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Australia's Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO

"One of the things about life is that you never really know how it will unfold, no matter what your vision is." - Dr Alan Finkel AO

The NYSF is delighted to announce the launch of our new NYSF Connect Webinar Series for NYSF alumni. Each week, our alumni have had the opportunity to hear from some of Australia’s top STEM professionals and ask them questions about their career pathways, what they studied, and their current research. Our long-term goal to provide NYSF alumni with increased professional development and networking opportunities has been realised during this period of COVID-19 social distancing. 

The NYSF team seized the opportunity to plan and deliver this innovative new program online. The feedback from attendees has been highly positive and the series has been a particular support for 2020 Alumni whose NYSF experience was affected by bushfire forced cancellations in January. We are very grateful to the STEM champions who have donated their time to participate in this series. 

NYSF Alumni have seized on the opportunity to talk to some of Australia's Science leaders and expressed their gratitude at having access to such accomplished professionals.

"Being able to directly connect with industry professionals is such a worthwhile experience and helps me gain a greater understanding of what I want to pursue in my career." - NYSF Connect Webinar participant

"I have really enjoyed the webinars to date and am looking forward to what is offered in the coming weeks. I don't have anything specific I would like to see as I have found it very insightful to hear from people with knowledge in areas I might not have specifically thought of." - NYSF Connect Webinar participant

"I am definitely interested in the webinars and would love to see the continued approach of helping alumni grow network connections through this series." - NYSF Connect Webinar participant

The webinars cover a range of topics including STEM and Research, Careers and Studies, and Alumni Stories. Since the first webinar in May, an array of prestigious guests have joined us for live Q&As with our network of over 12,000 NYSF Alumni, including:

  • Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist Prof. Tanya Monro FAA FTSE FOSA FAIP GAICD;
  • Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Alan Finkel AO;
  • Chief Executive Officer of ANSTO, Dr. Adi Paterson;
  • ABC News Breakfast Weatherman, Nate Byrne;
  • Prof. Catherine Travis, Linguistics, ANU;
  • Astrophysicist, Dr. Brad Tucker from the ANU;
  • Prof. Sally-Ann Poulsen, Deputy Director (acting) at Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD), Griffith University;
  • Fluid Mechanist at Macquarie University, Dr. Sophie Calabretto;
  • Dr. Lachlan Blackhall,Entrepreneurial Fellow, Head, Battery Storage & Grid Integration, ANU;
  • Geneticist and PM Prize winner, Prof. Jenny Graves;
  • Assoc Prof Charley Lineweaver, Astrophysicist ANU;
  • John Pring from Citizen Science; and
  • NYSF Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Melanie Bagg.

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Australia's Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO

One of the highlights was the presentation and Q&A with Australia's Chief Scientist Dr. Alan Finkel AO about his career to date.

"One of the things about life is that you never really know how it will unfold, no matter what your vision is. When I was young, I was convinced I wanted to be a doctor, but eventually, I worked out that I was more interested in the technology of the body. So, I chose electrical engineering to combine my interests in physics and technology." -Dr Alan Finkel AO 

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Chief Defence Scientist, NYSF Science Patron and 1990 alumna, Prof. Tanya Monro FAA FTSE FOSA FAIP GAICD

Another highlight was the session with NYSF’s Science Patron, Prof. Tanya Monro, who is currently Chief Defence Scientist of Australia and has a fascinating career journey to share. Prof. Monro spoke about the increasing need for collaboration in science and the launch of the More, together: Defence Science and Technology Strategy 2030. 

“Right now, the senior leadership across the Australian Defence Force and Department of Defence really understand, as they have never before just how science and technology is going to transform our world and there is a huge appetite for us to do more.” - Prof. Tanya Monro 


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ANSTO CEO, Dr Adi Paterson

CEO of ANSTO, Dr. Adi Paterson spoke about the need for diversity in science: “The new normal society and life with COVID is going to be a gentle world and a more enquiring world and it’s going to be a world that brings everybody in as peers to solve some of the biggest problems that we’ve got.”

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Geneticist, Prof. Jenny Graves

Prof. Jenny Graves spoke about her fascinating work in genetics and sex and what success meant to her.

"For me, the real successes are:

The science-I’ve made seven major discoveries;

The people in my lab-I’ve trained more than 100 honours and 56 PhD graduates and some postdocs;

The opportunities, to travel, be part of a global community and the chance to influence science policy in this country and globally; and

Lastly the fun, it has been a really fun career. Working with animals and working with sex has been tremendous fun and I’m really grateful for the opportunity that science has given me.

Throughout the series, participants have received fascinating and valuable information and advice a range of STEM professionals. Here is just a taste of some of the wisdom shared with our alumni.

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ABC News Breakfast, Weatherman & NYSF alumnus, Nate Byrne

When asked about how he deals with missing out on opportunities, ABC Breakfast Weather Presenter, Nate Byrne said: “It’s best when you get a no, to grieve it, give it a minute, but don’t dwell on it, let it go. Every no means that now you can be switched on to opening your eyes to other opportunities. Nos can motivate you in lots of different ways and you should let that happen.”  

"I'm an astrophysicist, and my specialty is in supernova and cosmology. So, I study exploding stars and using that information to try to understand the universe as a whole. One of the big questions we're trying to answer is how the universe grows the way it does, how will it end, what may happen to it in the future, and how did it get to this point. So, it's a great mixture of big questions and adrenaline; you never know when or where stars are going to explode." -Dr. Brad Tucker

"As a chemist, I make small molecules. They're designed specifically to tract with our bodies enzymes, putting these receptors or whatever it is that may be going wrong in disease, and either reverse that, stop it or amplify it."–Prof. Sally-Ann Poulsen 

When asked about pursuing a career in mathematics, Dr. Sophie Calabretto said "I always think if you do maths for fun that's great. The best approach is just to go and study it. That can be teed up with a lot of other things. If you're interested in anything and maths, you can do double majors, double degrees, double anything. But the fact that you're already passionate about it is great!"

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Top L-R Dr. Brad Tucker, Dr. Sophie Calabretto, Dr. Charley Lineweaver, Middle L-R Dr. Melanie Bagg, Prof. Sally-Ann Poulsen, Bottom L-R John Pring, Prof. Catherine Travis, Dr. Lachlan Blackhall.

These are just a few of the fantastic people the NYSF alumni have heard from over the past three months, there is an impressive line-up of guests to come including:

  • Rod Drury, Vice President – International, Lockheed Martin Space;
  • ABC’s The Science Show – Robyn Williams;
  • Dr. Andrew Johnson, FTSE FAICD, CEO, and Director of Meteorology Bureau of Meteorology;
  • Dr. Cathy Foley, CSIRO's Chief Scientist;
  • Prof. Julie Arblaster, Monash University;
  • Prof. Rachel Allavena, The University of Queensland; and
  • Presentations from other NYSF Partners including The University of Melbourne, CSL, ResMed, Bayer, Defence Force Recruiting, and UNSW.

We are looking forward to more fascinating Q&As with leading STEM professionals in the coming months. Thank you to everyone who has been part of our NYSF Connect Webinar Series, including our speakers, hosts, and the NYSF Corporate team.