2023 Year in Review

We begin our review of 2023 by acknowledging the passing of Emeritus Professor John William White in August and reflecting on his enduring legacy.

John was a member of the AINSE Council for 20 years, from 1988-2008, and served as the AINSE President from 2005-2006 and AINSE Vice-President from 2003-2004. In recognition of his long years of outstanding service, John was named as an AINSE Honorary Fellow in 2009. Through his world-leading scientific research, and his long service to many scientific organisations, including AINSE, John had an enormous impact on the lives of many researchers and students.

AINSE’s full tribute to John is available to read on our website.

E/Prof. John White (front, right) at AINSE’s 60th Anniversary celebrations in the Australian Museum, 2018.

Throughout 2023, AINSE also had many reasons to celebrate, particularly as our scholars continued to excel in their research efforts under the guidance of their ever-supportive University supervisors and ANSTO collaborators and co-supervisors. Our upcoming Annual Report, to be released early in 2024, will showcase this research excellence through our regular series of Research Highlight articles.

In 2023, AINSE were proud to support new and continuing students and early-career researchers from our 42 AINSE member institutions across Australia and New Zealand, through the provision of:
– 25 new Honours scholarships;
– 140 top-up scholarships for PhD students, including 30 new Postgraduate Research Award and 4 new Residential Student Scholarships, with a newly increased annual stipend for all PGRA and RSS award holders;
– 3 research exchange internships through the SAAFE (Scholarship AINSE ANSTO French Embassies) program, which expanded to include travel from New Zealand to France
– 18 new Early Career Researcher Grants, providing Early Career Researchers working with ANSTO the means to access additional opportunities in the initial stages of their research careers; and
– 154 places for undergraduate and postgraduate students who attended online education schools, including the Winter School, Postgraduate Orientation Week, and the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship (WISE) School.

Our Professional Development Program continued to provide opportunities to connect AINSE postgraduate students with academic and industry experts to assist them with preparing for their future careers. The AINSE Technical Skills Scholarship also provided funding for postgraduate students to receive additional technical skills training relevant to their postgraduate project. These programs will continue in a modified form throughout 2024 with our newest cohort of postgraduate scholars.

In May, AINSE Scholar Gold Medals for excellence and impact in research were formally awarded to Dr. Rhiannon Boseley (Curtin University), for her research on the chemistry of latent fingermarks in the context of forensic science, and to Dr. Gemeng Liang (University of Wollongong), for his research on novel battery materials. Further details regarding Dr. Boseley’s and Dr. Liang’s research are available on our website.

AINSE Managing Director Michelle Durant (far left) and Deputy Board Chair Helen Liossis (second from left) present the AINSE Scholar Gold Medals to Dr. Gemeng Liang (second from right) and Dr. Rhiannon Boseley (on-screen), with Dr. Pimm Vonsgvivut accepting the medal on Dr. Boseley’s behalf.

Following the Award Ceremony, a special networking dinner was held to bring together representatives from the Australian nuclear science and technology sector. AINSE member representatives from across Australia and New Zealand met with members of the AINSE and ANSTO Boards, representatives from ARWA, ARPANSA, the ANA, WiN Australia, AusYGN and the French Embassy in Australia, alongside AINSE alumni and ANSTO researchers, at the Sydney Masonic Centre. The AINSE Networking Dinner will now be established as an annual May event to connect Australia’s nuclear representatives and AINSE member representatives.

AINSE President Prof. Ian Gentle addresses the assembled guests at the AINSE Networking Dinner in Sydney.

In July, the 27th annual AINSE Winter School brought together 68 final-year undergraduate students from 30 AINSE member institutions to explore ANSTO facilities and connect with ANSTO researchers regarding future collaborative research opportunities. The 2023 Winter School was the second Winter School to operate under a hybrid model. During the online week in July, students were provided with unique virtual access to ANSTO researchers and research infrastructure, including behind-the-scenes explorations of ANSTO’s Australian Synchrotron in Clayton and the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering, Centre for Accelerator Science, Nuclear Materials Research, and Isotope Tracing in Natural Systems platforms at Lucas Heights.

After exploring ANSTO facilities virtually, 33 of these students had the opportunity to visit ANSTO’s Lucas Heights campus in a series of two-day visits in September. These visits, extended from the one-day trips offered in 2022, provided students with a rare opportunity to gain insights into the day-to-day activities inside ANSTO’s Lucas Heights platforms, and connect with ANSTO staff to discuss the ongoing research projects supported by this landmark infrastructure. A series of networking breakfasts hosted during the visit dates provided additional networking opportunities for Winter School students to engage with ANSTO researchers.

In October, 12 students from the combined 2023 AINSE PGRA and RSS cohorts attended the online annual AINSE Postgraduate Orientation Week. For the third year running, students intending to apply for an AINSE Scholarship in upcoming application rounds were also able to participate in the 2023 Orientation Week, with a total of 18 future scholarship applicants also in attendance.

The Orientation Week program coincided with Nuclear Science Week, an international celebration of nuclear science. AINSE again coordinated with the Australian Young Generation in Nuclear (AusYGN), the Women in Nuclear (WiN) Australia chapter, the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, and the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque for the 2023 event.

In the first week of December, the 7th annual AINSE WISE School gave 56 first-year undergraduate women from 21 AINSE member institutions the opportunity to gain invaluable career advice from a variety of distinguished researchers and entrepreneurs, including notable guest speakers Dr. Karen Livesey, the 2023 Australian Women in Physics Lecturer; Dr. Gillian Hirth, CEO of ARPANSA; and the Honourable Dr. Annabelle Bennett AC SC, Chair of the ANSTO Board.

On the final two days of the program, 28 of the WISE students were able to visit ANSTO’s Sydney campus in Lucas Heights for only the second time since 2019, with the remaining students continuing to participate in the full program in an online attendance mode. During the final days of the program, all students met with mentors from ANSTO to begin a year-long mentorship program with AINSE, ANSTO, other partner organisations, and past WISE alumna; a journey that will continue in regular videoconferences and other conversations throughout 2024.

The 2023 WISE students who visited ANSTO’s Lucas Heights campus in December 2023

Our new AINSE Pathway Scholarship opened for applications on 1 December, replacing the AINSE Honours Scholarship and expanding that offering to include all students enrolled in any Honours or Masters degree at an AINSE-member university.

The opening of the Pathway Scholarship round also coincided with the launch of AINSE’s new online portal for scholarship applications, developed to streamline the application and review process for all our awards and events. Applications for the current round of the AINSE Pathway Scholarship will be open until 15 March 2024, and the next PGRA and RSS application rounds will open in February.

The next round of the Scholarship AINSE ANSTO French Embassies (SAAFE) Program is also open for applications, for international travel in the period 1st October 2024 – 31st December 2025. Applications for the current SAAFE round will close 1st July 2024.

Finally, the AINSE staff would like to wish all our scholars, supervisors, mentors and supporters our best wishes for the festive season. 
We hope you have a safe and happy holiday, and we look forward to supporting and celebrating even more of our scholars’ successes throughout 2024 and beyond (stay tuned for the launch of the new AINSE Podcast next year)!

Please note the AINSE office will be closed from Thursday 21 December and will re-open on Monday 8 January 2024.

For more information on AINSE programs in 2024, please visit our Scholarships and Award page, follow our social media accounts on X (Twitter), FacebookLinkedIn, Instagram and our new Threads account, sign up for our mailing list, or contact the AINSE staff at enquiries@ainse.edu.au.