Quick, think of Australia and what comes to mind? Kangaroos, platypuses, koalas, and other bizarre marsupials are some of the usual suspects. Uluru, otherwise known as Ayer’s rock, or the Great Barrier Reef are the images called to many people’s minds when they think of Australia. Of course, there’s also Crocodile Dundee or the seemingly mollusk-inspired Sydney Opera House.
Science probably wasn’t on your list. If it wasn’t, don’t feel bad. After all, Australia has banked more on its tourism than it has on its science. But that’s beginning to change.
In this, our Next Wave feature for July 2004, we will explore Australian science via four categories:
Although Australia may not be ready to go head-to-head with international research juggernauts like the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany, it is building the capital, manpower, and facilities necessary to compete on the international scientific stage. One such step is the recent, apparently largely successful effort at drawing international science talent. The rigorous, English-style curriculum, which gives students in-depth subject knowledge, is also cited as an advantage. Finally, Australia’s government has begun to funnel more money into scientific research and training, primarily through the ambitious and ubiquitous Backing Australia’s Ability initiatives, which emphasize commercialization of research.
The same factors that sometimes limit Australia’s scientific output–low population density and a lack of infrastructure–also make it an attractive place to live. Australia offers open spaces, pristine beaches, minimal traffic, low crime, and a relatively low cost of living and doing science. And quality of life aside, Australia’s unique geology and biology provide scientific opportunities unavailable elsewhere.
If you are a scientist interested in a change of scenery, this month’s feature will certainly answer many questions about the outstanding career potential in “the land down under.”
SCIENCE EXCHANGES IN AUSTRALIA
MORE FROM THE WAVE
Australia’s scientific endeavors and scientists have been covered in the past by Next Wave. The following articles highlight pertinent essays in our extensive archive.