Volunteering develops passion for crop genetics and research

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Ellen de Vries with Sally Walford from CSIRO

Ellen de Vries is from regional Victoria, and attended the NYSF in 2014. She is currently studying a double major in Genetics and Food Science with a concurrent Diploma in Languages (Italian) at the University of Melbourne.

“Without the NYSF I would not have had the confidence nor the contacts to discover and develop my passion for crop genetics and research.”

“Since attending the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) in 2014 I have been really fortunate in pursuing the many opportunities offered to me. During the NYSF I met CSIRO researcher, Sally Walford, and she invited me to do volunteer work in her cotton genetics research lab in the summer after I attended the NYSF. This was my first real taste of research and I enjoyed every minute of. It consolidated in my mind that I really loved research and wanted to potentially spend the rest of my life doing it.

Through this experience and the NYSF I really developed my passion for researching plant genomes and genetic manipulation. In my first year of university, this led to me being a research assistant to a PhD student at the University of Melbourne, giving me a better understanding of how research projects work.

At the beginning of 2016 I returned to the CSIRO and spent a week in the wheat genetics lab. I continued to develop my interest in the manipulation and expression of genes in cereal crops – specifically wheat plants.  There is a lot of potential to increase the yield of wheat crops, which would be of benefit to the Australian grains sector, and the economy more broadly .  This volunteer experience has motivated me to contact AgriBio Victoria to seek more lab work in the plant genetics field.

I am about to finish my second year at University of Melbourne, and am hoping to pass and go on to do my honours, and hopefully onto a PhD in cereal crop genetics.

Without the NYSF I would not have had the confidence or the contacts to discover and develop my passion for crop genetics and research. I know my experience with the NYSF is not a unique one and is shared by everyone who attends. The opportunities have been so incredible and they’ve really encouraged me to pursue my passion.”

Science Teachers – hold the date for NSTSS2017

Science teachers considering applying for the NYSF’s National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS) 2017 should pencil in Monday 9 January – Friday 13 January 2017.

The NYSF has run the NSTSS for over ten years, and will again be collaborating with the ANU to deliver another quality program for teachers of science from across Australia.

The NSTSS is part of the NYSF’s suite of programs and coincides with the second week of Session A of the NYSF January Sessions. The synergies between the youth and teacher programs are obvious.

Teacher Mark O'Sullivan - NSTSS Program 2016 (Image: Geoff Burchfield)

Mark O’Sullivan – NSTSS Program 2016 (Image: Geoff Burchfield)

The program for NSTSS 2017 is still being developed, and will be released shortly. For a taste of what to expect, at NSTSS 2016 teacher participants:

  • Learned about the latest developments in science from world-leading researchers;
  • Visited first-class laboratories and teaching facilities at The Australian National University and other sites in Canberra and the region, including the CSIRO, the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station and Geoscience Australia;
  • Toured the National Computational Infrastructure and saw up close the power and interactive nature of modern data manipulation methods and their applications;
  • Spent an evening looking at the stars at the ANU Mount Stromlo Observatory;
  • Learned how to bring science alive in the classroom with presentations and interactive workshops on a range of STEM topics;
  • Participated in a live cross to the CERN Large Hadron Collider and learned about the ground breaking research happening at that international facility;
  • Networked with like-minded peers; and
  • Interacted with 200 of Australia’s leading science students, participating in the National Youth Science Forum 2016.

Previous participants have reported:

“I (now) feel confident to inspire my students into the fields of science and engineering. There are so many opportunities out there and it is our role to ensure they are exposed to these fields.”

“I experienced the thrill of science and was exposed to cutting edge, real science and it was exciting. It enriched my teaching of science, giving me experiences to enrich my classroom teaching.”

The NSTSS 2016 program can be viewed here. To receive information about when applications open, please email nysf@nysf.edu.au

NYSF Alumni wins BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Award

NYSF 2014 Alumni Jackson Huang from Queensland has taken out first place in the 2015 BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards ceremony in Melbourne.

Jackson, a recent high school graduate from Queensland Academy of Science, Mathematics and Technology, investigated the interactions between different heartburn drugs and how they might affect or weaken one another.

Working at the University of Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology, Jackson found that one combination of heartburn drugs involving magnesium hydroxide may be more effective than another combination involving aluminium hydroxide.

As well as finding out why this weakening occurred, he is also trialling an alternative additive.

Winning the award gives Jackson the opportunity to compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the United States.

ISEF brings together more than 1,000 of the brightest scientific minds from around the globe to compete in one of the world’s largest pre-university celebrations of science.

The BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards operating since 1981 are a partnership between BHP Billiton, CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association. The Awards are also supported by Intel Corporation.

Jackson is no stranger to winning awards. When he was just 16, he was named the International Brain Bee Champion after winning a neuroscience competition for young students, 13 to 19 years of age for two years running. He participated in the championship held in Vienna, Austria.