President's Perspective: August 2023

I am greatly looking forward to welcoming you all to this year’s Annual Scientific Meeting in Brisbane (4-7 December), where I am sure we will have no trouble achieving the goal of “Exciting the Network”.  The Local Organising Committee, chaired by Thomas Burne and Tara Walker, and working with the Conference Executive Chair, Jason Mattingley, have developed an excellent program of scientific and social engagement. This will build upon the wonderful experience of our first “post-Covid” in-person Annual Scientific Meeting in December 2022, where the conference goal to “Reconnect the Network” was well and truly achieved. This great success was a just reward for the impressive efforts of the Local Organising Committee— expertly and energetically chaired by Zane Andrews and Jess Nithianantharajah, and supported by the Conference Executive Chair, Tim Bredy.

Two other major events during each year are the Australasian Course in Advanced Neuroscience (ACAN) and the Australia and New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge (aka, the Brain Bee). The ACAN team, led by Chris Reid (Course Director) and Greg Stuart (Management Committee Chair), again provided a unique training experience for students, in Melbourne in June (the training labs were warm and dry, even if outside was sometimes less so). The 2023 Brain Bee is well underway, again led by Ramesh Rajan to commence the 2023 round. A new national leadership team (Jennifer Rodger, Bruno van Swinderen, Matthew Kirkcaldie) are now working towards the culmination of the 2023 year, with the finals to be held at the Brisbane Annual Scientific Meeting. Thank you to Ramesh, the new leadership team and the State/Regional convenors driving this inspirational event.

Now that we have a “reconnected network”, ANS Council is keen to ensure that the connections strengthen and grow. An effective way of doing this is to build activity and interactions at the state level. Your state representatives ( are keen to hear from you so that they can best represent your interests at Council and in our regular communications with members (Bulletins and Newsletters).

The exceptional level of energy and talent in Australian and New Zealand neuroscience is very clear. I am optimistic that ANS can provide the experiences and support to further build the neuroscience community, but this will be most successful if we learn from our members and listen to your voice. Our multi-disciplinarity is our strength, and with Council, I look forward to finding ways of further broadening our reach within the neuroscience community.

Janet Keast

Prof Janet Keast

President, ANS






President's Perspective: April 2021

After a year dominated by working from home and virtual meetings, neuroscientists are heading back to the laboratory and realising the importance of social interaction. With national vaccinations commencing, attending a scientific conference with lively discussion and new ideas is again a reality. I encourage you to start planning to "Reconnect the Network" in December in Melbourne.

While 2020 will be remembered as a year of uncertainty and change, we have been fortunate to have limited the worst impacts of COVID-19 in Australia and New Zealand. I hope we can all look forward to a progressive return to normality in 2021 as our national vaccination strategy commences and expect that you will be relishing getting back to the lab and interactions with colleagues.

To our members, I hope that your research, teaching or study has not been too badly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am particularly mindful of the financial impacts of the pandemic on jobs in the university sector and the continued low success rates of investigator-initiated NHMRC and ARC grants. It has been a challenge for many, and our collective advocacy is required to ensure the importance of neuroscience is properly valued and supported.

I would like to pay tribute to President Cliff Abraham for his strong leadership over a challenging two years and to Treasurer Brian Dean who helped the society grapple with its desire to support neuroscience activity around the country from a limited budget. While some tough decisions were required, we now have a strong base on which to grow. Thanks to Thomas Fath for his organisational prowess and untiring work as Secretary and thanks also to departing State Representatives Yazi Ke (NSW), Ethan Scott (QLD), Alison Canty (TAS) and Kristin Hillman (NZ) and Student Body Committee Chair Amr Abdeen. It's a pleasure to welcome new Secretary Michael Lardelli and new Treasurer Jana Vukovic to join Conference Executive Chair Kaylene Young and myself on the Executive and Nicole Jones (NSW), Tara Walker (QLD), Lyndsey Collins- Praino (SA), Cathryn Blizzard (TAS) and Johanna Montgomery (NZ) as new State Representatives and Ashleigh Geiger as new Student Body Committee Chair who form the Council. Together with our continuing members, the Executive and Council look forward to serving you, the members of ANS.

Since 2005, the Australasian Course in Advanced Neuroscience (ACAN) has been held on Stradbroke Island where an outstanding intensive three-week course has taught early- and mid-career researchers the theory and practice of electrophysiological recording and optical imaging techniques. While Stradbroke Island is a lovely venue for such a course, its isolation presents a number of logistic challenges. The ACAN Committee, now led by ACAN Director Chris Reid, decided to move the meeting to the mainland, but their best laid plans were thwarted by the pandemic and the 2020 course had to be cancelled. However, it's now ready to return, being held at the Florey Institute from 25 July to 14 August.

Council took the difficult decision that we would not be able to conduct our 40th anniversary Annual Scientific Meeting in Perth in December 2020. I want to pay tribute to the entire Local Organising Committee's efforts and especially the co-convenors Julian Heng, Stuart Hodgetts, and Ann-Maree Vallence. We truly appreciate your hard work and look forward to returning to Perth when we are able. However, as an example of the incredible pivot of activity that we have seen during the pandemic, we held a very successful one-day virtual meeting featuring ANS prize recipient presentations, an exciting 3 Minute Thesis final, and the Annual General Meeting.

"Reconnect the Network" is the theme for our next Annual Scientific Meeting to be held from 6 to 8 December 2021 at the Pullman Albert Park in Melbourne. I encourage you to start planning and submit your symposium proposals, and later, submitting an abstract, and attending. By December, with the national vaccination rollout completed, we should all be returning to being able to enjoy each other's company, having a stimulating scientific exchange, and with international speakers attending virtually, there should be more opportunity than ever for members to present their world-class neuroscience research findings.

Wishing you the best for a productive and successful 2021 and to Reconnect in December in Melbourne.

Peter Schofield
Prof Peter R Schofield AO

President, ANS





President's Perspective: January 2019

It is an honour to be serving a term as President of ANS. ANS is the peak body for neuroscience in Australasia (i.e. Australia and New Zealand) and with that role comes a responsibility for it to promote and support excellence in neuroscience across the spectrum of the field. ANS does this in multiple ways: perhaps most importantly through its annual conference and associated prizes and plenaries, but also through its long-standing and internationally acclaimed Australian Course in Advance Neuroscience (ACAN), its various active and enthusiastic committees as listed on this website, its deep support for the Australian Brain Initiative (and who knows, maybe a New Zealand Brain Initiative in the future), and its engagement with a host of international neuroscience societies and groups such as SfN, FENS, JNS, FAONS, IBRO, and the International Brain Bee Committee. Many benefits and opportunities are now accruing to our members as a result. Overall, this means we have an impact on the teaching and research in neuroscience in schools, at universities and institutes, and internationally. Our work means that society as a whole benefits.

ANS is only as strong as its active membership. I’m delighted but also very thankful that so many ANS members continue to volunteer their precious time and effort to serve on the ANS Council and its many committees. As important, though, is the ongoing membership in the Society and attendance of members at the annual conference which continues to be a wonderful celebration of the excellence of neuroscience in Australasia, as well as an opportunity to learn about new ideas and techniques and to form new collaborations. The ANS Council and Local Organising Committee continue to be mindful of constraining costs while offering a superb conference to its members.

With this in mind, I encourage all members to remember to renew their memberships for the coming financial year, and of course to come to the neuroscience party in Adelaide in December. And encourage your colleagues to do the same! Our new website should make it so much easier to do both.
I am always available to discuss any issues, concerns or suggestions regarding ANS.

Professor Cliff Abraham
President, ANS

President's Perspective: April 2017

Our work as scientists is very occasionally celebrated by the wider community. Recently, Professor Alan Mackay-Sim was awarded the Australia Day Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for his work on neural stems cells. In addition, Professor Colin Masters was awarded an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia for his work on Alzheimer’s disease, and Professor Richard Faull was made a Knight Companion of the Order of New Zealand for services to brain research.

“The love for and dedication to my work seems to me to be the basis for happiness. As a research worker, the unforgotten moments of my life are those rare ones which come after years of plodding work, when the veil over nature’s secret seems suddenly to lift and when what was dark and chaotic appears in a clear and beautiful light and pattern.” Professor Gerty Cori, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1947, for understanding glycogen and energy metabolism. Source: http://beckerexhibits.

ANS Council is very pleased to announce that the new annual meeting plenary lecture to be named after a female neuroscientist will be named after Professor Elspeth McLachlan, FAA. Professor McLachlan made seminal discoveries in the autonomic nervous system (see https://, was the first woman president of ANS (1996-1997), and held a number of senior management roles both at The University of Queensland and The University of New South Wales. In addition, Professor McLachlan’s contributions to Australasian science endure in her mentorship of a number of highly successful neuroscientists. The inaugural Elspeth McLachlan Plenary lecture will be held at the annual ANS meeting in Brisbane in 2018. Nominations for the speaker (male or female) will be made through the usual plenary speaker nomination process.

At the ANS AGM meeting in Hobart, ANS Council and members raised the possibility of having the AW Campbell and Nina Kondelos medal winners give talks in the meeting in the year following their award. ANS Council has now agreed that these significant awards should include a lecture by the awardee. Both medal winners from 2016, Dr Stephen Abbott (AW Campbell winner) and Professor Naomi Wray (Nina Kondelos winner) will be invited to give talks at the annual ANS meeting in Sydney in 2017.

The local organising committee (LOC) for the annual meeting in Sydney has been working extremely hard. The final program for the meeting will be available shortly. A significant issue the LOC and the ANS Executive have had to deal with are the significant cost increases arising from holding the meeting in Sydney. The LOC has managed to retain the registration cost at the same rate as the 2016 meeting in Hobart, partly by making the lunch costs optional, but also through other cost-saving measures, while retaining all the features of what will be a truly excellent meeting with an outstanding scientific program.

ANS Executive met recently for a full-day workshop to discuss strategies for maintaining the upward trajectory of the Society that will allow it to remain financially stable while providing the best possible support for our members as the peak body for neuroscience in Australia and New Zealand. This is a work in progress and the full ANS Council will meet in July to discuss developing a five-year strategic plan for the Society. Full consultation of this process with all ANS members will occur once Council has developed a draft plan. A major goal of the strategic plan will be to continue to provide an outstanding annual meeting and to develop a range of year-round benefits for the membership of the Society that will provide significant value.

Some of the ANS member benefits are detailed further in this issue of the newsletter with the new committees beginning their work to promote areas of interest to our members. In addition, the ANS Executive has negotiated some reciprocal benefits with the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) for travel awards and conference attendance at local membership rates. These will be advertised in the ANS newsletter and on our website as they become available. In this issue, we are promoting ANS-FENS travel scholarships to attend Cajal courses in Europe for PhD students and early career researchers who are ANS members.

Your membership of the Society is crucial and ANS cannot exist without it. ANS provides your collective voice for science advocacy and the funding of neuroscience and represents your interests across a range of national and international science organisations. With so many areas of science competing for limited resources, it is imperative that the Society has a strong voice and this can only come from demonstrating our influence through membership numbers. We are grateful that many people have already renewed their membership for 2017, with the option of both 1 and 3 year memberships. The three-year membership option provides a saving of the consumer price index increase over three years.

If you have not renewed your membership, please do so by logging into: Don’t delay, renew today!

Professor Linda Richards AO
President, ANS


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.

The ANS 2017 meeting will be held in Sydney on December 3 to 6. Plenary speakers are Professor Huda Zoghbi (Baylor College of Medicine), Professor Jürgen Götz (Queensland Brain Institute), Professor Andrew Lawrence (Florey Institute of Neurosciences and Mental Health) and Professor Kathryn North (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute). Symposium proposals for this meeting are closing on January 27 so please consider submitting a proposal to ANS Editor, Associate Professor Helen Cooper, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The Sydney local organising committee is chaired by Associate Professor Thomas Fath, University of Sydney.

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.

Inclusion and representation of all members of our society is important for the success and longevity of ANS. At present, ANS has two named plenary lectures – named after Sir John Eccles and Professor Lawrie Austin – and it was decided at the Council meeting to include two additional plenary lectures at our annual meeting. The first will be given by the winner of the AW Campbell award which recognises a young ANS member scientist for their work within five years post-PhD. In addition, ANS will now honour a female scientist from Australia or New Zealand by naming an annual plenary lecture after her. As is the case for the other Plenary lectures, the choice of speaker for the annual lecturer is not restricted. ANS Council is now calling for nominations for the naming of this lecture. Please send your nominations to ANS Secretary, Associate Professor Kay Double at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by March 3. Nominations should include a brief paragraph describing why your nominee should be considered for this honour.

The quality of Australian and New Zealand science will depend on the promotion and support of scientists from all backgrounds, providing diverse ideas and approaches to the scientific challenges and questions we strive to solve. In this regard, ANS has adopted the Science and Gender Equity Athena SWAN principles at https://www. and is establishing a national committee on Gender Equity and Diversity. This committee will be chaired by Dr Karin Nordstrom (Flinders University) with Dr Marta Garrido (QBI) as deputy chair. The remit of the committee will be to develop ANS policies for gender equity and diversity in all of our activities and to provide support and training to ANS members on these issues. If you would like to be involved in the gender equity committee or have a comment on this topic, please email Dr Nordstrom at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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.

Another issue facing ANS members is the growing need to advocate for the use of animals in research. ANS is establishing a new national committee on animals in research chaired by Professor Marcello Rosa (Monash University). At the meeting in Sydney, one ANS symposium will be devoted to this topic with international experts speaking about their experience and approaches to advocacy. The remit of this committee will be to establish a strategy with other national and international organisations to advocate for the use of animals in research. If you would like to be involved in the animals in research committee or have a comment on this topic please email Professor Rosa at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In addition to research, many ANS member scientists are engaged in teaching neuroscience. A wealth of resources is available that could be shared amongst our members, as well as new materials developed for teaching and outreach. ANS is establishing a new national committee for teaching resources and education chaired by Dr Matthew Kirkcaldie (University of Tasmania). The remit for this committee will be to provide a source of information-sharing, via the ANS website, of teaching materials for ANS members to use, and to establish new ways of engaging with teachers and neuroscience-related professionals, perhaps through running courses or producing new materials on Australian and New Zealand neuroscience. Please email Dr Kirkcaldie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested in being involved in the education committee or have suggestions.

Related to this, it is my pleasure to announce that the ANS Council has decided that the new headquarters for the Australian Brain Bee Challenge will be the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function, based at Monash University. The new Australian National Coordinator is Professor Ramesh Rajan and the new Australian National Administrator is Dr Maria del Mar Quiroga. Please email Mar at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions regarding the Australian Brain Bee Challenge. They will be working closely with the new National Coordinator for the New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge, Associate Professor Maurice Curtis (University of Auckland). The team has some wonderful new initiatives planned and we look forward to watching them build this outreach program.

The future of Australasian neuroscience is our students, and so ANS student members have established a new national ANS student body. The chair of this student body will sit on ANS Council to provide a voice for students at the highest level of the Society. I am delighted that Mr Tom Burns (Monash University) has been nominated by the student body as their inaugural representative on ANS Council. We look forward to hearing the views of students and providing support for activities that will help build the careers of ANS student members. If you have ideas for student activities or would like to provide input please email Tom at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The ANS Council is also seeking nominations for a representative on ANS Council from postdoctoral fellows, early career researchers or neuroscience research technicians/laboratory managers etc. The ANS Council is keen to hear how ANS can best support these members and therefore this representative will hold a national role and will engage in the activities of the Council to help run the Society. To nominate for this position on ANS Council please send an initial expression of interest to ANS secretary, Associate Professor Kay Double at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by March 3rd, 2017. Only ANS members will be eligible to nominate for this position. An expression of interest should include a brief CV and statement of why you would like to be nominated and what you hope to achieve. ANS will then hold an election for this position in April with all ANS members eligible to vote.

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 AO
President, ANS