National Committees update

Antarctic Research

Chair: Dr Dana Bergstrom

The National Committee (NC) for Antarctic Research led an Academy submission to the Australian Government’s 20 Year Australian Antarctic Strategic Plan in late March. A media release about the submission generated a significant amount of media coverage (see story in Policy section). The submission can be viewed here, and the media release here.


Chair: Professor Stuart Wyithe

The NC for Astronomy has formulated a proposed structure and timeline for the preparation of its decadal plan, and has coordinated an extensive series of 30 consultative meetings in centres across the country. These meetings have included the full range of topics of importance to Astronomy, including science priority, education, infrastructure and facilities for astronomy research, and research funding. A highlight was the meeting held with industry leaders at the ANU to explore strategies to best enable effective partnerships and engagement between astronomers and industry. A crucial component of the planning process involves undertaking a census of Australian astronomers in order to understand the current state of the Australian astronomy workforce, including its diversity, and to assess its scientific impact. There has been a very strong response to this activity with more than 500 responses collected. For more information visit the plan website

Left: Astronomy decadal plan Industry Working Group meeting. Right: Professor Brian Schmidt addresses the Astronomy decadal plan Industry Working Group meeting

Brain and Mind

Chair: Emeritus Professor Pat Michie

In July 2014 Australia is hosting the 12th International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON 2014) in Brisbane. The conference brings together researchers from diverse backgrounds with a focus on the relationships between the brain, mind, and behaviour. Members of the NC for Brain and Mind are actively involved in this important international conference as members of the conference organising committee, or program and scientific committees. Keynote speakers include eminent researchers from the UK, Europe, US, NZ, and Australia including two NC members. Click here for further details.

Highly mosaic romanesco broccoli with signs of radiation damage. © Graziano Lolli. Used by permission of the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr)


Chair: Professor Mitchell Guss

To celebrate the International Year of Crystallography (IYCr), a number of activities have been planned for 2014 around Australia, coordinated by the NC for Crystallography and the Society of Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand (SCANZ). At last month’s SCANZ Crystal29 conference the winner of the crystallographers’ choice for the Australian section of the international photo competition, Crystallography in everyday life, was announced. Other activities include Crystallography365 ‒ blogging a different crystal structure each day in 2014; the Crystals in the City sculpture exhibition; a travelling exhibition of Australian entries to the photo competition; a National Crystal Growing Competition; a public display of the remote data collection at the Australian Synchrotron; and a number of special journal issues, public seminar series and sessions at scientific meetings. Australian celebrations will culminate with the Academy's annual symposium, 100 years of X-ray crystallography, in May 2015.

Earth System Science (NCESS)

Chair: Dr Tas van Ommen

The NC for Earth System Science is well advanced in organising the Third Australian Earth System Outlook Conference, Cities in future Earth. The conference will be held from 8‒9 December 2014 at the Shine Dome, Canberra. Save the dates and watch the website for further information.

Working group members: Back row L-R: Mike Bull, Adrienne Nicotra, Alan Andersen, Mark Westoby (Chair of the NCEEC), Bronwyn Harch. Front Row L-R: Stuart Phinn, Margaret Byrne, Glenda Wardle, Tim Moltmann. Absent: Jason Beringer, Bek Christensen, Helen Cleugh, Ary Hoffmann, Andy Lowe, Andy Pitman

Ecology, Evolution and Conservation

Chair: Professor Mark Westoby FAA

The NC for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation has been working alongside partners from the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network and Ecological Society of Australia to develop an Australian Ecosystem Science Long-Term Plan. An extensive national consultation process for the plan closed at the end of March, delivering a wealth of ideas and suggestions for the future directions of Australian ecosystem science. During April, a working group then took on the task of reviewing this rich body of content to synthesise key priorities and prepare a draft of the plan itself. The draft plan document is now being peer reviewed by a number of key leaders across the Australian ecosystem science community, and the final plan is scheduled for release mid-year. For more information click here.

Mathematical Sciences

Chair: Professor Nalini Joshi FAA

The subcommittees involved in preparing the NC for Mathematical Sciences' decadal plan for the mathematical sciences have been finalising their reports to the Steering Committee following a workshop held in Melbourne in December 2013. The committee has approached the Executives of the Councils of Deans of Science, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Education and Engineering as well as groups in industry to provide submissions. So far submissions have been received from industry groups, AMIRA International and the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and from the Councils of Deans of ICT.

Mechanical and Engineering Sciences

Chair: Professor Ivan Marusic FAA

Together with the Academy, the NC for Mechanical and Engineering Sciences have called for nominations for the inaugural John Booker Medal in Engineering Science, to be awarded at Science at the Shine Dome in 2015. The award recognises outstanding research by an early- to mid-career researcher in the sciences that underpin civil, chemical, electrical, mechanical or materials engineering, and their associated disciplines. It honours the memory of Professor John Robert Booker AO FAA who worked in the area of analytical geomechanics.

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