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  • 2 Feb 2022 12:22 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The Scientific Programming Committee for the 2023 Australian Statistical Conference, co-Chaired by Dr Nicole White (QUT) and Dr Karen Lamb (University of Melbourne), is seeking new members to help plan the program for the conference taking place in December 2023. The conference theme is ‘Statisticians in society’, focussing on the key role statisticians play in communication across diverse areas that are key to our society.

    Interested? Please email Nicole White (nm.white@qut.edu.au) by 25th February to tell us a little more about yourself, including brief details of i) the statistical section you align most with (e.g., biostatistics, environmental, official), ii) employment sector (e.g., academic, industry, government), iii) how long you have been working as a statistician, iv) what prior experience you have in conference or event organisation, and v) what you will bring to the committee. Please note that no prior experience in conference organisation is required. We would love to hear from people keen to get more involved in the SSA and strongly encourage people who may not have participated in SSA activities before to reach out (including early career statisticians). We look forward to hearing from you!

    The Scientific Programming Committee for the 2023 Australian Statistical Conference, co-Chaired by Dr Nicole White (QUT) and Dr Karen Lamb (University of Melbourne), is seeking new members to help plan the program for the conference taking place in December 2023. The conference theme is ‘Statisticians in society’, focussing on the key role statisticians play in communication across diverse areas that are key to our society.

    Interested? Please email Nicole White (nm.white@qut.edu.au) by 25th February to tell us a little more about yourself, including brief details of i) the statistical section you align most with (e.g., biostatistics, environmental, official), ii) employment sector (e.g., academic, industry, government), iii) how long you have been working as a statistician, iv) what prior experience you have in conference or event organisation, and v) what you will bring to the committee. Please note that no prior experience in conference organisation is required. We would love to hear from people keen to get more involved in the SSA and strongly encourage people who may not have participated in SSA activities before to reach out (including early career statisticians). We look forward to hearing from you!

  • 1 Feb 2022 2:00 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    RESEARCH COMMERCIALISATION FUND COULD BE A GAME-CHANGER

    TUESDAY 1 FEBRUARY 2022

    Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister of a $2.2 billion investment in a research commercialisation fund, venture capital and new industry scholarships and fellowships could turbo-charge Australia’s research commercialisation success.

    In recent years, Science & Technology Australia has made a powerful case for Australia to create a new Research Translation Fund to deliver strong returns on investment to the nation.

    Its role would be to turn more great Australian science and technology into products, jobs, start-ups and new income streams for Australia.

    STA President Professor Mark Hutchinson is one of a new generation of ‘bench-to-boardroom’ scientists - an entrepreneur, innovator and neuroscientist at the ARC Centre for Excellence in Nanoscale Biophotonics. 

    Under his high-energy leadership, the centre has forged more than 30 industry partnerships and seeded 15 startup and spinoff companies from its discovery research.

    “This new research commercialisation fund is an exciting development. We see vast potential for it to ‘level-up’ Australia research commercialisation success, and generate stronger returns on investment for the nation from our world-leading research,” said Professor Hutchinson.

    “Australia has a wealth of talent, ideas, and expertise in research breakthroughs. But for too long, the country has lacked the support and infrastructure for more of our research to bridge the ‘valley of death’ between research and commercialisation.”

    “This announcement has the potential to be a game-changer.”

    “Australia’s Economic Accelerator will offer seed capital for more research to be taken to proof of concept and prototype to attract further capital from the private sector, and enable more products to be made in Australia."

    “It offers the possibility of turbo-charging Australia’s research commercialisation, by giving researchers support to ‘lean in’ to business, and helping business ‘lean in’ to the brilliant talent pool of scientists in this country.”

    “This funding can kickstart the next-generation science capabilities we need to face the next set of complex challenges that will confront our country.”

    “Science & Technology Australia has been the leading voice for a Research Translation Fund for several years. We are excited by this development and the potential it offers Australia to create the products, services, and jobs of the future,” he said.

    Science & Technology Australia is the peak body representing more than 90,000 scientists and technologists in Australia.

    Media contact: Martyn Pearce, STA: 0432 606 828


  • 31 Jan 2022 11:32 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    2022 marks 30 years since the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics, now a General Assembly-endorsed global standard, were first developed and adopted at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

    Created by the Conference of European Statisticians, UNECE’s highest decision-making body made up of the national chief statisticians of member countries, these principles were devised at a time of immense change and upheaval across the region. As centrally-planned economies transitioned to market economies in many member States, statisticians realized more than ever that they needed a shared framework to define the principles that guide what they do. Such a framework helps to secure the trust and credibility upon which effective statistics depend. There are many differences across countries in how their statistical production is organized, what data they gather, what needs they fulfil, yet these central principles are universal.

    The principles underlie everything that the producers of official statistics do: from the methods for collecting, processing and storing data to the ways that statistical offices disseminate statistics and communicate with those who use them. The principles ensure independence from political influence and the right and duty to publicly correct misuse or misinterpretation of statistics. They safeguard the trustworthiness of official statistics, enabling them to play a unique role as a public good that underpins sustainable development and democracy. 

    By marking this 30th anniversary, statistical offices across the region are recognizing the continued and increasing importance of the principles in guiding what they do. As the sheer amount of data produced increases everywhere, those who rely on facts to shape their decisions are faced with a vast range of possible sources to which they can turn. At the same time, deliberately misleading uses of data, selective use of figures and incorrect interpretations abound.

    With their collective manifesto for serving society with impartial, relevant and accurate information to guide decisions, the community of official statisticians will continue upholding and being led by the Fundamental Principles for 30 more years and beyond.

    To celebrate this anniversary, starting on 31 January, selected CES member countries will lead a series of campaigns marking each of the principles in turn. The first principle relates to ‘relevance, impartiality and equal access’, which will be highlighted by Canada. Participating countries will take the lead in showcasing the ways in which they fulfil the principle, how this impacts everyday life, and why this matters to society.

    The ten principles will be celebrated at two-week intervals from January to June, culminating in the 70th plenary session of the Conference of European Statisticians on 20-22 June.

    In summary form, the principles are:

    ·         Principle 1: Relevance, impartiality and equal access

    ·         Principle 2: Professionalism

    ·         Principle 3: Accountability

    ·         Principle 4: Prevention of misuse

    ·         Principle 5: Cost-effectiveness

    ·         Principle 6: Confidentiality

    ·         Principle 7: Legislation

    ·         Principle 8: National coordination

    ·         Principle 9: International coordination

    ·         Principle 10: International statistical cooperation.

    The campaign can be followed and joined on social media with the hashtags #FPOS30 and #cesUNECE, supported on Twitter by @unecestat and @UNECE.

    If you wish to subscribe to the UNECE Weekly newsletter, please send an email to:  unece_info@un.org

    Check out the UNECE's website here


  • 31 Jan 2022 11:06 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)


    The year is in full swing already. As we navigate the Omicron wave of the pandemic, the nation is preparing for a Budget and an election. 

    In our pre-Budget submission, Science & Technology Australia makes a powerful case that science has shielded Australia’s economy from the pandemic – and science should be at the centre of this Budget. This is an urgent moment to secure the strategic science capabilities Australia will need to face the next set of complex challenges ahead. As STA President Mark Hutchinson and I see it: “We should fund science like our lives and our economy depend on it, because they do.”
     
    Meanwhile the research community has come out strongly over the Ministerial veto of six ARC grants late last year. There’s an important principle at stake here. The independence of research is key in a liberal democracy. That independence is enshrined in the Haldane Principle dating back to 1918. STA’s statement is on our website. We are also concerned about fresh delays in two more grant rounds - the ARC LIEF and Discovery Projects 2023. We need an end to these delays once and for all, by shifting to fixed timetables for grant applications and announcements. We will continue to seek progress on this.

    It was uplifting to see this week’s Australian honours recognise so many scientists. Former STA Vice-President Sue Barrell is now an AO, Superstar of STEM Kate Cole an OAM, and Australia’s former Chief Scientist Alan Finkel an AC. Our warmest congratulations to every scientist honoured.

    The PM’s Prizes for Science nominations close soon - on 10 February. Diversity and representation matter. Please take time to nominate brilliant scientists of all backgrounds for these prestigious awards - and especially Indigenous scientists, women and people of colour. 

    The STA staff team is expanding to help support our strong membership growth. We are delighted to welcome Emma Hibbert from 1 February in the new role of Membership Engagement Officer. She’ll work to our Director of Membership and Events Lucy Guest and with our Membership Officer Shannon Wong. Emma is a science student at ANU and is passionate about diversity in STEM. You’ll be able to reach her at members@sta.org.au

    Finally, it’s now just a month until Science Meets Parliament! If you haven’t already, register your delegates now and encourage your members to apply for one of our coveted scholarships.

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 

  • 26 Jan 2022 5:00 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    BUDGET 2022: TIME TO ‘DOUBLE DOWN’ ON OUR SCIENCE INVESTMENT

    WEDNESDAY 26 JANUARY 2022 

    The 2022 Budget should “double down” on Australia’s return-generating investments in science to prepare for new complex challenges after this pandemic, fast-track our economic recovery and smooth the nation’s climate transition.

    This would start with boosting direct R&D investments to shift Australia closer to the top-ten OECD countries to seize economic opportunities for our nation.

    The first major stride towards that goal would be a $2.4 billion Research Translation Fund to secure Australia’s science future and generate strong returns on investment.

    In its pre-Budget submission, Science & Technology Australia proposes the fund and other strategic investments to safeguard our economy, build on the country’s outstanding science capability, respond to threats, and seize new income-generating opportunities.

    “Australia should use the next federal Budget to fund science like our lives and our economy depend on it - because they do,” said Science & Technology Australia CEO Misha Schubert.

    “We should heed the lessons of the pandemic and ‘double down’ on our investments in science to see off major threats and seize new economic opportunities for Australia.”

    “As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been clearer that Australia needs the deep expertise of scientists to navigate this historic challenge - and many others.”

    “Science has given us diagnostic testing, respirators, medical equipment, epidemiological expertise, and – crucially – life-saving vaccines.”

    “Those vaccines have saved lives from COVID-19, and could open the door to a host of potential new vaccines against cancers - and create tens of thousands of Australian jobs.”

    Science & Technology Australia President Professor Mark Hutchinson urged the Government to use the 2022 Budget to safeguard the future of our science talent, institutions, and infrastructure.

    “The lessons of the past few years are clear. We must invest deeply in science and scientists. The success of science is crucial to our safety.”

    “Now is the time to secure the next-generation science capabilities we need to face the next set of complex challenges that will confront our country.”

    The pre-Budget submission sets out fiscally responsible initiatives to deliver strong returns on investment to both tax revenue and the economy. They include:

    1. Boost direct R&D investment to shift Australia closer towards investment levels in the top ten OECD countries;
    2. Create a new $2.4 billion Research Translation Fund to turn more of Australia’s science into applications that will generate returns on investment;
    3. Safeguard the next wave of science breakthroughs by lifting ARC and NHMRC research grants budgets to $1 billion/year for each agency;
    4. Secure the future of science and research infrastructure with long-term funding certainty for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy;
    5. Deepen investment in climate science and low-emission technologies, including extending the proposed Patent Box initiative to include clean energy tech;
    6. Avert a disastrous exodus of science talent by shifting to longer-term grants, employing researchers on longer-term contracts, adopting fixed timelines for grant applications and announcements, and slashing red tape in grant applications;
    7. Invest $3 million in an STA Bench to Boardroom program to turbo charge training for scientists to pursue commercialisation;
    8. Access Australia’s full STEM talent pool by investing $2.3 million to advance women in STEM through STA’s groundbreaking Superstars of STEM program; and $4 million to establish an Indigenous STEM Network;
    9. A $2.3 million endowment to secure Science meets Parliament for the decade; and
    10. Resource the promised review of the Job-Ready Graduates legislation and top up funding for STEM degrees if they have fallen under the new model.

    Science & Technology Australia is the peak body for the nation’s STEM sector, representing more than 90,000 scientists and technologists. 

    Read Science & Technology Australia’s pre-budget submission here

    Media contact: Martyn Pearce, STA: 0432 606 828


  • 24 Jan 2022 10:00 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The SSA Mentoring Committee has spent the first couple of weeks of January busily pairing mentees and mentors for the 2022 mentoring program. Excitingly, we had an overwhelming number of applications, with more than 60 SSA members applying for one of the coveted 20 spots in the program. With a bit of juggling and thanks to a larger number of mentor applications than anticipated, we have been able to expand the 2022 program to just over 30 pairs and will be introducing mentees to their mentors in early February.

    Although disappointing for mentees who missed out this year, these applicants will be prioritised for future mentoring programs and will have the opportunity to participate in supported peer group mentoring to help build greater connections and support across the Australian statistical community.

    The committee would like to say a huge thank you to all members who expressed an interest in the mentoring program, particularly those supporting as mentors. We are excited to work with you all in 2022 and look forward to hearing how you all get on. For members interested in participating in future (particularly mentors!), further details about the mentoring program can be found on the SSA mentoring webpage.

  • 18 Jan 2022 9:12 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Statistics is a cornerstone of science, health, industry, economics, government and more, and benefits society as a whole. Nevertheless, research in statistics does not yet receive the same level of recognition as in related fields such as mathematics, physics, and computer science.

    To help remedy this gap, a new biennial prize has been created by the King Baudouin Foundation, a large public utility foundation in Belgium. The prize is named after its sponsor, the statistician Peter J. Rousseeuw.

    The Rousseeuw Prize for Statistics will award pioneering work in statistical methodology. The prize recognizes a statistical innovation, that is, an outstanding contribution or tool that has had significant impact and found wide application in statistical practice, with relevance to society. One of the goals is to promote awareness of the important role and intellectual content of statistics and its profound impact on human endeavors.

    The prize will be awarded in even years, starting in 2022. The award amount is one million US dollars per prize, to be split over awardees if there are several, which it is hoped will typically be the case. The first award ceremony is scheduled for November 2022 at the University of Leuven, Belgium.

    Nominations, including letters of recommendation, are to be submitted by 31 March 2022 on the website which contains all information about the prize and nomination procedure. 

  • 21 Dec 2021 11:34 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The theme for the 2023 Australian Statistical Conference (ASC) is ‘Statisticians in society’, focussing on the key role statisticians play in communication across diverse areas that are key to our society. The importance of statistical thinking has become increasingly prominent in recent years through the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change discussions around COP26. Our communication theme acknowledges the important role that statisticians play - not only as experts in analysing data, but as communicators of uncertainty - when making decisions that affect our daily lives and the world around us. ASC 2023 will bring together statisticians from across Australia, as an opportunity to communicate with one another, and advance our collective knowledge of statistical methods and applications. We look forward to offering a diverse program featuring speakers from academia, government and industry across a range of disciplines and career stages.  

    The Local Organising committee of ASC023 is keen to involve the SSA community in a competition to create a logo for ASC2023 conference. Please note that the conference will be in NSW. The winner will be awarded with free conference registration for ASC2023 and $200 travel funds if they reside outside NSW.

    Please upload the logo you designed here before 17 January 2022.

  • 20 Dec 2021 12:17 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)


     

    Dear STA Members,

    What a hectic end to the year! 2021 continues to demand every bit of energy from us all.

    Acting Education Minister Stuart Robert’s Letter of Expectations to the Australian Research Council seeks significant changes. STA welcomes the move to strengthen ARC governance. It would adopt comparable structures to the NHMRC. However we have urged a sensible rethink on a proposed move to tie at least 70 per cent of Linkage grants to the national manufacturing priorities in future funding rounds. The Linkage program funds Centres of Excellence doing fundamental research in a wide array of fields. STA is engaging with Government on this element of the changes. We have also offered input on the consultations ahead. And we have urged a swift resolution on the current round of ARC Discovery grants, which are well behind the normal timetable, with hundreds of researchers anxiously awaiting news.

    Responses to the exposure draft of the National Research Infrastructure Roadmap are due Wednesday – 22 December. Our sincere thanks to STA members who contributed to our discussions in recent weeks to shape STA’s imminent response. 

    Register now for our blockbuster program for Science meets Parliament 2022. The program is packed with a constellation of global and Australian stars. To widen participation, STA has scholarships made possible by our generous sponsors – apply now. To put your brand in front of the nation’s science and technology community, MPs and policymakers as a sponsor of Science meets Parliament, please get in touch.
     
    A very warm welcome to the newest member of the STA community. The Australian Research Council Training Centre for Medical Implant Technologies (ARC CMIT) is headed by Professor Peter Lee. It trains PhD students and early career researchers in medtech to work with industry partners. It brings together world-leading biomedical engineers, scientists, and clinicians with a global supply chain in medical implants in Australia, China, Belgium, the UK and US. We are excited to have you!

    Finally, wishing you all a safe and restorative break in the weeks ahead. It’s been a hectic and challenging year for so many people. Our thanks to each of you for your leadership, collegiality and support. It has been an honour to advocate with and for you in 2021.

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 

    SCIENCE MEETS PARLIAMENT 2022

    Registrations are open for SmP 2022. Each STA member organisation is invited to send three delegates to the online event running from 28 February–4 March. The stellar line-up includes world-leading scientists and science communicators, two Nobel Laureates, Australian media superstars and Members of Parliament. Early-bird registration ends 20 December.

    INDUSTRY INTERNSHIPS - PHD FUNDING 

    A new incentive will be created for universities when their future PhD graduates have completed an ‘eligible industry internship’. The incentive will apply for PhD completions from 2024 onwards. To qualify, an internship agreement must be signed in the first 18 months of the student starting a full-time PhD (or in the first 36 months for part-timers). The three-month internship can be done at any time during the PhD and must relate to the student’s area of research. They can be on-site, on-campus or online - and done with either Australian or offshore research end-users. More details here. The arrangements include more flexibility than when the incentive was first floated in the May Federal Budget. They reflect key changes advocated by STA in our submission.

    NEW SURVEY: COVID-19 IMPACT ON RESEARCH AND TEACHING

    STA and Professional Scientists Australia run an annual survey of the science workforce each year to track pay, conditions, morale, wellbeing and the disruptions of the pandemic. Our 2021 data was sobering. Researchers at Deakin University’s Centre for Regional and Rural Futures (an STA member) are also surveying scientists on how COVID-19 has disrupted their research and teaching. Their 2020 data is here and you can do their survey here.  

    CAMPAIGN ON ARC & NHMRC FUNDING

    A group of Early and Mid-Career Researchers and the National Association of Research Fellows have launched a campaign asking people to write to federal MPs and Senators to advocate for an urgent boost to ARC and NHMRC funding. Here’s more on the campaign and how to get involved.

    NOMINATE A DIVERSITY OF SCIENTISTS FOR A PM’S PRIZE FOR SCIENCE

    Nominations are now open for the 2022 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. Having strong diversity in the field of nominees is crucial – and takes active leadership. We encourage everyone in the STA community to think about the many brilliant colleagues in your orbit – and nominate a diverse array of talent for next year’s prizes. Nominations close 10 February. 

     

    REPORTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

     OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUBMISSIONS 

    Further information: STA Director of Policy and Engagement Sarah Tynan.

    STA MEMBER EVENTS

    To add an event, contact STA Events & Membership Manager Lucy Guest.

    GRANTS, FUNDING, AND OPPORTUNITIES

    STA MEMBER STORIES 

    The Australian Museum is digitising its collections, including the historic and diverse Marine Invertebrate collection. Read how the Museum is opening up its treasure trove of specimens to the world and the discoveries they are making along the way.

    Know of a terrific STEM idea, technology, innovation, product or program that has been translated or commercialised? Please tell us about it! Email our Director of Communications Martyn Pearce.

    Get in the picture: Are you following Science & Technology Australia on Instagram? If you’re an STA member using Insta, please follow us and we’ll follow you back!


  • 3 Dec 2021 5:00 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Register now for our blockbuster program for Science meets Parliament 2022. Packed with a constellation of global and Australian stars, SmP2022 will include Laureate Professor Peter Doherty. Throughout the pandemic, he’s spent countless hours correcting misinformation and sharing facts with warmth, wit and candour. 

    Why not put your brand in front of the nation’s science and technology community and policy decision-makers as a sponsor of Science meets Parliament? STA members who are SmP2022 sponsors include Western Sydney University, Deakin University, ARC Centre of Excellence for Exciton Science, NCI Australia, New Edge Microbials and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems. Thank you all! To explore sponsorship, please get in touch.
     
    The exposure draft of the eagerly-awaited new national research infrastructure roadmap is out. This hugely important document will shape investment decisions on research infrastructure. STA will coordinate a response from our members. Please get in touch as soon as possible to share your insights. Submissions are due by 22 December. 

    Yesterday, the ARC announced it would fund fellowships for six brilliant scholars in quantum and astrophysics whose appeals over the pre-prints issue were upheld. We are deeply relieved for these scholars, who have had a hugely stressful six months. While these developments are welcome, there is deep consternation in our community about the delay in the latest ARC funding round. More on this here. If you have further insights to share, please get in touch.  

    Our new leadership team has hit the ground running. Mark Hutchinson used his opening media as STA President to outline his key priorities including nurturing a skilled, diverse STEM workforce. Five more impressive STEM leaders have also joined the Board – our new Vice President Dr Anita Goh, new Treasurer Mark Stickells, new Executive member Professor Chris Matthews, new ECR representative Diana Zhang and new Board Director Rachel Przeslawski.  

    STA is also thrilled to welcome six more members. Deakin University is a science and technology powerhouse - and four of its science, technology, and engineering centres have joined us. They are Deakin's Institute for Frontier Materials, Institute for Intelligent Systems and Research, Institute for Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Translation, and the Centre for Regional and Rural Futures. The Australian Research Data Commons, headed by its dynamic CEO Rosie Hicks, gives Australian researchers competitive advantage through access to vast collections of data – funded through NCRIS. The University of Adelaide Sciences Alumni Network connects science alumni to forge a powerful network, spark clever collaborations, and build a thriving community. A very warm STA welcome to you all!

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 


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