Message from the President—August 2020

August 31, 2020
John Shine

August is synonymous with National Science Week and the restrictions around COVID-19 didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of participating organisations. There were more than 1200 National Science Week events across Australia, with the Academy providing valuable and intriguing online opportunities which anyone could attend. With science so much in the news this year it was a chance to celebrate achievements and to inspire people of any age to think more about the value of science in our lives.

Our joint event with the Australian Academy of Law on the reception, quality and evaluation of scientific evidence in Australian courts was no exception. What would normally have been an in-person event in Sydney with limited seating was instead broadcast as a webinar and livestreamed on Facebook, with a video published on our website for future reference. We estimate close to 600 people have so far watched the event, which is many more than would have been possible in person and illustrated the depth of interest in the topic.

Two other Academy webinars explored innovations relating to the management of oceans and bushfires, both of which received strong interest. We published written features on the inspirational work of three Fellows, promoted our ‘spot the maths’ photo competition for school students, and in a first for the Academy worked with Defence Science and Technology on a series of videos aimed at encouraging students to study STEM subjects.

Our involvement in the response to COVID-19 continues. Earlier in August, the Early- and Mid-Career Researcher (EMCR) Forum published a survey indicating that COVID-19 restrictions are having significant effects on the mental health and work of EMCRs and will likely have a lasting impact on their research careers and wellbeing. The EMCR Forum is calling for employers, governments and funding bodies to support our future science leaders—a call the Academy strongly supports .

The newsletter contains more about this issue and our National Science Week activities, as well as other news. Thank you for taking time out to engage with the Academy’s activities.

John Shine

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