We’re losing our best minds in science and engineering… so what are CSIRO, ANSTO, the ARC, the NHMRC, Cochlear, CSL and others going to do about it?
We’ll find out at a Summit at Parliament House in Canberra this Monday, 11 April. There’s more information below and speakers are available for interview. Most of the Summit is open to the media.
The Summit includes a roundtable at which Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis, along with leaders from CSIRO, ANSTO, IBM, Cochlear, the ARC, the NHMRC, the Bureau of Meteorology and 30 other organisations, will come up with some concrete measures to reverse the trend.
And Tuesday is the 50th anniversary of the first man in space. It’s being celebrated around the world – but not perhaps as widely as it deserves. Yuri Gagarin left the atmosphere, orbited our planet and triggered the space race that put Neil Armstrong on the Moon. He also inspired a generation of school children, fuelling the phenomenal growth of science in the 60s and 70s.
More on both of these below.
Also, some comments on the threats to medical research and science teaching in this year’s budget.
The female brain drain – we’re losing our best minds
What are CSIRO, ANSTO, the ARC, the NHMRC, Cochlear, CSL…going to do about it?
We’re losing our top young scientists – but not to better pay overseas – they’re dropping out of science and engineering in their 30s. It’s a cultural and economic loss to the country affecting every field from medicine to climate research to astronomy.
For the physical sciences things are much worse. Industry is crying out for chemists, physicists and engineers to support the mining boom, building and science infrastructure such as the Synchrotron, the ANSTO reactor, and the proposed giant telescope (The Square Kilometre Array). But girls aren’t doing the right subjects at school and university to get these high paying jobs.
And it’s a continuing gender equity issue in this year, the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.
The leaders of Australia’s science and engineering community are meeting at Parliament House on Monday 11 April to develop practical solutions.
Leaders from CSIRO, ANSTO, IBM, Cochlear, the ARC, the NHMRC, the Bureau of Meteorology and 30 other organisations will be guided by winners of the Prime Ministers Science Prizes and other top scientists and engineers and by the Hon Kate Ellis, Minister for the Status of Women.
Delegates will also be briefed on Equality means business: the Women’s Empowerment Principles endorsed by the 55th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 55) in New York (22 February – 4 March 2011)
The Summit is organised by UN Women Australia, the UNESCO National Commission and FASTS, the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies.
The Summit runs from 10.30 am until 4 pm in the Mural Hall, Parliament House, Canberra. All sessions are open to the media except the leaders’ roundtable from 2 to 3.15 pm.
- Anna-Maria Arabia, FASTS, email@example.com, (02) 6257 2891,
0412 940 921 or Wayne Evans 0411 516-656
- Niall Byrne, Science in Public, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0417 131 977
- Jo McIntosh, UN Women Australia, email@example.com, 0401 735 281.
Yuri’s Night 2011: 50 Years since first man in space
“Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marvelled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty — not destroy it!,” said Yuri Gagarin.
On 12 April 1961, Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space – a day that saw not only the Vostok 1 spacecraft into orbit, but also ramped up the space race between the US and USSR.
Perhaps just as importantly, his 108 minute orbit of the Earth, combined with the launch less than four years earlier of Sputnik, the first manmade object into space, got an entire generation excited by space, science and engineering.
Gagarin’s flights also drove US President John F Kennedy and his successors to invest heavily in not only sending man to the Moon, but also funding educational initiatives designed to lift the American’s chances of beating the Soviets – in space, in the lab and in the classroom.
We’ve got a number of scientists ready and willing to talk about Gagarin and what his achievement means 50 years.
There’s a dozen events across Australia, and over 340 ‘Yuri’s Night parties across the world and the organisers are av including:
First Orbit screening and space Q&A session: South Australia.
New film First Orbit shows vistas of Earth that astronaut Paolo Nespoli shot from the International Space Station as it matched the original path of Gagarin’s spaceship. Four space experts will be present afterwards to answer science questions.
Contact: Scott Foster on (08) 7389 5979 or firstname.lastname@example.org
More details: http://www.physics.adelaide.edu.au/aip-sa/
First Orbit Screening and Mars simulation: Victoria
Screening of First Orbit and the chance to walk on the surface of Mars at the Victorian Space Science Education Centre.
Contact: Naomi Mathers on (03) 9379 3456 or email: email@example.com.
More events, including ‘Space Beer’ tasting, rocket competitions and space-themed parties can be found in the ‘Australia’ section of: http://yurisnight.net/partylist/
Discoveries need dollars
It’s going to be a tough budget for science this year. It’s clear that the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is being targeted and may lose hundreds of millions from its budget.
Doug Hilton, the director of the Walter and Eliza Hall, has initiated a campaign to fight the cuts.
He says, “These cuts could risk: medical research jobs, access to future health benefits and future health spending; the ability to retaining Australia’s best scientists and the long-term investment previous governments have made in large research programs.”
To prevent this, the Discoveries Need Dollars campaign is encouraging a long-term view in research funding and calling on anyone interested in Australia’s health future to tell Australia’s politicians that you want them to protect medical research in the Federal Budget.
Find out more at discoveriesneeddollars.org
Science in school support axed
As you may know, the Australian Government has recently signalled its intention to cease funding the Australian Academy of Science’s Primary Connections: Linking Science with Literacy Project.
The Academy is confident, based on comprehensive independent assessments, that Primary Connections enables Australia’s primary school teachers to significantly improve the scientific literacy of their students. The Primary Connections team is currently working to complete a full suite of curriculum materials and provide professional learning that will support the effective implementation of the new Australian Curriculum: Science.
The Academy is committed to the ongoing development of Primary Connections and is currently exploring all options to ensure its availability in the long term.
Science by Doing, the Academy’s newer secondary program is also under threat.
Every primary school teacher I’ve interviewed over the past seven years of working on the Prime Ministers Prizes for Science Teaching has commented on the importance of Primary Connections. This is a bad decision.
More information: www.science.org.au/primaryconnections/ or contact Mona Akbari:
(02) 6201 9452, 0447 679 612, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brazil, India and China to rival ‘innovation superpowers’
While Australia debates cuts to research and development spending, China and other emerging nations such as Brazil and India are becoming leaders in science, a new report suggests.
Read the rest of the Reuters story here: http://reut.rs/idM0ia