Involving alumni in NYSF Next Step events

Nate Byrne, NYSF alumnus (NYSF 2001) and newly-minted TV breakfast meteorologist – yes, the weather guy – from ABC News Breakfast, was the keynote speaker at the NYSF Next Step Melbourne alumni event in March.

In the first of two alumni events supported by IP Australia in 2017, and hosted by The University of Melbourne, this was an opportunity for the NYSF 2017 cohort to mix with previous years’ alumni and share stories about their study and career choices. It was exciting that all of our guest speakers were NYSF alumni; the first  was Dr Melanie O’Byrne, (NYSF (NSSS) 1994), who is Assistant Director, Governance Secretariat at IP Australia.

Mel explained how her own science research and science communication study gave her a variety of opportunities leading to her role today managing IP Australia’s key governance committees. Mel identified advice from Marie Curie’s grand-daughter, and the opportunity to work as a science journalism intern for New Scientist in the UK as key turning points in her career to date. Her story was one of following passions and saying yes – a great lesson for the other NYSF alumni. Mel also talked about her role as a physics patent examiner at IP Australia, and the organisation’s importance in administering IP rights and legislation relating to patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights, and the need for scientists and engineers to be involved in those services to industry and the community.

Mel said she jumped at the opportunity to speak to the NYSF alumni. “It was a wonderful chance to highlight the many doors that tertiary studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) can open for young, talented Australians,” Mel said. “When I came to Canberra as a high-school student in 1994, intellectual property was not on my radar. I didn’t understand its importance to our economy, the role it plays in securing Australia’s future as a global leader in science and technology, or the career opportunities at IP Australia.  To continue to have a world leading IP system our workforce needs people who are passionate about the business of innovation and the commercialisation of Australia’s research.”

Nate Byrne didn’t run away to join the circus, but without doubt, the skills he developed as a Science Circus presenter through the Australian National University’s Master of Science Communication Outreach built on his undergrad physics degree and meteorologist qualifications to support his new role as the breakfast TV news weather presenter on the ABC. Nate’s weather reports are full of interesting explanations about the weather patterns around the country, illustrating his love for explaining the science. And he brought that passion along, as well as his bag of science tricks – but the NYSF audience needed little convincing of the fun and importance of science in their daily lives.

“It never takes much to get an NYSF crowd engaged,” said Nate, “and the students are great communicators themselves.”

“Add in the need to be flexible and courageous in career choices, and NYSF-ers are better positioned than many for the careers of the future.”

“Those skills are becoming more and more important in STEM – not just being able to do great science, but also being an advocate and a rational voice in a quickly changing world.”

“Keeping in mind that we are naturally curious and that even simple science can be full of surprises, engaging people isn’t as hard as some might think.”

Dr Catherine Wheller (NYSF 2008) was special guest MC of the event, and along with Tayla McKechnie (NYSF 2010) and Amelia Wales (NYSF 2010), offered some briefer insights into their key decisions about study and careers since attending the NYSF, and finishing studies.

The event was regarded highly by the NYSF 2017 cohort, with positive feedback.

“I could see the pathways that other students have taken, and ask advice about their uni experience … Nate’s advice was to learn where a science degree can take you.”

“All of the speakers were very informative and engaging as they told us of their lives after NYSF, or within and leading up to their current career.”

Previous years’ alumni reported that they valued the opportunity to mix with other years’ NYSF participants.

“It was fantastic to hear from a number of diverse alumni who have taken different career paths but all share a common opinion that it is vital to keep your options open and be willing to change paths. I loved the presentation from IP Australia as this was one career path I hadn’t heard of but seems extremely interesting.”

“(hearing) the individual stories was most useful.”

“I am about to finish uni, so it was great to hear about the journeys that others have taken. The presentations were very good, and the time allocated was perfect.”

NYSF will be running a similar alumni event in conjunction with the Sydney Next Step program in July.

Our thanks to IP Australia for its partnership in 2017, and The University of Melbourne for its ongoing support as a partner of the National Youth Science Forum.

Volunteer Opportunities for Alumni with NYSF STEM Explorer – July 2017

2017 is set to be a big year for the NYSF with the launch of a new pilot program, NYSF STEM Explorer. The program is a collaborative initiative between the South Australian Department of Education and Child Development (DECD) and the NYSF, with additional seed funding provided by the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

The Adelaide based program, running from 17-21 July 2017, is targeting science engagement for school students in years 7 and 8, with spaces for 120 students from across South Australia. In line with the vision of NYSF, the program aims to inspire young people to value science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and its importance in our communities. Planning is well underway for this exciting new program with visits to leading research facilities and industry sites.

Are you an NYSF Alumni looking for a professional development opportunity? Would you be interested to take on a role to help to facilitate the program? Have you missed the NYSF and want an opportunity to re-engage?

Calling all NYSF Alumni

Following a similar model to that of the NYSF Year 12 Program, STEM Explorer will be staffed by NYSF alumni volunteers, and applications are now open. We are looking for one STEM Explorer Coordinator to act as a “Chief of Staff” (must be over 21) as well as several Youth Advisors (must be over 18) to supervise events and student participation in the program. You can read more about the positions and their selection criteria through the links below.

Apply here to be a Youth Advisor for the 2017 STEM Explorer program

https://www.nysf.edu.au/volunteer/stem-explorer-volunteering-opportunity/

Apply here to be the STEM Explorer Coordinator for the 2017 STEM Explorer Program

https://www.nysf.edu.au/volunteer/stem-explorer-volunteering-opportunity-2/

Applications close midnight Sunday 21 May 2017.

NYSF 2017 students visit LMA’s STELaRLaB

Lockheed Martin Australia’s STELaRLaB hosted 15 NYSF 2017 participants as part of the Melbourne Next Step program in March.

This was a unique opportunity to see what a world-leading R&D facility is like and learn about the kinds of work being undertaken by the researchers there.

The STELaRLaB is the first such facility to be established by LMA outside of the United States. The research being conducted there is in projects of interest to LMA, as well as R&D funded by the Australian Government through grants, PhD funding, advanced R&D contracts and other programs, such as the New Technology Fund. Established in 2016, it aims to hire more than 20 researchers in the first three years, to work on projects in hypersonics, autonomous systems, robotics and command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR).

STELaRLaB is headed up by Dr Tony Lindsay, who welcomed the NYSF students to the facility, before they headed off to tour the labs and talk with the researchers about their work.

“We’re really excited about this opportunity to show the NYSF students some real world, really cool and complex things here at STELaRLab. What they will experience here is real research, applying all those equations we learn, all those hours of sitting in a lecture – this is what it’s all about.”

“Lockheed Martin Australia is very proud of being a major sponsor of the National Youth Science Forum; working to get the next generation understanding and appreciating the excitement of a career in science and technology, the fact that you can do it here in Australia and have a global influence. That’s important.”

Feedback on the visit from the students was very positive:

“It was an incredible experience, being able to interact with engineers in the field, doing their job. It was great.”

“It was really good to see R&D in action. It was also good that university students talked to us about their work throughout their studies.”

“The STELaRLab visit is the kind of career path I wish to follow, and getting some insight into that was an incredible experience.”

Further information on STELaRLab.

Five Minutes with Your Future – NYSF at the World Science Festival Brisbane

On Friday 24 March the NYSF had the privilege to be a part of the World Science Festival Brisbane, hosting our very own event “Five Minutes with Your Future”.

The event ran three separate sessions in a speed-date-a-scientist format, with NYSF and University of Queensland alumni speaking to small groups of Year 9-12 high school students about their experiences pursuing a degree and career in a STEM field. It was a humid day in Brisbane, but this didn’t seem to bother the locals, with non-stop chatter and intent discussions throughout each hour. As is the goal of our NYSF Year 12 program, the aim was to give students a broader understanding of the diverse study and career options available in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The World Science Festival Brisbane, held from 22 to 26 March, was a huge success with a reported 182,000 attending the various events held throughout the festival. This was an increase of 60,000 compared to the inaugural event held in 2016. As an organisation that supports science in Australia, it is just brilliant to see such a great turn out for this science festival. Attendance at our own event was also excellent, with each session being sold out.

On the Saturday and Sunday (25-26 March), NYSF teamed up with the Young Scientists of Australia Brisbane Chapter, to run a stall at the street science fair. Aimed at younger children, this stall included a magic mud pit and a photo booth with props to dress up as a scientist. The stall was a huge success with hundreds of people coming through to have their photo taken.

A big thanks is owed to all of the NYSF and University of Queensland alumni who volunteered their time and enthusiasm for the event, coming to share their STEM journey with the next generation. Feedback from the volunteers was very positive, with them seeing great value in the events. A big thank you to the team at World Science Festival Brisbane for inviting us to run an event and for all their support along the way. Another big thank you is owed to Jason from YSA Brisbane for his work coordinating the science stall. And finally thanks to all the students, their teachers and for members of the public for participating in the events. We hope you all had as much fun as we did!

ANU Event – Girls in Engineering and Technology Program (GET Set)

The ANU has the following event on offer to young women interested in engineering and technology with registrations now open.

Girls in Engineering and Technology Program (GET Set) is designed for female students in years 11 and 12, who wish to explore an education and career in engineering or technology.

This year The Australian National University (ANU) is celebrating the 10th GET Set event with a very special program of activities. This free, fun-filled day of non-competitive activities includes design, test and build tasks, lectures, demonstrations and more.

To find out more and register, visit the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science website.

Date: Wednesday 19 July 2017

Time: 8.30am-4pm

Location: Ian Ross Building 31, The Australian National University

 

What’s happening at Melbourne University?

What’s happening at Melbourne? News and Updates from Parkville

As written by the University of Melbourne

FOCUS ON MELBOURNE – COURSE INFORMATION EVENINGS

Our Focus on Agriculture, Biomedicine, Engineering, I.T, Science and Veterinary Science information evenings are a great way to learn more about our Biomedicine and Science undergraduate degrees and career pathways. The event will feature a range of different presentations, Q&A panels and opportunities to meet with our current staff and students.

  • Talk to our friendly staff about your study options in 2018
  • Hear from current students and staff about, and get a glimpse of University life
  • Explore majors, breadth options, electives, internships and research opportunities in your chosen faculty

Focus on Biomedicine – Tuesday 16 May
Focus on Agriculture – Thursday 18 May
Focus on Veterinary Science – Thursday 18 May
Focus on Engineering -Tuesday 23 May
Focus on I.T – Wednesday 24 May
Focus on Science – Tuesday 30 May

To learn more and register, visit the Focus on Melbourne website: https://futurestudents.unimelb.edu.au/explore/events/victoria_and_interstate/victoria/focus-on-melbourne

SHARKS – HOW A CULL CAN RUIN AN ECOSYSTEM

Killing of sharks in high numbers can devastate oceanic ecosystems, leading to plummeting populations and serious environmental consequences. Associate Professor Robert Day, a marine biologist in the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne, says sharks’ role is so tightly interwoven with the health of the ocean, if their numbers are reduced everything goes out of balance.

“The top predators in any ecosystem are very important because they decide on whether other creatures become numerous or not,” he says.

“If there is a lack of sharks, then fish and other ocean creatures that would otherwise be consumed by sharks will become too numerous and eat too many smaller creatures and so on, meaning that the whole ecosystem changes massively.”

Find out more about this amazing research here!

PLANTS HAVE FEELINGS TOO!

Plants may not have eyes, ears or a tongue, but their skin can perform many of the same functions. Plants are not only aware of when it rains or when it’s windy, but they can respond accordingly.

Dr Kim Johnson, a research fellow in the School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, studies the world of plant senses.

“Plants are constantly under environmental stresses. You can actually see how plants respond to those physical stresses because they change their shape,” Dr Kim Johnson says.

“So if a plant is getting constantly hit with strong wind, it will actually change shape to better resist that wind; if roots hit a rock, they’ll grow around it, so they sense things around them.”

Find out more about this amazing research here!

FROM POKEMON GO TO THE CLASS ROOM – HOW THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE AND MICROSOFT IS TAKING STUDENTS UNDER THE SKINS OF THEIR PATIENTS

Pokémon Go pushed Augmented Reality, or AR, into the mainstream, sending over 500 million people chasing cartoons with their smartphones. But now, in a unique multi-disciplinary collaboration, it’s making the leap from entertainment to education.

A new fusion of augmented reality, gaming technology, and anatomy is giving physiotherapy students at the University of Melbourne access to cutting-edge technology to take a look inside the human body by projecting different layers of muscles and bones over the top of a volunteer ‘patient’. It provides an inside view of how the body works as it moves in real time.

By using tracking sensors mounted on a scaffold it projects images of our muscles and skeleton directly onto a volunteer. The images automatically follow the shape and movement of the body, giving students in the studio space an interactive all-round view of how our bodies work. It can even allow them and their teachers to “draw” on the projected image to make information and action more explicit.

Find out more about this amazing research here!

An update from the University of Queensland

There is much happening at the University of Queensland – Here is an overview of recent and upcoming events.

UQ St Lucia campus tours
This is a great way to become familiar with the campus. If you take your tour between 6 March – 30 October 2017 you can go into the draw to win a GoPro HERO5 Black, a Red Balloon Voucher and a UQ shirt, at a total value of $800.
To book a guided tour, visit UQ’s Future Students website.

Big Day In
8 June 2017
UQ is hosting the Big Day In on 8 June in the AEB Auditorium at our St Lucia campus. Join us to hear leading speakers from companies such as Microsoft, Adobe, Technology One, WiseTech Global, Tata Consultancy Services plus loads more. Tickets are $10 for students.  Book now.

Scinema

8 June 2017
SCINEMA is a celebration of the power of the moving image to tell stories about the world, how it works, and our place in it. There are hundreds of science stories to be told on screen. Festival screenings will take place across Australia, with the Brisbane screening at the Palace Barracks Cinema at Petrie Terrace. Book your tickets online.

Experience Science 2017
Register as: An individual student – individual students may register to attend on Friday 7 July.
Experience Science is a free event that provides students in years 10 – 12 the opportunity to discover what studying science is like at UQ and how science is applied in industry and everyday life. The event is facilitated by experts from UQ and industry through a series of hands-on, interactive science workshops.

Visit UQ at TSXPO
16 – 17 July 2016
The Tertiary Studies Expo is on again at the RNA Showgrounds. More than 250 representatives from universities and industry will be present and admission is FREE. Drop in and speak to UQ staff about programs, study options and exchange opportunities.


Register now for UQ Earth and Environment Day
21 July 2017 – Register as an individual.
Come and experience the applications and relevance of
geography, planning, earth sciences and environmental management, and find out about career with real world impact. For more information, visit UQ Earth and Environment Day.

 

See UQ up close  –  UQ Open Days
7th August – St Lucia Campus & 21st August – Gatton Campus
UQ Open Day is your chance to get a feel for what it’s like to be a UQ student. At our Open Day you
can speak with staff, take a campus tour and attend information sessions about studying and life at UQ.

AYAF Brisbane
3 – 7 July 2017
The Australian Youth Aerospace Forum (AYAF) is a five-day residential conference on campus at UQ which provides students in years 11 and 12 the opportunity to investigate careers and pathways in the aerospace industry. The forum showcases university and industry opportunities available to students upon completion of secondary school. Applications close Friday 26 May 2017.

 

Spinifex and snakes: women in STEM applauded
Two University of Queensland researchers have won the Queensland Women in STEM competition in recognition of their work paving the way for young women to enter science careers.

 

SPARQ-ed
June-November 2017
The SPARQ-ed Program is a unique initiative of the Translational Research Institute (TRI), the UQ Diamantina Institute (UQDI) and Queensland’s Department of Education and Training (DET) proudly bringing together quality researchers to engage with keen science students and their teachers throughout Queensland.
Spaces are still available in many programs for years 10-12.

 

 

News from Monash University

Monash University has invested more than $200 million in the last few years to transform the Clayton-based Science Faculty into one of the leading science precincts in the southern hemisphere.

Spanning the disciplines of Physics and Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Atmosphere and Environment, and Mathematics, the Science Precinct at Monash University has recently been transformed into a research powerhouse and provides state-of-the-art research, teaching and learning environments.

From the new Chemistry laboratories to the science student only lounge, the spaces provide an excellent on-campus experience. Monash’s approach to teaching is ground breaking and includes world-class and unique outdoor classrooms such as the Earth Sciences Garden and the Jock Marshal Reserve facility.

The new 360 virtual reality video offers the opportunity to experience these facilities.

To see this please visit http://www.monash.edu/monash-science-precinct

(Note mobile users: best results please view in the YouTube App.)

Meagan Lowe, NYSF 2008 Alumna — Sea, Sand & Science

Meagan Lowe attended the NYSF in 2008 and has been busy ever since taking on exciting new science related adventures and challenges. In her own words…

 

“I am lucky to have already had many interesting and diverse experiences in my academic and early professional career. Attending the NYSF in 2008 certainly opened my eyes to the huge range of disciplines and opportunities in science, and it inspired me to seek them out for myself. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the best part was hanging out with other students from all over Australia, and generally having a great time!

Fighting bushfires in Victoria

Given my strong interest in the environmental sciences, I chose to study a Bachelor of Science (Honours) at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Geography and Ecology, while also completing a Diploma of Modern Languages (French). I specialised in Coastal Geomorphology in my fourth year, and completed an honours thesis investigating the stability of artificial beaches in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria.
Following my undergraduate studies I moved to Anglesea, on the southwest coast of Victoria, to work as an Environmental Planner for the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (now DELWP). This role involved processing Coastal Management Act consents for use and development of coastal Crown land, and providing advice to communities and land managers on coastal management issues. Alongside this work I gained my General Firefighter Accreditation, and responded to bushfires in the Alpine National Park, Grampians National Park, and planned burns along the Great Ocean Road.

Meagan carrying out beach surveying work

Feeling up for a new challenge, in late 2014 I moved to New Zealand to take up a role as Coastal Scientist for a small coastal science consulting company, Coastal Research Ltd. In this role I used a coastal hazard analysis framework to investigate the risk of drowning and injury at beaches around New Zealand, coupled with analysis of incident statistics, demographic data, and user resilience. This information was provided to territorial authorities and surf lifesaving organisations to guide use of current and future resources, such as recommended surf lifeguarding service lengths. This work enabled me to travel all over New Zealand, and even to Malaysia to present at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in 2015.

However, I was always keen to return to the world of research, and I am now back in Australia in the second week of my PhD in Coastal Geomorphology, whilst also continuing to work part-time for Coastal Research Ltd. My PhD project will investigate the morphodynamics of low-lying reef islands in the western Pacific Ocean, and their vulnerability to erosion under future climate scenarios. I am excited for the challenge ahead, to grow my research skills, and to make a contribution to the wider body of geomorphological knowledge.

My best advice for NYSF participants and other young scientists is: be confident to choose your own path, not the one you think people expect of you, and don’t be afraid to change up your career. You’re young and intelligent, and you can only benefit from exposure to a wide range of people, ideas and experiences.”

While working in New Zealand

Opening Soon: Applications for NYSF January Sessions 2018

On 1 March applications will open for next year’s NYSF January Program. Applications will remain open until 31 May. With up to an extra 200 places available thanks to a third session running in Brisbane in cooperation with the University of Queensland, we hope you will help to spread the word about our program.

As always, applications are open to students currently in year 11 in 2017, to attend the program in the summer holidays before entering year 12 in 2018.

Have you attended the program in the past? Then help us out by encouraging your friends and relatives who are interested in STEM to apply.

You can also ensure you receive all of our updates if you are a registered alumni through our database. Email communications@nysf.edu.au to make sure you are on the system.

NYSF 2017 January Session Group Photo