spring 2013
I was sceptical when, at the
beginning of the National
Youth Science Forum, I was
told that the session would
be life-changing. Now, when
I look back to the pre-session
version of myself, I can
confirm that this programme
has had a significant impact
on me and has expanded my
scientific scope.
The programme offered insights into amazing scientific
phenomena. In the Laser Seminar we learnt about the
fascinating nature of lasers, as well as their diverse
applications.There was a live conference with CERN
European Organisation for Nuclear Research) at
Questacon, where we discussed nuclear particles.We
also participated in forums where we engaged in
debate about topical issues in the scientific
world. I was in awe of the amazing young people who
had so much to contribute to these topics.Without
a doubt, it opened my mind to different ways of thinking
and analysing the important issues which we face in
today’s society. Additionally, we had the privilege of
visiting laboratories to interact with scientists and ask
them about their careers. I was placed into the Florey
group as I am interested in biology and we visited the
Pathology Department at Canberra Hospital, the ANU
Plant Sciences, the University of Canberra Forensic
Chemistry, and the Australian Institute of Sport, the
University of Canberra Health Sciences and the John
Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU.
Although all the lab visits were educational and
enlightening, the highlight for me was the John Curtin
School of Medical Research. From ophthalmology and
histology to neurology, I was astounded by the passion
and enthusiasm of all the scientists. In ophthalmology,
we explored the different diseases that affect the cornea,
looking at cross-sections of patients’eyes on the
computer. As for histology, we looked at the tissues of
organisms and learnt how they are preserved in paraffin
wax.We each received a collection of microscope slides
with liver, heart, skin, lung, kidney, pancreas and spleen
samples, the thickness of a fewmicrons, to take away
with us. Finally, for neurology, the scientists were
investigating the role of smell in detecting the function
of neurons. An extremely powerful microscope showed
us the individual neurons and cells in a sample.
The National Youth Science Forum showed me the
diversity of science, even in a medical perspective, and
I now realise that there are so many unique and
wonderful pathways to pursue. It opened my eyes to the
bigger picture and taught me that science is an all-
encompassing discipline.
Betty Xiong,
Year 12
Professor Graeme Clark, driven to
provide hearing to more than 55,000
deaf people in the belief that all children
should have the opportunity to hear
their own parents’ voices, invented the
Bionic ear. In honour of his dedication
and work, Australia’s Information and
Communications Technology (ICT)
Research Centre of Excellence for Life
Sciences established the Graeme Clark
Oration to connect the community of
researchers active at the intersection
between biology, computing and
engineering.This year’s orator was
Mr Geoffrey Lamb, President of the
Global Policy and Advocacy at the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,
where he leads the Foundation’s
engagement with governments and
international institutions.
Lamb spoke passionately about
hopeful evidence and hard challenges
in the journey to the end of absolute
poverty through a focus on global health
and economic growth.The presentation,
to over 1500 renowned scientists,
professors, business people and
students, detailed the extraordinary
successes of the past half century in
reducing mortality and disease, and
described how investments in health
have been critical for economic growth
and the reduction of global poverty.
Over the past 30 years the percentage
of the global population living in
absolute poverty has decreased by
billion people. Lamb also spoke about
how scientific research has led to
a decrease in under-five child deaths
from polio and malaria by 66 per cent.
Following the Oration, we made our way
to the dinner, where guests included
some of Australia’s most prominent
scientists and politicians, along with
industry and community leaders.
We watched part of a documentary
detailing Clark’s story, and also
participated in a ‘Q and A’ session with
Mr Geoffrey Lamb, Mr TimMorris
Manager of Food Security and Climate
Change at World Vision Australia), and
Professor Graeme Clark himself.
The Oration was amazing and we’d like
to thank Mrs Fryer and Ms Volkmann
for the opportunity to attend such
a prestigious event, which both inspired
and informed us, about how young
scientists can pursue jobs in research
to help the sick, homeless and poor.
Tessa Faulks
Year 12
Science – an all-encompassing discipline
The Graeme Clark Oration Dinner