Message from the President—September 2019

September 26, 2019

It has been an exciting month in terms of creating opportunities to inspire the general community, especially young people, with science. In partnership with Questacon in Canberra, close to 2000 people lined up to participate in an evening of science, much as they might for a music concert. Questacon was full of pop-up demonstrations, interactive displays and live music, guided by 30 of Australia’s brightest young scientists.

These young scientists were alumni of the Lindau Nobel Laureate meetings: annual meetings in Germany that provide opportunities for the next generation of leading scientists from all over the world to be mentored by Nobel Laureates. They were able to draw on their experience and share it with thousands of people. In addition, Academy Fellow and Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt was a big drawcard. The fact that he was on stage discussing astrophysics with The Bachelor’s popular Dr Matt Agnew added some spice to the night. We are looking forward to planning more events that invite people to experience the excitement and fun of science and gain a deeper appreciation of its importance for the social and economic wellbeing of our society.

The Academy was delighted that the Science and Industry Endowment Fund, which has so far funded more than 80 Australian researchers to attend Lindau meetings and Heidelberg meetings, has committed a further $1 million to the Academy over the next 10 years to continue this support.

Falling Walls Lab Australia is another fantastic opportunity for young scientists and the final selection round was held in Canberra in September. Each participant had just three minutes to make their pitch on ‘which walls will fall next?’—congratulations to the top three who will travel to Berlin to represent Australia at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in November.

It is becoming more evident, for example in the current cohort of leading young scientists, that the diversity found in Australian society is now better represented in the science sector than in previous times. Although we still have some way to go, with programs like SAGE supporting structural and cultural change in our universities and research institutions, the future of Australian science is looking bright.

You can find out more about these events, and much more, in the September newsletter.

Professor John Shine AC PresAA

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