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  • 10 Jan 2023 10:07 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    In late 2019 the SSA and CSIRO/Data 61 awarded the inaugural Betty Allan Travel award to two recipients.  Little did we know at the time that travel, something most of us had taken for granted since we were born, would become next to impossible over the coming years.

    In 2022 award recipient Karen Lamb was finally able to make it happen. Here is her report: 

    Well, as I was soon to learn, 2020 was not a great year to receive a travel award! I had grand plans to use my SSA and CSIRO/Data 61 Betty Allan travel award in September 2020 to attend the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) conference in Bournemouth, following this with a visit to Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter at the Winton Centre for the Public Understanding of Risk in Cambridge and then onto London to meet the RSS team to discuss the Statistical Ambassador Program which trains early career statisticians in statistical communication. My vision was to bring back statistical communication knowledge from these visits to the Statistical Society of Australia. Sadly, by April 2020 it had become very clear that this plan was highly unlikely! More than two years later, I was finally able to take up my award to visit the UK in November 2022 and I certainly learned a lot.

    Winton Centre for the Public Understanding of Risk

    At the Winton Centre, I was able to learn about David’s transition into work as a statistical communicator. David was already an established leader in Biostatistics internationally and a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) when he took up a position as Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in 2007. This was a philanthropic funded position and was initially a solo role (the Winton Centre was not established for a number of years). In this role, David set about to increase his profile doing outreach activities (e.g., science fares, news articles, talks and media appearances). It took time to build up his reputation in communication. However, he found that once he was known as someone who could communicate risk and uncertainty well, more invitations flowed his way. Some key learnings from David:

    1) Communication and media training is invaluable and essential. David personally benefitted from a day and a half of funded training through his work which put him through his paces but helped develop his confidence.

    2) Peer support is key. Although he often works alone when engaging with the media, David benefitted from having others around him undertaking similar roles to bounce ideas off.

    3) Beware of the draw of flashy headlines. Statisticians are often asked to offer solutions to one-off puzzles about the probability of some rare event occurring. These could help when building your media profile but are rarely rewarding.

    4) Statistical communication is vital (but can be stressful!). COVID-19 has helped raise the profile of the work of biostatisticians, enabling David to communicate what we actually do. Although stressful, this was highly rewarding.

    Royal Statistical Society Statistical Ambassador Program

    The Statistical Ambassador Program, devised by John Pullinger, was launched in 2014 in recognition of the need for confident statistical communicators and has had three cohorts to date. The RSS received funding to support the program, offering ambassadors two days of media training. Telephone mentoring from a committee of statistical/science communicators (e.g., David Spiegelhalter) was also provided. To date, 32 early-career statistical ambassadors (2014: 12, 2016: 10, 2018: 10) have been trained in the program. Ambassadors were selected through a process in which applicants outlined their statistical interests and experiences. It is anticipated that statistical ambassadors remain in this role for a prolonged period. Ambassadors have appeared in different media outlets: BBC News television and print (National Lottery, UK coronavirus figures, reporting of numbers in the media), ITV news (students and COVID, COVID vaccination), among others. Media requests tend to be directed to the RSS Head of Media and External Relations to identify the most appropriate ambassador to assist. Some key learnings:

    1) The program is based on training AND peer support which are essential to success.

    2) Funding is key but difficult to obtain. The RSS is seeking funding for more programs.

    3) It is important to recruit people willing to engage with the media in the longer term. Not all ambassadors have remained engaged in the program.

    4) It is important to ensure support from employers. This can be difficult outside academia.

    What next?

    I left the UK with a rejuvenated passion for statistical communication wondering what we can do within the SSA to support media engagement. Would a statistical ambassador program be suitable for the SSA? If so, who could we get to support the ambassadors in Australia? Encouragingly, my contacts within the RSS are keen to build greater connections with the SSA to work on communication initiatives. Personally, I would like to see more communications training and support for statisticians beyond media training. Effective communication is so critical to our work! I look forward to continuing these discussions with both the RSS and SSA in future.

    In addition, I am delighted that David Spiegelhalter will be one of the keynotes for the 2023 Australian Statistical Conference in December. We will also be able to learn from his statistical communication experience through a pre-conference workshop. More details will be available soon!

    A/Prof Karen Lamb
    Co-Head Biostatistics Methods and Implementation Support for Clinical and Health Research Hub (MISCH) 
    Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics,  Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

    Pictured (left to right): Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter and Karen Lamb, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, November 2022


    Pictured (left to right): Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter and Karen Lamb, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, November 2022




    Pictured: Karen Lamb enjoying the rainy Cambridge weather, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, November 2022


    Pictured: Karen Lamb enjoying the rainy Cambridge weather, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, November 2022


    Pictured (left to right): Brian Tarran (Head of Data Science Platform, RSS), Mags Wiley (Head of Media and External Relations, RSS), Karen Lamb, Robert Mastrodomenico (Statistical Ambassador, RSS) London, November 2022




    Pictured (left to right): Brian Tarran (Head of Data Science Platform, RSS), Mags Wiley (Head of Media and External Relations, RSS), Karen Lamb, Robert Mastrodomenico (Statistical Ambassador, RSS) London, November 2022

  • 21 Dec 2022 8:08 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    NSPC LogoIn 2022, the National Schools Poster Competition (NSPC) received 4 times the number of 2021 submissions, with 20 new schools submitting!

    Topics are too numerous and diverse to list them all, but examples include: nutrition, health, psychology, sustainability, space, diversity and inclusion, biology, science, finance, aspects of political and social interest, sports, physics, chemistry, product preferences, physiology and solar energy.

    Please view this year’s winners and honourable mentions, along with feedback. There’s even a capture-recapture based project, with lollies in the wild!

    Summary information about the NSPC is provided at the end of this article.

    Australia’s NSPC is entering its 10th year in 2023…and there’s significant news!

    Emeritus Professor Tim Roberts AM and I, Professor Peter Howley, will be delivering a national initiative to Primary and Secondary Schools in 2023 entitled “Preparing for Industry 5.0 and beyond in light of COVID19 - facilitating the cradle-to-career life cycle” having received a Commonwealth Grant from theAustralian Government’s Department of Education’s Emerging Priorities Program for our project proposal.

    The initiative will have significant engagement across the Australian education system with school administrators, educators, teachers and students nationally, as we conduct an integrated delivery of free:

    ·         interactive online teacher Professional Learning workshops

    ·         interactive online student workshops – including practical implementation and career opportunities

    ·         two national student competitions – an online mini-solar vehicle competition and the NSPC

    which develop Statistics, Systems thinking, Sustainability and STEM (SSSS) and associated cross-functional skills that:

    ü  are core to emerging workforce environments and needs

    ü  support national curriculum learning areas and outcomes

    ü  support general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities

    ü  positively impacts the attitudes, aspirations & abilities of educators & the future workforce

    We will seek to make a step-change in attitudes, aspirations and abilities of educators and the future workforce surrounding these core SSSS and cross-functional skills.

    This national initiative builds upon our successful 2017 regional and rural NSW-focussed initiative (partial results in this 2020 SERJ publication – downloadable PDF available).

    Industry 5.0 places research and innovation at the service of the transition to a sustainable, human-centric and resilient industry. Research & innovation and the associated cross-functional skills required are fundamental to, and supported by SSSS skills … the points of focus of this project.

    We expect to engage over 400 schools nationally in our 2023 initiative!

    Please inform your family, friends, colleagues and school contacts about this opportunity, including the NSPC, and invite them to contact me via peterhowley0@gmail.com or SSSS@postercomp.info to express interest in potentially participating or for more information as we develop our online platform.

    NSPC Summary     

    Poiter advertising National Schools Poster CompetitionThe NSPC provides an opportunity for students from Years 3 to 12 (ages 8 to 18) to work in teams of 2 to 5 and develop, implement and creatively report upon, in poster format, an investigation on any topic of interest to them. Students conduct small-scale versions of real-world investigations in teams, developing core statistical, STEM and cross-functional skills. They create an informative e-poster presentation communicating their investigation clearly, concisely and creatively.

    The competition is judged in five divisions: one for each of the Year 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12 School Grades. Many additional resources are provided at the www.ssapostercomp.info website, including:

    • 1 to 4-minute videos about the competition
    • Several approximate 4-minute videos from experts speaking on careers in statistics
    • Free software and simple worksheets
    • A dozen or so approximate 4-minute animated videos on introductory statistics topics
    •  Tips, e-textbook, a file on how the NSPC links to and supports the National Curriculum
    • Annual lists of the winners and honourable mentions and their posters, along with feedback for each that is publicly available (since 2021) – to assist everyone in their future investigations.

    Submissions are due annually by 10 November and we usually receive over 200 team entries.

    Prizes (for both the winning team and the school of the winning team, for each Division) and honoraria for the many judges (professional statisticians) and IT and administrative support are possible thanks to support from the Australian Bureau of Statistics via the Statistical Society of Australia.

    The importance of engaging students early in any endeavour, particularly statistics in this Data Age, cannot be overstated. Youth establish interests and career trajectories from an early age and connecting them with opportunities that are enjoyable, engaging, authentic and support the needed emerging workforce skills is critical.

    School teachers have rarely if ever experienced statistics in practice and are unfamiliar with the diverse nature and wide reach of statistical thinking, techniques and applications. Teachers’ knowledge about the practicing statistician is at best limited, their focus has been on the many other topics and aspects of teaching. The teaching of statistics in school focusses on the theory or mechanics, rather than its practical applications, with statistics topics taught often in a manner not clearly part of a coherent whole nor authentically contextualised. The relevance of the discipline of statistics to areas of interest is lost, or at best unclear, for students; yet relevance is such a powerful motivator! Enter the NSPC!

    Professor Peter Howley is the Chair of SSA's Statistical Education SectionPeter Howley Headshot

    Career Profile

    Hunter Surgical Clinical Research Unit - Statistical Research Lead

    Program Director - StepChange, MCB Business Partners

    Hunter Medical Research Institute Affiliate

    Medical College Centre, Macquarie University - Statistical Research Lead

    International Statistical Institute - Elected Member

    Chair - Statistical Education, Statistical Society of Australia

    Vice President - Hunter Innovation and Science HUB

    2018-19 Inaugural Science and Technology Australia STEM Ambassador

    2019-20 Inaugural UON STEMM Ambassador

    2018 Statistical Society of Australia Service Award

    2017 International Statistical Institute’s Best Cooperative Project Award

    2015 National OLT Citation – Contribution to Student Learning

  • 16 Dec 2022 10:41 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    And that’s almost a wrap for 2022! 

    It’s been a year of remarkable change for the science and technology sector - and strong growth and influence for Science & Technology Australia.

    This week, we launched the new National Industry PhD Program. Over the next decade, this groundbreaking initiative will equip 1300 PhD scholars with next-level industry skills and experience, and make it far easier for businesses to reach into the country’s immense research sector talent pool. The program will be delivered for the Department of Education by a consortium led by Campus Plus (one of our members), Science & Technology Australia, and Cruxes Innovation (also an STA member). Applications for the program will open early next year. Sign up now to the mailing list for updates (and please help spread the word!)

    As CEO of Science & Technology Australia, I’m deeply honoured to be among the group of leaders and experts invited this week to serve on the new Ministerial Reference Group to be chaired by Education Minister Jason Clare MP as part of the Universities Accord process. This reference group will be a sounding board and source of advice to the team working on the accord. The Accord Panel is being led by Professor Mary O’Kane AO - and the span of topics it has been asked to consider thoughtfully are broad. I’m so looking forward to contributing. 

    What a big finish to an exciting year of achievements for our community. 

    The year started with the announcement of a $2.2 billion research commercialisation fund by the Government. Ahead of the election, Science & Technology Australia confirmed written support for these measures from both major parties of Government, ensuring these investments continued whatever the outcome of the election. STA has made the case tirelessly for a research translation and commercialisation fund. This is one of many major wins for our members in 2022.

    Also in February, Science & Technology Australia’s game-changing Superstars of STEM program secured renewed Australian Government funding to continue for a further four years. This acclaimed program has now helped more than 150 brilliant women scientists to turbo-charge their profiles and careers by becoming skilled media commentators. It is a shining example of a hugely successful initiative to advance diversity in STEM, which can inform the Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review's work.

    In October, we recruited another outstanding cohort of 60 women and non-binary scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians as Superstars of STEM. We announced these inspiring new Superstars in November, and can’t wait to start them in their program in 2023. We are deeply grateful for Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic’s continuing strong support for this program, and for the backing of the Department of Industry, Science and Resources.

    In March, Science & Technology Australia delivered a high-impact Science Meets Parliament - featuring global science communications star Professor Brian Cox, two Nobel Laureates and a host of other star talent. The event included our trademark high-quality professional development for scientists, meetings with Parliamentarians, and fabulous Australia-wide gala dinners in June. 

    STA President Professor Mark Hutchinson delivered a landmark speech at the National Press Club in March. He made a compelling argument for Australia to train its first generation of bench-to-boardroom scientists as the next step in the drive to commercialise more great Australian research. This is a powerful plan that STA will continue to advocate in 2023. 

    In June, Minister Husic’s brilliant speech at the SMP gala dinner outlined the Government’s commitment to a “future powered by science”.

    In August, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Minister Husic jointly launched National Science Week with a strong turnout of MPs and Senators from all across the Parliament, including Shadow Science Minister Paul Fletcher and former Science Minister Melissa Price. Science & Technology Australia was honoured to work with Questacon - the home of National Science Week - to deliver the official launch and opening media for a week to engage more Australians in science and technology. We continued our partnership with 3M to release the 2022 findings from the 3M State of Science Index. This year’s study revealed the incredibly high levels of trust Australians have in science to combat misinformation, and the public’s strong desire to hear more from scientists in the media.

    In November, Science & Technology Australia delivered a powerful event for the Parliamentary Friends of Science on clean, green energy technologies– with a strong turnout of MPs and Senators – with support from our friends at the AAS and ATSE.

    Science & Technology Australia’s membership grew strongly in 2022. We are building powerful momentum in our role as the key connector of people and ideas in Australia’s STEM sector. 

    STA now represents 120 member organisations - up from 77 in 2020 - and 105,000 scientists and technologists nationwide. This is no accident. Over the last few years, STA has been more visible in public policy discussions, generated more media coverage, and shaped more legislation and policy decisions affecting our members. Putting together our Policy Wins page was a strong reminder that together, STA and its members are a powerful voice for the sector. 

    We are deeply fortunate to be led by outstanding experts from our sector. Our powerhouse President Professor Mark Hutchinson and stellar STA Board Secretary Jas Chambers have overseen a year where STA has revitalised its constitution and governance, setting itself up for the next stage of the organisation’s growth. 

    Mark’s outstanding leadership in the sector was recognised in his appointment to the ARC Advisory Committee to the CEO in April, and to the ARC Review Committee’s eminent panel in August. When he steps aside next year after our next AGM, he will pass the torch to Professor Sharath Sriram, our amazing Policy Chair. Mark and Sharath - alongside our dynamic Vice-President Dr Anita Goh - are standard bearers for the present and future of science, and the immense role it can play in creating the economy of tomorrow. We thank them, and all of our brilliant STA Board members for their generous contributions to STA and the sector.

    STA is delivering powerful change for its members and the sector. This is a testament to the drive, creativity, and hard work of everyone involved with STA, with special thanks to our superb staff - Dr Sandra Gardam, Lucy Guest, Dr Sarah Tynan, Martyn Pearce, Evelyn Fetterplace, Emma Hibbert, Emily Downie and Shannon Wong - and our finance whiz Penny Thomson.

    And huge thanks to our brilliant members who keep our finger on the pulse of the issues Australian scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians face, and help us shape clever policy ideas to solve complex challenges. We look forward to working with and for you in 2023. In the meantime, we hope you all get a well-deserved and rejuvenating break.  

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 


  • 15 Dec 2022 12:16 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The Statistical Society of Australia (SSA) and ASC 2023 Scientific Programme Committee are delighted to open nominations for the inaugural Horizon Lectures, to be given at ASC2023 in Wollongong, 10th- 15th December 2023.  

    The Horizon Lectures aim to recognise emerging leaders in Australia’s statistics community and their contributions to advancing statistical practice across academia, government, and/or industry. Lectures will be awarded to mid-career statisticians working in any discipline who have made an impact within their field(s) of expertise and have demonstrated leadership in building capacity in statistical expertise within Australia.  

    Up to three (3) Horizon Lectures will be awarded for presentation at ASC2023. All Lectures will be presented together as a plenary session to all conference delegates. Lectures can be on any area of statistics in line with the awardee’s expertise. Each awardee will receive up to $2,500 to cover conference and travel costs.  

    Nominations involve a written statement (up to 1,000 words) summarising how the nominee meets the award selection criteria. Nominees must be a member of the SSA and be employed as a statistician in Australia. Nominations must be supported by another member of the SSA. 

    Full details on eligibility, award selection criteria and submission are available in the nomination form, available in Word here, as a pdf here. Nominations must be submitted by 5 pm AEST, 28th February 2023. Late nominations will not be accepted.  

    Questions about the Horizon lectures can be sent to ASC 2023 Scientific Programming Committee at asc.ozcots2023@gmail.com.

  • 8 Dec 2022 1:47 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The 23rd Annual JB Douglas Postgraduate Awards Day was held on Monday, 5 December 2022 at the UTS Aerial Function Centre and was a great success. In the afternoon, 6 PhD students presented their theses, showcasing the depth, breadth and excellence of research performed by postgraduate research students in statistics within the NSW state. Chris Lisle and Emily NeoThe joint winners of this year’s award are Emily Neo from the University of Sydney Business School and Chris Lisle from the University of Wollongong.

    Emily presented a work on partial correlation screening, which is important in dimension reduction techniques for high-dimensional data achieving uncertainty quantification in situations where it is usually difficult to have it. She presented a technique that is defined in the field of statistics but can compare with machine learning approaches. Her presentation was clear, complete and she showed a great ability in answering the many questions she received.

    Chris was able to introduce the problem in a clear way, we like he told the audience the story of the project and its context. The project he presented had a clear statistical interpretation, that means his diagnostics can be easily implemented in the field. He acknowledged his work as part of a team with different expertise and this is at the heart of applied statistics.

    Each winner received a prize of $500.

    After the students’ presentations, Professor Marijka Batterham from the University of Wollongong delivered the NSW Annual Lecture, titled “Encouraging Statistical and Data Literacy in Nutrition and Dietetics.” Marijka started her talk by giving an overview of how dietitians are usually trained. While most dietitians are highly specialised in some areas (such as clinical, food service, public health, sport, etc.), all are required to do introductory statistics to meet competency standards. Indeed, statistical literacy plays a vital role for dietitians to evaluate the evidence, make clinical decisions, and participate in nutrition research.

    In the next part of the presentation, Marijka presented numerous examples demonstrating challenges of research on human nutrition, including missing data, compliance, and agreements between measurements, as well as some possible statistical solutions to tackle these issues. These challenges open up opportunities for many novel applications of statistical methods, ranging from classical statistics to modern machine learning, to address questions regarding nutrition and dietary.

    NSW Branch President Clara Grazian with the award winnersNevertheless, in her ongoing research, Marijka demonstrated there was generally a statistics anxiety among undergraduate health science students, many of whom found statistics useful but the content “incredibly hard” or “overwhelming.” Furthermore, lack of statistical support, including access to statistical software, can be a major barrier for a dietitian’s literacy. While free software for comprehensive data manipulation, visualisation and analysis, such as R and Python, are available, they require steep learning curves and may not be suitable to clinicians, who do not use statistics regularly and only often need some basic descriptive statistics and insights to ask the right questions to team members with a background in biostatistics.  A current solution to this need is free point and click graphical user interfaces to R; nevertheless, their functionalities can still be limited or their interfaces are not so user-friendly to beginners. Marijka pointed out that computational skills still need to be improved in clinical disciplines, especially as we embrace reproducibility and more advanced computational methods.

    The event concluded with the dinner and fun trivia. On behalf of the NSW Branch Council, the branch’s president Clara Grazian thanked everyone for attending and supporting the JB Douglas Awards Day as well as all the events of the branch this year.

    We look forward to seeing you at our events in 2023!

    Linh Nghiem

  • 2 Dec 2022 5:33 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Science & Technology Australia President Professor Mark Hutchinson and I were delighted to attend Industry & Science Minister Ed Husic’s landmark National Press Club address this week. On the eve of introducing legislation to create the new $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, the Minister laid out his vision for an Australia that makes things - by applying cutting-edge science and technology in next-generation advanced manufacturing. Consultation is open on the fund’s seven priority areas for investment. He declared Australia must invest threefold: in our human capital; in backing Australian ideas; and in our future technological capabilities. And on longstanding ambitions to boost R&D investment in this country, he vowed: “I am picking up that torch”.

    The Parliamentary Friends of Science - from right across the breadth of Parliament - were out in force this week. Science & Technology Australia organised a powerful event on clean, green energy technologies for our co-chairs, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Shadow Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews. In a hectic final sitting week, 16 MPs and Senators - including Housing Minister Julie Collins, Minister Husic and Shadow Science Minister Paul Fletcher - heard from leading clean energy experts Professor Lachlan Blackhall of The Australian National University; Director of storEnergy and Deakin University Professor Maria Forsyth; ARC Future Fellow, Superstar of STEM and hydrogen expert Dr Jessica Allen; and Original Power Executive Director and Yorta Yorta descendant Karrina Nolan. We thank our friends at the Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering and the Australian Academy of Science for their valued support. A huge hat tip to STA Events Director Lucy Guest and the STA staff team on a stellar event. 

    Education Minister Jason Clare yesterday introduced legislation to create the powerful new research translation and commercialisation fund for which STA campaigned for many years. The bill enables funding and governance for Australia’s Economic Accelerator fund. This is an exciting development that creates a new stream of investment into promising innovations at proof-of-concept or proof-of-scale stage, with a ‘fast-fail’ risk appetite. His second reading speech lays out more detail.  

    In exciting news for the science and technology sector, Professor Sharath Sriram is now President-elect of Science & Technology Australia. Elected at our AGM last week, Sharath is a research rockstar and connector of commercialisation. His ability to understand industry partners’ needs, and connect them with researchers who can find solutions to their problems, is second to none. We are thrilled that he will lead the organisation when Professor Mark Hutchinson’s term finishes in November 2023. 

    At the AGM, we recapped the year in our annual report and published our annual progress report on our First Nations partnerships and Reconciliation Action Plan.

    This week, consultation opened on the Universities Accord’s Terms of Reference. STA will make a submission - responses are due by 19 December - outlining our ideas for the sorts of data and analysis the panel should commission to help inform its thinking. The policy terrain for this review is wide-ranging, and this process will have a vast impact on the sector’s future. We will keep our members informed every step of the way.

    The Australian Research Council has streamlined the National Interest Test processes on research grants following consultations with the sector. It is now simpler with clearer instructions. The NIT statements will now be signed off by the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research at each university - and the NIT would go to the expert peer review panels as part of their assessments from the outset. It would not be amended by the ARC. The announcement is here.  
      
    Fabulous to see former STA President Associate Professor Jeremy Brownlie beside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese this week for the latest meeting of the National Science and Technology Council. The Council is an all-star squad of Australia’s outstanding science and technology leaders including Jeremy, Professor Genevieve Bell AO, Professor Debra Henly, Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt AC, Professor Fiona Wood, AM, and Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger AC, with Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley as Executive Officer to provide advice for government policy and priorities. 

    It was great to celebrate the 2022 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science back in person in Canberra with a bumper crowd. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told the gathering: “Investing in science is investing in our future”. 

    A huge congratulations to the inspiring scientists recognised with these prestigious honours: Professor Trevor McDougall AC from UNSW (the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science); Adjunct Professor Alison Todd and Dr Elisa Mokany from SpeeDx (Prize for Innovation); Dr Nick Cutmore, Dr James Tickner and Dirk Treasure from Chrysos Corporation and CSIRO (Prize for Innovation); Professor Si Ming Man of ANU (Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year); Dr Adele Morrison of ANU (Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year); and Associate Professor Brett Hallam of UNSW and Dr Pip Karoly of the University of Melbourne and Seer Medical (Prize for New Innovators). 

    Yesterday, we graduated the constellation of 2021 Superstars of STEM amid a sea of celebrations on social media of these inspiring women in STEM. It was a joy to see them sharing countless examples of how this acclaimed program has been a game-changer to boost their media profiles, confidence, career-acceleration, and peer support network to spur their success. You may be in the Superstars of STEM program for two years, but to us, you're Superstars for life!  

    Finally, congratulations to the first 50 scholarship recipients announced last week in the Elevate: Boosting women in STEM program - funded by the Australian Government and delivered by ATSE. Science & Technology Australia is a supporting partner on this program. We are absolutely delighted for the amazing scientists and technologists that received their great news of a scholarship last week.  

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 

    REPORTS AND POLICY

    OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUBMISSIONS

    • The Universities Accord consultation process has begun. The Panel is due to deliver a final report by December 2023, and an interim report by June 2023. The Department of Education has called for feedback on the priorities outlined in the Terms of Reference. Submissions to this first stage of consultation are due by 19 December. 
    • The Department of Industry, Science and Resources is consulting on the National Reconstruction Fund program design. Submissions close 3 February 2023.  
    • The Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment is conducting an inquiry into the issue of increasing disruption in Australian classrooms. Submissions due by 31 March 2023.
    • The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is consulting on amendments to the Export Control Rules 2021. Submissions by 20 January 2023. 

    Further information: STA Director of Policy and Engagement Sarah Tynan.

    GRANTS, FUNDING, AND OPPORTUNITIES

    • The Taronga Conservation Society are launching HATCH: Taronga Accelerator Program 2023 and are looking for the next round of founders and eco-startups or a brilliant idea to support wildlife or the environment. The HATCH program provides $25,000 value in support for each team, and the chance to receive $50,000 funding.
    • Grants are available for the Threatened and migratory species fisheries bycatch mitigation program for projects that will support sustainable fisheries. Applications close 23 January 2023. 
    • Applications are open for National Science Week grants. Applications close 15 December.
    • AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship applications are open, closing 13 January 2023. 


    MEMBER NEWS 

    We are delighted to welcome Sparklabs Cultiv8 and Cultiv8 Funds Management into our STA community. Sparklabs Cultiv8 is a powerful food tech accelerator developing agribusiness worldwide to secure our food future. Cultiv8 Funds Management is modernising our Australian food tech sector through a tailored, sustainable investment fund that enhances our food supply chains. 

    We are thrilled to welcome Monash Data Futures Institute (MDFI) as STA’s newest members. Monash’s DFI brings world class AI and data scientists together to solve some of the most pressing challenges of our time. 

    STA delivers strong benefits to members, including discounted professional services via our Member Benefits Program. More details here.

    Want the latest news from Science & Technology Australia? Our media release distribution list is open to all. To subscribe, click here.

    Want to keep up to date with the latest in science and technology policy and advocacy? Subscribe to our LinkedIn newsletter - the Science and Technology Update


  • 24 Nov 2022 10:59 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    COMMERCIALISATION CONNECTOR AND RESEARCH ROCKSTAR TO LEAD STA



    A visionary “connector of commercialisation” and research rockstar Professor Sharath Sriram is Science & Technology Australia’s new President-elect.

    Professor Sriram of RMIT has a remarkable track record of connecting industry and researchers - he has created more than $6 million in commercial partnerships for his university over the past five years. 

    Leading-edge work from his teams includes smart bedding products for aged-care support, a wearable for continuous molecular monitoring, and miniature biosensors for monitoring respiratory illnesses.

    Professor Sriram, who currently serves as STA’s Policy Chair, has driven this success by working closely with industry partners, learning deeply about commercialisation processes, and by becoming a key point of contact for businesses looking to reach into the university system for solutions to challenges.

    His team now consists of 47 staff, including scientists and engineers, and they work closely with teams from the business and design schools at the university. 

    Professor Sriram will succeed current STA President Professor Mark Hutchinson at the STA Annual General Meeting in November 2023, after serving as President-elect for the next 12 months.

    Other impressive science and technology leaders elected to STA’s Executive at today’s AGM include:
    - Jas Chambers (Founder of Ocean Decade Australia) who was re-elected as Secretary.
    - Dr Kathy Nicholson (Operations Manager at the Australian Institute for Machine Learning) who will become STA’s new Policy Chair after serving as Deputy Policy Chair; and
    - Superstar of STEM Dr Jiao Jiao Li (Early Career Researcher at UTS) who succeeds Dr Chloe Taylor as Early Career Representative.

    STA President Professor Mark Hutchinson congratulated Professor Sriram and the newly-elected Executive and Board Directors - applauding the stellar talent STA attracts to its governance team.

    “The science and technology sector is blessed with extraordinary talented leaders who contribute energy, insights and expertise to the nation’s peak body for science and technology,” he said.

    “Sharath will be an outstanding President for Science & Technology Australia and champion for our thriving membership community. He brings vast expertise in policy, commercialisation and innovation.” 

    “Amid an urgent imperative to turn more great Australian science and engineering into new jobs, he is the perfect person to lead this inspiring organisation - a role model connector of commercialisation.”

    Science & Technology Australia’s President-elect Professor Sharath Sriram said he was honoured to have been entrusted by the 105,000-strong STA members to lead the organisation.

    “I am excited and deeply honoured to lead Science & Technology Australia and represent the interests of the science and technology community to policymakers, industry and the Australian public,” he said.

    “I want to help more Australian researchers deepen connections with industry and bridge the ‘valley of death’ in commercialisation, and be a powerful advocate to deepen Australia’s investments in discovery science.”

    “I look forward to working with Mark over the next year as President-elect. He is an exceptional leader of STA who has delivered vast advocacy success for our sector and rapid growth for the organisation.”

    Also elected/re-elected to the STA Board at this election were:
    - Agricultural & Food Sciences: Mr Michael Walker (re-elected for a second term)
    - Biological Sciences: Dr Tatiana Soares da Costa (re-elected for a second term)
    - Chemical Sciences: Ms Francesca Gissi (Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry)
    - Geographical & Geological Sciences: Ms Sarah Kachovich (International Ocean Discovery Program)
    - Mathematical Sciences: Professor Chris Matthews
    - Physical Sciences: Professor Jodie Brady (re-elected for a second term)
    - Plant & Ecological Sciences: Ms Bek Christensen (Ecological Society of Australia)
    - Technological Sciences: Dr Vipul Agarwal (re-elected for a second term)
    - General Sciences: Ms Heather Catchpole (re-elected for a second term)

    About Science & Technology Australia
    Science & Technology Australia is the nation’s peak body representing more than 105,000 scientists and technologists. We’re the leading policy voice on science and technology. Our flagship programs include Science Meets Parliament, Superstars of STEM, and STA STEM Ambassadors
     

    Media contact: 
    Martyn Pearce - 0432 606 828


  • 10 Nov 2022 10:20 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Are you an early or mid-career statistician looking for support to grow and develop your career? Or, are you a more experienced statistician looking to share your skills and experience with a new generation of statisticians? If either of these sound like you then this program may be for you!

    The Statistical Society of Australia is now seeking applications from mentees and mentors, for the next program intake in 2023. We are looking for up to 20 mentor-mentee pairs to take part in the 6-month mentoring program.

    Our aim

    This program will connect early and mid-career statisticians to experienced mentors to provide them with career guidance and to share their experiences to help them achieve their professional goals.

    Mentees

    We are looking to recruit early to mid-career statisticians to take part in the mentoring program. To be eligible to participate, you must be either a student or within the first ten years of a career in statistics, a member of the SSA, and be willing to commit to participating in the program over a 6-month period.

    Mentors

    We are looking to recruit mentors who have at least five years’ experience working as a statistician. Note that mentors will be paired with mentees with less experience working in statistics (i.e., those with less than five years’ experience will not be paired with mentees with more than five years). To be eligible to participate, you must be a member of the SSA and be willing to commit to participating in the program over a 6-month period. Prior mentorship experience would be beneficial but is not a requirement for participation.

    Program details

    The SSA Mentoring Committee, a sub-committee of the Continuous Professional Development committee, will match mentors to mentees and contact the mentee to seek approval to introduce them to the proposed mentor. Each mentor will only be assigned one mentee. Mentees are responsible for arranging the initial meeting and establishing ongoing meetings with their mentor. Ideally, mentors and mentees should aim to meet at least monthly for one hour during the program, with a minimum of four meetings over six months. There is no requirement that mentors and mentees live in the same city; meetings do not have to be face-to-face and may be held via phone or Zoom as necessary. A member of the Mentoring Committee will be in touch throughout the program to learn how things are progressing and to help resolve any issues that arise. There is no expectation that the relationship will continue beyond the 6-month program. However, we would be delighted if mentor-mentee pairs continue to keep in touch!

    In addition to the paired mentoring, mentees and mentors will be given the opportunity to participate in a peer mentoring group to share experiences and build greater connections within the SSA community.

    Further details about the program will be provided before the program commences.

    Interested?

    To register your interest in participating in the mentoring program, please complete the following form by Sunday 11th December. Successful applicants will be notified by the 20th January (Mentees) and 30th January (Mentors), with training scheduled for the end of February. The program will run for 6 months from March to August 2023.

    If you have any questions about the mentoring program, please email the SSA Mentoring Committee.


  • 9 Nov 2022 9:52 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Mr Zhi Yang

    SSA Canberra is delighted to announce that Mr Zhi Yang Tho from the ANU is the winner of the 2022 Dennis Trewin Prize! Zhi Yang received $1,000 for his presentation on Joint Mean and Correlation Regression Modelling for Multivariate Data.

    The Dennis Trewin Prize, named after the former Australian Statistician, is an award for early career research in statistics or data science conducted within the ACT or regional NSW. This year, the Prize was modified from a video submission format to live presentations, resulting in a more engaging and exciting event. We had three brilliant presentations on the day, and the selection panel had much difficulty deciding the placement of speakers.

    We would like to thank the participants for sharing their research, Dennis and the selection panel for their deliberations on the day, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for sponsoring the Prize.

    By Nelson Chua, on behalf of the SSA Canberra council

  • 9 Nov 2022 9:48 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    SSA NSW Branch – October Meeting

    On the evening of 26th October, Professor Brian Cullis from the University of Wollongong presented a talk titled “Optimal Design of Comparative Experiments and the ODW R Package”. 

    Brian’s talk was divided into two main parts. In the first part, he gave an overview of optimal designs for multiphase experiments, particularly model-based designs using the linear mixed model with correlated treatment effects. The optimality of the designs are based on some criteria, such as D-, G-, and A-optimality. Since these designs typically involve many components, finding an optimal design is usually done through an intensive search process of the design space. As such, having computer software that can generate optimal designs given a set of requirements is desirable, which is a primary aim of the ODW R package that Brian and his collaborators are pursuing. 

    In the second part, he introduced core functions of the ODW R package and demonstrated flexible uses of the package to search for optimal designs of various types. 

    Finally, Brian gave several examples of when the package was used to obtain designs for an experiment regarding genotypes of desi chickpea. The seminar concluded with questions from the audience about both the technical details and applications of the ODW package.

    Linh Nghiem
    NSW Branch Newsletter Correspondent 

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