Latest News https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/ en Australia’s Chief Scientist in global talks for COVID 19 response https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/news-and-media/australias-chief-scientist-global-talks-covid-19-response <h1 class="au-header-heading">Australia’s Chief Scientist in global talks for COVID 19 response</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/16" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">ROettle</span></span> <span>Sat, 2020-03-28 10:28</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>On 27 March 2020 Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, released this statement about Australia’s involvement in a dialogue of international science leaders on the COVID 19 worldwide crisis.</p> <p><strong>Australia’s Chief Scientist in global talks for COVID 19 response</strong></p> <p>For the past three weeks, Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, has been participating in a dialogue of international science leaders on the COVID 19 worldwide crisis.</p> <p>“This dialogue is a valuable update on endeavours around the world in medical science research, social sciences research and clinical trials. It is an effective way to share information on the global task of tackling the pandemic,” Dr Finkel said.</p> <p>“Our global research community has never been more important. I have been impressed by all of the participants’ willingness to share knowledge almost in real time, to ensure we are all well placed in developing responses.”</p> <p>Tapping into the wide-ranging networks of scientific and technical experience available to the Chief Scientist, Dr Finkel has been consulting with experts from around the country to support the dialogue’s discussions and his advice to government.</p> <p>Information on clinical trials being conducted in Australia, and how we are working to source extra ventilator units for use in intensive care units has been shared in the past week.</p> <p>The dialogue has also provided Australia with the opportunity to connect to modellers in the US studying intensive care unit needs which will assist our planning for the coming weeks and months.</p> <p>The weekly meeting is designed to bring together global counterparts to understand the progress of COVID-19, and to discuss challenges associated with the pandemic. It is chaired by Director of the White House Office of Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Member of President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force, Dr Kelvin Droegemeier.</p> <p>Along with Australia, other nations participating in the weekly calls are Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Spain, and the United Kingdom.</p> <p>This week’s discussions focussed on</p> <ul> <li>Artificial intelligence researchers developing tools to analyse the extensive machine-readable coronavirus literature, made available globally in response to a unified call for immediate open access by the nations listed above, using the <a href="https://www.kaggle.com/allen-institute-for-ai/CORD-19-research-challenge">Kaggle platform</a>;</li> <li>Sharing epidemiologic and other information among National Focal Points;</li> <li>Working together to further understand the impacts of co-morbidities and age distribution on COVID-19;</li> <li>Disseminating resources to improve understanding of individual and community perceptions and behaviours, including impacts on disease progression worldwide;</li> <li>Promoting multinational, multidisciplinary collaboration to address COVID-19; and</li> <li>Updating the group on serological testing, vaccine and therapeutics development, and clinical trials in each country and sharing discoveries as soon as possible.</li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/latest-news" hreflang="en">Latest News</a></li> </ul> </div> Fri, 27 Mar 2020 23:28:33 +0000 ROettle 1344 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au A biomedical honour: David Dewhurst Award https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/news-and-media/biomedical-honour-david-dewhurst-award <h1 class="au-header-heading">A biomedical honour: David Dewhurst Award</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/10" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathleen Horne</span></span> <span>Mon, 2019-12-09 09:47</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Dr Finkel was honoured by Australia’s biomedical engineers in November, when he was presented with the <a href="https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/About-Us/Awards/College-Awards/Biomedical">2019 David Dewhurst Award</a> for Biomedical Engineering Excellence. First presented in 1996 by the Biomedical College of Engineers Australia, the award honours leaders in biomedical device development in Australia.</p> <p>His nomination acknowledged Dr Finkel’s extensive career founding and leading biotech company Axon Instruments, where he developed world-leading patch clamp devices capable of measuring the electrical signals from a single neuron.</p> <p>At the presentation ceremony, Dr Finkel admitted that he’d never considered himself a biomedical engineer, instead calling himself an electrical engineer or neuroscientist as required. As such, it was quite a surprise to realise that the title perfectly described his career! His full acceptance remarks are available below.</p> <p>The award’s namesake, David Dewhurst, was one of Australia's first prominent Biomedical Engineers and the founder of the Institution of Biomedical Engineering. He investigated the connection between the electrical signal used to trigger a muscle and the resulting force the muscle produced. A full biography of David Dewhurst is <a href="https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/sites/default/files/awards/DD%20bio.pdf">available here</a>. </p> <p>*******************</p> <p> </p> <p>I am deeply honoured to have been awarded the Engineers Australia Biomedical College David Dewhurst Award for 2019.</p> <p>But, I need to let you all in on a secret – I never set out to be a biomedical engineer!</p> <p>In fact, until now I’ve not even been thinking of myself as a biomedical engineer. Instead, I’ve been thinking of myself as an electrical engineer. Or depending on the occasion, as a neuroscientist.</p> <p>So, I googled the definition of biomedical engineering.  From Imperial College, London, I found: “Biomedical engineering is a discipline that advances knowledge in engineering, biology and medicine…”</p> <p>With that definition in mind, now that I think about it; I am indeed a biomedical engineer, and becoming so was inevitable.</p> <p>As a young boy, I was fascinated by the inner workings of the human body. From almost the moment that I comprehended that one day I would be an adult, I was convinced I would be a doctor.  I loved to read about the workings of the human body and pick apart three dimensional models.</p> <p>At the same time, I was also intrigued by physics and electronics and space travel and deep water exploration.</p> <p>Finally, one day when I was sitting in the back of the classroom in Year 12 filling in the university application form, the reality of making a choice became a moment for sombre reflection.  At the last moment, I realised my interest lay in the mechanics of the human body – how it works – rather than the higher level calling to make people well, so I made the decision to do engineering.  It seemed safer (for patients).</p> <p>Eventually I graduated with a bachelor of electrical engineering.  What next?  I had no idea, but I decided to avoid getting a job just yet and signed up to do a PhD instead.</p> <p>I found myself occupying a lab bench in the Biophysics Lab within the Department of Electrical Engineering at Monash University. There I discovered that the human brain – invented by natural selection hundreds of thousands of years ago – was using the exact same principles of control systems engineering, including negative feedback, that we human engineers developed a mere 250 years ago.</p> <p>Think about it, it’s mind boggling. James Watt’s engine had a steam governor that he invented from scratch, but it operated in exactly the same way as the temperature control mechanism in your body, or the negative feedback loop that helps you to catch a cricket ball when a cross wind is blowing.  Nature got it right; and since we (without peeking) landed in the same place as Nature, you can be proud that we also got it right.</p> <p>The mixture of analogue and digital electrical communication in the brain; the complexity; and the operational redundancy, are stunning. This insight led to my thirty years in academia and industry as an unwitting biomedical engineer: combining electronic engineering with neuroscience research, with some mechanical and optical engineering thrown in for taste.</p> <p>Over the course of my career, I designed and produced a series of products for electrical recording at the microvolt and picoamp levels in tiny nerve cells: for image-based recording of specific proteins and voltage changes in individual living cells, for undertaking gene expression analysis in biotech companies, and for image based and electrical based screening of candidate medicinal compounds at pharmaceutical companies.</p> <p>It was a successful line of business. But I ask myself, to what do I owe that success?</p> <p>First, my PhD supervisor and ultimately my research colleague, Professor Steve Redman, who set very high expectations and never wavered in his anticipation of my success even when I did.</p> <p>Second, the Chairman of the Department at Monash University, Professor Doug Lampard. “Alan,” said Professor Lampard, “you can have any equipment you want, the most advanced in the world. As long as you design and build it yourself.”  Seemed reasonable!  I modified my equipment till 3 AM each morning, then tested it as a user the next day, saw what was wrong and modified it again.  It was a tight loop of customer test – design refinement – customer test – design refinement.  By the end of my PhD I was using the best amplifier in the world for recording the electrical activity of brain cells, and I didn’t even know it.</p> <p>Third, my wife, Elizabeth, who has had the constant temerity to challenge every idea I have ever had.  Unnerving as it is, I have to admit that there is nothing more important than having your ideas challenged!</p> <p>And finally, my father, who instilled in me a relentless commitment to quality.</p> <p>Somehow, it all came together.  Not everybody believes me when I tell them, but at no stage in my career did I ever have a long-range view of my next career step. Instead, I focussed on doing what I was doing well. Eventually, the doors of opportunity opened and I stepped through.</p> <p>This is an important principle, known by others by the aphorism from Louis Pasteur:  “Chance favours the prepared mind.”  What I call ‘the doors of opportunity’, Louis Pasteur calls ‘chance’. If you prepare well, those doors will open up. But you have to step through.</p> <p>I went from electrical engineer, to neuroscientist, to publisher, to electric car charging specialist, to educational program developer, to university chancellor, to President of the national academy of engineering, to Chief Scientist. Always, I did my best, then stepped through.</p> <p>In all my guises, I say to you thank you.  I am honoured by this award, and proud to be receiving it from the Biomedical College.</p> <p>And I am delighted that it is named after David Dewhurst. As I compare my career with David’s, it is even clearer to me that I am, in fact, a biomedical engineer.</p> <p>Like me, David studied physiology and electronics, but three decades ahead of me.</p> <p>Like me, David developed innovative electronic medical instrumentation.</p> <p>Like me, David used the term “electrophysiology” to describe his field of interest.</p> <p>Like me, David’s PhD thesis was on electrical parameters in tissue.  Mine, specifically, was on electrical signalling between nerve cells in brain tissue.</p> <p>Like me, in addition to his broader interest in physiology, David was an expert in electronics design.</p> <p>This last trait is critically important.  Although I was and am a generalist, I have deep discipline knowledge in electronics, built on fundamental studies in physics and maths. Being a generalist is valuable, but it is not enough.  You have to be a specialist in something as well.</p> <p>If I were to offer advice to young biomedical engineers it would be not to compromise between being a generalist and being a specialist.  Be both.</p> <p>There is no doubt that the future of pharmaceuticals development, medical devices and diagnostics lies at the intersection of engineering and biology, portending a bright future for biomedical engineers.</p> <p>On top of the surprise of receiving this award, the parallel surprise is that this award has helped me to develop my own perception of my professional career.</p> <p>You have helped me to understand my own role in the world, as a biomedical engineer, and I am proud of it.</p> <p>Thank you.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/speeches" hreflang="en">Speeches</a></li> <li><a href="/news/latest-news" hreflang="en">Latest News</a></li> </ul> </div> Sun, 08 Dec 2019 22:47:23 +0000 Kathleen Horne 1323 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au An electrolysis demo using a bottle of water and two wooden forks? https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/09/an-electrolysis-demo-using-a-bottle-of-water-and-two-wooden-forks <h1 class="au-header-heading">An electrolysis demo using a bottle of water and two wooden forks?</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Fri, 2019-09-13 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>What can you teach a group of students armed only with a bottle of water and two wooden forks?</p> <p>How electrolysis works, of course … and then, how to make hydrogen (and capture it) by splitting the two atoms that make up water, oxygen and hydrogen.</p> <p>A group of high school students from Kurnai College in Victoria’s LaTrobe Valley learned the answer to this question as Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel performed an impromptu demonstration on a visit to the school last month.</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.480px_wide" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="24e4a56a-3260-31cc-aec3-2c2fc3e4a80b" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-left"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/480px_/public/school-visit-1.jpg?itok=v70-667f" width="480" height="240" alt="Dr Finkel demonstrates electrolysis at high school student lunch" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>Taking a break from an industry and community seminar on the potential of hydrogen production at Federation University, Dr Finkel stopped by for lunch with about 20 senior students, when the question arose: how do you make hydrogen gas on earth, as it doesn’t exist in a pure form?</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.480px_wide" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="1757c6b6-ace0-3d0d-afb9-83dbe367d4f4" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-left"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/480px_/public/latrobe-school-visit-table.jpg?itok=l8sx_fic" width="480" height="240" alt="Dr Finkel informally speaking with high school seniors over school lunch" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>That’s when the water bottle and the forks made an appearance. Using these simple props, Dr Finkel explained that it is possible to make hydrogen by running an electric current through water, breaking open the hydrogen and water atoms, capturing the hydrogen, and releasing the water. “The captured hydrogen can then be transported,” he said, “to where it can be used in a range of applications, especially for long-haul transport fuel and in manufacturing.”</p> <p>The students also spoke about a range of other topics including quantum computing and which subjects they should study in high-school to ensure they have options later on.</p> <p>“I encourage you all to continue to study maths, English and science at the highest possible levels. These subjects are foundation subjects – you may not know yet what you want to do when you finish school, but these subjects will keep your options open and allow you to have a greater choice. I didn’t study neuroscience at high school, nor did I study how to be an entrepreneur, but the subject choices I made in high school (including maths, English and science) allowed me to pursue these career options later.”</p> <p>College Principal Anthony Rodaughan spoke about the positive impact a visit such as this has on students at regional schools. “The students were just thrilled to have the chance to meet the Chief Scientist, and it’s great to show them what is possible to do when you study science and maths – it’s an exciting area to study and work in, particularly with emerging technologies.”</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.landscape" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="b72f07f7-879a-3ebf-a0e8-bc5c1e5b44eb" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/landscape/public/latrobe-school-visit.jpg?itok=DgWRk8rV" width="600" height="227" alt="Group photo with Dr Finkel, senior teachers and senior students from Kurnai College" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/latest-news" hreflang="en">Latest News</a></li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Thumbnail</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/media/524" hreflang="en">Dr Finkel demonstrates electrolysis at high school student lunch</a></div> </div> Fri, 13 Sep 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 848 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Championing the need for change for Women in STEM https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/09/championing-the-need-for-change-for-women-in-stem <h1 class="au-header-heading">Championing the need for change for Women in STEM</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Wed, 2019-09-11 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Participating in the launch of the Male Champions of Change report <em>Harnessing Our Innovation Potential</em> last month, Dr Finkel has called for continued efforts to support women who want to work in science and technology related roles.</p> <p>The report has found that while women and men enter STEM with high levels of motivation to solve complex problems facing the world, women are more likely than men to consider leaving STEM jobs. They also report that they experience significantly more barriers to progression than men.</p> <p>“In my capacity as Australia’s Chief Scientist, I can shine a light on the need to ensure that everyone who wants to work in science, irrespective of gender or background, is supported to do so. It’s perplexing to me that people are not paid equally for the work they do; and it’s concerning to me that this report has data that says the best people are not always being promoted.”</p> <p>Reflecting on the importance of the Male Champions of Change program, Dr Finkel said that, “… the most important reason of all to be a champion for change is that I want to live in a society in which fairness is an overarching principle. Valuing diversity, and providing equal opportunities and rewards, is the foundation of fairness in society.”</p> <p>He congratulated the team from Accenture which conducted the survey that formed the basis of the report, noting that, “Whether you should ignore or respond to a survey should not be determined by whether you agree or disagree with the majority opinion. It should depend on the robustness of the methodology. This report has the decency to publish its own methodology and it is clear that it is robust.”</p> <p>He continued, saying that the strength of the survey was in its large number of respondents, with a good spread across organisational sectors, and a high level of male respondents.</p> <p>“This report plays a critical role in the change environment: it provides data – an evidence base. Why do we need data? Data transforms unconscious bias into the stark reality of conscious bias, which then means we can be <em>consciously un-biased</em>.”</p> <p>Dr Finkel thanked Ann Sherry and her team for the work of the Male Champions of Change program, and encouraged his co-champions to continue to advocate for diversity in all of their endeavours.</p> <p>“Be a champion in that historical sense of the word: fight the good fight on behalf of others, to achieve change.”</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/latest-news" hreflang="en">Latest News</a></li> </ul> </div> Wed, 11 Sep 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 918 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Scouting around for activities with the STARportal https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/08/scouting-around-for-activities-with-the-starportal <h1 class="au-header-heading">Scouting around for activities with the STARportal</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Tue, 2019-08-27 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>How do you build a bridge strong enough to support a potato using skewers, straws and sticky tape?</p> <p>Children at Canberra-based Scout group <em>13<sup>th</sup> Canberra</em> were asked this question recently as part of their activities celebrating National Science Week which included a visit from Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel.</p> <p>Drawing on the resources of the <a href="https://starportal.edu.au/">STARportal</a> – a website listing STEM activities all over Australia – the Scout cubs were challenged to solve this problem: a “potato scout” was on one side of a deep river and needed to join the scout troop on the other side. Could the cubs build a bridge to solve this problem using these limited resources? Could the potato get from one side of the river to the other? Dr Finkel provided expert engineering advice to the cubs, explaining the importance of structural integrity, weight distribution and limiting waste of materials for the task, among other things.</p> <p> </p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.480px_wide" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="e2c09ec7-c974-380c-8d6d-0ae9bc6296e6" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-left"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/480px_/public/Scout-bridge-test-and-interview.jpg?itok=FFrXFwLc" width="480" height="415" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>Dr Finkel encouraged the cubs to keep engaged in science and praised the Scout movement as one of the many community groups that is offering an opportunity for young people to explore STEM outside of the school context. “It’s important to understand that science activities are not just academic activities. It’s a part of our lives, part of our environment. You don’t see it, unless someone is presenting it to you – especially if you are young. If they do these as activities out of the classroom too, then children realise the universe is replete with science, mathematics and engineering.”</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.480px_wide" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="98d2a317-37f3-33ce-9e88-5d15ac78592c" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-left"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/480px_/public/Dr-Finkel-with-scout-leaders.jpg?itok=zspQd3xY" width="480" height="230" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>He also emphasised that context was important in sparking curiosity. “An activity such as this bridge building task may seem simple. But the next time one of these cubs sees a bridge, I would like to think they would be thinking about its structure, the materials of which it’s made, and how it’s being held up.”</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.480px_wide" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="9abee57f-f84a-36b9-befe-91fb4fbae316" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-left"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/480px_/public/testing-a-cross-bridge.jpg?itok=ggCuAgEC" width="480" height="355" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>“As a child, I was so curious. I loved anything to do with the human body. I loved electronics and science, and it was so exciting growing up with exploration of space and breaking down the barriers to space, and the exact equivalent in the deep ocean.”</p> <p>“If I was a child today, I’d be excited about the electric cars – the hydrogen powered cars, the autonomous cars – the possibility of robot drones and helicopters. Technology excites kids. Once they get excited about that, they then think: when I grow up, what would I have to know to develop that, so then I need to understand maths and science to build the next generation of technology,” Dr Finkel said.</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.480px_wide" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="11d93e0b-f806-35b8-8d25-f60702c70186" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-left"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/480px_/public/Potato-scout-crosses-the-bridge.jpg?itok=DlBRlX9U" width="480" height="436" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>Scout leader “Baloo” found the engineering challenge activity on the STARportal – a resource listing STEM activities all over Australia. It connects providers of science, technology, engineering and maths activities with parents, teachers and children in a “one stop shop”. These activities can be delivered autonomously, such as the bridge building challenge, or they can be programs that children can attend (i.e. an afterschool activity at a museum), or programs that come to school classrooms. Providers are encouraged to load information about their programs or activities to the website and maintain the content.</p> <p>And what of our lonely potato scout? You’ll be delighted to know the bridge building was so successful that the potato scout safely made the journey to the other side to join the group.</p> <p>Canberra ABC 666 roving reporter Ms Lish Fejer was also on the scene to record the historic bridge building activity.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/latest-news" hreflang="en">Latest News</a></li> </ul> </div> Tue, 27 Aug 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 924 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au The joy of being Australia's Chief Scientist https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/08/the-joy-of-being-australias-chief-scientist <h1 class="au-header-heading">The joy of being Australia&#039;s Chief Scientist</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Tue, 2019-08-20 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Dr Finkel was delighted to launch the program for National Science Week in Tasmania during a recent visit to Launceston’s Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG).</p> <p>National Science Week is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology. Running each year in August this year more than 1000 events are being held all around Australia, with activities tailored to everyone from children to adults, regardless of their level of science education.</p> <p>In launching the QVMAG program, Dr Finkel encouraged the nation’s science enthusiasts to get involved during National Science Week.</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.480px_wide" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="82ef02d7-e8e4-3301-9c87-73d8dd570665" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/480px_/public/Dr-Alan-Finkel-and-QVMAG-staff-web.jpg?itok=Z8qxtL-y" width="480" height="360" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>L-R: Dr Martin George, QVMAG Planetarium Manager; Dr Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist; Tracy Puklowski, QVMAG Director.</p> <p>Dr Finkel was also the proud recipient of several thank you letters from a class of grade 2/3 students from Deloraine Primary School who were on an excursion to the museum. Several students rated meeting him as being even more exciting than seeing dinosaurs – a true achievement!</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.landscape" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="344d9948-c835-3133-ae7a-3ebee7ece1cc" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/landscape/public/student-letter.png?itok=19uBNuZ0" width="600" height="173" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>Student letter reads: “My favourite part was meeting Dr Finkel because his speech was sooo interesting. We also had a photo with him and got put on the news. I enjoyed my day soooooo much, and it was the best day of the whole school year.”</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.landscape" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="d6c8186d-988b-3842-8ae4-b768a584700b" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/landscape/public/Dr-Finkel-with-students-QVMAG.jpg?itok=jWERXSk7" width="600" height="386" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>Dr Finkel with Deloraine Primary School students at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Tasmania</p> <p>You can view a news report of Dr Finkel’s visit <a href="https://www.facebook.com/243316189035395/posts/2587452207955103/">here</a>.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/latest-news" hreflang="en">Latest News</a></li> </ul> </div> Tue, 20 Aug 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 923 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Step into the STARportal and find your science fun https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/08/step-into-the-starportal-and-find-your-science-fun <h1 class="au-header-heading">Step into the STARportal and find your science fun</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Wed, 2019-08-14 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>If you’re a student or parent or teacher looking to find an entertaining and engaging STEM activity, the <a href="https://starportal.edu.au/">STARportal</a> is the answer.</p> <p>STARportal is a collection of the fantastic extracurricular STEM activities happening around Australia. The activities have been developed by individuals, corporations, governments and non-profit organisations, and are designed to support young people who are interested in science, to keep the flame of their curiosity burning.</p> <p>What sparks curiosity? The answer is having the opportunity to solve real world problems, using well-developed, high-quality, tested activities.</p> <p>“Arming young people with opportunities to solve real world problems means that they learn from a lived experience. For example, an engineering challenge that looks at designing, building and testing a water filtration system using household items develops thinking skills, cooperation and hands-on dexterity, and has the added bonus of being fun!” says Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel. “This is the kind of activity waiting for you on the STARportal.”<br />  </p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.480px_wide" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="d5493e52-1488-3bb2-ab51-06b37eaeda28" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-left"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/480px_/public/balloon-STARportal.png?itok=D2Tea_Q1" width="480" height="480" alt="Step inside the STARportal" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>He believes encouraging as many children as possible to “do” science, for as long as possible –in addition to their formal education – will maintain and extend their interest in science and be good for Australia too. “Keeping young people engaged in science is key to meeting our future challenges.”</p> <p>STARportal works just like a job search or real estate or used car portal. The information about the STEM activities is searchable by a number of different filters or criteria, such as location, age suitability, distance from home, cost, and subject or content areas. So a young woman in Hobart can search for a weekly coding activity near her school, or a dad in Sydney can search for a science holiday program that would suit a young boy, and is located conveniently near dad’s office.</p> <p>Teachers can also use the STARportal to support their classroom teaching, says Dr Finkel. “There is information about resources, excursions and programs that offer visits. Teachers can also use it to support students and their parents to find activities that offer either extra practice or exposure to a topic, or extension activities to build on their school work.”</p> <p>The information on STARportal is loaded by the providers and they are responsible for keeping it up to date.</p> <p>Dr Finkel has encouraged all providers to seek out STARportal and load their activities to it to spread their message.</p> <p>“The STARportal is a one-stop shop for all who are looking for their dose of science fun. Just step into the STARportal and you enter a new world of science opportunities.”</p> <p><a href="https://starportal.edu.au/">www.starportal.edu.au</a></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/latest-news" hreflang="en">Latest News</a></li> </ul> </div> Wed, 14 Aug 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 926 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Calling the brain mechanic https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/08/calling-the-brain-mechanic <h1 class="au-header-heading">Calling the brain mechanic</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Mon, 2019-08-12 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Dr Finkel was honoured to introduce a world leader in developing brain-machine interfaces for the 2019 Graeme Clark Oration in Melbourne this week: Professor Timothy Denison, the Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies at Oxford University.</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.half_" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="fb845653-7ced-3be7-bab8-8417cc73c324" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-left"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/half_width/public/gc-introduction.jpg?itok=5ObbrnMa" width="300" height="397" alt="Dr Finkel introducing the 2019 Graeme Clark Oration speaker" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>Dr Finkel introducing the 2019 Graeme Clark Oration speaker</p> <p>First established in 2008, the Graeme Clark Oration invites global leaders in health and medical science to share their work with Australians in a free public event. It’s held in honour of Professor Graeme Clark, who led the pioneering research and development of the Bionic Ear – a multiple-channel Cochlear Implant in Melbourne in the 1970s.</p> <p>Dr Finkel explained how his life’s work in research and industry has been focused on exploring the complexity of the human brain, and the incredible opportunities offered through understanding it better.</p> <p>“(I learned that) … it wasn’t just a grey gelatinous mass sloshing around in a skull. No, the brain was a machine: the ultimate electrical circuit.“Eighty (80) billion neurons. Trillions of connecting synapses. Perhaps two or three million gigabytes in memory.</p> <p>“A computer with that much processing power would draw as much energy as a suburb of houses and occupy the space of several tennis courts.</p> <p>“And you can run your brain on four squares of chocolate per hour.”</p> <p>Dr Finkel then outlined for the audience the concept of the Brain Machine Interface: devices, such as the Cochlear Implant, that are capable of communicating directly with the brain’s signals to treat conditions previously thought untreatable.</p> <p>“Graeme Clark used the magic of electronics to restore hearing to the profoundly deaf.</p> <p>“So it is fitting that our Graeme Clark Orator for 2019 is a scientist harnessing that same magic on the next frontier: the treatment of neurological disorders like epilepsy, dementia and chronic pain.</p> <p>“Perhaps Professor Denison’s most remarkable contribution has been his role in developing therapies for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease, through a technique called Deep Brain Stimulation.</p> <p>“Like many neurological conditions, it is crippling, it is progressive and it is cruel. We cannot cure it, and the symptoms of many patients are resistant to drugs.</p> <p>“The devices on the market today can deliver electrical pulses into the brain to interrupt the signals that cause the tremors.</p> <p>Professor Denison is leading the next step: closed-loop devices that receive feedback from the brain’s neural network, process that information, and then only deliver the pulses when required.”</p> <p>Professor Denison’s full Graeme Clark Oration is available to watch on the <a href="http://www.graemeclarkoration.org.au/the-oration.html">Oration website</a>.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/latest-news" hreflang="en">Latest News</a></li> </ul> </div> Mon, 12 Aug 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 927 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Summing up the value of mathematics https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/08/summing-up-the-value-of-mathematics <h1 class="au-header-heading">Summing up the value of mathematics</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Fri, 2019-08-09 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Take a room full of mathematics teachers and pose them an arithmetic problem. What could go wrong?</p> <p>Dr Finkel did just that when he addressed the annual conference of the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers in Brisbane in July, exploring the question of why maths is important for Australia’s future, and how to ensure young people and their families and carers understand the value of continuing to study advanced mathematics.</p> <p>He also called on the Australian university sector to work with secondary school leaders to make sure that there was clear understanding of the required level of a student’s capabilities when entering tertiary education.</p> <p>“Our universities need to indicate clearly to students what subjects are required to do well in a given course,” Dr Finkel said.</p> <p>“[We also need to] reinstate the expectation of studying mathematics at intermediate or advanced levels, particularly for entry into mathematics-based courses such as physics, engineering, and all of the general science courses; as well as other disciplines that depend on mathematics, such as economics, commerce and architecture.”</p> <p>Australian business leaders and academia are key stakeholders in the discussion on the importance of young people continuing to study mathematics, and have been calling for change to ensure skills are in place for future needs.</p> <p>As part of the conference, Dr Finkel participated in an industry and business forum and lunch along with CSIRO Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley. This discussion focused on how industry leaders could improve their engagement with students and the education sector more broadly to explain the opportunities available to young people if they stick with maths.</p> <p>“Mathematics encourages logical thought. It allows for the laying out of a problem and working through solutions; it trains you to make deductions from the learned assumptions of those who have gone before; and it encourages you to apply your knowledge to a wider world view. It’s a bit like being a Jedi master.”</p> <p>The full speech is available <a href="/node/698">here</a>.</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.half_" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="a8463304-e040-3110-84c3-fbbee4416947" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/half_width/public/Why-maths-web.jpg?itok=KZNhmrdw" width="300" height="474" alt="Dr Finkel addresses the 2019 annual Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers conference in Brisbane" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>Dr Finkel addresses the 2019 annual Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers conference in Brisbane</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/latest-news" hreflang="en">Latest News</a></li> </ul> </div> Fri, 09 Aug 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 925 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Latrobe Valley hydrogen generation pilot https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/08/latrobe-valley-hydrogen-generation-pilot <h1 class="au-header-heading">Latrobe Valley hydrogen generation pilot</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Wed, 2019-08-07 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>As the Chair of the Hydrogen Working Group developing Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy, Dr Finkel was among the many distinguished guests who helped to turn the first sod to mark the start of construction of a new hydrogen liquefaction facility in the Port of Hastings in Victoria on Friday 19 July 2019.</p> <p>The facility is part of the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) Pilot Project. The HESC pilot is a world’s first demonstration of a liquid hydrogen end-to-end supply chain: from the production of hydrogen in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley to delivery in Japan.</p> <p>Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator the Hon Matt Canavan, and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, also got busy with the shovel to help break first ground on the project. The Ministers’ joint media release on the event is here.</p> <p>Other attendees included Victorian Treasurer The Hon. Tim Pallas MLA, Japanese Ambassador to Australia His Excellency Mr Reiichiro Takahashi, senior industry partners, and federal, state and local government representatives.</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.landscape" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="9092cd99-e8f4-3fd9-b77b-ed992c951c97" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/landscape/public/sod-turning.jpg?itok=0sShHxol" width="600" height="400" alt="Officials including wearing high visibility gear break first ground with shovels on a grassy field." typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>Photo L-R: Mr Nigel Browne, General Manager AGL Loy Yang, AGL; Mr Seiichi Kuwata, President and CEO, Marubeni Corporation; Dr Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist; Dr. Hiroshi Sasatsu, Executive Managing Officer, J-POWER; Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment; Mr Shigeru Murayama, Global Chair, Kawasaki Heavy Industries; Senator The Hon Matthew Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia; His Excellency Reiichiro Takahashi, Ambassador of Japan to Australia; The Hon. Tim Pallas MLA, Victorian Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Industrial Relations; Mr Satoshi Watanabe, General Manager and Member of the Board, Iwatani Corporation; and Dr Amanda Caples, Victoria’s Lead Scientist.</p> <p>The Hydrogen Working Group was established by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council in December 2018. The Working Group has conducted extensive stakeholder consultation and in July released a series of thematic issues papers on aspects of the emerging hydrogen economy.</p> <p>The priority for the Working Group for the second half of the year will be to deliver a National Hydrogen Strategy to COAG Energy Council in December.</p> <p>At the sod-turning, Dr Finkel emphasised the importance of expanding our energy mix into the future.</p> <p>“A lack of diversity in energy sources puts us at risk. If, along with solar and wind energy, we can use brown coal as one way of making hydrogen – without carbon dioxide emissions during production – then it will add a third form of clean energy to the mix,” Dr Finkel said.</p> <p>“This will greatly increase the diversity of our future energy supply. This, to me, is the multi-generational importance of this Victorian project.”</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/latest-news" hreflang="en">Latest News</a></li> </ul> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-thumbnail field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Thumbnail</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/media/560" hreflang="en">Officials including wearing high visibility gear break first ground with shovels on a grassy field.</a></div> </div> Wed, 07 Aug 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 928 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au