Interview with the Chief Scientist of WA
Chief Scientist Lyn Beazley on the BioGENEius Challenge of WA
Interview by Sue Emmett , 2008
What will WA students gain from the BioGENEius Challenge?
Many things. We hope the students will be inspired by science and appreciate its challenges; they will learn the rigorous thinking and attention to detail required to carry out research that has the potential to help the world.Some students may have their ambitions to become a scientist reinforced; we certainly hope so. Above all we hope they will find the enterprise enjoyable and rewarding, aiding their personal and professional development. They may also make new friends and find mentors to life.
Are WA science students "bright" enough to achieve credible results in the BioGENEius Challenge?
I am convinced they are. In Boston I met and conducted informal interviews with some of the North American finalists in 2007. The standard was amazingly high. I could visualise these students achieving Honours degrees and even PhDs in the years to come. I was unsure if our students would match up. However, having met some of our students, I now realise that they will rise to the challenge magnificently and be very competitive.
Why is joining the BioGENEius Challenge so important to WA?
It is important in several ways. It is a chance for some of our State's brightest and best school students to experience science at an international level. The students will undergo both scientific and personal development. It is also a wonderful chance for school teachers to add a new dimension to their teaching skills. For the scientists involved, they will gain the satisfaction of sharing their enthusiasm for science with receptive young minds. The results gained may progress their research and the students might retain an association with the laboratory in the longer term.
What are some of the problems facing WA that may be assisted/solved in the future by biotechnology?
Better more targetted medicines, a cleaner environment, better agricultural practices, more energy-efficient processes to reduce our CO2 production.
Will the BioGENEius Challenge help to stimulate the apparent low interest in science among WA students?
We hope so. We also hope that the challenge will convince our very top students to undertake their university training in WA and not 'go East'. It may also do so indirectly by enthusing school teachers.
Could the WA Biotechnology industry in WA do more to foster biotechnology education among WA teachers and students (ie mentors in industry)?
Many in the industry are committed but we may need to raise awareness and to convince others of the importance of their participation. I appreciate the constraints that may limit participation and think we may need to work with the industry to try to address them.