High achievers join ANSTO Graduate Development Program in 2015

Fourteen new graduates, who have been singled out for their talent and potential, have just commenced a two year leadership program at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). The program provides them with professional development and hands-on experience in the nuclear science and technology industry.

2015 ANSTO Graduate Progam participants, with Dr Adi Patterson, CEO of ANSTO

2015 ANSTO Graduate Progam participants, with Dr Adi Patterson, CEO of ANSTO

The graduates spend the first two weeks learning about ANSTO operations, spend time with the leaders who will act as supervisors and mentors,and take part in special activities and routine induction procedures. Individuals from across the organisation provide presentations. They also commence leadership training and career development.

Learn more about ANSTO’s graduate development program

“NYSF is a four letter word!”

This January, Session C will hear from NYSF alumni and academic Dr Neeraj Sharma from the University of New South Wales during Partners’ Day.  Here’s a bit about Neeraj…


“Summer of 2001 was when I discovered that scientists are very cool – they get to discover completely new things and play with complicated and funky pieces of equipment. Most importantly, they were others like me who loved science and loved finding out about how things work (and making them better). People often ask me what got me into science and I would say two things – my high school science teacher and the four letter word, NYSF!

People often ask me what got me into science and I would say two things – my high school science teacher and the four letter word, NYSF!

After attending NYSF in 2001 (and while being a Staffie in 2002), I studied a Bachelor of Science at the University of Sydney and spent a year on exchange at Uppsala University in Sweden – study abroad is an awesome experience that I would recommend to all. I continued on to do Honours and a PhD at the same institution working on new materials for solid oxide fuel cell applications and ones that show weird-types of magnetism. Then I moved to ANSTO as a post-doctoral fellow, essentially irradiating batteries with neutrons and trying to figure out how to make better batteries – so our phones can last longer and we can all drive around in electric vehicles. Now I am a lecturer in Chemistry at UNSW, teaching, making new materials and trying to make new and better batteries. I also dabble in making materials that contract when heated and room temperature superconductors (I wish).

Neeraj Sharma

Neeraj Sharma

One thing NYSF has instilled into me is the need to communicate the science that I do – so I am involved in a number of outreach activities. I also enjoy making science fun and exciting and am often amazed at the types of questions I get from audiences! All in all, NYSF was an eye-opener and I am so glad to be a part of it from the scientists’ perspective now – to encourage students to do what they love (or at least appreciate what they love even if they end up elsewhere).

So if you’re an NSYF-er and find yourself at UNSW, pop by my office for a coffee =). Did I mention I met my wife at NYSF 2001?”

Governors’ receptions recognise NYSF students

NYSF is fortunate in the support it garners from the state governors across the country, who kindly host our students at receptions, where possible, as part of our Orientation activities. These receptions acknowledge the work the students have done to date and their achievement on being selected for the NYSF, reflecting the importance of science education and learning to our wider community.  Invited representatives from NYSF funding partners also attended the receptions in each state.

This year, our NSW students were privileged to be welcomed by the outgoing Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO in one of her last official events, and in South Australia, newly appointed Chair of the NYSF, Professor Tanya Monro attended the reception held by the incoming Governor of South Australia, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AO.

We extend our thanks to all involved in hosting these receptions, including parents and teachers who ensure the students can attend, and the staff at each Government House.

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Free lecture at ANSTO – Professor Fiona Wood – Tuesday 4 November

STANSW and ANSTO are delighted to host Professor Fiona Wood for a special guest lecture. Professor Wood is well-known for her patented invention of spray-on skin for burns victims, a treatment which is being continually developed and was used to treat 28 patients badly burned in the 2002 Bali bombings.

Professor Wood will discuss the challenges of harnessing advances in science and technology in clinical practice.

Science students, teachers and members of the public are encouraged to attend.

When: Tuesday November 4, 4-5.30pm

Where: AINSE theatre, ANSTO

Cost: Free

Bookings and more information: http://anstofionawood.eventbrite.com.au


The last Next Step was Sydney

The 2014 Sydney Next Step program ran in early July this year and 74 students attended over the course of the three days of the program.  Visits were made to partner organisations Cochlear, Orica, ANSTO, the University of Western Sydney – Campbelltown and Richmond campuses, and the University of New South Wales.

True to its aim of showing students real-life experiences of science, technology and engineering study and careers, the Next Step Sydney visits provided insights and examples of what they could expect in the coming years if they chose to attend these universities and work in these kinds of fields.

At Orica’s Water Treatment Plant, students visited the various parts of the facility before doing a hands-on water filtration activity.  Student comments included:

A very interesting and fascinating presentation. Really enjoyed the tour and titration was great.

Engineers are quite different from scientists.

I learned about … the actual role of a chemical engineer, which was really helpful.

I absolutely loved the visit to the Cochlear factory

At the Cochlear factory and research facility on Sydney’s north shore, the students gowned up and were shown through the factory to learn about the very specific and detailed work that is involved in making the Cochlear products.

I absolutely loved the visit to the Cochlear factory. … I particularly loved hearing from the engineer who was one of the first to develop the cochlear implant; it was incredible to be able to see the continuous development that has been going on but also to be able to understand the origins of the project and to see the way that the concept was developed into a reality.

I learned … how many different types of scientists and engineers are involved in the development and production of bio-medical technologies.

Visiting the ANSTO Discovery Centre is always popular with NYSF students, and this year was no different.  The tour through the OPAL reactor was regarded a highlight, as was the opportunity to speak to the scientists working there.

It was wonderful to see the incredible work ANTSO is doing. Was very interesting to learn just how much of an impact this organisation has on our everyday lives, and how their work is extremely beneficial to Australians and those all over the world.

I was very excited to visit ANSTO as I had been there before with school, however the tour and presentation they gave us was definitely more interesting and engaging than the one I had heard before. I really enjoyed having tour guides who were so knowledgeable and were able to answer all of our detailed questions about the reactor and what they do there. I especially loved how much passion all the staff had and their friendly nature as it made the experience personal and therefore more enjoyable.

The visit to the University of Western Sydney was divided into two sections.  In the morning, students visited the Campbelltown campus and toured the anatomy, physiotherapy and nanotechnology departments.

There is some wonderful work going on at UWS

There is some wonderful work going on at UWS; especially in the nanotechnolgy and imaging laboratory. I was astounded as to how numbers and figures can translate into knowledge expansion and, in turn, result in a more informed scientific generation. Witnessing first hand how they image particle movement is something I would never dream of having clearance to back in rural Queensland. The anatomy lab visit took me to a whole new world, one that I could never experience in my own biology class. We learnt from scientists that were specialists in that area specifically how the body is structured to function perfectly. We found the intense passion they held is what we all desire, which really relit a spark of inspiration within all of us.

 It was an incredible opportunity to be exposed to an anatomy lab so early on. It was an experience that would definitely never have been open to us if we had not attended NYSF, which makes me even more grateful for all that the NYSF has done for me and all of us year 12 students.

In the afternoon of the second day of the program, the students travelled to the Richmond campus, visiting the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environmental Sciences, organised on behalf of NYSF Partner, the Grains R&D Corporation.

It takes a lot of work to monitor and learn more about the environment! You have to be so careful of so many factors that can influence the environment.

I found a lot of the experiments and projects extremely interesting and discovered that while it may not be the area of science I want to be in, I am really interested by the research that is going on in this area.

I learnt a lot about environmental research being undertaken. I never knew it was so comprehensive – the amount of research that is going into climate change.

A full day at the University of New South Wales rounded off the Sydney Next Step, with visits to a wide range of science and engineering labs and facilities as well as talks from UNSW Student Ambassadors.

The students were really interesting and spoke eloquently and all the lab visits were awesome! Biomed was good because we had hands-on work rather than just talking. Medicine was good because the student speaker organised his information well so he was easy to listen to, but I found the whole process of medicine, even though I already knew lots about it, more daunting after listening to how difficult it is to get in the UNSW medicine. Psychology was absolutely amazing because the speaker made me thing about new concepts and got me even more interested in psychology.

 The lab visits like Chemistry and Civil engineering were extremely good and I loved how we were told a little about the department and careers in that area but also go to do some hands-on activities. It was much more engaging and interesting.


Be inspired, become inspiring

As the home of nuclear science and technology in Australia, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) offers a unique and exciting opportunity to work alongside and be inspired by some of Australia’s leading researchers.

Thousands of Australians benefit from work undertaken at ANSTO every year. Our scientists use nuclear research techniques to answer some of the big questions facing society today. Challenges such as understanding our environment, mapping the brain, treating and preventing diseases such as cancer, and reconstructing our world with better materials are just some of the issues ANSTO scientists tackle.

For more information about a career at ANSTO look at the Careers section of the ANSTO website www.ansto.gov.au

NYSF students visited the ANSTO OPAL facility as part of the Sydney Next Step program in July 2013

NYSF students visited the ANSTO OPAL facility as part of the Sydney Next Step program in July 2013


ANSTO Graduate Program seeks new intake of applicants

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) Graduate Program is run every two years. The next intake of graduates will be in February 2015 (recruitment campaign began in March 2014). – See more at the ANSTO website.

Helen Maynard-Casely ANSTO

Dr Helen Maynard-Casely attended the Session A Partners’ Day on behalf of ANSTO.  She is an Instrument scientist at ANSTO and holds a MSc Planetary Sciences (University College London, UK), PhD in Physical Crystallography/High Pressure Physics (University of Edinburgh, UK)

Helen Maynard-Casely was hooked by planetary sciences as teenager when she saw a TV program that told of planets and moons in our solar system with exotic geological materials unlike anything found on earth.

Her undergraduate planetary sciences degree introduced her to crystallography, where neutrons and X-rays are used to detect the structure of materials on an atomic and molecular scale. The technique played a starring role in her PhD in Scotland, where she continued to follow her passion for extra-terrestrial materials.

Maynard-Casely’s research recreated the extreme high pressures found on Uranus, Neptune and Titan to synthesise the materials found there, probing them in detail using crystallography. Now at ANSTO, she uses WOMBAT, one of the most powerful neutron diffractometers in the world, to investigate the geology of the moons of Jupiter.

As a crystallography expert, she also helps other scientists and is currently working on projects in renewable energy and forensic science. She loves the variety in her work, collaborations with interesting people and opportunities to work around the world. “I genuinely believe I have the best job in the world,” she says.

She advises students interested in a career in science to keep studying maths and is grateful for “awesome” advice from a family friend who persuaded her not to drop the subject when she was 16.

“It really kept my options open when choosing uni courses,” she says.

NYSF Partners’ Day 2014


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Three Partners’ Day mini-conferences were held during the January Sessions, offering a valuable opportunity for NYSF Partners and Supporters to present information to each of the Sessions’ students.  These days have very full programs with speakers presenting about their careers, organisations and fields of enterprise.  Further opportunity was provided for students to talk with the presenters at the Expo Session held in the afternoon of each Partners’ Day, as well as at the Science Dinner held that evening.




 Dr Alison Edwards, from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, has hosted NYSF students on site at ANSTO as part of the Sydney Next Step program, and presented to the 2014 Session C cohort of students.

Dr Alison Edwards from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation at 2014 NYSF Partners' Day Expo, Session C

Dr Alison Edwards from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation at 2014 NYSF Partners’ Day Expo, Session C

“This is my favourite thing to do as outreach for my employer,” says Dr Edwards.  ”The NYSF is the single best way you have to showcase your organisation to engaged senior high school students across the country.”

For information on becoming an NYSF Partner or Supporter, contact Amanda Caldwell.


NYSF International Program helps direct career plans

Sydney NYSF student Jonathan Li attended the Research Science Institute (RSI) in Boston as part of the National Youth Science Forum’s International Program in July this year.

Selected from 112 competitive applicants for the International Program drawn from NYSF’s January Sessions in 2013, Jonathan says, “I couldn’t believe my luck when I was offered the chance to go to Boston.”

Jonathan conducted a research project in computational biophysics, researching RecA, a recombinase protein that assists in DNA repair.  His work at Harvard was supervised by Professor Mara Prentiss and Dr Claudia Danilowicz.

Jonathan Li (r) with fellow student, Stephen Ban (l) from Utah in the US

“I was applying force across DNA strands and observing the binding/unbinding rates of RecA from the DNA in different conditions. During this research, I discovered that the homology search for DNA repair sequences occurred faster in adenosine diphosphate due to a structural change provided in ATP hydrolysis. This information helps us to understand how DNA repair and meiosis occurs on a basic level in the human body. From these results, I was able to put together a scientific paper and present it to scientists from nineteen different countries.”

“I didn’t think I would be able to top the NYSF January experience as it allowed me to form incredible bonds with the other students.  Attending RSI in Boston just extended the opportunity for me.

Being involved in both programs confirmed my interest in pursuing physics and biology

“Being involved in both programs confirmed my interest in pursuing physics and biology studies, and I hope my career will continue in these fields. I have also realised the importance of skills in computational science and mathematics in this area, and I will be pursuing these subjects in college.”

Jonathan’s attendance at the Research Science Institute in Boston was supported by NYSF Partner, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).