National progress in diversity and inclusion in the science sector was one of the many achievements highlighted in the Academy’s recently published annual report for 2019.
Guided by the priorities of Fellows and led by the Academy Council, major achievements included the launch of three major women in STEM initiatives, support for nearly 5000 early- and mid-career researchers, and the publication of a Reconciliation Action Plan.
“The annual report demonstrates the Academy’s national leadership role in diversity and inclusion,” said Academy President Professor John Shine.
“After broad national consultation, and working with other organisations, we published the Women in STEM Decadal Plan and encouraged organisations to publish their progress implementing the plan. In August we initiated an online directory, STEM Women, which has done a lot to make women more visible.
“The Academy Council also took the ‘panel pledge’ to further strengthen the positive influence we can have on diversity.”
Academy Fellows received many Australian and international honours and awards, with Professor Cheryl Praeger being awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.
Early in 2019 the Academy produced a scientific report on the causes of the mass fish kills in the Darling River.
“The report was widely circulated and re-affirmed our ability to respond quickly with credible, expert information needed to inform decisions,” Professor Shine said.
Support for early- and mid-career researchers included specific professional development events tailored to their needs, networking opportunities, and funding to attend events. A particular highlight was the success of Rhys Pirie, who became the first Australian to win Young Innovator of the Year at the global Falling Walls competition in Berlin.
Global activities included the announcement of $1 million by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund to continue funding young scientists to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate and Heidelberg meetings for a further 10 years. Funding for collaborative international research managed by the Academy totalled nearly $1.5 million, and the Academy was able to quantify the many benefits returned to Australia through its membership of global science organisation, the International Science Council.
The Academy reached out to Australians through many public events around the country. We finished the year with 2.1 million followers on Facebook and produced a successful measles vaccination campaign on behalf of the Australian Government.
“Our education programs continued to help teachers and students be inspired by mathematics and science, and our first event connecting Fellows with Year 12 students was an energising experience for all,” Professor Shine said.
The Academy, through its National Committees, published 10-year plans to guide the future of nutrition science and information and communication sciences. It also published a Q&A booklet for all Australians on genetic modification, and Future Earth Australia published a strategy to achieve sustainable cities and regions in Australia by 2030.
The Academy’s work was enhanced through partnerships with the philanthropic sector, governments, industry, and a range of others in the STEM sector.
“Donations, partnerships and grants played a crucial part in the impacts we made during the year. The annual report is an excellent example of just how much our creative and determined organisation can achieve,” he said.
© 2020 Australian Academy of Science