NYSF Rotary District Chair, Stephen Lovison talks about student selections

Rotary, NYSF,

“I honestly had no idea the depth and breadth of the program”

From our larger cities to small regional towns in outback Australia, Rotarians have been super busy over the past few months promoting the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) and conducting student selections for the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program.

We spoke to NYSF Rotary District Chair (DC), Stephen Lovison from Sydney (D9675), about his involvement with Rotary and the NYSF Student Selection process.

Stephen first joined Rotary in 1999 as a Rotaractor and has been president of his Rotary Club, Como-Jannali, twice and served on numerous district boards.

“(I joined Rotary) primarily to give back to my local community and to assist overseas causes championed by Rotary International.  I like the fact that club members are local community leaders, but the beneficiaries of our volunteer work could be anywhere on the planet,” Stephen said.

“When the opportunity for NYSF District Chair became available I decided to try something different. I honestly had no idea the depth and breadth of the program until I got working on it – it’s been challenging and rewarding all the same.”

Rotary Liaison Officer on the NYSF Board, Rob Woolley, estimated that last year Rotarians volunteered more than 20,000 hours to the NYSF in promoting the program and conducting student selections.  Rotary has over 30,000 members, 1,100 clubs in 21 Districts throughout Australia, giving students from all corners of the country the opportunity to attend the NYSF.

“Rotary provides a massive logistic service when it comes to student identification, interview and selection. We rely on our network of business and community leaders to ensure the most suitable candidates are put forward (to district selection),” Stephen said.

This year the NYSF Year 12 Program will be expanding, allowing 600 students to attend in either Canberra or Brisbane.  Stephen added that the program provided a great opportunity for students who were interested in the STEM fields of study.

“Experience and exposure to the top minds and resources in STEM at the level NYSF provides is unrivalled. If you can get access to this as a young person and springboard your career in STEM because of this opportunity, go for it.”

Rotary, NYSF

This year the NYSF is offering 40 Equity Scholarships of $1000 each to students who may need assistance to attend the Year 12 Program.  Stephen believes this will encourage a more diverse range of students to apply.

“There are a number of schools and districts where, for various reasons, a program such as this may be deemed “out of reach”.  In keeping with Rotary and NYSF’s commitment to making the program viable to all students, the Equity Scholarship should hopefully open more doors for these students.”

And Stephen’s advice to students thinking of applying to the NYSF …

“Jump on the NYSF website and do some research, then make contact with your local Rotary Club. We are here to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.”

“In our district, we look for any student with a keen interest in the STEM fields, who is community and culturally open minded, and is willing to share and collaborate with their peers and mentors.”

Stephen said feedback from students who have participated in the NYSF Year 12 Program is a testament to its success and value.

“We have not had anything but praise for the NYSF team and the program itself from every returning student! The phrases “changed my life” “wonderful and challenging two weeks” “would recommend to anyone” feature heavily in the post-program reports sent to DCs.”

“In broad terms, alumni have gone on to various university courses and careers in science, healthcare, astronomy, and engineering. Several have joined Rotaract and/or Rotary and we’re glad to see that investment coming full circle.”

For more information about the NYSF Year 12 Program go to https://www.nysf.edu.au

Superstars of STEM – become a voice for female scientists

STEM, women in science, Science

Superstars of STEM is a fantastic opportunity for female NYSF alumni who are interested in developing their communication, presentation and media engagement skills.

Science & Technology Australia is now accepting applications for the inaugural Superstars of STEM. The professional development program aims to smash society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women in STEM.

Superstars of STEM will support 30 of the nation’s most dynamic female scientists and technologists to become role models for young women and girls, and work towards equal representation in the media of men and women in STEM.

Science & Technology Australia’s, Chief Executive Officer, Kylie Walker, said the program provides a great career development opportunity for female scientists.

“The opportunities that will come from this program will propel these women’s careers, shaping them to become influencers and leaders in their sector.”

Successful applicants will participate in workshops, networking, mentoring, media and public speaking throughout the program

Women from all STEM disciplines are encouraged to apply, in fields including but not restricted to mathematics, technology, biology, medical research, geology, marine science, microbiology, engineering, physics, astronomy, and more.

Applications close 5pm, 23 May 2017.  To find out more or to apply go to  https://scienceandtechnologyaustralia.org.au/what-we-do/superstars-of-stem/

For further enquiries about the program contact Brodie Steel, Project Officer – Superstars of STEM, Ph 02 6257 2891 or email brodie.steel@sta.org.au

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!

Meet Associate Professor Tara Murphy, 1995 National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) Alumna and Astrophysicist

STEM, Science, NYSF, National Youth Science Forum, astronomy

Tara giving an astronomy talk at Monivong High School in Battambang, Cambodia

“My time at NYSF was transformational. I am the first person in my family to attend university and I didn’t have ready access to anyone who could give me career advice. NYSF opened up a window to a whole new world.”

I’m an astrophysicist at the University of Sydney, working on transient radio sources: astronomical objects that vary on rapid timescales. These include extreme events like supernovae and gamma-ray bursts, as well as flaring stars and pulsars. My research is data-driven, I conduct surveys on telescopes like the Murchison Widefield Array, processing terabytes of data to find extremely rare objects in our Galaxy and beyond. I’m also the founder of an edtech start-up company, Grok Learning, https://groklearning.com with the mission of teaching kids to code. I think I have the best job(s) in the world!

When I finished high school I wasn’t sure what path I would follow, but I loved science (and literature, and lots of other things). I ended up choosing a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) at the University of Sydney. My decision was based on two things: advice from the veterinarian I did work experience with in Year 10, who said “if you really love science you should do a science degree” and the advice I got when I attended NYSF in 1995, where the advantages of general science degrees was explained. I really enjoyed my university experience, and I ended up majoring in physics and mathematics, and then went on to do Honours in astrophysics.

Science, STEM, NYSF

With colleagues from AT20G Survey team, arriving at Ayers Rock Airport to be the first CAASTRO Astronormer in Residence at Uluru, with 4 of Tara’s radio astronomy student at graduation last year.

After I graduated most of my friends decided to go overseas for postgraduate study, and so we scattered around the world. I went to Edinburgh with my boyfriend (a computer scientist) and did a PhD in astrophysics. I learned a lot about science, but I also got absorbed by the Edinburgh Festival, travelled around Europe, and went on some fun cycling trips. After a postdoctoral position at CSIRO I got a fellowship and then an academic position at Sydney.

“My time at NYSF was transformational. I am the first person in my family to attend university and I didn’t have ready access to anyone who could give me career advice. NYSF opened up a window to a whole new world.

It (NYSF) had such an impact on me that for 10 years I was Director of the National Computer Science School, a similar program that focuses on IT. The highlight was when a student from the country walked into the Google Sydney offices and said: “Wow, I didn’t realise that jobs like this existed”. That’s how I felt as a student at NYSF, and now I’m lucky enough to have one of those cool jobs I didn’t even know about when I was at high school!

Tara has just released lots of video lectures in a (free) MOOC that may be of interest to NYSF alumni https://www.coursera.org/learn/data-driven-astronomy/lecture/fA0EF/thinking-about-data

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!

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

From the CEO

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2017 January Sessions are now behind us and the 400 Australian and international students who participated have returned home to commence their final year in high school, full of new knowledge, inspiration and friendships to carry them forward during this pivotal time in their lives.

Both Session A and C were extremely successful and a testament to the extensive dedication and support we received from so many people who support our programs.  In particular, I would like to thank our Chiefs of Staff, Meg Lowry (Session A) and Martin de Rooy (Session C), and our teams of student staff leaders, whose efforts were instrumental to the success of program this year.

I would also like to recognise contributions by the NYSF Corporate staff, our volunteer Rotary parents, aunts and uncles, members of Rotary Clubs across Australia, Burgmann College, The Australian National University (ANU), our communications and teacher program interns, our many distinguished guest speakers and particularly our lab visit hosts, who provided access to leading research and industrial facilities. I encourage you to read back through the NYSF Outlook site to learn about some of the highlights from session.

Finally, the NYSF program could not exist without the financial and logistical support of our Partners and Sponsors. I thank them for their contributions during January and their continued support of the organisation and its programs.

Running in conjunction with the year 12 program in January was the NYSF National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS) – aimed at supporting teachers and their commitment to STEM education in their local communities. A group of 40 teachers from around Australia participated in this long-running professional development program. Teachers were exposed to cutting edge science via lab visits, workshops, and lectures as well as engaging and networking with their peers.

Exciting times are ahead for the NYSF as we continue to develop and grow the organisation. In January, our Chair, Andrew Metcalfe AO, announced the addition of a third January session (Session B) for NYSF 2018 hosted at The University of Queensland (UQ), providing an extra 200 places – 600 students in total at the ANU and UQ.  This is made possible through funding from the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). The extra places will give more students across Australia the opportunity to explore their study and career options in the STEM fields. This is evidence of the value of our year 12 program and its positive effect on students studying STEM subjects.

Although January is over, the NYSF engine room is still running hot with much planned for the remainder of 2017 and beyond. Applications for NSYF International Programs have opened with overwhelming interest.  March is looking busy – applications for NYSF 2018 will open on 1 March and will be accepted until 31 May. The Rotary District Chairs Conference will be held in Canberra, and our alumni will be out and about promoting STEM study and the NYSF at the World Science Festival in Brisbane. Our Next Step Programs for NYSF 2017 students will run throughout April to July in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, with alumni events co-hosted by IP Australia. The Student Staff Leadership Program kicks off in July and another first for the NYSF is our exciting pilot program, STEM Explorer, which will run for the in Adelaide in July 2017.  The STEM Explorer Program is a collaborative initiative between the South Australian Department of Education (DED) and the NYSF, targeting science engagement for school students in years 7 and 8. We also acknowledge the seed funding we received to develop this program from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

In other news, we also announced in January that Professor Tanya Monro, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation at the University of South Australia, has taken on the role of NYSF Science Patron.  Professor Monro, a NYSF alumna (1990), was Chair of the NSSS Board from 2014-2016.  We are delighted that Professor Monro will continue her involvement with the organisation. We have also welcomed Professor Sally-Ann Poulsen and Loren Atkins to the NSSS Board. Professor Poulsen is also a NYSF alumna (1986) and will bring with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in industry and academica.  Loren Atkins (NYSF alumna 2005), the new NYSF alumni representative, holds a Bachelor of Law (Hons), and a Bachelor of Science in Geography and Environmental Science, and currently works for the World Bank as an Associate Counsel.

By now, our NYSF 2016 alumni will have made decisions about the next stage of their education.  Whatever field of study or institution you have decided upon I would like to wish you all the best for your future studies and hope that in some small way the NYSF has helped steer you on your path.

Dr Damien Pearce

CEO