AMSI Vacation Schools and Research Scholarship programme: increasing Australia’s knowledge economy

More than 200 students, researchers and professionals came together to share state-of-the-art technologies and learn about the use of mathematics and computational science in biological contexts at the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute’s (AMSI) 2014 BioInfoSummer symposium, supported by the Australian Government.

BioInfoSummer 2014, the eighth in a series, was held at Monash University from 1 to 5 December 2014. Bioinformatics is an exciting discipline analysing and simulating both the structures and processes of biological systems.

The programme covered an impressive array of topics ranging from cancer treatments, cutting edge computational platforms predicting the effects of drugs on bone health to the mathematical biology of living cells.

AMSI’s BioInfoSummer series has made a significant contribution to the future of science and innovation in Australia by inspiring talented students in relevant disciplines to develop an interest in this ground breaking area of study. This is important in helping to address the shortage of skilled bioinformaticians and computational biologists.

One student commented that ’BioInfoSummer gave me a great introduction to what the field of bioinformatics provides, and the numerous opportunities that it offers,’ Phillip Luong, Monash University.

The Government provided $2 million over four years to 2016 for the AMSI’s Vacation Schools and Scholarships project as part of its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) policy.

AMSI has been helping students to get the very best start in their maths and science education and careers through its winter and summer residential schools, the week-long bioinformatics symposium and research scholarship programme. Collectively these activities improve the quality, international engagement and breadth of frontline research experience available to students and professionals in Australia. In 2014–15 over 330 students participated in AMSI’s activities, including 56 scholarships.

Restoring the focus on STEM subjects in schools and universities is essential to ensure young Australians are equipped with the skills necessary for their careers and for the future of the Australian economy.

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