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.

Launch for NYSF 2017

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) launched its 2017 January programs earlier this month at the Australian National University (ANU).

Andrew Metcalfe, AO, Chair of the NYSF Board said the January program would be better than ever due to the ongoing support of our funding partners and organisations that facilitated the program.  Mr Metcalfe made special mention of the recent funding announcement by Minister Greg Hunt of funding for the NYSF’s activities through the National Innovation Science Agenda (NISA).

NYSF Chair Andrew Metcalfe speaking at the NYSF 2017 launch

NYSF Chair Andrew Metcalfe speaking at the NYSF 2017 launch

Mr Metcalfe also welcomed our newest Funding Partner, IP Australia, who’s Deputy Director General, Ms Deb Anton, also addressed the group underlining the value of supporting the NYSF as a program that attracts Australia’s next generation of leading innovators. “This aligns with IP Australia’s position,“ she said, “as we are at the forefront of innovation in Australia.”

“Supporting new talent will result in a strong, positive impact in securing Australia’s future as a global leader in science and technology.”

Attendees at the launch included representatives from NYSF funding partners, ANU academics and researchers who assist with the delivery of the NYSF program in the form of the lab visits and guest lectures; other facility lab visit and site tour providers; alumni of the NYSF Program, many of whom are students or graduates of the ANU; NYSF Board and Council members; and the NYSF corporate team.

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Dr. Chris Hatherly, Anne MacKay, Daniel Lawson, Emily Rose Rees, Ellen Lynch

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Prof. Jenny Graves, Deb Anton, Dr. Alison Shield

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Alumni Sam Backwell, Laura Wey,                Mitchell de Vries

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Andrew Metcalfe AO and Deb Anton

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Andrew Metcalfe AO and Deb Anton

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Mitchell de Vries, Natalie Williams,                Merryn Fraser

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Rowley Tompsett, Madeline Cooper,             Melanie Tacey

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Ken Maxwell, Dr. Damien Pearce, Jo Hart

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Tony Trumble, Prof. Jenny Graves, Deb Anton, Adrian Hearne, Brody Hannan

All images:  Emma Robertson

NYSF Alumni news

NSW Minister’s Award for Excellence in Student Achievement

National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2016 alumna, Olivia Flower, received the prestigious New South Wales Minister’s Award for Excellence in Student Achievement in September.

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Olivia was one of 35 students who was recognised by NSW Minister of Education, The Hon Adrian Piccoli, and Mr Mark Scott, Secretary, Department of Education.  The awards are given to students who demonstrate a high achievement in academic excellence, sporting successes, arts, leadership and commitment to the school and education community in NSW public schools whilst displaying values such as integrity, excellence, respect and responsibility.

Michelle Stanhope from the Public Education Foundation said, “These awards are a tribute to the talents, expertise, dedication and tireless commitment to excellence that can be found across the breadth of NSW public schools.”

School Principal of the Northern Beaches Secondary College, Mackellar Girls Campus, Mrs Del Gallo nominated Olivia for the award.

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As co-captain of her school this year, Olivia has been working very closely with Mrs Del Gallo, initiating many community and charity projects.  “I think this work,” she says, “along with my involvement in NYSF and the NYSF Student Staff Leadership Program, led to her decision to nominate me for the award. I was genuinely surprised by the nomination, however, and honoured to have been selected.”

“It was also great to be able to meet the other 12 recipients of the Minister’s Award for Excellence in Student Achievement from all across the state,” Olivia said.

The NYSF would like to congratulate Olivia on her outstanding achievement and we are looking forward to seeing her again at January’s National Youth Science Forum, Session A, as one of our Student Staff members.

Tuckwell Scholars for 2016

Congratulations to NYSF 2016 alumnus Michael Taylor, who was successful this year in being selected as a Tuckwell Scholar at The Australian National University.

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These prestigious scholarships are the result of significant philanthropic support from Graeme and Louise Tuckwell and aim to support students to reach their full potential both on an individual and community basis. Michael joins a number of former NYSF participants who are Tuckwell Scholars on campus at the ANU.

Tuckwell Scholarships are awarded each year – application information is available at http://tuckwell.anu.edu.au

 

Thomas Tsang – an HSC Ninja

Recently featured in regional newspaper, Manning River Times, was former NYSF participant Thomas Tsang. Thomas attended NYSF in January 2016 and is currently in the final stages of his HSC.

What sets Thomas apart is the website that he and brother Kenneth have created, initially as a study aid for themselves. The website is called HSCninja and offers students the opportunity to practice using questions that were used in previous years’ exams.

Kenneth told the Manning River Times, “With HSCninja, users select the syllabus dot point they want to revise, and have instant access to a list of past questions on that topic.”

hsc-ninjaThomas refers to his NYSF experience as providing him with the motivation to make HSCninja available for the general public, after noticing a disparity in the number of students doing STEM subjects in city vs rural schools. He hopes the site will be a valuable resource for rural students, supporting them to continue pursuing STEM subjects.

Anyone interested in Thomas and Kenneth’s cool school tool can click through to the HSCninja website here.

The original article can be found here

NYSF 2013 alumnus Lachlan Arthur

lachlan-arthurlachlan-arthur“The transition from high school to university is one of the greatest periods of flux anyone will experience in their life.  The change in academic environment coincides with ‘learning’ how to be an adult in terms of managing your own time, money and responsibilities, and it also often includes moving away from home and having to develop new relationships with strangers who will become your teachers, mentors and friends.

Now that I am 18 months into my time at ANU, I am glad to say that although the transition to university life for me was somewhat abrupt, overall it went pretty smoothly and I believe this is largely due to the support I have been offered as a Tuckwell Scholar and PhB (officially known as the Bachelor of Philosophy – Science (Honours)) student at the ANU.

I was first offered a place at the ANU the same year I completed Year 12 in 2013.  I decided that deferring for a year was the best option for me as firstly, I wasn’t sure if the ANU was the right place for me (at that stage I had not even visited the ANU – I was one of the last students to attend NYSF Session B at UWA) and secondly, when my family and I received the bill for residential accommodation we were caught off-guard by how much of a financial investment it really is, and it wasn’t a burden I wanted to put on my family for something I wasn’t 100% sure about.

Taking a year off to decide what I wanted to study and was the best thing I ever did

Taking a year off to decide what I wanted to study and was the best thing I ever did, and as long as you can find something productive to do for a year between school and university, it is something I would recommend to anyone planning to attend university.

It was during my year off in 2014 that I applied for the Tuckwell Scholarship and was lucky enough to be offered a spot in the 2015 cohort of scholars.  Being awarded the scholarship, and being sold on the ANU during the Tuckwell interview weekend, sealed my future as an ANU student.  The financial support of the scholarship has made it possible for me to live on campus at John XXIII College, which is definitely the most enjoyable part of my university life.

At college I have the awesome opportunity to live with 300 other students who are now some of my closest friends, and act like my extended family.  Being a resident at Johns meant that as soon as I arrived at the ANU I had people to study, play sport and party with, and it also came along with the added bonus of having a bedroom that is only a 5 minute walk from lecture theatres and labs.

The Tuckwell Scholarship gives me an extra level of support outside of my residential college through the opportunity to be a part of a group of scholars from an array of backgrounds and subject areas, who all have the common goal of using the opportunities they have been given to give back to the world.

Through the scholarship program I am also lucky to have a number of mentors who are always there to offer guidance on any topic when it is needed.  This ranges from my general mentor who is an Associate Professor of Law at the ANU, to my academic mentor who is the Head of the John Curtin School of Medical Research, to my medical mentor (I am also fortunate to be on a guaranteed pathway to the postgraduate MChD medical program at the ANU) who is the Director of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Unit at the Canberra Hospital.  Overall the ANU and the Tuckwell Scholarship have given me a licence to explore my interests and do my best without facing the financial burdens and lack of support that many university students encounter.  After initially considering offers from universities across Australia, Asia and the US, I can unequivocally say I am glad that I chose the ANU, and above all, I am glad they chose me.”

Further information: http://tuckwell.anu.edu.au

 

NYSF Alumni wins 2015 Colombo Plan Scholarship

NYSF alumni Ee-Faye Chong has been awarded a prestigious scholarship to study in Asia and the Pacific in 2015 as part of the Federal Government’s New Colombo Plan.

Ee-Faye was one of six ANU students selected for the scholarship; they are studying a range of degrees in the sciences, International Relations and law.

It’s extremely exciting to be part of this opportunity. I hope I will be able to represent Australia and my university to the best of my ability

Ee-Faye is thrilled to be heading off to Tohoku University Japan. “It’s extremely exciting to be part of this opportunity. I hope I will be able to represent Australia and my university to the best of my ability,” she said.

The selection criteria were not only based on academic skills but also on each student’s leadership qualities and experience with living away from home. “I think what really helped me was having firm goals regarding what I wanted to do on exchange and being able to convey my ideas to the panel. It was invaluable to ask people to proofread my application and practice interview questions with me.”

The New Colombo Plan scholarships, valued at up to $65,000 each, will allow each student to spend up to 12 months at an overseas university, with an optional further six months as an intern.

The New Colombo Plan was launched by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop in December 2013, as a platform for Australia’s engagement with Asia.

Ee-Faye Chong

NYSF Alumni Ee-Faye Chong wins 2015 Colombo Plan Scholarship

 

Alumni giving back to the NYSF at selection time

Milonee Shah, from Sydney has been helping at the NYSF District Selections recently.

“Over the past three years, I have organised and been a guest panelist on the selection committee for the Rotary Sydney District of the NYSF and it has been a very rewarding experience.

“The involvement of alumni on NYSF selection panels has been an increasing trend over the past few years in some areas. Alumni have a personal and relevant understanding of how a student might benefit most from attending the NYSF, and how they might give back to the NYSF community. They also have special insights that can be very valuable for the Rotarians in their consideration of applicants, irrespective of how long ago the alumni attended the program. In my experience, the Rotarians are incredibly grateful for that support, and these connections have led me on to other exciting opportunities enabled through Rotary.

“In 2014, our selection day saw 70 students interviewed, and we were fortunate to have about 15-20 NYSF alumni assist as volunteers through the day.

“As well as being helpful for the selection committee, the alumni also benefit from the engagement … it lets alumni meet others who attended in different sessions and different years, allowing for reconnection with old friends, and new connections to be made. But most importantly, it allows alumni to give back to the organisation and program that has done so much for them.

I encourage all alumni to get involved in their local area

“I am very excited to be a part of this growing trend of returning alumni panelists and I encourage all alumni to get involved in their local area. It’s such a rewarding experience and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it thoroughly!”

If you are an alumni and would like to be involved in your local selections for the NYSF, please email nysf@nysf.edu.au to get the details of your local District Chair.

Be Curious

This month a group of NYSF alumni  launched a new website to help people delve into the inquisitive side of their brain. Aptly named Curious Science, the website’s purpose is to encourage more young people to take an interest in science by making it more accessible, interesting and engaging. The website is a place to share achievements, discuss recent science news, teach one another and find science events and lectures that are free to attend.

The website also aims to encourage more young people to get involved in science camps and programs, such as the NYSF, as a way to kick-start a career in science.

Visit the website at curious.org.au for explanations of scientific phenomena, How-To’s, opinion pieces, and upcoming events every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Curious Science was started by 2014 alumni as a way to share their passion for science. It is a place to record what they have learnt and spread the word about their achievements. Curious Science welcomes all contributions – if you have an article you’d like to write or see written, please let them know!

by Claudia Schipp

Down memory lane

Thanks to Dave Snowdon (NYSF 1998) who got in touch to identify all of the people in this photo, which was published in the July issue of NYSF Outlook. Dave writes,

“The photo is of the session when I was staff. I’m sitting on top of the Kombi. Good times!”

The people in the photo are (left to right, top to bottom):

Matt Wenham, Ashley Norris, David Snowdon, Gavin Uncle, Simon Angus, Emily Tyson, Emma Jamieson, Glenn Gooding, Ewan O’Brien, Sarah Dunning, Lachlan McIver, Rod Jory, Rebecca Shakovsky, Gina Bilenkij

NYSF 1999 Session A student staff

NYSF 1999 Session A student staff

Dave says, “I’m still in touch with a few of the people here… Rod Jory and Gavin Uncle in particular. A truly wonderful group of people — attending NYSF was a pivotal event for me.”

NYSF Alumni — we love to hear your stories. Email amanda.caldwell@nysf.edu.au if you want to let us know what you’ve been up to.