Young Scientist Research Prizes 2020

Every year, final year PhD candidates present their doctoral studies to the Royal Society of Victoria, competing for four Prizes that recognise excellence in Victoria’s early career scientists. Eight finalists present under the four categories: Biological Sciences, Biomedical & Health Sciences, Earth Sciences, and Physical Sciences. While the format of delivery was different this year, participants rose to the challenge to deliver engaging and informative videos for National Science Week. From chicken sexing to neutron stars, all finalists’ presentations are summarised here, with links to their video presentations and the full proceedings as broadcast on the night via Facebook Live.

Building our Resilient Future

Extreme events are becoming more devastating and more frequent. Communities, economies and ecosystems have increasingly less time to bounce back between them. How do we build resilience for the future? This summer’s devastating bushfires and the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic have given Australians an alarming insight to the sustained uncertainty we will be facing under a rapidly changing climate. Mike Flattley (Royal Society of Victoria) and Anthony Boxshall (Science Into Action) invited a number of speakers to discuss how we can build resilience into our planning strategies for water, agriculture and biodiversity. Featuring David McKenzie and Claire Flanagan-Smith on the Goulburn Murray Resilience Strategy, Lauren Rickards on Climate Change and Systems Transformation, Brendan Wintle on Decision Making for Biodiversity, Briony Rogers on Preparing the Water Sector for Transition, Richard Eckard on the Transition of the Agricultural Sector, and Sarah Bekessy on Building Community Ownership and Agency in the process.

Let’s Torque STEM – 2020 Grand Final

Consistent with the theme of “Possible Impossibles”, six undergraduate students presented STEM solutions to global challenges in the Let’s Torque Grand Finals for National Science Week. The finalists aimed to bridge the gap between researhcers and society by communicating innovative STEM developments to the general public. RSV Councillor Rob Gell delivered the keynote address. Coincidentally, the day of the Let’s Torque Grand Final, 22nd August, was Earth Overshoot Day, which marks the date that our demand for nature exceeds what Earth’s ecosystems can renew in a year. To Rob, conserving our remaining natural assets is a top priority. “Business as usual” simply does not work. Everyone wants things to be better, but it is difficult to find momentum to change our individual behaviours. We need a lust for change, and that is what Rob aims to inspire. With their energy, enthusiasm, and ideas, the six Let’s Torque finalists will be agents of change too.

Possible Impossibles – unlocking the role of science in shaping our society

On Sunday, 23rd of August, the Possible Impossibles online forum was live-streamed by Parliament of Victoria, with ABC’s award-winning science journalist, Natasha Mitchell, hosting the event. She spoke with four scientific leaders in the fields of new technologies, medical science, environmental science and space exploration to discuss the role of science in shaping our lives in a post COVID-19 future. What follows is a summary of the key points made by each speaker, featuring: Professor Elizabeth Croft, Dean of Faculty of Engineering, Monash University; Dr Kudzai Kanhutu, Deputy Chief Medical Information Officer, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Infectious Diseases Physician; Associate Professor Julie Mondon, Director of Environmental Science, Deakin University, and; Dr Gail Iles, Senior Lecturer in Space Physics, RMIT University and Member of the Board of Directors, Space Industry Association of Australia.

Leading scientists explore ‘possible impossibles’ at Science Week forum

The Victorian Parliament will partner with the Royal Society of Victoria to host a live online community forum exploring how science can help create the sort of future Victorians want.

To be held on Sunday 23 August 2020 as part of National Science Week, the Possible Impossibles online forum will be hosted by award-winning ABC journalist Natasha Mitchell.

Four scientists working at the forefront of environmental science, new technologies, medical science and space exploration will answer questions from an online audience and reflect on the way science can respond to community demands to improve people’s lives.

“The Victorian Parliament has been finding new ways of connecting with people online,” said Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Colin Brooks.

“This event is a way for people to contribute to a broader discussion about what the future should look like and how scientific exploration can help us get there,” he said.