting with hundreds of new people but as clichéd as it sounds, I met some of my best friends through NYSF. Also get involved in the lab visits, it really is a unique experience and gives you a taste of many fields. It’s a great opportunity to think about what you like and are interested in.”

NYSF 2017 participants are encouraged to say hello to the Communications Interns and talk with them about their NYSF experience.

Launch for NYSF 2017

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) launched its 2017 January programs earlier this month at the Australian National University (ANU).

Andrew Metcalfe, AO, Chair of the NYSF Board said the January program would be better than ever due to the ongoing support of our funding partners and organisations that facilitated the program.  Mr Metcalfe made special mention of the recent funding announcement by Minister Greg Hunt of funding for the NYSF’s activities through the National Innovation Science Agenda (NISA).

NYSF Chair Andrew Metcalfe speaking at the NYSF 2017 launch

NYSF Chair Andrew Metcalfe speaking at the NYSF 2017 launch

Mr Metcalfe also welcomed our newest Funding Partner, IP Australia, who’s Deputy Director General, Ms Deb Anton, also addressed the group underlining the value of supporting the NYSF as a program that attracts Australia’s next generation of leading innovators. “This aligns with IP Australia’s position,“ she said, “as we are at the forefront of innovation in Australia.”

“Supporting new talent will result in a strong, positive impact in securing Australia’s future as a global leader in science and technology.”

Attendees at the launch included representatives from NYSF funding partners, ANU academics and researchers who assist with the delivery of the NYSF program in the form of the lab visits and guest lectures; other facility lab visit and site tour providers; alumni of the NYSF Program, many of whom are students or graduates of the ANU; NYSF Board and Council members; and the NYSF corporate team.

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Dr. Chris Hatherly, Anne MacKay, Daniel Lawson, Emily Rose Rees, Ellen Lynch

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Prof. Jenny Graves, Deb Anton, Dr. Alison Shield

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Alumni Sam Backwell, Laura Wey,                Mitchell de Vries

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Andrew Metcalfe AO and Deb Anton

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Andrew Metcalfe AO and Deb Anton

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Mitchell de Vries, Natalie Williams,                Merryn Fraser

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Rowley Tompsett, Madeline Cooper,             Melanie Tacey

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Ken Maxwell, Dr. Damien Pearce, Jo Hart

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Tony Trumble, Prof. Jenny Graves, Deb Anton, Adrian Hearne, Brody Hannan

All images:  Emma Robertson

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

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