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  • 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 


  • 2 Dec 2021 4:41 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The SSA is committed to making the Society, and the discipline of statistics more broadly, welcoming, inclusive, and equitable. The SSA formed an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI) committee in 2021 to help achieve this goal, however not all issues of equity, diversity, or inclusion may be obvious to those on the committee. To help the EDI committee identify EDI issues that the Society can work on, and understand perceptions of the SSA in relation to EDI, the SSA is conducting a short (5 mins), anonymous, survey.

    To share your views, please fill in the survey here before 25 December 2021.

  • 30 Nov 2021 2:30 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Manuel Herrera PhD Senior Research Associate, Institute of Manufacturing, University of Cambridge

    Manuel Herrera who is the 2021 Frank Hansford-Miller Fellow gave the WA Branch November seminar virtually. His stated intention was to show fellow statisticians what it is like to work with engineering problems using statistics and statistical methods.

    As noted by Brenton the seminar fitted in perfectly with the Fellowship since Frank Hansford-Miller was a person who championed Applied Statistics and how it supported the fabric of society and even the politics of the day.

    Manuel expressed pleasure in being able to explain to fellow statisticians the problems that he had faced in engineering where he had been working as long ago as 12 years for instance in looking at water supply systems, initially resolving problems to do with leakages using clustering methods, but also following up with time series methods where he made some useful predictions for demand management and infrastructure operation.

    Different projects included smart boards maintenance and optimal operation of cranes in a port in this case in Felixstowe where there are 31 quay cranes, 82 yard cranes and ships having 20,000 containers with containers roughly around 35 tonnes.

    Trying to ascertain where crane failure and maintenance was needed and time series provided a way through, but it was important to look for anomalies not only in the current asset but also in neighbouring assets.  It was noted that while digitization was becoming normal and there are all the incumbent problems of big data, there is importance of understanding the problems at hand.

    Different problems exist in long-haul internet backbone networks… again using anomaly detection in time series.              Again, we are looking at anomalies in time series not only in the network node, that may represent a router station, but also anomalies in neighbouring network areas for an automated and optimal network operation and control.  There are lots of challenges in a more than ever interconnected world that needs to work towards a high capacity, low latency and high accessibility internet service

    Manuel then introduced a paradigm regarding digital transformation based in 5 ascending steps, Step 1. Digitization of the information, step 2 Organize the information, step 3 Automate processes using digital technologies and information to transform individual institutional operations, step 4 Streamline processes, step 5 Transform the institution which briefly summarized involve Digital transformations.

    Manuel then referred to IoT and 5G solutions and better management of systems.   Here IoT is the internet of things and giving information on many devices leading to big data that needs to be efficiently managed for an optimal decision making and infrastructure (asset) monitoring. Discussion involved how to work with managing data coming from IoT etcetera?   Links further to Blockchains that show their ability to secure information sharing, so we don’t need to know the whole system but maybe a part of the system and neighbouring parts. That will be a key technological tool for further modelling interdependencies, for instance, between multiple urban systems.

    Manuel noted the idea of having a digital twin in asset management and the opportunities offered by that.

    His personal view is that it is not about technology use, if any; it is about the way one can extract maximum information [from the available technology] for a better infrastructure operation and management. 

    Traditional thinking was analysing data in a single analysis, but we are more often now seeing many internet connections and now we may be examining several layers in a dynamic relationship.  Multilayer networks are coming to the fore.  The challenge is to be able to work with traditional time series in a network dynamic.

    Manuel further described predictive analytics blending time series and regression analysis tools to optimization of systems. If we detect anomalies, we can interactively complete optimization of decision making.

    Manuel concluded that we must explain what we are doing and how training the network to go differently in order that decision makers may trust our involvement.

    His personal view was that it is not about methodology use; it is about an approach of proper engineering challenges for a better infrastructure system operation and subsequent management.

    Manuel then explained his viewpoint by looking at a long-haul internet backbone network

    The challenges include anomaly detection (for very long time series). Covid has revealed a new phenomenon in interrupted time series and now the IoT reveals another dimension.

    Manuel fielded several questions and we had insight of a statistician working in engineering.

    Brenton R Clarke


  • 29 Nov 2021 9:20 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    SSA is delighted to announce that in 2022 it will be once more involved in Science & Technology’s (STA) “Science Meets Parliament”. This marks the 22nd time STA has held this flagship event since it was created in 1999. Science Meets Parliament is Australia’s single largest vehicle for deep engagement between the science and technology sector and decision-makers. 

    This event includes inspiring speakers, high-quality professional development, meetings between scientists and Parliamentarians, a National Press Club address, and a National Gala Dinner to nurture relationships between science and technology and policymakers. 

    Like this year’s event, it will be held in a mostly virtual format, allowing it to be both COVID-safe. 

    The conference and training will be delivered online from 28 February to 4 March. An in-person National Press Club address by STA President Professor Mark Hutchinson is planned for 2 March in Canberra. The national gala dinner to bring together STEM leaders and Parliamentarians will be held concurrently in capital cities across Australia on Thursday, 2 June.

    Click here to see the preliminary program.

    SSA will sponsor up to two members to attend STA’s signature event. Early career statisticians are particularly encouraged to apply. Please email your expression of interest, explaining your reasons why you think this event could be of benefit to you, and your CV to eo@statsoc.org.au before 10 December 2021.

    In addition, 2021 STA are offering the opportunity to apply for scholarships to attend Science meets Parliament:

    • First Nations scholarship for Aboriginal or Torres Strait applicants
    • LGBTIQA+ scholarship for members of the LGBTIQA+ community
    • Rural and regional scholarship for delegates in the regions
    • Technology scholarships for people working in the technology sector.

    Applications close 4 February 2022. More information on these scholarships can be found here. Any questions about this additional opportunity should be taken up directly with Science and Technology Australia. 

    Marie-Louise Rankin
    SSA Executive Officer

  • 19 Nov 2021 2:30 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    It’s on! Registrations are now open for Science meets Parliament 2022 – with a truly stellar program. Global science superstar Brian Cox will headline the event in conversation with another scicomm superstar, Wiradjuri astrophysicist Kirsten Banks. We will have further announcements in coming weeks about more of the superb sessions and brilliant speakers ahead. Book now to secure the early bird rate – only available until December 20.

    STA has unveiled the science and technology sector’s 2022 election priorities. Setting the policy agenda, this blueprint was the product of STA’s annual Presidents and CEOs leadership dialogue. We’ve highlighted our push for deeper investment in R&D and a new Research Translation Fund in my comments in widespread media coverage. STA President Jeremy Brownlie also noted in the Australian Financial Review that deeper R&D investments are needed to enable science and technology to drive Australia’s climate transition.
     
    We were honoured to give evidence to the Senate inquiry on manufacturing last week, noting STA’s proposals for a Research Translation Fund, bench-to-boardroom scientists, and extending the patent box to clean energy technologies. STA Policy Chair Sharath Sriram joined our President and me to give testimony. We were delighted to see Sharath recognised as a finalist for the AFR’s emerging leaders in higher education award – check out his opinion piece here. We also welcomed this week’s announcement of $111 million in quantum technologies.

    This is our last STA Member Update before Jeremy Brownlie hands the STA Presidency to Mark Hutchinson. On behalf of the whole STA community, we thank Jeremy for his tireless leadership of this organisation and the sector – and his remarkable 11 years of service on STA’s Board. We have been blessed to have a leader of his vision, skill, kindness and grace in the Presidency in the extraordinary years of a global pandemic. We will have more to say on this at the AGM.

    Finally, if you haven’t already, please register ASAP to attend the virtual AGM – or register a delegate to represent your organisation. We need a strong turnout to ensure quorum. 

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 


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