The Right Chemistry — Professor Richard Payne at NYSF 2017 Session A Science Dinner

Richard Payne’s story of his journey from small-town New Zealand, via the Universities of Canterbury, Cambridge and Sydney, to receiving the Australian Prime Minister’s 2016 The Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year, resonated with the NYSF 2017 Session A audience where he was the guest speaker at the Science Dinner.

Professor Payne’s talk was well received not just because his work is world-leading and significant, but mainly because his story was one of perseverance, being in the right-place, right-time, hard work, and a commitment to excellence. From his days working as a trolley pusher while at university, to managing his own research lab and commercialising new drug candidates, Professor Payne entertained the audience, while also providing sound advice about being focused on where you want to go, and being pragmatic when it comes to funding research.

Isabel from Canberra said, “Professor Richard Payne was my personal favourite speaker at the NYSF.  He spoke about his research into antimicrobial resistant superbugs (in particular tuberculosis) which I found really interesting. Having lived in South Korea for two years, where I first learnt about TB, Professor Payne’s talk really resonated with me personally.”

Louis from Sydney also enjoyed Professor Payne’s address. “He enlightened us all on his life journey into scientific research and his ground-breaking research in biochemistry; he has really inspired me to study this field.”

Marilee from South Australia, said, “The most memorable speech at the NYSF was from Professor Richard Payne at the Science Dinner. His achievements at such a young age really inspire and amaze me, with his focus on tuberculosis and superbugs was extremely engaging and educational.”

The generosity of keynote speakers who share their insights and knowledge is a valuable element of the NYSF Science Dinners, and the participants at NYSF 2017 Session A were not disappointed.

Learn more about Professor Payne’s work — sydney.edu.au/science/people/richard.payne.phpwww.scienceinpublic.com.au/prime-ministers-prize/2016physical

Generation Beyond — Lockheed Martin’s STEM Program on Display at Avalon Airshow, Victoria

The first person to visit Mars is in school today. Will it be you?

In an Australian first, NYSF’s major partner Lockheed Martin is bringing its Generation Beyond STEM display to the Avalon Airshow in Victoria next month.

Generation Beyond is an educational program designed to inspire the next generation of innovators, explorers, inventors and pioneers to pursue STEM careers.

With a number of fun and interesting interactive displays, Generation Beyond will take visitors on a journey from today, into the future and beyond and will feature the F-35, the Orion spacecraft and Mars exploration.

Generation Beyond will be open to the public on the weekend of March 4 and 5 at Avalon.

IP Australia at the NYSF

After signing on as a major funding partner for the first time in 2016, IP Australia was actively involved in the program for the NYSF 2017 January Sessions. In both Session A & C, IP Australia ran lab visits for the students, introducing them to the world of intellectual property, patents, trademarking and more.

The site visit included a number of activities, starting with an explanation of intellectual property and why it is so important. As an interactive activity the students were each given a KeepCup and asked to think about the design of the product that made it unique, with relation to Intellectual Property rights.

The students had the opportunity to speak with a number of IP Australia Patent Examiners over afternoon tea to discover more on the work they do there. Finally, to finish off the session, the students heard from an entrepreneur about their experience applying for Intellectual Property rights and protecting their inventions.

For many of the NYSF participants this was an aspect of STEM that they had not considered, but realised just how important it could be to their future careers and endeavours. It also showed them another area where they could potentially use their STEM skills in the future, with IP Australia employing hundreds of scientists, engineers and other professionals, all around the country.

“I enjoyed the light this visit shed on careers I had not previously considered, it offered me a fresh perspective on job opportunities in a work environment that I found appealing,” said Jack Roussos (Session A 2017) from NSW.

Representatives from IP Australia also attended the Opening Ceremony at Parliament House, the Science Dinners, and both of the Partners’ Day events where they presented to all of the students, had a stall at the expo and involved a number of IP Australia staff in the Speed-date-a-Scientist session. You can read more about IP Australia’s involvement in the NYSF here in their own coverage of the events.

Matt Lee (Right) from IP Australia at the Session A NYSF Science Dinner

Newcastle Tea Ceremony

Students from the Newcastle area who recently returned from the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2017 Year 12 Program in January, were treated to an afternoon tea hosted by The Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Cr Nuatali Nelmes.

The Lord Mayor congratulated local students on their achievements and selection to the NYSF program.


“It was my pleasure to host this special afternoon tea recognising the National Youth Science Forum and the number of local alumni who demonstrated the up and coming science, engineering and technology talent in Newcastle’s high schools.”

Also in attendance were Rotarians from local clubs, representatives from The University of Newcastle, local school principals and NYSF alumni, including NYSF 2013 alumnus, Phill Johnson, who was recently awarded Newcastle’s Young Citizen of the Year, and Newcastle City Councillor, Declan Clausen, who attended the NYSF in 2010. Cr Clausen knows first-hand the benefits students can gain from the NYSF program.

“As an alumnus of the NYSF, I know the value it plays in opening doors for young people across Australia in engineering, science and innovation.”

Callaghan College (Jesmond Campus) Student, Meheret Dagemawe, said the afternoon tea with the Lord Mayor was a memorable experience.

“Having the opportunity of meeting the Lord Mayor has allowed me to have an in-depth conversation of my future aspirations, in which Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, took great interest and provided invaluable insight about my choices.”

“The NYSF, although science related, has given me life skills that I could apply regardless of what path I choose to follow. The connections created through laughter and healthy debates with the brilliant minds of like-minded students is what I cherish most. I was also able to take away the most valuable lesson of networking with awe-inspiring scientists and speakers. Going to NYSF has allowed me to widen my career and further study options, it’s enabled me to be able to see different perspectives from a wide variety of people,” she said.

Cr Clausen noted that an additional 200 places will be available for next year’s program and encouraged local students to apply.

“As a region we have been very fortunate to have been so well represented at NYSF in the past, and I strongly encourage young Novocastrians in Year 11 to apply to attend NYSF in 2018,” Cr Clausen said.

Applications for 2018 open on 1 March. Full details at: www.nysf.edu.au

Summer Science Satisfaction for Teachers at NYSF NSTSS

Forty teachers of high school science from around Australia made the most of their own week-long excursion to Canberra in January to re-connect with their inner “nerd” and work out why they were inspired to teach science in the first place.

Participating in the NYSF National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS) offered science teachers with an exciting opportunity to visit a wide range of science and education destinations in and around the Canberra region over the five-day program held each January. Visits included the Canberra Deep Space Complex at Tidbinbilla, the Australian National University’s Mount Stromlo Observatory, CSIRO Black Mountain, Geoscience Australia and other ANU Science facilities. They took part in a variety of hands-on activities that helped them to connect with science in a meaningful way, and also reviewed and shared resources that they could be applied in the classroom.

The NYSF’s NSTSS focuses on scientific engagement rather than exploring pedagogical practice – although no-one can stop teachers talking shop!

NYSF CEO, Dr Damien Pearce explains, “The purpose of the NYSF’s NSTSS is to maintain the spark, or in some cases re-spark, that passion for science that science teachers have when they start their careers. In contrast to other professional development opportunities for teachers, we come from the position that all those who come to the program are great teachers. What we aim to do is show them the latest technologies and discoveries, so they can return to the classroom and share their excitement with their students.”

Another key part of the NYSF NSTSS program is networking. While teachers are able to meet a variety of scientists and researchers during their time in Canberra, they also make meaningful connections with one other.


Long after everyone has gone home, the teachers are continuing to share ideas, experiences and resources. Cornelia Cefai, from Victoria says, “I met almost 40 other teachers searching for something similar at the NSTSS. We learned so much that was awe-inspiring from the researchers involved in the program, but we also gained a wealth of information from each other, such as how to run a fun science class on a budget, or novel ways to deliver the curriculum. Attending definitely reinvigorated my love for and faith in science.”

From practising synthesis and titration skills at the ANU Research School of Chemistry, to feeling the earth move at the Research School of Earth Science, and understanding how – at Geoscience Australia (including the intricacies of the SHRIMP!), the NYSF’s NSTSS continues to meet its goal of engaging teachers of science in the equation of STEM engagement.

NYSF’s NSTSS will run in two locations in 2018 — at The Australian National University and at The University of Queensland. To register your interest for the 2018 program, email nysf@nysf.edu.au

NYSF Updating Amgen Australia

In January, NYSF’s CEO, Dr Damien Pearce, and four NYSF alumni presented to the annual Amgen Australia kick-off event in Sydney.

The Amgen Foundation, the US biotech company’s philanthropic arm, had provided funding to the NYSF in 2016. The presentation was designed to inform the Australian-based staff about the NYSF activities, especially the flagship Year 12 program, and the benefits for the young Australians who attend.

The four alumni — Dr Peter Vella, Anneke Knol, Amanda Ling and Vehajana Janu — all spoke passionately about their NYSF experiences, offering a range of insights about what the Year 12 program covers, their individual experiences, the opportunities that arose from attending, and their subsequent career choices.

Dr Peter Vella, who attended the NYSF in 2003, is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Structural Biology Division at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. Peter studied for his Bachelor of Science and PhD at The University of Queensland, graduating in 2012.

“My work involves discovering new drugs for antibiotic-resistant bugs – to put it simply! So I was really pleased I could participate in this briefing at Amgen. It is good to see private companies being involved in supporting the NYSF, as young people need to know that there are science careers outside of academia. Attending the event with Damien was very interesting. As well as sharing my own experience about the impact of the NYSF, various Amgen staff came to chat with me about their backgrounds, which covered a variety of roles including medical researchers, managers of medical and regulatory compliance.”

Anneke Knol (NYSF 2011) studied Advanced Science (Hons) at The Australian National University, and is currently a Technology Graduate at Westpac Group. “Having the opportunity to talk directly to people in business about the NYSF and its impact was very powerful, and we were very well received by the people at Amgen. Many of them had studied science in the past and were quite passionate about its importance. It was also an opportunity to share stories about the value of a science degree more broadly.”

The NYSF is grateful to Amgen for this opportunity to engage directly with their staff to illustrate the benefits of the Year 12 program and acknowledge the support provided through the Amgen Foundation.

Dr Katie Owens, NYSF 2004 Alumna — A Global Career

Dr Katie Owens attended the NYSF in 2004 and has gone on to have a career in Pharmaceutical research that has taken her around the world.

“Attending the NYSF in Canberra was an incredible experience that I will never forget. I was so inspired by the scientists, Rotarians and other students that were involved in the programme. The NYSF truly motivated me to pursue a career in research. I was also fortunate enough go on the Russian Scientific Study Tour hosted by the All-Russian Youth Aerospace Society as part of the international program, and returned to the NYSF in 2005 as a student staff member.

I count myself very fortunate to work in a dynamic research field with an excellent team of scientists and health professionals. Attending the NYSF played a signficant part in motivating me to pursue an exciting career in science research.

“After finishing high school in Maroochydore, Queensland, I enrolled as a Health Sciences first year student at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. At the end of the year I was accepted into the School of Pharmacy. While studying a Bachelor of Pharmacy, I became interested in research and was able to undertake two summer research studentships during my degree. I thoroughly enjoyed studying at Otago. In my opinion the student lifestyle in Dunedin is second to none. After graduating in 2008, I completed the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand EVOLVE Internship Programme in a community pharmacy in Dunedin.

“In 2010, I received a School of Pharmacy Departmental Award Postgraduate Scholarship at the University of Otago. My PhD project was in the area of clinical pharmacology in patient populations. I also worked part-time as a community pharmacist and undergraduate tutor. I presented my PhD research at several conferences during my PhD (in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Italy).

“After submitting my thesis in 2013, I moved to Paris, France to start a postdoc in the Division of Clinical Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacometrics at the Institut de Recherches Internationales Servier. My project involved developing pharmacometric models of drug response in lymphoma patients, which further developed my skill set and gave me valuable experience in the pharmaceutical industry. On a personal note, it allowed my husband and I to live in Paris, learn French and travel.

The DIDB Program Team at the ISSX Conference, Orlando — Florida (Katie left)

“Since 2015, I have been working as a Research Scientist at the Drug Interaction Database (DIDB) Programme in the Department of Pharmaceutics at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA. The DIDB is an online knowledgebase that is currently used by a large number of pharmaceutical companies, regulatory agencies, contract research organizations and academic institutions worldwide. My role is to manually curate pre‑clinical and clinical drug interaction studies from scientific publications and documentation from the US Food and Drug Administration.

“I count myself very fortunate to work in a dynamic research field with an excellent team of scientists and health professionals. Attending the NYSF played a signficant part in motivating me to pursue an exciting career in science research.”

Carl Pinson, NYSF 2002 Alumnus — A Passionate Science Teacher

Written by Carl Pinson.

In 2001, I was contemplating becoming an Osteopath; I liked the idea of healing using manipulation of the body. Then I achieved a place in the 2002 intake of NYSF. The entire two weeks was amazingly memorable. I met some fascinating characters and enjoyed learning more about the study and application of science. Highlights included visiting the telescope at Mt Stromlo (the big one was still operating until bushfires in 2003), watching people research with lasers at ANU, and participating in a number of thought-provoking discussions and debates.

After that, I was confident that I needed to study something to do with science. I applied for and was granted a NSW Department of Education and Training scholarship to study a Bachelor of Science / Bachelor of Teaching at Newcastle University — this degree offers more than twice the minimum amount of practical teaching, and you’re learning about education all through your degree. I was offered casual work in 2006 before I even graduated, and then was appointed to Chatham High School in Taree.

Working as a teacher is constantly challenging and exciting. I am a people person, so interacting with other like-minded professionals as well as helping inspire and shape young minds is a real positive for me.

Carl (second right) on an excursion at laser tag with his students

Working as a teacher is constantly challenging and exciting. I am a people person, so interacting with other like-minded professionals as well as helping to inspire and shape young minds is a real positive for me. The best teaching experiences I’ve had include coaching the winning team in the 2007 National Solar Boat Regatta at Penrith, going on water bug surveys with Mid Coast Water personnel, and participating in the University of Newcastle Science and Engineering Challenge. I also accompanied students to ANU with Professor Murray Batchelor as part of a Scientists in Schools program through CSIRO. Getting the students out of the classroom helps to show them the relevance of science to their everyday life and also makes teaching much more fun!

I have just finished three years teaching on Norfolk Island, a remote island 1600km from Australia and actually closer to New Zealand! It was a job advertised through the NSW Department of Education and involved a very significant lifestyle change. Activities included scuba-diving, snorkelling on an impressive coral reef, participating in conservation projects and meeting a whole range of wonderful people including the local Flora and Fauna Society. I also urged one of my students to attend the NYSF, which he did at the beginning of 2016. I have enjoyed the opportunities provided in education, and recommend it to suitable people with a lot of patience.

Carl Pinson’s students from Chatham High at the 2007 Solar Boat Regatta

Carl Pinson (right)

Let’s Hear it for the Communications Interns at NYSF 2017!

Every year, the NYSF offers places for alumni to return as volunteer Communications Interns. The role is fairly wide-ranging – to attend various program activities, and report on what occurs during the NYSF, filing stories for the NYSF Outlook blog.

Our NYSF 2017 interns provided an overview of their experience in January:

Jackson Nexhip

Returning to the NYSF triggered some strange emotions; something akin to returning home.

On the surface it seemed as though it should have been an entirely different experience; I was a few years older, I was in Canberra this time rather than Perth, and was returning somewhat as staff rather than student. But despite the differences, the NYSF spirit was alive and well.

You learn so much at the NYSF that you can almost feel your mind expanding. Just like in 2013, the presentations and institution visits were of an extremely high calibre – it was humbling and inspiring to be so out of my depth in so many different fields.

The intellectual side was great, but I think the best part was the opportunity to hang around with and get to know the NYSF 2017 students. I think that as the years go on you lose sense of the impact the NYSF can have, and having the chance to chat and get to know the students brought back all kinds of nostalgia.

I really admired the energy, curiosity, and sheer determination of some of the students, and it left me feeling somewhat inspired to go and do bigger things in my own life. It’s a huge privilege to meet these young scientists and future leaders, and I look forward to seeing them do all kinds of crazy things as the years roll on.

The media intern position is a sweet gig, and I’d highly recommend it for any students with an interest in writing and/or science communication (I don’t think I need mention the longing to return to the NYSF). The media team are very supportive, you’ll have a lot of fun, and you’ll learn a lot.

Daniel Lawson

“Writing about the NYSF experience was an amazing opportunity and I’d definitely recommend it to any NYSF alumni interested in science communication and science education. Most of all, attending the NYSF 2017 as a communications intern confirmed my confidence in the future of Australian science. To see 200 young scientists build lifelong friendships reminded me of my own session, and I realised that although the names and faces had changed, the students’ attitudes and passion for science had remained just as strong.

Being a communications intern also gave me a unique perspective on the NYSF, as I was able to chat with students and academics about their interests and goals in science, I was also able to observe how being there changed the students. When you attend the NYSF, the experiences and moments you share with 200 other passionate science students changes you. Personally, I didn’t realise this until my local Rotary club of Murgon mentioned how much more confident I was after attending the NYSF. It was an amazing opportunity to be able to witness these transformations in students at the NYSF 2017 as they grew into (more) confident young scientists.

Megan Stegeman

The NYSF science communications internship was an amazing two weeks. Being back at the NYSF was exciting enough, but witnessing how it is organised, and the amazing work that went on behind the scenes, gave a real appreciation for my own session.

My own NYSF experience meant that I understood and knew what to expect in the program, which I think is an advantage when trying to work in such an exciting and (as all alumni remember) unique environment. The work was fun, going to lab sessions and lectures and writing them up, and the environment was supportive and friendly. I was encouraged to take lots of photos, and especially to develop my own style of writing, which I’m sure is not common across all internships.

Watching the participants learn new things, and witnessing some of them in their first professional labs was rewarding in itself. I saw students in a pathology lab use the mechanical pipette for the first time, and it occurred to me that that participant could go on to be a great scientist, and it was here that they got their first lessons.

I would recommend this internship to anyone and everyone, I think it’s an amazing opportunity, that I hope others will realise and take advantage of as well.

Veronica O’Mara

Coming back to the NYSF as a Communications Intern in January 2017 was a wonderful experience. It was incredibly useful hearing similar things to what I heard three years ago but without the HSC looming over my head. Coming back reaffirmed my decision to study science and major in genetics and molecular biology and made me much more sure of my choices and of myself.

My favourite event on session was the Science Dinner with Professor Emma Johnston’s address. It was incredibly encouraging as a woman studying in STEM and definitely demonstrated to me that many people such as Professor Johnston who have achieved incredible things and are doing so well in their chosen field still have doubted their ability in themselves. I think this was definitely something that also resonated with the participants, leaving them with an important message, “To believe in those who believe in you,” when you are doubting yourself.

Being an NYSF Communications Intern provided us with a unique opportunity to experience the NYSF again as well as to gain some valuable skills in science communication. It was wonderful to be given a lot of freedom in our writing styles and what and how we wanted to record the session.

It gave me a chance to develop my communication skills which is extremely important in any career in STEM. Without good communication skills, there is little point in research. You have to be able to effectively communicate your ideas to others in an accessible way.

My experience at the NYSF this year has definitely shown me that studying a science degree was the right path and reaffirmed my goal of completing a PhD in medical research, but has also opened up more possibilities in science communication and outreach.

If you are an NYSF alumni and would like to register your interest in returning to the NYSF in 2018, where there will be six positions on offer, email communications@nysf.edu.au

Awards & Recognition: NYSF Alumni in the News

Here at the NYSF we love to see all of our NYSF Alumni following their passion in their studies, careers and communities. It’s also fantastic when they are formally recognised for their hard work and over the past months a number of NYSF Alumni have been recognised with formal awards and scholarships.

Simon McKenzie (NYSF Alumnus 2010), who is currently completing his PhD with the ANU in the field of computational chemistry, has received a Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship aimed at supporting exceptional students pursuing post-graduate study. The scholarship includes a nine-month leadership development program as well as an international experience for up to six months.

Jasmine Elliot — NYSF 2017 Alumna

Several former NYSF participants have received Young Citizen of the Year awards in their respective regions. Jasmine Elliot, who completed the program this January, has been named Young Citizen of the Year by the Gladstone Regional Council at the Australia Day awards ceremony on the 25th of January. Jasmine is involved in several groups including the Gladstone Region Youth Council and the Headspace Youth Reference Group. She is also nominated for another award in the Access Community Services and Multicultural Youth Queensland Cultural Diversity Awards which will be announced on May 5th.

Within his own region, Phillip Johnson (NYSF Alumnus 2013) was named Young Citizen of the Year by the Newcastle City Council. This is thanks to his advocacy for students on a range of different issues. Phil currently attends the University of Newcastle, studying Civil Engineering, where he has taken on the role of Student Association President.

Katie Rae (NYSF Alumna 2014), who is an active member of the Toowoomba Guiding Community, has also been honoured with the Young Citizen of the Year award within her own region. And in the region of Cowra, it was Maddison Johnson (NYSF Alumna 2016) who took out the same award owing to her representation of Cowra at several local, state and international events. Maddison has been an active Youth Council member for the past 3 years, was lucky enough to be chosen as one of just six Australians to attend the United Nations Global Youth Leadership Forum held in the United States and was the Lions Youth of the Year and Youth Peace Ambassador in 2016.

Olivia Flower — NYSF 2016 Alumna

Ben Kenworthy (NYSF Alumnus 2016) is one of 14 year 12 students featured in an ABC TV documentary, My Year 12 Life. The program follows the 14 students through their year 12 at high school via a video diary. Insightful and informative, you can catch it through the various ABC TV platforms.

Olivia Flower (NYSF Alumna 2016 and student staff leader 2017) was awarded the Ken Ward Memorial Scholarship in herhome community of Freshwater in Sydney’s northern suburbs. The scholarship goes towards her university costs and recognises Olivia’s academic achievement, leadership, community service, charitable and voluntary work, and sporting prowess.

We would like to congratulate all of these alumni for their outstanding achievements.