This once-in-a-lifetime event gave participants an insight into the STEM journeys of two Nobel Laureates
How many people can say they’ve attended a live event featuring a Nobel Laureate and had the opportunity to ask them questions about their career, research, or studies? Well, NYSFers got not one, but two Nobel Laureates!
This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity gave participants an insight into the STEM journeys of two Nobel Laureates: Professor Barry Marshall AC FRACP FRS FAA and Australian National University Vice-Chancellor & President, Professor Brian Schmidt AC FRS FAA, and how they came to secure their Nobel Prizes.
Professor Barry Marshall’s engaging lecture illustrated how all science facets are important when trying to prove a new theory. From chemistry to physics to statistics, a lengthy and deliberate process is needed – as well as many years of personal sacrifice.
Professor Marshall conducted testing on himself, determined to prove his theory on the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Students enjoyed Professor Marshall’s humour and the unique way he connected with a virtual audience.
NYSF student Elena asked if Professor Marshall ever felt uncertain during his career in medical research.
“Focus on your passion for science and learning, and disregard the pessimistic voices,” shared Professor Marshall.
Professor Brian Schmidt’s lecture was riddled with words of wisdom and crash courses in astrophysics as he discussed his STEM journey and his Nobel Prize-winning research that seemed too out there to be true!
Professor Schmidt said he couldn’t believe his results, convinced his research was wrong until his measurements proved correct – the universe was indeed expanding at an accelerating rate.
On reflection, Professor Schmidt’s advice was, “learn to believe in yourselves, remain positive in the face of adversity, and focus on doing things well.”
Participants asked many questions after the lecture, covering the infinite expansion of the universe, whether scientists will have the capacity to find a unified quantum field, and how Professor Schmidt stayed motivated when studying the same topic for long periods.
As part of the lectures, both Nobel Laureates set challenges for the NYSF participants. Professor Marshall’s challenge was set in a post-COVID world. He invited participants to design aspects of a medical facility that could be operated remotely and without a permanent doctor.
Professor Schmidt's challenge offered participants a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He asked them to consider how they would spend money to support economies following the COVID-19 pandemic that would have the greatest positive effect on climate change adaptation. The top five answers were be presented to Chief Scientists and the Australian Prime Minister and the winning submission was be presented to the UN Climate Adaptation Summit 2021.
No doubt our participants, armed with a new wealth of information and their recently developed critical thinking skills, will find some innovative solutions for the challenges.
Thank you to Nobel Laureates Professor Barry Marshall AC and Professor Brian Schmidt AC for sharing your inspirational journeys with our participants and giving them a glimpse into where a career in STEM could take them – places as small as your own cells or as big as the universe.