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Science & Technology Australia - March Newsletter
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Dear Colleagues,
 
As the leaves begin to turn in Canberra it seems we are hurtling towards an early election. What a pleasure it is to see that science is high on the agenda across all major political groups as we get closer to the poll. However there is no room for complacency, and as you will read we will be conducting our usual science policy survey and bringing you the results to inform your vote. Also if you missed out on the National Press Club address from three great scientists - STA Vice Pres  Emma Johnston, Nalini Joshi and Tanya Monro - on Women in Science. Sparkling stuff.
Science meets Parliament 2016
Early March saw another fantastic Science meets Parliament, with around 200 working scientists coming together for two days of professional development and networking aimed at bridging the gap between science and politics.
 
The first day saw a panels of journalists, deputy secretaries of departments and Nobel Prize winner Brian Schmidt AC helping to prepare delegates for their meetings with parliamentarians the next day. Previous SmP alumni spoke about their experiences in engaging with parliamentarians and the importance of making a human connection.
 
Dr Rod Lamberts and Dr Will Grant from the ANU’s Centre for the Public Awareness of Science ran a workshop to help delegates present their areas of research in an easily digestible 60-second presentation that cut through the jargon and delivered the exciting and intriguing parts of their work.
 
A gala dinner in the Great Hall at Parliament House capped off the day.  In addition to all our delegates, the current and former chief scientist, some 40 parliamentarians, senior diplomats and industry representatives attended the dinner.  Both the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Christopher Pyne, representing the Prime Minister, and the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, spoke on the night about the importance of science and research to Australia’s economy, culture and place in the world.
 
The second day was even busier than the first, with close to 60 face-to-face meetings between parliamentarians and small groups of delegates. Some lucky scientists met with the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader.  Delegates had the opportunity to make real connections with parliamentarians, explaining their work and why it matters.
 
Delegates also heard from former Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb AC, Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO, Assistant Minister Karen Andrews, Shadow Minister Senator Kim Carr, Shadow Minister Richard Marles and Dr Adam Bandt.
Judging by the many smiling (but tired) faces at the finale drinks and the sparkling feedback it’s safe to say that the event was a great success.
Upcoming Events
With Science meets Parliament 2016 over, STA is now looking ahead to the rest of its events for the year. 
 
Science meets Business is confirmed as taking place later this year, and more details will be provided when they’re available.  The first SmB was held last year and brought together scientists and business people to discuss how to strengthen collaboration between industry and STEM.  The event produced valuable insights and helped to reshape and refresh the conversation between theses two important areas, and this year’s event is sure to follow on from that success.
 
Also happening in the latter part of the year is a Member Services Workshop, which provides hands-on training the everyday affairs of scientific and technological societies.  The workshop will cover a range of issues facing professional associations, from managing conferences and membership, to creating a cost-effective online presence. Dates and more details will be given when available.
Science Election Survey
As we get closer to a federal poll, the STA science policy election survey will roll out once again. The survey is designed to extract relevant election policy from all major parties and present it to STA members so you can make a more evidence-based decision on election day. With science and innovation much higher on the agenda than in previous years, the results should be fascinating.
Federal Budget
As usual STA will bring members all the science and technology news straight from the Federal Budget lock up.  Keep your eyes open for the special bulletin on the new 3 May date.
 
As always, members are encouraged to email in any useful Federal Budget intelligence that might enrich our understanding of this important document.

Women of Science at the National Press Club

Professors Nalini Joshi, Emma Johnston and Tanya Monro spoke at the National Press Club on 30 March about the role and future for women in science.  Covering the difficulties faced by women in STEM fields, particularly those seeking senior positions, they also talked about their experiences and the positive steps being taken to address this imbalance.  More on this enlightening and inspiring talk is available here and the video recording is available here

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science open for nominations

The 2016 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are now open for nominations, and will close at 5pm EST on 28 April.  The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are the pre-eminent annual science, innovation and science teaching awards in the country and are awarded for excellence in the following areas:
·         The Prime Minister's Prize for Science;
·         The Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation;
·         The Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year;
·         The Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year;
·         Prize for New Innovators (new award for 2016);
·         The Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools; and
·         The Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools
 
Each recipient receives an embossed medallion with lapel pin and a share of the $750,000 in prize money.
 
If you know of an outstanding researcher, teacher or innovator, nominate them here
Science meets Parliament

SmP this year saw 200 working scientists gather in Canberra to develop and practice their communication skills with both politicians and the media.

Photos, speeches and more can be found on our website, here

RiAus provided fantastic coverage of the event, including a video showing some of the action behind the scenes, available here
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