What’s happening at the University of Melbourne? News and Updates from Parkville


Course Information Day is a great opportunity to hear first-hand what STEM related opportunities exist at the University of Melbourne. The event will run on Monday 18 December, where you can ask questions about our Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics courses and have a tour of our campus and residential colleges.

The University of Melbourne offers through its Melbourne Model, the opportunity to create your own study path in over 41 different areas of Science through our Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Biomedical Science degrees like in areas such as Biology, Chemistry, Animal Health and Disease Management, Physics and Physiology.

Register to attend our Course Information Day here!


Since 1948, futurists have warned about the impact automation could have on the human workforce, and now those changes are becoming a reality. Does it mean a re-think about what jobs humans can do better than machines?

Technology is destroying jobs, says Dr Greg Adamson, an expert in the social impact of advanced technology. There can no longer be any doubt about that hard fact of life in the 21st Century. The process is now inevitable, as automation, robotics and artificial intelligence embeds deeper into our society.

But with robots and automation proliferating – and with traditional jobs disappearing – what opportunities are there for humans in this new age?


After heart disease, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world – 8.8 million people lost their lives to cancer in 2015.

A generation ago, one in three people in the developed world were diagnosed with cancer; in some countries it is now approaching one in two. Low- and middle-income countries are also severely affected – with the majority of cancer cases now presenting themselves in these countries.

Why despite the great strides in medical knowledge, does the world continue to struggle in finding a cure for cancer? This episode of The PolicyShop addresses this question with two world leading experts.

Nobel Laureate, Dr Harold Varmus, currently the Lewis Thomas University Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, who formally served as the Director of the National Institute of Health and as the Director of the National Cancer Institute in the United States and Associate Professor Sherene Loi, head of the Translational Breast Cancer Genomics Laboratory at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne join the host Professor Glyn Davis, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne.

You can find the podcast on iTunes or listen on our website, here!


With the rapid advancement of science, ethical dilemmas arise frequently. These range from the use of embryonic stem cells or animals in research, deciding how much power to give robots and artificial intelligence, how far to go with clinical trials in humans or using modern technology to decide whether one should turn off the life support of someone in coma.

Though science is not infallible, it is essential that scientific research is pursued with integrity and transparency and to the highest possible standards. Scientists owe this dedication and honesty to their pursuit of truth and to the tax-payer who both funds and is the beneficiary of the research.

At this forum, five internationally renowned scientists working in different fields will address some of these ethical issues and answer questions from the floor.

This Q&A type session will be moderated by Bernie Hobbs from the ABC (The New Inventors).

Register to attend our Ethics in Science forum here!


It’s 2040.

As you wake and look outside, things might not look hugely different to 2017 – there aren’t any hoverboards or sky highways – but Australian cities have managed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent.

And how your day unfolds will look very different depending on how we reached this point.

How can Australia meet its cities energy needs whilst also meeting the country’s clean energy targets?

Read more about this article here!

NYSF 2017 Session A: Partners’ Day Expo

After the Partners’ Day presentations the students gathered for the Partners’ Day Expo , where they were able to meet, chat and network with representatives of the NYSF partners.

The students were able to meet reps (and the presenters) from Lockheed Martin, IP Australia, UNSW Australia, Monash University, Melbourne University, Australian National University, University of Queensland, CSIRO, CSL, Resmed, and Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

The one-on-one conversations with the representatives proved to be valuable for the students – they got their questions answered and expanded their horizons in terms of career choices and opportunities.

All of the students were obsessively engaged in conversation that evening, but I managed to pull two aside for a quick chat about their thoughts on the expo.

“It encourages people to think and create change, and I’m a big advocate for creating change.”

“IP Australia really stood out for me” said Sharon Nguyen. “People are coming up with new ideas all the time, and so the work that they do at IP Australia is important because they can protect it. It encourages people to think and create change, and I’m a big advocate for creating change.”

“Before NYSF I wanted to do occupational therapy, then through talking to NYSF friends and the presenters I realized there was a whole world of opportunity and options out there that I hadn’t thought of.”

Sharon Nguyen with Matt Lee (Assistant Director of Strategic Communication, IP Australia)

As well as career choices, the conversation with the university reps in particular also illuminated life as a tertiary student. It seems as though it not only helped inform the students, but also sparked some excitement.

“Talking to all the presenters and other professionals has got me really excited to start university and the next stage of my career.”

“[Partners’ Day] made me realise how many options are out there, and it got me thinking about and considering many different universities” said Danyon Farrell.

“I’ve always wanted to do a double degree but I wasn’t sure, but after hearing the talks today it really made it obvious how valuable they are and the opportunity that they open.”

“Talking to all the presenters and other professionals has got me really excited to start university and the next stage of my career.”

One happy Danyon Farrell

By Jackson Nexhip, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2013 Alumnus

University of Melbourne News – two new science majors

The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Science has recently added two new majors to the Bachelor of Science: Data Science & Environmental Engineering Systems. Each new major is being introduced to offer students the opportunity to combine a number of disciplines to lead to new combinations of knowledge and skills.

Data Science Major

Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in the amount of data available worldwide. Trillions of bytes are now captured daily from mobile devices, web logs, sensors, and instruments. Organising and making sense of this information requires distinctive new skills. The Data Science major has an emphasis on statistics and computer science. It will support students in developing a strong foundation in the statistical aspects of data analysis (data collection, data mining, modelling and inference), as well as the principles of computer science (algorithms, data structures, data management and machine learning). This major is designed to provide students with an intellectual understanding of how to integrate and apply statistical and computing principles to solve large scale, real-world data science problems.

Careers – through this major, students will develop skills in business, technology, mathematics and statistics, all of which are increasingly important in research and industry. This may lead to careers in:

  • Information technology and communications
  • Research and education
  • Health and medical industries
  • Business and financial services
  • Sales and marketing
  • Engineering and mining
  • Climate and weather forecasting
  • Government

Graduate Pathways – students with a major in Data Science will be well prepared for graduate study in the newly-launched Master of Data Science, as well as the Master of Science (Computer Science) and the Master of Science (Mathematics & Statistics). You might also pursue graduate study in fields such as software engineering.

Environmental Engineering Systems

There is a steady demand for engineers who work at the interface of engineering technology and bio-physical and natural environments. The Environmental Engineering Systems major focuses student learning on the interactions between physical materials and processes, and human and non-human organisms. Students who successfully master these tools will be in a strong position to apply them as environmentally literate scientists in industry, or to continue their study in the field of environmental engineering to become a professional engineer.

 Bachelor of Science – Science and Technology Internship

A reminder that Bachelor of Science students can now undertake a Science and Technology Internship subject which will offer real experience working in a science or technology related workplace. The internship will help students to identify and articulate their knowledge and skills and apply them to relevant contexts and work-settings, produce original work in an appropriate format which demonstrates analytical, research and problem-solving skills, understand the value of industry and professional networks and their importance to lifelong learning and career progression and develop greater confidence in their ability to contribute to a science-related workplace, awareness of the strengths they offer to a future employer as well as areas to further develop beyond their degree.

To learn more about his exciting new subject, click here: http://science.unimelb.edu.au/students/enrich-your-studies/science-technology-internship.

If you have any questions or require more information about the University of Melbourne, please contact Nicky Haslinghouse via hnicola@unimelb.edu.au

“It’s fantastic that a PhD in science will be recognised internationally…”

As Danika Hill headed off to the National Youth Science Forum in January 2004, she knew she loved science and was enjoying studying chemistry and physics at high school. “I was fascinated by medical research, but was unsure about selecting it as a career because I hadn’t studied biology at school.”

Danika Hill WEHI

Danika Hill at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI)

Attending lab visits during the NYSF to institutions such as the John Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU solidified her decision to pursue a career in medical research. “Many Australian universities offered several types of science degrees such as Laboratory Medicine, Molecular Drug Design, Biomedical Science etc. but I wasn’t sure which one was for me. It was through attending NYSF that I was given the advice to choose a Bachelor of Science, and to try out many different science subjects that were on offer.”

“It was through attending NYSF that I was given the advice to choose a Bachelor of Science, and to try out many different science subjects that were on offer.”


In 2005, Danika embarked on a Bachelor of Science through the University of Adelaide. She studied several different subjects from zoology, astronomy, and psychology to political science. However, she found a passion for Genetics and Immunology. In 2008, she went on to complete an Honours Degree in Immunology through the University of Adelaide, studying stem cell development.

“After 4 years of solid undergraduate study, I decided I needed a break before embarking on a PhD. I worked as a research scientist on Regulatory T cells, which are cells that prevent the immune system from causing damage to the body during infection. In 2010 I took a break from science to backpack around Latin America. It was during volunteer work in the Bolivian Rainforest that I met locals who had grown up with malaria. They told of how horrible it was to catch malaria over and over again when they were children. Intriguingly, as adults they were struck down with malaria less often and had developed resistance to the disease.”

On returning to Australia, Danika embarked on a PhD through the University of Melbourne to study malaria at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. “My research focuses on trying to understand what the immune system needs to do to defeat malaria. The malaria parasite is very complex and over time, it evolved to avoid detection in the immune system. This is why people living in areas with malaria can catch the parasite numerous times before their bodies are able to fight off the disease. If we can discover what the immune system needs to do to fight off malaria then this will help malaria vaccine development.” Danika travelled to malaria endemic areas of Papua New Guinea and Thailand to conduct research for her PhD.

A career in medical research is truly international. She travels internationally to present her work, and collaborate with scientists from around the world. “It’s fantastic that a PhD in science will be recognised internationally and enables me to seek out research overseas.” Danika will complete her PhD in 2015, and then continue her research into the immune system in Europe.

“The NYSF is crucial”

Steven Tingay grew up in country Victoria where there were not that many outlets for kids who were mad about science and astronomy from the age of six, even as he progressed through high school. He knew no-ne else as passionate about science as he.

He received his first book about the Universe from his uncle when he was five. A telescope was acquired soon after. “I still remember my first look at the moon through that telescope. My mum also told me that my great-grandmother used to walk me up and down the street at night as a baby, pointing out the constellations. I can’t verify that. Good story if true, however”.

Going to the NYSF in 1987, he was suddenly surrounded by others with the same passion. It made for lots of late nights during the two-week session.

“I remember a lot about the visits to science facilities – the highlight for me was going to Mt Stromlo Observatory. And I remember going to Honeysuckle Creek, where the young guy who gave us a tour opened up his telescope and started burning a hole in his dome via the reflection of the sun off his mirror”.

(Uni of) Melbourne was the natural choice

Steven was the first in his family to study at university. He chose the University of Melbourne for its reputation as one of the best physics departments in the country and it was close to home. “I wanted to do maths and physics as the precursor to a PhD in astrophysics,” says Steven. “So, Melbourne was the natural choice. I chose the Australian National University (ANU) for my PhD because astrophysics was what I wanted to do. Full stop. I did a summer vacation scholarship at Mt Stromlo at the end of second year and loved it. When I got PhD scholarship offers at Melbourne and ANU, I chose ANU. In general, I think it is best to change institutions between undergraduate and postgraduate, to gain some diversity, aside from any other considerations”.

Steven’s career highlights are many but he says the best and most recent is leading the development of a new $50m radio telescope, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). The MWA project is a consortium of 15 institutions from four countries (Australia, USA, New Zealand, India) and has taken many years to develop and build in remote Western Australia. The telescope has been operating for two years and has collected 3 petabytes of data.

Almost every week the MWA team is uncovering something new about our Universe. “Our ultimate goal is to look back 13 billion years to only 1 billion years after the Big Bang, to watch the first stars and galaxies form in the universe. Leading the MWA has been a highlight because going back six years this was a project in big trouble. I took over and applied my astrophysics and engineering knowledge, as well as personnel and project management skills, to lead the project to success”.

The MWA is the only precursor for the low frequency Square Kilometre Array and the first of three SKA precursors to be fully operational. “That turn around over the last five years has been cause for considerable satisfaction, watching a big international team now exploiting the facility for science (and getting my hands on a bit of data myself!).”

For Steven, the NYSF is not just important, it’s more like crucial. “Over my career, I keep coming back to the same set of considerations for success. Having smart people. Occupying a stimulating environment. Taking on big challenges. Physically bringing people together and developing networks.”

“NYSF was, and is still as far as I know, the only national activity doing this for people at a crucial point in forming their thoughts about careers. It was the first step for me in considering science as a human endeavour, rather than a collection of facts, theories, and measurements. This is a crucial realisation that scientists should have early in their careers”.

NYSF … was the first step for me in considering science as a human endeavour

The networking aspect was fantastic. “I’m in my forties now and old NYSF colleagues from 1987 Session B keep popping up in positions of importance and influence. We have quite a club going now.”

Steven also remembers meeting a young lady at the NYSF interested in molecular biology. “We ended up going to The University of Melbourne together. We were married in 1992, have been married for 22 years now, and have two sons. So, aside from the science impact of the NYSF, it has had a fundamental impact on my overall life!”

Professor Steven Tingay attended the NSYF in 1987 (Photo credit to James Campbell)

Professor Steven Tingay attended the NYSF in 1987 (Launch of the Murchison Widefield Array Telescope – Photo credit to James Campbell)


NYSF alumni society at University of Melbourne

Students at the University of Melbourne have recently decided to form an alumni society. President, Kushani Hewage, tells how it came about:

The National Youth Science Forum Alumni Society at the University of Melbourne was founded this year after a gruelling semester-long process full of applications. We collaborated to create this group after finding out that despite the enthusiasm to start a society, there was a need for someone to make the dream a reality. We knew that a couple of other universities around Australia had NYSF alumni groups or had annual gatherings, but this was not so in Victoria. Throughout last year and in particular this year, monthly gatherings were generally organised and co-ordinated by students who attended NYSF in 2013. We felt that by creating clubs affiliated with our universities, we would create a more prominent presence in the community.

While we are only a new, tiny club for now, we hope that as we are able to promote ourselves and bring in more members, we will be able to fulfil our aims.

The aims of the club are:

  1. To allow students who are a part of the National Youth Science Forum to remain connected with their peers in the University of Melbourne.
  2. To represent the cohort of NYSF who live/study in Melbourne, similar to NYSF alumni societies created interstate.
  3. To act as ambassadors on behalf of the NYSF organisation, promoting the program and play an integral role to help future NYSF students assimilate to the program easier.
  4. To hold events within the University as well as in collaboration with other Universities to raise funds for scientific research/projects.
  5. To hold an annual gathering to celebrate the newest NYSF students into the program.

We have already held our first event with a casual meet and greet (and drink) with a good turnout of NYSF alumni from various years. There are plans to hold a number of fundraisers so that we can grow our community and hold events on a larger scale, extending to not only past members but also to show potential NYSF participants in the coming years how the National Youth Science Forum can benefit them.

We are really excited to have this society at our University and we encourage alumni who want to keep in touch, whether you’re a student at the University of Melbourne or at a different institution you are welcome to join our lovely community!

Stay nutty and remember to always go bananas!

Further information: Search on Facebook – NYSF SOCIETY @ Unimelb or email nysf.unimelb@gmail.com