The Australia-Indonesia Symposium forums in brief

Australian Academy of Science, Media releases

aus-indo Backgrounder

The inaugural Australia–Indonesia Science Symposium will explore health, marine science and climate change, agriculture, and big data and disruptive technologies.


Chronic and infectious diseases have a major impact on the people and economies of Indonesia and Australia. Delegates will discuss tackling two of the world’s most common mosquito-borne diseases: dengue and malaria. With approximately 40 per cent of the global population at risk of contracting these diseases—many of them in developing countries—the challenge of discovering new methods to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases and developing effective treatments is more urgent than ever.

Across Yogyakarta, families are hatching and releasing mosquitoes. It’s the next phase of the Eliminate Dengue Program. The mosquitos are carrying Wolbachia, a bacterium that helps prevent them from spreading the dengue virus. Adi Utarini, Professor of Public Health at Universitas Gadjah Mada, will report on the citywide randomised controlled trial.

Malaria is one the most serious infectious diseases of humans. Dr Diana Hansen, Laboratory Head of the Division of Infection and Immunity at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, will report on the latest research explaining why it’s difficult to acquire immunity to malaria, and the implications for vaccine development.

Marine science and climate change

Indonesia and Australia have a combined coastline of more than 140,000 kilometres, two shared oceans, and intertwined climate systems. How do we deal with the impact of global pressures and climate change on the Coral Triangle—home to a quarter of the world’s fish species.

Professor Jamaluddin Jompa, Dean of the Faculty of Marine Science and Fisheries at Universitas Hasanuddin, will discuss the approaches taken to manage Indonesia’s coral reefs.

Professor Catherine Lovelock, from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland, will discuss the status, function and future of mangrove forests—essential for fisheries and coastal health.

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Professor of Marine Science and Director at the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland, will moderate the discussion.


Indonesian smallholder farmers are full of bright ideas but they lack support to make sustainable change. CSIRO Agriculture’s Chief Research Scientist Dr Andrew Ash will reveal how an international collaboration is increasing incomes for smallholder farmers in eastern Indonesia through stimulating productivity and increasing farmers’ access to markets.

A new drought-tolerant sugar cane has been created for Indonesian farmers. It was developed by Professor Bambang Sugiharto, and his colleagues at the Center for Development of Advanced Science and Technology, Universitas Jember. Sugarcane is one of Indonesia’s most important agricultural products. Climate change is reducing productivity.

Golden bananas could reduce vitamin A deficiencies – one of the top public health issues in developing countries. James Dale, Distinguished Professor at the Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities at the Queensland University of Technology will discuss the development of golden bananas and other crops to tackle micronutrient deficiencies.

Dr Fenny Dwivany, from the School of Life Sciences and Technology at the Institut Teknologi at Bandung, will moderate the discussion.

Big data and disruptive technologies

Indonesia’s growth will be supported by next-generation genomics, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, ‘smart’ materials, and robotics.

Social scientists are using big data to transform their understanding of how communities work, and adapt to change. Dr Roby Muhamad, from the Faculty of Psychology at Universitas Indonesia, is measuring psychological characteristics using largescale and text-based data.

Where is Australia’s water? The Australian Geoscience Data Cube has captured vast data sets including 25 years of Landsat imagery. Dr Stuart Minchin, Chief of the Environmental Geoscience Division of Geoscience Australia, will discuss this transformation in knowledge about the physical world and its impact on national planning.

Indonesia is crazy for social media. It offers terabytes of citizen feedback, if only you could make sense of it. Diastika Rahwidiati can. She is Chief Technical Adviser, Pulse Lab Jakarta, and will reveal how social media can be harvested and can inform policy.

Professor Bob Williamson, Chief Scientist of CSIRO Data61, will discuss what makes a good research effort in data analytics.

Jane Hunter, Professorial Research Fellow and Director of eResearch Lab at The University of Queensland will moderate the data discussion.

The Australian-Indonesia Science Symposium is organised by the Australian Academy of Science, the Indonesian Academy of Sciences (AIPI), the Australian Early- and Mid-Career Researcher Forum, and the Indonesian Young Academy of Sciences (ALMI) with the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Knowledge Sector Initiative.

Full program and more speakers at