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


“I definitely knew I wanted to study science”

Dr Natalie Spillman attended the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) in 2003, and after school finished, went on to study for a Bachelor of Philosophy (PhB) at the Australian National University (ANU).

“When I started my degree at the ANU, I was really keen to study physics, so I studied mathematics, physics, chemistry and biochemistry in first year. Then I discovered how much I was interested in how cells work, so I swapped my major focus to biochemistry and that’s what I’ve been interested in ever since.”

Natalie grew up in Mackay, Queensland and knew she did not want to study at a regional university. Coming to Canberra, she says, “… was always going to be a big move for me and it was a good compromise between Mackay, a smaller town, rather than moving to a larger city such as Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne – which seemed a scary prospect at the time.”

The ANU’s PhB, is a research-focused degree that allows undergraduate students to study with leading researchers, starting in the first year of study. “It was great to get so much exposure to lab work so early, and it really confirmed for me that research was what I wanted to keep doing.”

Her projects were wide ranging, “…from cytokinin regulation in Arabidopsis, to the clustering of GABA receptors in mouse neurons. During my summer breaks I undertook an ANU College of Science Summer Research Scholarship on membrane transport in the malaria parasite, and a CSIRO Plant Industry Summer Student Program scholarship investigating the role of polycomb proteins in Arabidopsis vernalisation response. These lab experiences confirmed my passion for research, and allowed me to gain a comprehensive and far-reaching lab skill set.”

This passion for research fuelled Natalie to undertake a PhD in Biomedical Science and Biochemistry at the ANU. “In my PhD I studied how the malaria parasite maintains a ‘low-salt’ environment. Cells have to regulate how many sodium ions (Na+) they have. If the sodium levels get too high, other enzymes in the cells can’t work as efficiently and the cells can die. Too much salt is generally bad. High salt is bad for plants (saline soil), and high salt diets are generally bad for our health (hypertension and cardiovascular disease).”

Natalie Spillman

Natalie Spillman

Natalie is fascinated by the malaria parasite. “In particular, I am interested in how it lives inside a red blood cell. There are so many strange and amazing aspects of its biology that we need to continue to study to develop new drugs against this parasite. They are resistant or developing resistance to all of our current anti-malarials. So I definitely wanted to keep studying malaria during my postdoctoral research.”

In 2013 Natalie received a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) CJ Martin Overseas Biomedical Fellowship, administered by ANU, to research at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) in Saint Louis, USA. Now conducting post-doctoral research, Natalie’s current research is sponsored by an Amgen American-Australian Association Fellowship also at WUSM.

“I am now studying how the parasite can communicate and change the red blood cell. The parasite exports hundreds of proteins out into the red blood cell. But we don’t know how these protein effectors can alter red blood cell biology.”

The Centre for Disease Control estimates that, “3.2 billion people (half of the world’s population) live in areas at risk of malaria transmission in 106 countries and territories”, so the need for malaria treatments is significant. Natalie’s work and contribution can only be of benefit to us all.


By Julie Maynard

“A career in engineering was the right fit for me”

Sophie Dawson attended the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) in 2008 and like many students before her, was encouraged to apply by her (physics) teacher.

Sophie says she knew she wanted to study engineering due to her interests in physics and mathematics, but it wasn’t until she experienced the NYSF lab visits and workshops, and the Next Step Program in Adelaide, that she developed a better understanding of the variety of work that engineers perform.

“Before attending the NYSF, I wasn’t aware of or had been exposed to the many career opportunities available in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) or even which of the many fields of engineering, design and technology I was interested in.”

I am still in touch with friends that I made at NYSF

For Sophie, the NYSF was also a great networking opportunity. “I am still in touch with friends that I made at NYSF – I think because it brought together so many like minded people. The NYSF helped confirm that pursuing a career in engineering was the right fit for me based on my interests.”

Sophie studied a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical and Aerospace) at the University of Adelaide and undertook an Honours project examining ways of reducing the induced drag of aircraft wings. “At times during my study, I found the work hard and questioned whether I still wanted to be an engineer, particularly in the aerospace industry. I would then try and imagine doing something else but couldn’t see myself anywhere else. The passion, intelligence and hard work of the people around me was, and still is, inspiring.”

During her time at university she was involved in organising the Australian Youth Aerospace Association AeroFutures conference. “This was another great opportunity to find out about the careers available in the aerospace industry. This also made me realise the breadth and scope of an industry I thought was small in Australia.”

Sophie Dawson - Jetstar graduates

Sophie Dawson with other Jetstar graduates

She has recently completed a two-year graduate program with Jetstar Airways where she was able to explore several roles though rotations in different parts of the business. “I think the appeal of this type of program is the ability to explore different interests and better understand the everyday tasks involved. This was the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate pursuing a technical engineering career or moving into other applications. From this experience, I found that I really wanted to continue working in a technical role, and was fortunate to find my current position as an operations engineer.”

Sophie is now part of a team that is responsible for technical support covering all aspects of aircraft performance and aircraft loading. “The work is varied and involves many different aspects of airline operations. I work on projects that involve the evaluation of new aircraft and modifications to existing aircraft and equipment. Other aspects are the management of systems and software that effect aircraft loading and weight and balance.”

“This role has huge scope for continued learning and development and is where I see myself for the next few years to make the most of this opportunity. Every day is different, and there is a large variety in the type of work including analysis, engineering and project management. Two of the most exciting things that I am involved with are projects that encompass the whole airline and aim to balance commercial outcomes and operational challenges, and quick responses to operational requests to ensure safe and efficient flight dispatch.”

Remember that there are many different and varied pathways to get to where you want to be

For others considering a specific career, in engineering or otherwise,  Sophie’s advice is to get involved in the industry. “Seek out opportunities and be proactive. Remember that there are many different and varied pathways to get to where you want to be and much of the enjoyment and satisfaction comes from the journey. It takes ingenuity and hard work and you can learn something from every experience, even if the lesson is very unexpected.”

By Julie Maynard

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.”

Keeping the NYSF in the family

When Ben Kenworthy received the offer to attend the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2016 he was excited to be following in the footsteps of his older sisters Sarah and Jessie-Anne who attended the program in 2015 and 2011.

“I’d heard so much about the program from my sisters. They encouraged me to apply as they had the time of their lives. I counted down the sleeps until it was time to go.”

Visiting world-class facilities, learning about the diverse areas of science, living at The Australian National University and experiencing life on campus were some of the highlights for Ben.

I’d heard so much about the program from my sisters. They encouraged me to apply as they had the time of their lives. I counted down the sleeps until it was time to go

“I also enjoyed the social aspect too. They were a fantastic group of people. I made so many new friends that will be lifelong.”

Ben hopes to study optometry at Deakin University in Geelong next year. “There is a large science component in this course and attending the NYSF has given me the confidence to embark on my goal of becoming an optometrist.”

Sarah attended the NYSF in 2015 and has just started her university career studying nursing and midwifery at Deakin University and hopes to study post-graduate medicine.

Jessie-Anne and Sarah Kenworthy

Jessie-Anne and Sarah Kenworthy in the delivery room in Mannya, Uganda

Sarah recalls, “NYSF helped me to determine that I wanted a career in the medical field. Attending the NYSF prepared me for year 12 and beyond. I was able to develop personal skills through the communication and body language workshops and hearing from NYSF student staff leaders about their year 12 and university experience. I also experienced other fields of science I had not considered previously.”

I have become more aware of the world around me and all the amazing things in it and how it relates science

“We were also exposed to some of the top science facilities around Canberra and were privileged to listen to and meet some of Australia’s leading scientists.”

Sarah’s outlook on life has changed. “I have become more aware of the world around me and all the amazing things in it and how it relates science. The NYSF has changed my life for the better, I will always be thankful for everyone who attended and played a part in the planning of the program.”

Jessie-Anne attended the NYSF in 2011. Growing up she always loved science and science subjects were her favorite at school.

“The NYSF helped me see the different options available to me at university and where different careers could lead. NYSF improved my confidence which helped me prepare for my interview to get into med school.”

Jessie-Anne is currently in her final year of medicine at Monash University and starts her internship next year.

“Medicine actually involves a lot of science, it has anatomy, physiology, biology and chemistry to name just a few.”

“I’m not 100 per cent sure what my specialty is yet, but lately I have been thinking about paediatrics, oncology, general medicine, geriatrics, but those ideas are constantly changing.”

Medicine has a lot of research opportunities too. “Later this year in one of my rotations I will be working on a research project in paediatric oncology. I have also participated in a research project which focused on creating a 3D printing of a part of the brain.”

Sarah and Jessie-Anne Kenworthy

Sarah and Jessie-Anne Kenworthy, Mannya Uganda

NYSF improved my confidence which helped me prepare for my interview to get into med school

In November 2014 to early 2015, Sarah and Jessie-Anne volunteered in Mannya, a remote village in Uganda, working in a health centre and maternity ward.

“Jessie-Anne and I were involved in antenatal care performing physical examinations on pregnant women. We also spent time in the birthing suite watching deliveries and one of my highlights was delivering three babies by myself. Jessie-Anne delivered seven,” says Sarah.

“We also assisted with the post-natal care of women and children by giving injections to reduce preventable, life-threatening diseases. Our work involved visiting remote villages where people could not get to a clinic, assessing the patients with medical treatment, and giving injections.”

“In addition, we raised $18,000 to go toward 1,800 solar lights to replace kerosene lamps which create life-threating toxic fumes. It also provided much needed lighting in houses to allow children to study at night.”

All siblings have won an array of awards. Jessie-Anne won the Zonta award for Young Women in Public Affairs, Rotary Volunteer Award and Geelong Impetus Award 2015 for Working with Young People and is a finalist for the Victorian Young Achiever Awards announced in May 2016.

Sarah was nominated for Geelong Impetus Award; and Ben was nominated for an Online Community Engagement and an Impetus Award in Culture/Arts 2016 and has also been selected for the Year 12 Diaries cast, a 26-week program airing on ABC3 in 2017 in which 13 students from around Australia, film their year 12 experience.

But wait … there’s more! Ben, Sarah and Jessie-Anne also have a brother Mathew who successfully completed a Bachelor in Nursing/Midwifery and is currently in second year medicine at Notre Dame, Fremantle Western Australia.


Canberra College students recall their 2016 National Youth Science Forum experience

Canberra College students Matilda Dowse, Morgan Kikkawa and Kaliopi Notaras were selected to attend the 2016 National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) held at The Australian National University.

Over the course of two weeks, Matilda, Morgan and Kaliopi along with almost two hundred students attending Session C, participated in
a variety of STEM-related activities including lab visits, lectures, workshops, site visits, formal dinners and group activities.

It wasn’t until NYSF commenced that I realised how little I actually knew about the other fields of science

For Matilda, the major highlights of the forum included the opening lecture from leading Australian physicist Professor Tanya Monro from the University of South Australia, participating in an entrepreneurial workshop led by influential business leaders in STEM, and joining a live video conference with Dr Rolf Landau from CERN in Geneva Switzerland.

Matilda Dowse at the NYSF Science Dinner

Matilda Dowse at the NYSF Science Dinner

“The program opened up a world of opportunities I previously had never considered. The NYSF experience was about building a strong sense of belonging and friendship through science. The friends and memories we built in our interest groups, at mealtime, dorm groups and social activities remain some of my greatest memories, and removed all doubts about fitting in. The NYSF kindled a love for science and I would strongly recommend the program to any year 11 student vaguely interested in STEM.”

“Thank you to Canberra College chemistry teacher Mr Stephen Ford for encouraging me to attend the forum. I owe much of my continued interest in science to him.”

Seeing 200 fellow students light up at the same things I did was truly the most staggering part of all

Before attending the NYSF, Morgan says he had his sights set on a career in medicine. “After the NYSF I found that my passion lay in all sorts of different areas of science. Seeing 200 fellow students light up at the same things I did was truly the most staggering part of all.”

Morgan Kikkawa

Morgan Kikkawa

“The fascinating discussions I had not just with the guest speakers and scientists but also the students, is by far the most valuable experience I took away from the program. While the program distorted my vision of the specific career I wanted to pursue, it clarified perfectly my love of science and desire to pursue it to my heart’s content.”

Kaliopi shares a similar experience. “I gained a lot from the opportunities within the program, in that it shaped and developed my understanding of science immensely. I entered the experience with a certain mindset about the career path I wish to follow and it wasn’t until NYSF commenced that I realised how little I actually knew about the other fields of science. I gained a new found interest in the research aspects of biology and was thoroughly intrigued by physics, engineering and even computer science, subjects I never regarded previously.”

Kaliopi Notaras

Kaliopi Notaras

“The NYSF validated my desire to continue in science and showed me that within my career I could couple public speaking, teaching and research, along with my love for practical involvement in hands-on environment.”

Science is what inspires me and it is what I want to spend my life doing

When Claudia Strauss Forster received the email advising of her selection to attend National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2016, she changed her plans for January entirely. Instead of spending the final two weeks of her summer holiday on exchange in Germany, she accepted the offer via the Royal Society of New Zealand, and flew from Munich to Sydney to begin her NYSF adventure.

For Claudia, the highlight of the program was the welcome lecture from NYSF Chair and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation from the University of South Australia Professor Tanya Monro, an expert in the field of photonics.

NYSF re-fired my spark for science, but also the spark for writing crazy ideas on paper and thinking about how they could actually work

Claudia Strauss Foster and Will Inveen, Director Education, Murray-Darling Basin Authority (image t8)

Claudia Strauss Foster and Will Inveen, Director Education, Murray-Darling Basin Authority (image t8)

“Her work surrounding lasers and using photons to identify rust in aeroplanes without having to take pieces apart fascinated me. It was something I had never considered possible. Her talk also made me realise that in order to make change in the scientific world, you need to believe that what you are studying has an application to the problem someone else is facing. You need to make the connection between two seemingly unrelated topics, as Professor Monro and her team have done with lasers and aeroplane rust.”

In order to make change in the scientific world, you need to believe that what you are studying has an application to the problem someone else is facing

At the NYSF, Claudia was a member of the Darwin interest group, which focused on earth and environmental science. “I had not fully appreciated that this encompassed everything from anthropology, to an arboretum, to using aquatic life as a mechanism to monitor pollution of a lake. I found the visit to CSIRO Black Mountain’s facility particularly interesting. We were looking at the genetic modification of cotton and wheat, and seeing if it would be possible to make a stronger crop, that was less prone to factors such as frost or rust. They had found that although their previous work with potatoes had generated a crop much stronger and produced a much greater yield, the food industry still did not want to use genetically modified potatoes. I then realised that there is more to scientific discovery than just doing the most and the best you can do, as for it to be useful it needs to be accepted by the community. I realised that the next challenge for science is not only discovering more, but proving to the world that it is worth the change.”

Claudia says that the NYSF’s science-related social activities and the presentations she gave have been of great benefit. “These moments assisted with developing my personal identity. The moments where you were suddenly discussing the ethics behind using nuclear power, and it seemed normal because everyone else there was just as into the conversation as you were. It was more than just tips on public speaking or hints about body language that made the personal difference at NYSF. The atmosphere made me realise that you can be smart, humble and recognised for who you are while still being yourself.”

the next challenge for science is not only discovering more, but proving to the world that it is worth the change.

“One of my favourite social events was the science dinner. It was inspiring to talk to and sit at a table with a representative from Monash University, the NYSF, Canberra Institute of Technology and IP Australia, as well as fellow students. It provided ideas as to where I want to go with science and how I could get there, all at one dinner table.”

Claudia’s NYSF experience has not sent her down one career path, but instead, “… opened my mind to numerous possibilities. After being in Germany I was inspired to write my five-minute presentation on how languages affect the way we think, particularly in science. NYSF made it clear to me that I want science to be a big part of my life, but that languages, dancing and all the other things I love can play a part. Ultimately science can be found in everything, and finding these connections and being able to see things from a unique perspective is what makes science so fascinating.”

How does origami relate to science? NYSF Alumna Edith Peters tells us more …

“In high school, one of the students two years above me raved about his experience at the National Youth Science Forum. I had to see what all the fuss was about. At that time, I wanted to discover engineering so that one day I could design the most environmentally friendly buildings possible.

In the hot summer of January 2011, I marvelled at the nuclear research conducted by The Australian National University, I absorbed the research going into the Cotter Dam expansion and I sang until I could sing no longer. I was also really moved by how my peers accepted climate change and that it was caused by human influence. Coming from conservative regional area it wasn’t really on the agenda. I did know about it, we had watched the Inconvenient Truth and studied the greenhouse effect.

Edith Peters

Edith Peters, APEC Youth Science Festival

I was selected to also attend the APEC Youth Science Festival in 2011. The APEC Youth Science Festival (YSF) is a science fair run by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC. It is for 15–18-year-olds with an interest in science–technology, and seeks to break down cultural barriers for learning.

At the APEC YSF I was in the Nuclear Energy stream and Origami Stream. So, how does origami relate to science? We were told it is used to model solar panels on spacecrafts. It needs to be able to fold down and minimise area during solar flares and maximise area for power generation.

There was something about the dissonance of the situation: If climate change could cause such devastation why weren’t governments or other leaders doing more?

This led me to question my own plans. If global environmental change was a major problem, what could I do to help? Building energy efficient buildings would only get me so far. Also, how likely was it that I was going to get a job creating these great buildings when most of the population are primarily concerned about the upfront cost?

Rather than take a path looking at improving the efficiency of things, I decided to focus on what leverage points are available to shape the cultural climate around climate change, climate justice and sustainability. This led me to the ANU, where I am studying for a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies of Sustainability.

Burgmann College was my first preference in terms of accommodation. Through the Green group at Burgmann, I was able to get involved in activities such as tree planting. The student group was also able to implement under-desk recycling bins and replacing disposable cups with keep cups.

During my time at university I’ve not just been studying; I have been involved in a number of environmental initiatives at Burgmann College, been a Peer Assisted Learning Mentor facilitating activities to help students learn content and develop skills vital for university, and I was appointed to the role of First Year Co-ordinator where it has been my joy to assist first year students in settling into university. Last semester, I organised ‘Climate Week’ to draw attention to Paris COP 21 – the United Nations conference on climate change – and the intersection of how climate change affects other social issues such as indigenous rights, refugees and food security. I also participated in the Australian National Internship Program interning at Parliament House, exploring the barriers to aquaculture expansion in Northern Australia.

2016 sees me beginning an Honours year looking at health and wellbeing in regional areas through the influence of built environment. Coming from Albury-Wodonga it will be awesome to work on a project so close to home. It’s also a concern because we already know mental health issues increase with drought, and drought is likely to increase with climate change. Regional areas also suffer from higher obesity rates than the major cities.

One day, I hope to run my own consultancy company focused on developing innovative cultures in workplaces that create public value beyond their core business. My favourite quote at the moment comes from a farmer featured in Naomi Klein’s book, This Changes Everything, ‘The only thing sustainable is how we treat each other.” We have to do our best to make our world better for everyone.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Story by Charlotte Brew,

When is a Junket an unconference?

Often the greatest innovations are made when you’re surrounded by like-minded people. This is one of the key strategies of the National Youth Science Forum – to bring together young Australians who are passionate about STEM and help them to begin to build their professional networks.

In November this year, media website Junkee aimed to capture this spirit in their inaugural youth unconference, “Junket”. It brought some of Australia’s brightest minds to Canberra for three days, trying to tackle the issues facing the country’s future.

Junket pic Brody Hannah

Selected from a wide range of disciplines, the “Junketeers” were from all over the country, and from a huge range of cultures, religions, and sexual identities.

NYSF alumni, Mark McAnulty (2013) and Brody Hannan (2014), represented the Australian National University (ANU) at the conference.

The conference first kicked off with over 100 of the participants pitching some of their ideas around issues they were passionate about, ranging anywhere from tackling the aged-care crisis, funding science, stopping urban sprawl, as well as rebranding sexual health and fighting racism.

This was followed by the “F#ck Up Club”, where each participant was encouraged to discuss their personal and entrepreneurial failings. A common regret that many people had was not taking a risk and trying something new.

“The rest of the conference saw each of us pitch our own ideas that that we were passionate about,” says Brody, “anywhere from education, to indigenous health, climate change and science communication. These sessions gave Mark and me a chance to share our passions and ideas with others, as well as explore issues that we had never considered before.”

Another great touch to the conference was the “Telstra Elevator Pitch” – a real life elevator pitch at the conference venue. “We each had the time of an elevator ride to pitch an idea to a camera”, explains Brody, “with the best pitch winning a prize pack from Telstra.”

With the winner to be soon announced, the videos of the pitches can be seen through the Telstra Elevator Pitch website.

At the “human library”, participants could come and “borrow” a leader for their “story” to be told. From engineers, politicians, even the US Ambassador to Australia, there were many inspirational people to talk to about some of their great big ideas.

Mark says the greatest part of the conference was the opportunity to engage with the other participants, “from simple conversations at breakfast or dinner, to getting into a passionate debate over veganism, or the best way to tackle racism, every single person we met was inspiring, and most importantly, generous with their time. Since the conference we’ve started new ventures with other participants, been to meet-ups, and helped each other tackle issues that we each face in our local communities.”

“It was a very unique experience for Brody and me and we want to thank the ANU for giving us the opportunity to represent it at such a novel platform for exploring youth innovation.”

“If you want to change something around you, statistically, you will be far more successful if you work with others. The question to then ask is, ‘What idea will you share?’”

With plans for Junket 2016 already being made, for more information see the Junket homepage http://junket.junkee.com/ .

By Brody Hannan