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  • 24 May 2021 2:25 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The federal Budget had a host of initiatives in science and technology, and a detailed analysis is in STA’s budget breakdown. We were pleased to see so many of you at our STA members-only post-Budget briefing last Friday.

    Among other commentary, STA welcomed announcements to establish mRNA vaccine manufacturing capability in Australia and a new patent box scheme to incentivise biotech and medtech patents and manufacturing onshore - with a pledge to consult on extending the scheme to clean energy technology. We also backed a pledge to create new scholarships for women in STEM. Our President Jeremy Brownlie and I were quoted in InnovationAus.

    The launch of the new intake of STA STEM Ambassadors generated good media coverage, with stories about our new Ambassadors in the Canberra Times, West Australian, ABC, and the Border Mail. Campus Morning Mail noted the strong interest from MPs right across the breadth of the Parliament in this terrific program. One of this year’s MPs - NSW Nationals Senator Perin Davey - said she was delighted to join “as we know how important it is for science to inform policy in so many critical areas”. “I congratulate Science & Technology Australia on developing a program that will improve the links between policy and STEM across a wide range of policy areas and across all parties.” 

    I was also honoured to speak at the opening of the Western National Innovation Games about STA’s Superstars of STEM program which tackles the visibility barrier for diverse women in STEM. And we are gearing up for National Reconciliation Week - and looking forward to seeing the STEM sector sharing Indigenous knowledges during that period.

    Lastly, after an impressive 16 years in the role, Sam Popovski is moving on from leading the CSIRO Staff Association. Our thanks to Sam for his leadership and dedication to CSIRO staff throughout his time in the role, and we wish him the very best in his new role at the CPSU. 

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 


    STA invites nominations for our Policy Committee and our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. These are great opportunities to participate in STA’s work in these areas. We strongly encourage applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with disability, people from diverse faith, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and LGBTQIA+ identified STEM professionals.

    To register your interest or to see the Terms of Reference, head to our website. Applications close midnight 6 June.


    Two important events next week: Sorry Day, and the start of National Reconciliation Week. Sorry Day – Wednesday 26 May - is a national commemoration to remember past policies of forced child removal and the intergenerational damage those policies caused to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities. National Reconciliation Week, which begins on Thursday 27 May (the anniversary of the 1967 referendum to count Indigenous Australians as citizens in their own land), is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements. It's also a time to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. We will be marking Sorry Day and National Reconciliation Week on our social media channels and would encourage member organisations to do the same. Social media assets are available on the National Reconciliation Week 2021 website.


    Further information: Peter Derbyshire, STA Policy Manager -


    STA has been exploring opportunities with the Department of Home Affairs to share updated information with STA members about accessing the Global Talent Visa Program for brilliant global STEM talent. Some of the criteria have evolved, and there is a strong opportunity globally to recruit outstanding STEM talent. If you would find it valuable to attend an information session organised by STA and presented by the Department, please get in touch with STA Membership Manager Lucy Guest at


    Do you have a STEM idea, technology, innovation, product or program that could become a reality if you could just source some financial support or even just some key introductions? Then we want to hear from you. STA is launching a new project where we’ll aim to highlight activities and ideas that need some level of extra support to get them to the next stage, whether that is government funding, industry collaboration, or commercialisation. Get in contact with our Communications Manager, Martyn Pearce.


    • The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) is supporting a terrific series of events and scientific workshops. Check them out here.
    • The Early Career & Student Statisticians Conference 2021 is accepting abstracts until 31 May.  
    • The next seminar in the Australian Society for Parasitology will be held on Friday 28 May. Register now to learn about flukes in Southern Bluefin Tuna. 
    • Cicada Innovations has an event on 2 June exploring what would happen if we rebuilt the world using biotech. Register here
    • Early and mid-career researchers can get involved with an initiative to Reboot STEMM. The half-day virtual think tank aims to co-design a strategy for a more inclusive and diverse way of defining, recognising and rewarding ‘success’. Apply to be a part of it by 28 May.

    To add a conference or event: contact STA Events & Membership Manager Lucy Guest –


    • Entrepreneurs' Programme - Accelerating Commercialisation – Ongoing.
    • The annual Australian Academy of Science awards are now open. The awards shine a light on researchers who are making outstanding contributions to science in Australia. There is also conference funding available.
    • The Academy also recently expanded its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scientists award, which now covers research funding as well as travel up to $20,000. Apply by 1 June.
    • STEM Executive Experience day gives ambitious leaders aged between 22 and 35 the chance to see what it takes to be an executive. You can win a place at the event including return flights to Sydney and two nights in a five-star hotel. Enter by 29 May.
    • Applications are open for ABC’s 2021 Top 5 Science Residency program. The scheme aims to equip emerging science scholars with media and communication skills, and will give you the chance to work alongside some of Australia’s leading journalists. Applications are open to PhD-qualified early career academics in all STEM fields. Applications close Tuesday 1 June.


    The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are open for application! This year there are 16 prizes across the categories of Research and Innovation, Leadership, Science Engagement, and School Science. Prizes cover a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines and recognise the work of scientists, researchers, and science communicators at all career stages. There is a prize pool of $160,000 to be shared between winners. Entries close at 7pm AEST on Friday 28 May.

    Australian Science Innovations (ASI) is seeking expression of interest for board directors with broad governance and business skills, particularly with qualifications or extensive experience in government relations, digital marketing and communications, and/or fundraising. Find out more here.

    Are you following Science & Technology Australia on Instagram? If you’re a member organisation using Insta as one of your communication channels please follow us and we’ll follow you back!

  • 20 May 2021 11:39 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Conference Scholarship Queensland Branch

    The Statistical Society of Australia QLD Branch is offering an award to fund participation at the Australian and New Zealand Statistical Conference 2021.  The ANZSC is being held Online on the 5-9th of July 2021, conference details can be found here. The focus of the conference will be Modeling data for a brighter future.  The aim of this Conference is to bring together a broad range of researchers and practitioners across a variety of statistical disciplines to facilitate the exchange of theory, methods, and applications.  The scholarship will cover conference registration. The recipient/s will be required to provide an article on personal conference highlights within two weeks of the end of the conference for publication in the SSA Newsletter.


    Open to all Honours, Masters and PhD research students enrolled at a Queensland university (full-time or part-time), who are SSA members and will be presenting a talk at the conference, either as a formal presentation or poster (note abstract submissions are closed). Award recipients are required to submit to the SSA Queensland Branch Secretary a short summary (of approximately 250 to 500 words) of their presentation and their personal conference highlights within two weeks of the conclusion of the conference for publication in the SSA Newsletter.  You need not be a current member of the SSA at the time of application but will be expected to join before reimbursement. The cost of SSA student membership is $20 per year.


    The maximum award is $250 per person. The award can only be used for conference registration.  Awards will be paid directly to the award recipients unless otherwise requested. The award monies will be distributed after receipt of paid invoices.  Up to five scholarships will be awarded.


    Award recipients will be selected by the SSAI Queensland Branch Council and will be notified by email on 7th June 2021.


    E-mail the following to the Queensland Branch Secretary:

    • ·         Personal details: name, email address and phone number and a short paragraph introducing yourself, your current degree and qualifications and/or career experience.
    • ·         Evidence of enrolment at a Queensland university (e.g., picture of student ID card).
    • ·         Evidence of acceptance of talk or poster
    • ·         Abstract of talk or poster.

    The closing date for applications is 5PM Monday 31st  May 2021. Late applications will not be considered.

    Applications and requests for further information should be directed to the Branch Secretary, Adrian Barnett.

  • 13 May 2021 12:12 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Earlier this year SSA launched a scheme helping statistics students in Australia with top-up scholarships. These annual scholarships, worth $5,000 each, are awarded to members who are also current higher degree students. We received 17 applications in total, of which 12 were eligible for the scheme. The reviewers were impressed with the high standard of the applications. Given that they were all excellent, the four winners were chosen at random.

    We aim to continue this scheme in future years if this initial pilot goes well.”

    Congratulations to the recipients of the 2021 top-up scholarships:

    ·         Elizabeth Korevaar

    ·         Parinaz Mehdipour

    ·         Owen Forbes

    ·         Jiaxin Zhang

    Adrian Barnett
    SSA Vice President

  • 12 May 2021 9:14 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Tuesday 11 May 2021


    New Budget investments in Australia’s next-generation technology workforce, science infrastructure, vaccine capabilities, and tax incentives to lure firms to commercialise and manufacture patented technologies onshore have an eye firmly on the future.

    “This future-focused Budget charts a path to develop the workforce Australia will need to seize opportunities in next-generation technologies,” said Science & Technology Australia President Associate Professor Jeremy Brownlie.

    “It also makes important investments in essential science infrastructure through the Australian Space Agency, ANSTO, and the Square Kilometre Array giant telescope.”

    “A $206.4 million ‘patent box’ tax break will incentivise medical and biotech companies to not only register their patents in Australia - but manufacture products from those patents onshore.”

    “We welcome the commitment to consult on extending those tax breaks to clean energy.”

    “The Budget also expands opportunities to deploy Australian science and technology as powerful assets of global diplomacy.”

    Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert said new women in STEM scholarships would pave the way for more women and girls to study science and technology.

    “As longtime champions of women in STEM, STA welcomes this boost through industry placement scholarships to get more women and girls into STEM,” she said. 

    “The $1.7 billion over five years to expand childcare subsidies will be welcome help for working parents everywhere, including in STEM.”  

    “We also welcome the commitment to develop an onshore manufacturing capability for mRNA vaccines here in Australia, which will need future funding.”  

    Key science and technology measures in the 2021 Budget include:

    • $206.4 million in tax incentives with a ‘patent box’ to strengthen sovereign manufacturing of Australian-patented technologies.
    • $42.4 million over 7 years to support 230 women in STEM with higher education STEM scholarships including industry placements.
    • $300 million for the Square Kilometre Array giant telescope in regional WA.
    • $116.7 million to upgrade waste storage and maintenance of equipment at ANSTO.
    • $13.3 million over four years for the Australian Space Agency to boost regulatory and technical capabilities.
    • A commitment to develop onshore mRNA vaccine manufacturing capability.
    • $10.4 million over four years to extend the national partnership agreement on clinical trials and introduce mitochondrial donations into medical research.
    • $26.8 million over four years for a national soils science challenge. 
    • Streamlining visas to target highly skilled individuals.
    • $643.4 million over four years to develop clean energy technologies.
    • $43.8 million over three years to expand the cyber security skills innovation fund.
    • $22.6 million over six years for 234 scholarships in next generation emerging technologies (such as AI).
    • $1.2 billion for digital economy transformation in measures announced last week.
    • $52.4 million over four years for global science and technology collaborations and diplomacy.

  • 7 May 2021 9:48 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)


    In the lead-up to the Budget, STA has been pressing the case once again for a major push on research translation and commercialisation. We published our submission to the current taskforce in the Department of Education, and generated strongly positive media coverage and stakeholder support. 

    The story was covered in Campus Morning Mail, InnovationAus and AuManufacturing - and we deployed our key team on the communications strategy. I was interviewed on ABC Newsradio, our President-elect Mark Hutchinson spoke to Fran Kelly on ABC RN Breakfast, and our President Jeremy Brownlie had this piece published in The Australian.

    Next Tuesday, the STA team will monitor the Budget closely on the night, and produce rapid public comment. We’ll also deliver further analysis at our special STA members-only briefing on Friday May 14. Please register ASAP if you haven’t yet done so and are keen to attend.

    This week we also announced STA’s newest group of STEM Ambassadors. Now in its third cohort, the program offers STEM professionals from STA member organisations the chance to build a productive ongoing relationship with a federal Parliamentarian. We are excited to introduce the new group to you.

    STA continues to focus strongly on the issues of job security and safeguarding our STEM workforce as pandemic continues to be felt. We are especially concerned about the impact on those on fixed term contracts, given the anticipated ongoing pressure on university finances, including many early career researchers. 

    And as Reconciliation Week approaches later this month, we also encourage members to consider how to mark this important annual event with further progress on Indigenous advancement. It was inspiring to listen to some of the cluster group discussions for this quarter on how member organisations are working on this key goal.

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 


    Further information: Peter Derbyshire, STA Policy Manager -


    As a benefit to STA members, STA will host a post-Budget briefing in the week of the May Budget - which is handed down on Tuesday 11 May. This session will cover STEM-related announcements in the Budget, and share additional information on how proposed measures may affect the STEM sector, and next steps for engagement or consultation on any Budget announcements.

    Date: Friday 14 May
    Time: 11am-12noon AEST
    Fee: This online event will be free and only open to STA members – with up to two attendees per member organisation. please RSVP here


    The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is assessing whether the Department of Health is effectively managing the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). Science & Technology Australia would like to use this opportunity to get feedback from our membership to inform our response. We invite you to provide feedback using this form by 17 May.

    Further information: Peter Derbyshire, STA Policy Manager -


    Do you have a STEM idea, technology, innovation, product or program that could become a reality if you could just source some financial support or even just some key introductions? Then we want to hear from you. STA is launching a new project where we’ll aim to highlight activities and ideas that need some level of extra support to get them to the next stage, whether that is government funding, industry collaboration, or commercialisation. We’ll tell you more about this exciting project in a future Member Update, but for now, send us your pitches! Get in contact with our Communications Manager, Martyn Pearce.


    • National Youth Science Forum 2022 Year 12 program applications close on 2 July. If you know a STEM enthusiast currently in Year 11 encourage them to apply. 
    • Plastics – are they a problem, benefit or a game-changer? Join RACI’s 10-part virtual series exploring innovations, challenges, sustainable uses, recycling and the future of plastics. The series runs until August. Register here.
    • ARPS 2021 Conference: Legacy and Innovation in Radiation Protection - 13 – 16 September 2021, Canberra Rex Hotel. Enrich your understanding of non-ionising and ionising radiation safety, highlight the importance of effective communication and stakeholder involvement on radiation safety, highlight new technologies and generate discussion across a broad range of radiation protection. 

    To add a conference or event: contact STA Events & Membership Manager Lucy Guest –



    The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are open for application! This year there are 16 prizes on offer across the categories of Research and Innovation, Leadership, Science Engagement, and School Science. Prizes cover a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines and aim to recognise the work of scientists, researchers, and science communicators at all career stages. There is a prize pool of $160,000 to be shared between winners. Entries close at 7pm AEST on Friday 28 May.

  • 5 May 2021 9:27 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The SSA NSW Branch is now accepting registration grant applications for the Australian and New Zealand Statistical Conference (ANZSC 2021, 5th – 9th July 2021) and the Early Career and Student Statistician Conference 2021 (ECSSC 2021, 26th July 2021 – 1st August 2021). Applications are open to student members of the SSA NSW Branch who will give an oral or poster presentation at one of the conferences. Limited spots are also available to student members who will attend ECSSC 2021 without giving a presentation, and early career statisticians (up to 5 years post-PhD) that have been members of the SSA NSW Branch for at least 2 years at the application deadline and have no financial support available to present at one of the conferences. Successful applicants will receive a reimbursement for registration fees and workshop costs paid by the applicant. 

    A complete application will consist of:

    1. An outline of the importance of attending the conference to the candidate’s research or work (2-3 lines).Abstract of the presentation, if available.
    2. A list of other funds sought or promised, including those from the candidate’s home institution.
    3. Any other supporting material the candidate considers relevant to the application.
    4. A letter of support signed by the candidate’s supervisor; for early career statisticians, the letter should also state the candidate has no funds available to attend one of the conferences.
    5. The candidate’s up-to-date CV.

    Applications can be submitted electronically to the Secretary of the SSA NSW Branch on or before Saturday, 26th June 2021.

    Recipients of the grant will also need to supply a report of their involvement in the conference to be published in the Society’s newsletter.

    Recipients of the grant are asked to acknowledge the SSA’s support in their presentations and in any published version of presented papers. We reserve the right not to reimburse if the recipient did not acknowledge the support of the SSA NSW Branch in their talk or poster.

    Previous successful applicants of similar awards from SSA are not eligible to apply.

    All applicants will be notified of the outcome by email no later than Monday, 21st June 2021.

  • 2 May 2021 2:40 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    SSA Canberra are calling for nominations for the 2021 Dennis Trewin prize! The prize, named after the former Australian Statistician Dennis Trewin, is awarded annually for outstanding postgraduate research in statistics or data science.

    Eligibility criteria:

    • At least 12 months into a postgraduate research degree, or graduated from a postgraduate research degree in the last 36 months (at the time of application).
    • Undertaking/undertook the research degree from a university with a campus within the ACT or regional areas of NSW outside Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong.

    If you have innovative research from your research degree that is of interest to statisticians and/or data scientists, we strongly encourage you to apply!

    Please submit an abstract of your research work to by Friday 14th May. You will also need to provide proof of enrolment at the university that the research was undertaken in.

    Shortlisted applicants will be invited to record a 15-20 minute video on their research, and will receive a one-year complimentary SSA student membership following this. A selection committee will then decide the winner of the Dennis Trewin prize, who will additionally receive a $1,000 cash prize and an invitation to present their research as part of SSA Canberra's branch meeting in October. Whilst most recent branch meetings have been held virtually, there is a possibility that this branch meeting will be held physically, in which case the cost of dinner will be covered, as well as travel and one night’s accommodation if required.

    If you have any further questions regarding the nature/format/scope of the prize, please contact 

  • 2 May 2021 2:09 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    SSA Canberra is inviting student statisticians and data scientists who are student members or join as student members of SSA Canberra branch, and are planning to either:

    + Attend and present a talk or poster at the Australia and New Zealand Statistical Conference on 5-9 July online (ANZSC 2021), or

    + Attend and present a talk or poster at the Early Career and Student Statisticians Conference on 26 July to 1 August 2021 online (ECSSC 2021)

    to apply for financial support in the form of a "registration grant".

    Application Details:

    prepare the following documents and a submit a single PDF form containing:

    i. A brief resume of up to 4 pages;

    ii. A brief statement of which of the above three "grants" you are applying for.

    Please note you can only apply to be reimbursed for one of the above three grants;

    iii. Your submitted talk/poster abstract for ANZSC2021/ECSSC2021;

    iv. A short letter describing the anticipated benefits to you that will result from your attendance at the conference/workshop, and declaring any other financial support offered to you for this conference/workshop.

    Please send these via email to by 5pm on 31st May 2021

    Successful applications will be notified by email 30th June 2021. After

    receiving a confirmation of your acceptance of talk and your registration

    receipt/invoice, and after SSA Canberra has confirmed that you are a student

    member, then SSA Canberra will then look to reimburse your relevant

    registration/conference fees.

    Successful applications should:

    + Acknowledge the financial support of SSA Canberra during their


    + Contribute a short piece about their experience to the SSA Stats Matters

    newsletter, to be sent to

  • 2 May 2021 2:00 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    SSA Vic are proud and happy to announce that we will once again be offering financial support to our members for the attendance of statistical workshops,  conferences, winter/summer schools and short courses; both national and international, in 2021. This includes for example, the ANZSC 2021, the ECSSC 2021 and AMSI Winter School.

    Members are invited to apply for funding via one of the two schemes:

    1. (Conferences 2021) We are offering up to $200 of total funding, per member, for the registration and travel expenses associated with attendance of national and international conferences; or

    2. (Summer & Winter Schools/Short Courses/Workshops 2021)

    We are offering up to $150 of total funding, per member, for the registration cost of short courses or workshops for their statistical development.

    Members may apply to both schemes, however the total amount of funding available per member is $250 (e.g., if a member has received $150 for a Workshop, and then applies for conference expenses, then they will only be eligible for $100 from the Conference scheme). Members who were funded in 2020 are also eligible for funding in this 2021 round.

    To be eligible for access to funding, the applicant must satisfy the following


    1. The applicant must be a member of SSA Vic at the time of application (Membership is only $20 for students!).
    2. Provide invoices/evidence of registration and expenses that the funding will be used to cover.

    Members seeking more information may email for more information, by including the subject line "SSA Vic Funding Applications 2021".

    Please note that the successful applicants may need to write a small report about their experience. Successful applicants that are presenting at the conference will need to acknowledge support from SSA Vic in their talks or poster. The names of all successful applicants will be publicly shared.

    Please use the following form to apply for either funding schemes:

    We hope that this funding program will help alleviate the financial burden of our members and look forward to receiving your applications.

  • 2 May 2021 1:25 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The April 2021 meeting of the New South Wales branch was co-hosted by the Sydney section of the R Ladies group. Jenny Sloane gave a short presentation about R Ladies, both at the international and local levels, and explained how it promotes gender diversity within the R computing community - and also how it helps her as a researcher and data analyst.

    We then had a seminar by Dr Gordana Popovic who is a research fellow and statistical consultant at the University of New South Wales. Gordana's talk was titled "Carrots are good for vision. Models are good for visualising discrete data". We didn't hear much about carrots after that, but penguins and spiders came up quite a bit. The animal theme was in keeping with Gordana's membership of the Ecological Statistics Research Group at her university. The commonly used pairwise scatterplot or visualisation of multivariate data was likened to drawings of the top and side views of an object commonly used in high school technical drawing courses.

    Improved visualisation of the object is, of course, achieved by viewing it from several angles.  Gordana likened this to flying in a drone around a multi-dimensional point cloud.  The visualisation term for this is "tour" and the R package named "tourr" was mentioned due to it supporting drone-type views of multivariate data controlled by a computer  mouse.  A data concerning features of penguins collected at Palmer Station, a  research station in Antartica, was used to illustrate problems with pairwise scatterplots and tours. This is because of factors such as discreteness of the observations and counts having very many zeroes. A common quick and simple remedy is to jitter the data but this has shortcomings such as not preserving ordering.

    Speaker Popovic then moved onto her central theme: using models to help with visualisation. A key principle for this is Dunn-Smyth residuals, which were cooked up at the University of Queensland in the 1990s by Peter Dunn and Gordon Smyth and published in a very well-cited 1996 Journal of Computational  and Graphical Statistics paper. Gordana explained how Dunn-Smyth principle is like jittering but preserves ordering. The upshot is much more useful  pairwise scatterplots and tours. Similar illustrations were made for spiders and interpretations of the fondness for leaves by some spider species was made possible by the new methodology.

    An R package by Gordana and colleagues, named "ecoCopula", was advertised as a way for R Ladies and gentlemen to do  it themselves.  There was a brief technical part concerning copulas as a latent variable model and biplot concepts. Then there was final theme concerning ordinal data and how the ideas translated well to their visualisation as well.

    Matt Wand
    University of Technology Sydney


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