President's Perspective: January 2017
As scientists facing major funding challenges, it is easy for us to lose sight of the sheer joy and intellectual comfort we are afforded in our profession to pursue questions of importance. 2016 certainly presented some great uncertainty in the world of international politics with significant surprises including Britain voting to leave the EU and the spectacle of the US election.
More than at any other time in history, science is now globally connected in a way that was impossible before the world wide web. Neuroscience is rising to the forefront of global science with major initiatives to understand the brain under way that are funded by Governments around the world (see Neuron 92, issue 3, 2016).
In early 2016 the Australian Academy of Science began to develop the Australian Brain Alliance (ABA), with the society and ANS member scientists as leading contributors. In the past year the ABA has grown to include scientists from most universities, institutes and departments where neuroscience research is being performed throughout Australia. The goal is to develop a major funding strategy to present to the Federal and State Governments to boost funding for neuroscience in Australia. Although still in its early stages, the ABA plans to release a series of discussion papers in the coming months where ANS member feedback will be sought. All ANS members are encouraged to participate in this process so that a plan is developed that will be transformative for Australian neuroscience. The ABA effectively constitutes a Government lobbying arm of ANS, without investing in our own lobbyist.
Our recent scientific meeting in Hobart demonstrated the incredible depth and quality of neuroscience research in Australia. Outstanding international scientists also travelled to Australia to participate in our meeting. (Please see the meeting report in this issue). I would like to thank the members of the local organising committee and the Chairs, Associate Professor Tracey Dickson and Dr Kaylene Young, for their tireless efforts in preparing and running such a successful meeting. In addition to the exciting science presented, a highlight was the conference dinner held at MONA in Hobart. The event was memorable for the gallery exhibitions, the light show put on by the beautiful night sky, and the warm collegial atmosphere of the evening. Our thanks again to all those involved in organising the meeting, symposia and social events.
At the ANS annual general meeting in December 2016, a number of new initiatives were approved which I would like to further outline here. In brief, these include the establishment of three new national committees, new additional members on ANS Council and new plenary lectures at our annual meeting.
It has been suggested that a plenary lecture at ANS should be given by the winner of the Nina Kondelos award and ANS Council will consider this suggestion. The Nina Kondelos Prize was made possible by a donation to the Society by Professor George Paxinos, and it is named after his late sister.
These initiatives are to enable ANS to provide more for our members. In addition, we have been negotiating with the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) to provide member rates to attend their annual meeting for ANS members. We are also negotiating a reciprocal agreement with FENS for student/ECR travel awards to attend FENS or neuroscience courses within Europe for ANS members and similarly for FENS members to attend ANS or courses in Australia.
In closing, I wish you all a very productive year of scientific discoveries and advances in 2017.
Professor Linda Richards