NYSF 2017 Session A: Human Centred Computing

Nikola Poli (left) and Declan Rixon (right) in the lab

In Session A, NYSF 2017 participants ventured over to the Research School of Computer Science at ANU for a workshop and presentation on Human Centred Computing.

Human Centred Computing (HCC) is based around optimizing computing for people. It is concerned with the function of the computer just as much as it is concerned with ergonomics and the understanding of humans.

After a short introduction to the basics of HCC, students were free to roam around and the lab and look at some of the devices that the PhD students there had been working on.

Human Centered Computing

They had some pretty cool stuff on display, one being an eye tracking exercise through which you can navigate a computer by eye movements alone.

This technology could have an application for people who are unable to use their hands to navigate, but can also be used to learn what kind of information attracts attention on screen, and what doesn’t.

The eye gazing data can also be combined with measurements of heart rate and endodermal activity, then analysed using deep learning or neural network technology to paint a picture of how the content on the screen is making the user feel.

Eye gazing technology

This is the project of PhD student Chris from the Research School of Computer Science at ANU, who had a bit to say about career paths and life in computer science and software engineering:

“Everybody uses technology. Our graduates go off everywhere to big banks, startups and so on. There are always new ways to apply the way of thinking, and there are a wide range of things that IT can apply to.”

“My work is to research into how people use websites, read emails and so on, but the way you configure it could make it good for many things such as self-driving cars or finding a cancer tumour. The basis is the same – neural networks are able to iterate and learn by themselves.”

There are always new ways to apply the way of thinking, and there are a wide range of things that IT can apply to.

Another cool device they had was the Myo PowerPoint arm band, which when strapped to your forearm can monitor the electrical activity of your nerves and allow you to navigate a slideshow using hand gestures.

Double tap your thumb and index finger to go to the next slide, flick your wrist to go back, clench your fist and turn to zoom it. A built in gyroscope even allows you to use your fingertip as a laser pointer!

A very stoked Tom Wright (NYSF student) learning to navigate a PowerPoint presentation with hand gestures

The students left the lab today feeling pretty blown away I think. Myself included. The work that they’re doing here is super cutting edge and exciting, and I can’t wait for the day that I can write these articles with my eyeballs.

By Jackson Nexhip, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2013 Alumnus

ANU Mathematical Sciences Institute: Gravity, String, and Infinity

Students in the Lovelace interest group for NYSF 2017 Session A were treated to a captivating mathematics lecture, presented by three members of the Mathematical Sciences Institute at the Australian National University.

The first presenter, Chaitanya (Chenni) Oehmigara is a PhD student at the ANU. Chenni is a computational mathematician, she is currently working on modelling gravitational waves that are produced by binary black hole systems – which is where two black holes orbit each other. You can find out more about gravitational waves here.

Chaitanya Oehmigara lecturing the Lovelace interest group about gravitational waves

Modelling binary black holes requires eight parameters, so any attempt to solve this problem by brute force computation is very difficult. Chenni is trying to solve this problem in her research by using mathematical techniques to determine ranges for these parameters, thereby reducing computation time significantly.

Chenni’s research is applicable to other scenarios, such as modelling of flash floods and in mining resource predictions.

Dr Joan Licata’s research takes the age-old adage “how long is a piece of string” to the next level. Her presentation focused on knot theory, the most basic form of which is the study of one-dimensional floppy string loops in three dimensional space. Knot theory in three dimensional space has many applications, including the unscrambling of DNA strands and potentially string theory.

Dr Joan Licata teaching students about three-dimensional knot theory

Joan’s presentation focused on proving similarities and differences between knots, and the concept of rational knots. Joan provided the students with their own knots to investigate and determine whether two knots were different, identical, or reflections of each other.

She then demonstrated how you can make your own knot based on a simple fraction, using turns and rotations to construct a complex structure.

If you want to find out more about Dr Licata’s past and present research, click here.

The lecture was concluded with a presentation by Dr Brett Parker, who is interested in mathematical physics, geometry, topology, and string theory. His part of the presentation focused on contemplating infinity. Brett used the famous Hilbert’s Hotel paradox as inspiration.

Picture this, a hotel with a countably infinite number of rooms, where each room has an occupant. The question is, can Hilbert fit another guest into his hotel?

Brett then extended the paradox. A bus of infinite length with a countably infinite number of passengers arrives at the hotel, can Hilbert assign a room to each passenger? Can Hilbert find rooms for a countably infinite number of infinitely long buses each full with a countably infinite number of passengers?

The answer to the above three questions is, surprisingly, yes. An explanation is provided in this video.

Find out more about Dr Parker’s past and present research here.

The students in the Lovelace interest group were absolutely fascinated by the lecture, and after the lecture finished they seemed to have infinitely many questions for the three presenters.

By Daniel Lawson, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2015 Alumnus.

Session A students visit ANU biology and medicine teaching laboratories

NYSF 2017 students in the Session A health and medical sciences interest groups had an eventful series of lab visits last week.

On Thursday, the students participated in a hands-on laboratory demonstration run by Dr Andras Keszei, the first year coordinator for biology at the Australian National University.

Dr Andras Keszei speaking to NYSF 2017 Session A students

Andras has been involved with the NYSF for the past five years. He thinks that the motivation and enthusiasm of the NYSF student groups is remarkable, and it’s these qualities that fuel his passion to host lab visits for the NYSF students.

The students were introduced to biology equipment used in ANU’s first year biology labs and given a general preparation for laboratory assessment at university.

Andras then presented an interactive activity focused on genetics, in particular dominant and recessive genes. Genetics, Andras believes, is one of the fields that will result in some of the most important biological research in the future.

“We can sequence a genome, but we can’t really fully understand all of the data yet.”

“We can sequence a genome, but we can’t really fully understand all of the data yet.”

Andras’ advice for the 2017 NYSF students who are considering STEM degrees is to not underestimate just how important it is to talk to people.

“You can sit in a room, read books, and get smart. But you really need to talk to people. It’s really understated just how important it is to talk to people. Talking to your peers and lecturers can really help you get a foot in the door for undergraduate research.”

“Talking to your peers and lecturers can really help you get a foot in the door for undergraduate research.”

You can find out more about Dr Andras Keszei and his research here.

On Friday, the students talked to five postgraduate ANU medicine students about the process of becoming a medicine graduate. The postgraduate students identified the hard work and determination that is required, and also praised the ANU’s medicine program, stating that the program was like being a member of a large family.

Afterwards, two representatives from the ACT Ambulance Service provided a brief overview of what it’s like to be a paramedic. Ben is an intensive care paramedic while Quentin teaches intensive care paramedics in his role as a clinical educator. Being a paramedic is certainly no easy job, Ben emphasised, the alternating 10 hour day shifts and 14 hour night shifts makes paramedicine a challenging career.

Despite the demanding hours, Ben and Quentin love their jobs and thrive on the challenges it presents.

Ben and Quentin pictured with their ACT ambulance

The lab visit was concluded with a tour of a standard ACT ambulance, including their lifelike practice mannequin which can hear, speak, and even has a simulated pulse.

By Daniel Lawson, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2015 Alumnus.

NYSF 2015 alumni assisting on NYSF 2017 science visits at ANU Physics

Matthew Goh attended the NYSF in 2015 and was awarded the Love scholarship to study at the Australian National University in 2016, where he is currently enrolled in the PhB Science program. Matt was one of two Australian students chosen to represent Australia at the 2016 International Science Summer Institute, held at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Adrian Hindes is also a 2015 NYSF alumnus, and an alumnus of the 2015 Research Science Institute program at MIT – one of the NYSF international programs. He is a PhB Science student at the ANU and is passionate about plasma physics research. He’s also an avid fencer in his free time, representing ANU in the 2016 Uni Games.

As part of a summer research course, Adrian and Matt are working with the “Advancing Science Education through Learning in the Laboratory” (ASELL) schools project which aims to use hands-on workshops to teach high school and university students about the scientific method. That’s why they are on hand to talk with NYSF 2017 students this year.

Matthew Goh (left) and Adrian Hindes (right) teaching NYSF students about the scientific method in one of ANU’s physics laboratories.

“The ASELL project is designed to show high school and university students what investigation in science really means,” says Adrian, “the process of it – which is both rigorous in the experimental sense – and inherently curious and open. Students in our workshops form their own questions using some materials and a fun science-y thing to work with (such as making plastic from milk, or bouncing balls), and from there they design the experiment and go through the whole scientific method with as little supervision and hand-holding as possible.”

Matt says that being involved in the ASELL program has given him the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills.

“I wouldn’t be able to list them all. After a year of rigidly defined university classes, I’ve jumped into the deep end to join ‘the real world’. From awareness of educational needs, to working effectively with a multi-disciplinary research team, to quantitative data analysis, to planning and logistical thinking, the number of skills I’ve learned on the job has been incredible. Planning, implementing and retroactively analysing a workshop might sound like a simple workflow – but in the real world, countless details have to be accounted for.”

Students producing pseudo-quantum “walker” droplets during the ASELL lab visit.

Adrian says his key message is one of impact. “You’ve heard all the usual advice before, let me tell you something else. Do not discount how much impact you, as an individual, can have in the world. Once you come to terms with that, the next thing you should think about is how incredible things can be achieved by inspired groups of people. One smart person can do a lot; but a group of intelligent, passionate and driven individuals can truly change the world. Also, branch out your interests and don’t forget about politics, philosophy and arts too – we have to all work together!”

“Do not discount how much impact you, as an individual, can have in the world.”

Matt says that attending the NYSF significantly influenced his tertiary education decisions. “The NYSF was critical in getting me to think outside of the bubble I lived in. The experience of interacting with young scientists from around the country and the globe made me far more comfortable with travelling to study – and, liking what I saw on session, I decided to come to ANU. Since then, my wonderful NYSF experience prompted me to take things further, leading me to represent Australia in a similar program held in Israel at the Weizmann Institute of Science.”

“The NYSF experience of interacting with young scientists from around the country and the globe made me far more comfortable with travelling to study.” 

You can find out more about the ASELL schools project here.

Adrian Hindes will be present at the speed date a scientist event to talk to the Session A students about ASELL and his passion for nuclear fusion.

By Daniel Lawson, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2015 Alumnus.

NYSF 2017: Chemistry at ANU

Did you know that the level of vitamin C legally defines the difference between a fruit drink and a fruit juice? Well you do now. The purpose of this definition is to prevent manufactures from watering down their juices, and that’s what some of our students investigated first NYSF lab visit at the Research School of Chemistry at ANU.

The students used a technique called a titration to experimentally determine the concentration of vitamin C in a particular orange juice (to keep those sneaky juice manufacturers in check).

The students added an indicator to their sample of orange juice, then very carefully, drop by drop, added another liquid which consumes the vitamin C and causes a colour change. By monitoring how much liquid they add, they can accurately calculate the vitamin C content.

Maths, maths, maths.

Measuring vitamin C is cool, but you can’t have a chemistry lab without some Frankenstein-style experiments. So next our students synthesized some fluorescein – a substance which gives off an eerie green glow when struck with ultraviolet light.

Here the students learned how to use several new pieces of lab equipment, including analytical scales and oil baths used to heat samples to over 200oC. After several involved steps they added the final ingredient and produced a gooey green substance, which after much poking and prodding on the benches and inside the ultraviolet cabinet, they managed to produce several masterpieces:

The “Curie” interest group and their marvelous creation.

Fluorescent NYSF goo under an ultraviolet light.

The students had a blast on the benches and all learned a thing or two about chemistry and skills in the lab. Knowing the concepts and calculations on paper is one thing, but as they found, performing the experiments and learning the ins and out of the laboratory environment is a whole other can of worms.

The demonstrators at the Research School of Chemistry did an incredible job exposing the students to real bench work in a real lab environment, and each of the students came away not only with huge smiles on their faces, but with a new bag of tricks in the lab and some important bricks to add to their wall of knowledge.

But that’s not the end – they even left with buckets of liquid nitrogen ice-cream. How cool is that?

The faster you stir, the better it tastes.

By Jackson Nexhip, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2013 Alumnus

NYSF Veteran at the ANU: Dr Greg Lane

You could call Dr Greg Lane a veteran of the NYSF; he attended the National Science Summer School in 1986 and has been involved extensively with the NYSF during his time as an academic at The Australian National University (ANU). Greg is a researcher at the ANU Department of Nuclear Physics, a senior fellow of the ANU, and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow.

Dr Greg Lane with the control panel of ANU’s particle accelerator

“The reason I ended up doing what I’m doing today is because I attended the NSSS,” says Dr Lane.  “Initially, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but after the NSSS I realised the scope of careers available in science and studied a Bachelor of Science at the Australian National University.”

He says it’s really important that students study what interests them, rather than what is expected of them.

“If you follow what you’re interested in, the opportunities will follow.”

“If you follow what you’re interested in, the opportunities will follow.”

With so many young people interested in physics, Greg says it is important that they be prepared to move, this is particularly true for nuclear science.

“If you want to do nuclear science, it’s an international endeavour. And there’s no other pure experimental nuclear research in Australia,” he adds. “The only place is here [ANU].”

While nuclear physics is a mature field of research, Greg believes there are still enormous global efforts today. “The applications are becoming more and more numerous. I think nuclear power overseas will become larger over time.”

“Our department is currently in the early stages of a project which aims to join the global search for dark matter, as well as research on nuclear shapes with electron gamma spectroscopy, and a range of other projects.”

Dr Greg Lane during the NYSF’s lab visit to the Research School of Physics and Engineering

After hearing about the Parliamentary Education Office’s Senate Inquiry Session that the NYSF students participated in, Greg emphasised the importance of scientists communicating with politicians and the wider community about their research and its benefits. He is currently trying to make an isotope of Europium more accessible for demonstrations, as he believes that it would be an important educational tool for his workshops.

“You don’t have to look very far to find NYSF alumni at the ANU.”

Greg ended his part of the tour by encouraging students to consider studying at the Australian National University. “You don’t have to look very far to find NYSF alumni at the ANU,” he said.

Find out more about Dr Greg Lane and his research here.

By Daniel Lawson, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2015 Alumnus.

NYSF 2017 Session A: Opening Ceremony

On Wednesday, the participants in NYSF 2017 Session A were off to the Australian Parliament House for the official Opening Ceremony. After the “compulsory” group selfies outside of Parliament House and a wait in the queue for the security check, they found themselves inside the Main Committee Room for a series of talks.

The Ceremony began with Mr Andrew Metcalfe AO, Chair of the National Science Summer School (NSSS) board, who had some fine words for the students making the most of attending the NYSF:

“The next couple of weeks is an opportunity for you to immerse yourself in all aspects of Australian science, the diversity of Australian science, and the opportunity to make friends and contacts from which you will benefit for a lifetime.”

After introducing the program Mr Metcalfe handed over to Mr Steve Hill, Rotary District Governor 9710, who recognised the key role that the students play in the ongoing success of the NYSF, as well as the critical parts they go on to play for the future of Australia:

“The most important thing in the world is our youth, our youth is our future. Every Rotarian in the world now recognises that without the assistance of our youth, us old folks can’t do it.”

“We need you to carry on into the future and to make this world a better place. For the next two weeks take advantage of what you’ve been given. Take all opportunities with both hands and run with them.”

“For the next two weeks take advantage of what you’ve been given. Take all opportunities with both hands and run with them.”

The students also heard from Dr Anna Cowan, Deputy Director of Education at the Australian National University (ANU)’s College for Medicine, Biology, and Environment, and the ANU College for Physical and Mathematical Sciences.

Dr Cowan has covered a lot over her extensive career, specializing in topics such as the central nervous system, cellular nervous systems, receptors and membrane biology, as well as other neurosciences. She is a renowned and esteemed scientist, and assured the students that they were in for good things by coming to the NYSF and following their passion in science:

“NYSF will be one of the most significant choices that will shape your future as a scientist. From my perspective, you’ve made the right choice. Not only in giving up your time over summer to attend the NYSF, but also in following your interest in science.”

 “STEM underpins a differentiated and adaptable economy. And such an economy is what is required in our rapidly changing environment. Automation and technological enhancements will change the work force, however they will also create new jobs. Most of those jobs will require science and technology.”

STEM underpins a differentiated and adaptable economy. And such an economy is what is required in our rapidly changing environment

Dr Cowan is also passionate about teaching and professional development, and dropped some gems that I’d be printing out and sticking to my wall if I were a student at the NYSF in 2017:

“The best scientists I know are those who are motivated by curiosity – by a need to understand their environment and who are driven by the opportunity which scientific knowledge provides to help humankind.”

“I challenge you while at the NYSF to find further insight into the world of scientific research. To exercise and expand your scientific curiosity, and to become an active and engaged member of the NYSF community. It is people like you, and your generation, that continue to navigate the challenges of our world. I wish you a fascinating and inspirational experience.”

It is people like you, and your generation, that continue to navigate the challenges of our world.

After the formal proceedings the students headed off for tours of Parliament House, followed by mock parliamentary debates about energy policy.

The first lab visits for the students are on the horizon – stay tuned for stories of students doing some seriously sciency things.

By Jackson Nexhip, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2013 Alumnus

NYSF 2017 Session A: Welcome lecture

What better way to kick off the NYSF 2017 than with a visit to the Australian Academy of Science – in particular, the iconic Shine Dome itself. Students were off to an early start for the annual photoshoot outside of the Dome. We then ventured inside to be welcomed by the CEO of the Australian Academy of Science, Ms Anna-Maria Arabia.

Ms Arabia outlined the role of the Academy, its philosophy towards science, and learning in general, at the AAS:

“Here [at the Academy of Science] we raise science, we nurture it, from primary schools all the way through to research.”

“Being a scientist has very little to do with what you think, but everything to do with how you think.”

Being a scientist has very little to do with what you think, but everything to do with how you think.

That second thought in particular really struck a chord with the students. It’s good to be reminded that it isn’t which degree you choose or which courses you take that matters, but ultimately how you grow your skills as a thinker and a scientist.

To wrap up Ms Arabia left the students with some sound career advice, as well as an insight regarding the motivation for pushing scientific research:

“I encourage you to think about your passion for science and technology in the broadest of terms, and to be open to the many career paths that may be open to you.”

“There are endless discoveries to be made that can improve our health and bring about a better understanding of the world around us.”

Following Ms Arabia’s introduction we were given a presentation by Professor Linda Richards, Deputy Director of the Queensland Brain Institute.

Professor Richards graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Science and First Class Honours, then later went on to complete her PhD at The University of Melbourne. Her story seems uncommon, and is also quite powerful:

“When I was your age I didn’t think I would finish school. I left halfway through year 11 due to circumstances out of my control. But I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world, and so I needed to continue my education.”

Professor Richards acted on that thought, and now leads a lab group  of 14 people at the Queensland Brain Institute, and spends her time researching how the brain is wired during development. Through her words she displayed a burning passion for her work:

“Being a scientist is one of the most amazing career paths you could possibly aspire to. It is the ultimate way of intellectual curiosity. It isn’t just a job. It is a way of looking at the world. And of solving the big problems that face humanity.”

It isn’t just a job. It is a way of looking at the world. And of solving the big problems that face humanity.

Professor Richards also placed a huge emphasis on legacy, and encouraged the students to think early on about the mark they want to leave on the world:

Scientists around the world are building a pyramid of knowledge. If you can leave a legacy, which is what drives me, then you can make a difference in the world.”

It’s not every day that you come across scientists so passionate and engaged in their work, and so today was a real pleasure. I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself when I say I left feeling energized and inspired to go and do some hardcore science.

By Jackson Nexhip, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2013 Alumnus

Faces of the NYSF 2017: Session A

In this photo above, we have the first of our volunteers supporting the NYSF 2017 Session A students and student staff: from left to right Damien Butler, Kirsten Hogg, Nigel Liggins, and Angela Forthun.

First, let’s meet Damien and Kirsten, both former participants of the NYSF (or the NSSS, back in their day).

Damien is somewhat of an NYSF veteran, first attending the program as a student in 1990, and also attending the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS). He returned as a student staff member in both 1991 and 1992 before being involved in several NYSF seminars as a guest speaker. He started university with a double degree of law and chemistry, but felt attracted to law and now works as a solicitor.

Kirsten attended the NYSF in 1991, and after graduating and completing her postdoctoral studies in physics she took on the world of research as an academic. Now Kirsten works as a secondary school teacher and has been awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award by Queensland College of Teachers (QCT).

meeting all these other brilliant students your age who reflect your interests was a real eye-opener

On the first day of the NYSF 2017 Session A program, I asked them what they thought of returning to the NYSF, as well as how they feel about the NYSF experience as a whole. Their responses were enlightening:

“We were both country kids, and meeting all these other brilliant students your age who reflect your interests was a real eye-opener.”

“There is enormous diversity in the people, and without even mentioning the science the atmosphere of the NYSF was incredible.”

I can definitely relate to everything Damien was saying. Pre-NYSF you rarely have any idea of the types of amazing people and opportunities out there for you. The NYSF is incredible in that you often go to the program alone and as a result have no choice but to grow, and fast.

Since becoming a secondary teacher Kirsten has worked hard to promote the NYSF:

“Often students go to the NYSF alone and sometimes they can come home on a low because nobody in their school understands or thinks of the NYSF as anything special. But it is an incredible experience, and having been there I encourage as many students to go as I can.”

Nigel Liggins and Angela Forthun are attending the NYSF 2017 as Rotary aunts and uncles. They come from different parts of Victoria, and have been involved with the program through Rotary for some time.

Angela Forthun teaches Japanese at primary and secondary schools in Melbourne. She has been involved with the NYSF for the past 12 years, starting out by interviewing NYSF applicants for her local Rotary club and now attending the NYSF 2017 as a Rotary aunt. Angela hopes to learn more about the opportunities the NYSF presents for high school students, with the goal of sharing this knowledge with her local Rotary club in Melbourne.

Nigel is a high school science teacher at Notre Dame College in Shepparton, Victoria. His involvement with the NYSF stretches back to 1988 when he sponsored a student to attend the National Science Summer School. Almost thirty years later, Nigel’s interest in the NYSF has only grown stronger as he returns for his second session as a Rotary uncle.

Partners’ Day is the most important event in the program

“Partners’ Day is the most important event in the program, as it informs students about tertiary options and career paths that they may not yet have considered,” he said.

Damien, Kirsten, Nigel and Angela are providing valuable assistance to the NYSF, underlining the important role that Rotarians and our alumni can play in continuing the work of the organisation that runs the NYSF programs.

They can also dab.

 

By Jackson Nexhip, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2013 Alumnus

and Dan Lawson, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2015 Alumnus

Meet our Communications Interns for the NYSF 2017 January Sessions

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

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

 

Jackson Nexhip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Lawson

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

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

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

Megan Stegeman

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

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

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

Veronica O’Mara

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

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

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

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