Australia’s research capital; the top 10 in research; big science talks in 2017; Innovation Week; and more

Bulletins, Science stakeholder bulletins

Melbourne is Australia’s research capital. According to the Nature Index, published overnight in Nature, Melbourne was Australia’s leading city in terms of high-quality science output in 2015, followed by Sydney. The index also shows that Brisbane saw the fastest growth in output between 2012 and 2015, and is home to the highest-placed institution in Australia, the University of Queensland.

The top 10 science organisations in Australia, according to the Nature Index are…

UQ, Monash, ANU, UniMelb, UNSW, USyd, CSIRO, UWA, Adelaide Uni, and Curtin.

The order hasn’t changed since Nature published their global index in April, but in today’s 2016 Nature Index Australia and New Zealand they’ve delved down into the performance by city, and by field of science.

  • Brisbane is rising fast up the list due to its strength in the life sciences, and the University of Queensland tops the list of Australian institutions.
  • Sydney punches above its weight in the physical sciences, especially with the opening of new nanoscience and quantum physics labs this year at UNSW and the University of Sydney.
  • Melbourne still leads the country, and is one of the top 10 most collaborative cities in the world, according to the index.

There are some funky visualisations of the strengths and connections of Sydney and Melbourne’s research institutes that reveal connections down to Bacchus Marsh (leaders in genetics, but why?).

Here’s a snapshot of a bit of the Melbourne graphic. See the details at:

Read the full release from Nature below along with a Sydney graphic.

In this bulletin:

Eleven dimensions with Lisa Randall this November

And another year of big speakers from science and beyond

Lego modelled physicist Lisa Randall for their women in science mini-figs. November 17 through 19 she tours Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney discussing the eleven dimensions that she thinks make our universe, the balance between creative and critical thought in science, and the importance of empowering girls and young women’s scientific interests and pursuits.

More at:

lego-lisa-randall Think Inc. have also just announced their line-up for 2017 including:

  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (via videolink)
  • indomitable champion of feminism, secularism, and Islamic reform Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  • a return of theoretical physics superstar Dr Brian Greene
  • the theory of everything, philosopher, futurist, and filmmaker extraordinaire Jason Silva
  • and Aztec teen climate activist and spoken word artist Xiuhtezcatl (“Shu-Tez-Caht”) Martinez.

Their new Annual Pass gives you access to all these events—as well as podcasts if you can’t make it in person. More at:

Think Inc. welcome partnerships with Australia’s research institutions. They’re also doing a great job of featuring young Australian science talent in their speaker tours.

Science Week grants now open—from $2,000 to $20,000

Applications are open until 4 pm (Canberra time), Wednesday 9 November

In 2016, 1.3 million Australians participated in over 1,700 Science Week events and online activities. And 3.2 million animals were identified in the national experiment, Wildlife Spotter.

A total of $500,000 will be awarded to provide funding support for National Science Week events and engagement projects in 2017, from panel discussions on hot topics to film nights, and from online activities to regional science festivals.

Projects need to be largely for general public audiences and must be held in National Science Week (12 – 20 August 2017), or in the week immediately before or after.

For more information, guidelines, and the online application form, visit:

Now it’s Innovation Week

From 7 to 11 November (and a few days either side)

Personalised medicine, are we there yet? A ‘how to’ for commercialisation, and panels on how to partner with industry, how to raise your profile via social media, and even the science of life and death.

Innovation Week aims to bring together people from across the STEMM sector to connect professionals, encourage collaboration, and celebrate innovation success.

Events in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and Perth:

Innovation Week is the annual celebration of innovation in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) in Australia, led by the Australian Science and Innovation Forum (ASIF) in partnership with the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE).

Free resources for science communication—Inspiring Australia toolkit

  • Medical entomologist Cameron Webb uses the buzz of the summer mosquito season to share his research. What are his tips for dealing with the media?
  • What resources are available to help science organisations run and promote public events?
  • What does a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ piece of science journalism look like?

The new Inspiring Australia Science Communication Toolkit is a free resource designed to help people in their efforts to tell science stories and contribute to a more science-informed Australia. The toolkit has dedicated sections for scientists, science communicators, and journalists.

The toolkit is funded by the Australian Government through the Inspiring Australia strategy. It’s a great resource to share with scientists interested in public engagement and your communication teams.

The Inspiring Australia Toolkit is online at

Melbourne Knowledge Week—Expressions of Interest

Knowledge Week has moved from October to May—so now is your chance to put forward your event. Expressions of Interest are open until 13 November 2016.

The festival will celebrate:

  • smart city approaches to urban development, transport, mobility, and sustainability
  • startups and entrepreneurs
  • open data and open knowledge
  • digital literacy and embracing technology
  • future education, work, and economy
  • and advancements and innovation spanning industries such as science, creative industries, education, finance, and manufacturing.

They’re looking for engaging and interactive events aimed at connecting a diverse audience with experts to grapple with challenges, ignite big ideas, and discover and experience the innovations of tomorrow. More here

$10,000 and networking opportunities for early career researchers

Nominations now open for 2017 Club Melbourne Fellowship

The Fellowship is an opportunity for an early career researcher to join in the Club Melbourne Ambassador Program for one year.

During the year they will get to network with, and present their work to, over 100 eminent Victorians from diverse disciplines of medicine, science and environment, technology, engineering, business, and education.

The Club Melbourne Ambassador Program is run by the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. The main aim of the program is to bring together thought and research leaders to bring international conferences to Melbourne.

Apply via your research office by 31 March 2017.

More at:

Nature Index—Melbourne and Sydney lead as hotspots for innovation in Australia

According to the Nature Index, Melbourne was Australia’s leading city in terms of high-quality science output in 2015, followed by Sydney. The index also shows that Brisbane saw the fastest growth in output between 2012 and 2015, and is home to the highest-placed institution in Australia, The University of Queensland (UQ), which made the largest contribution by share of authorship to high-quality papers than any other institution last year. Overall, Australia’s high-quality research output has grown considerably, up by 10% in just three years, placing it 12th in the index’s global standings.

sydney-nature The Nature Index 2016 Australia and New Zealand supplement examines how these Antipodean neighbours compete on the global stage in producing high-quality research publications, and highlights the cities and institutions which are the epicentres of the region’s scientific endeavour and collaboration. It uses the power of the Nature Index, which tracks the high-quality research of more than 8,000 global institutions, and assesses the top 30 leading Australian institutions in the index in 2015 by their contribution to 68 high-quality journals. (See ‘About the Nature Index’ for full definitions of measures.)

83 of Melbourne’s institutions published in the 68 journals selected for inclusion in the Nature Index, compared to 50 from Sydney. Melbourne also had the most research partnerships between institutions within the city (city-to-city research partnerships), elevating it into the world’s top 10 ranked cities by this measure. In Sydney’s case, its strength in the physical sciences is found to be fuelling an expanding science ecosystem. Major research hubs focused on quantum computing and nanoscience have been strengthened by the addition of new labs in 2016, which, together with prowess in other disciplines such as astrophysics and photonics, offer promise for lucrative new industries.

Brisbane is bidding to break its southerly neighbours’ hold at the top of the index’s tables. Its output has grown faster than any other city in the past three years, largely due to its strength in the life sciences. The Queensland capital has benefited from state investment of $3.4 billion in research capacity over the last decade that has attracted and retained talented young scientists.

Joining UQ in the top 10 are Monash University (second) and The University of Melbourne (fourth) from Victoria, Australian National University (third), and two institutions from New South Wales: University of New South Wales (fifth) and The University of Sydney (sixth). The Universities of Western Australia and Adelaide are eight and ninth respectively, and Curtin University in Perth – tipped as a rising star by the Nature Index in July this year – is tenth.

“The index’s data illustrate that Australia’s high-quality research output is increasingly being driven by these hotspots of innovation, like in Melbourne and Sydney, where institutions are clustered together and can collaborate easily,” said David Swinbanks, founder of the Nature Index.

The Nature Index 2016 Australia and New Zealand supplement also found that New Zealand is taking full advantage of its unique geology and natural environment to produce high-quality research, lifting the island nation of 4.5 million people alongside much larger countries in the global standings. Overall, it is 30th in the index’s global tables, but climbs to 15th when measuring output in Earth and environmental sciences.

“The index shows that many of New Zealand’s research strengths are rooted in the benefits and challenges of its position on the globe. University of Otago, on the seismically active South Island, is a leader in tectonic research, and New Zealand’s proximity to Antarctica has also led to its impressive performance in climate science, work that Victoria University of Wellington has been at the forefront of for decades. For the University of Auckland, our data show that it excels in the life sciences, including drug discovery and bioengineering,” added Dr Swinbanks.

More information about the Nature Index is available at

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