Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Up Front

Too Many Science Graduates

By Guy Nolch

A new report finds that the increasing number of science graduates are having difficulty finding relevant employment.

Advocates of science have long argued the merits of students studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and several programs have been established to ignite an interest in science as early as primary school and then maintain that interest into adulthood. Already these efforts seem to be working – perhaps too well.

In August the Grattan Institute reported that “science has added 26,800 local students since 2009, outstripping growth in other STEM fields”. But what happens to all those students when they finish their studies?

The Age of Genomics

By Ainsley Newson

This edition of Australasian Science focuses on the ethical, legal and social issues associated with advances in genomic science.

Faster and more accurate sequencing of human genomes; smaller and smarter wearable technologies; an increasingly connected world; direct access to health testing; improvements in data storage. These are just some recent innovations now influencing Australian health care and society, and this issue of Australasian Science focuses on their associated social, ethical and legal issues.

Jobs, Growth and... Science

By Guy Nolch

Early next month Australians will head to the election polls, and for once scientific issues have bubbled to the surface.

Both the Coalition and Labor have had their hands on the nation’s steering wheel recently enough to give a feel for how much each values science, but in the 25 years I’ve been covering science policy that value could have been likened to a Mother’s Day gift that’s been rewrapped and regifted on Father’s Day. That may well prove the case again, but for now CSIRO has been a bellwether.

Obesity Is Winning the Hunger Games

By Guy Nolch

Can a sugar tax save us if obesity has already permanently suppressed the satiety signals that tell us to stop eating?

When I was at school I was incredulous at a health promotion campaign that urged people to find 30 minutes per day to exercise. I was a skinny, hyperactive kid who barely had time to eat. I knew that adults had to work longer than schoolkids, but how could they not find the time – or desire – to chase a ball for half an hour each day?

Defence Act Casts a Long Shadow

By Guy Nolch

The battle now shifts from public good to commercial research, as new Defence powers threaten a broad range of “dual-use” technologies.

Last month marked the centenary of the foundation of the Australian Council of Science and Industry, which later evolved into today’s CSIRO. The Prime Minister of the fledgling nation, Billy Hughes, had argued for the establishment of a scientific organisation that would “solve problems that seemed insoluble”, many of which were agricultural for a country that was riding on the sheep’s back.

CSIRO Weathers a New Storm

By Guy Nolch

CSIRO’s climate scientists are used to being gagged and bound, but now they have also been thrown overboard.

The summer just ended has been torrid for many scientists. While some were sweating through the task of writing grant proposals to fund their research programs, an ill wind was blowing for CSIRO’s climate scientists.

An open letter to the Australian Government and CSIRO

Almost 3000 of the world's scientists have signed an open letter to the Australian government and the CSIRO in response to the cuts to CSIRO's climate research.

This open letter from the international climate community has been coordinated by Paul J. Durack (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA) and Anna Pirani (ICTP, Italy). It is attached for download in full below.

CSIRO's Ideology Is Questionable

By Graeme Pearman

The decision to dismantle CSIRO's climate research underlines a shift in priorities from support of broad societal needs towards a focus on wealth generation.

CSIRO CEO Larry Marshall has decided to reduce his investment in climate research on the basis, notwithstanding the quality of the research, that the time has come to focus Australia's strategies on adapting to climate change. The assumption is that sufficient is known about how global warming will impact regional and local climate-related events so as to enable the confident development and deployment of adaptive efforts in anticipation of those threats.