Which NYSF group are you in?

Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton are well known scientists but have you heard of Australian scientists Sir Marcus Oliphant, or Dorothy Hill? These science greats along with Professor Elizabeth Blackburn and Marie Sklodowska-Curie, are the names chosen for four new interest groups introduced for January 2015 session.

An additional 80 students will be attending Sessions A and C in 2015 which prompted the establishment of the new interest groups.

Incoming students are required to enroll in an interest area based on where they see themselves in their chosen career in eight years’ time. This then determines the type of lab visits and excursions students will participate in. If for example the student has chosen animal and plan biology as a field of study, they will be placed in the interest group Darwin – named after biologist Charles Darwin. However, all students also take part in activities outside of their interest group, meeting the aim of the NYSF to open up students to new possibilities for their career.

NYSF interest groups are named for the following scientists:

Galileo – Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Italian born mathematician who made pioneering observations of nature with long-lasting implications for the study of physics. He also constructed a telescope and supported the Copernican theory, which supports a sun-centered solar system.

Einstein – Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) was a German born theoretical physicist and philosopher of science. He developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). He is best known in popular culture for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed “the world’s most famous equation”). He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory.

Maxwell – James Clerk Maxwell (1831 – 1879) was a Scottish mathematical physicist. His most notable achievement was to formulate the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, bringing together for the first time electricity, magnetism, and light as manifestations of the same phenomenon. Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetism have been called the “second great unification in physics after the first one realised by Isaac Newton.

Newton – Sir Isaac Newton (1642 –1726) was an English physicist and mathematician (described in his own day as a “natural philosopher”) who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (“Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics and shares credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the development of calculus.

Lyell – Sir Charles Lyell (1797 – 1875) was a British lawyer and the foremost geologist of his day. He set out to prove that all geologic processes were due to natural events rather than supernatural events and that the Earth was extremely ancient rather than the few thousand years old most Bible scholars purposed. Lyell is best known as the author of Principles of Geology, which popularised James Hutton’s concepts of uniformitarianism – the idea that the features of Earth were in perpetual change, eroding and reforming continuously and at a constant rate. This was a challenge to the traditional view, which saw the history of Earth as static, punctuated by occasional catastrophes.

Lyell was also one of the first to believe that the world is older than 300 million years, on the basis of its geological anomalies. Lyell was a close and influential friend of Charles Darwin.

Pauling – Linus Carl Pauling (1901 – 1994) was an American chemist, biochemist, peace activist, author, and educator. He was one of the most influential chemists in history and ranks among the most important scientists of the 20th century. Pauling was one of the founders of the fields of quantum chemistry and molecular biology.

Rutherford – The Right Honourable The Lord Rutherford Nelson, born Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson (1871 – 1937) was a New Zealand-born British physicist who became known as the father of nuclear physics. He discovered the concept of radioactive half-life and proved that radioactivity involved the transmutation of one chemical element to another, and also differentiated and named alpha and beta radiation. It was the basis for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry he was awarded in 1908 “for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances”.

Darwin – Charles Robert Darwin (1809 – 1882) was an English naturalist and geologist, best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors, and in a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.

Florey – Howard Walter Florey, Baron Florey of Adelaide, (1898 – 1968) was an Australian pharmacologist and pathologist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 with Sir Ernst Boris Chain and Sir Alexander Fleming for his role in the making of penicillin. Although Fleming received most of the credit for the discovery of penicillin, it was Florey who carried out the first ever-clinical trials in 1941 at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford. Florey’s discoveries are estimated to have saved over 82 million lives.

Doherty – Peter Charles Doherty AC (1940- ) is an Australian veterinary surgeon and researcher in the field of medicine. He received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1995, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Rolf M. Zinkernagel in 1996 and was named Australian of the Year in 1997. His research in immunology has focussed on how killer T-cells in the body recognise and target viruses. In the Australia Day Honours of 1997, he was named a Companion of the Order of Australia for his work with Zinkernagel. Zinkernagel was named an honorary Companion. He is also a National Trust Australian Living Treasure.

Oliphant – Sir Marcus “Mark” Laurence Elwin Oliphant, AC (1901 – 2000) was an Australian physicist and humanitarian who played an important role in the first experimental demonstration of nuclear fusion and also the development of nuclear weapons. He was awarded an 1851 Exhibition Scholarship in 1927 on the strength of the research he had done on mercury. He studied under Sir Ernest Rutherford at the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory. There, he used a particle accelerator to fire heavy hydrogen nuclei (deuterons) at various targets. He discovered the nuclei of helium 3 (helions) and tritium (tritons). He also discovered that when they reacted with each other, the particles that were released had far more energy than they started with. Energy had been liberated from inside the nucleus, and he realised that this was a result of nuclear fusion.

Hill – Dorothy Hill was Australia’s first female professor at an Australian university, and the first female president of the Australian Academy of Science. She was a geologist, graduating in 1928 from the University of Queensland, with a First Class Honours degree. She studied at Cambridge University for her PhD, and returned to Australia to undertake comprehensive and ground-breaking work dating the immense limestone coral formations of continental Australia, a feat that gave geologists a new way of understanding the age of the continent. After active service in the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service during World War II, she became a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and its President in 1970.

Curie – Marie Sklodowska-Curie (1867 – 1934) was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, (in 1903 for physics shared with her husband Pierre), the first person (and only woman) to win twice (in 1911 for Physics), the only person to win twice in multiple sciences, and was part of the Curie family legacy of five Nobel Prizes. She was also the first female professor at the University of Paris, and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris.

Blackburn – Professor Elizabeth Helen Blackburn, AC, FRS, FAA, FRSN (1948 – ) is an Australian-American biological researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies the telomere, a structure at the end of chromosomes that protects the chromosome. Blackburn co-discovered telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes the telomere. For this work, she was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, sharing it with Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak.


Story: Julie Maynard