Atmospheric Sciences on the Rise

Thanks to Craig Macaulay, CSIRO for contributing this article:

Once a year Australian atmospheric scientists gather for a research review centred on a real singing ‘canary’ – the Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Monitoring Station.  The Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station was established in 1976 to monitor and study global atmospheric composition; the Bureau manages the station and its research is jointly managed by the Bureau and CSIRO. This year’s annual Cape Grim science meeting at the Bureau of Meteorology from November 15-17 was combined with the 5th Annual Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research Workshop with a focus on the science of atmospheric composition.

The timing could not have been more appropriate coinciding with a series of releases on carbon and greenhouse gas emission figures from the International Energy Agency ( and the World Meteorological Organisation (

Both activities brought together more than 90 researchers from New Zealand and Australian research agencies and universities. The Workshop also included the Annual Priestley lecture, which was given this year by Dr Stephen E. Schwartz (Brookhaven National Laboratory).

This meeting provided a much needed forum for atmospheric composition researchers from different disciplines (in-situ observations, remote sensing observations, modelling) to share ideas, enhance collaboration and develop a coordinated regional approach to characterising atmospheric processes in Australasia.  A major outcome of this meeting is the decision to continue this forum into the future and to investigate during 2012 the establishment of a co-ordinated atmospheric composition research group.

Melita said there is energy to bring researchers more closely together through collaboration to benefit from the expanding  and emerging infrastructure and tools  that are providing  increasing opportunities observations, modelling and assessments. These include the Australian Community Climate Earth System Simulator, new observation sites such as the Tropical Atmosphere Research Station at Gunn Point and Australia’s new research vessel, the RV Investigator that will be commissioned in June 2013.

ASC National Conference 2012 – Dec 2011 update

The full program for the National Conference is now on the conference website, Increasingly detailed information will be added regularly to the site.

The early bird deadline has been extended to 15 January 2012. As usual ASC members get a significant discount to the non-members rate.

The conference will be at Sydney Masonic Centre from 27-29 February 2011.

The sign of a good conference program is when it is difficult to choose between the parallel sessions. I’ll be torn between competing interests for every session and once again wish I could be in two or more places at once.

Day 1

  • Opening keynote: Professor Ian Chubb, Australia’s Chief Scientist will open the conference and be the first plenary speaker.
  • Before and after lunch: an overview of Inspiring Australia followed by an in-depth look at regional outcomes
  • After lunch: State Chief Scientists will feature in a plenary and then in parallel sessions.

Day 2

  • Plenary: Careers in science communicating– hear about career possibilities and resources.
  • Plenary: Sophisticated Social Media Use & Science – continuing insights into how to use a range of rapidly evolving communication channels to communicate science (and maybe make a buck?).
  • Plenary: The NBN and how to use it – a science communication perspective of nation changing technology.

Day 3

  • Plenary: Three astronomers walked into a bar…Features a Video of interview with Brian Schmidt and David Malin, astronomical photographer – an illustrated talk– in an exclusive for the conference, Brian Schmidt, the 2011 Nobel Prize winner for Physics, is interviewed on video by Rod Lamberts. The discussion will interweave winning a major science prize with effective science communication of astronomy.
    • Plenary: “Discoveries Need Dollars: Protect research”: A case study of a successful science advocacy campaign– explore how heads of science advocacy groups represent their members’ interests to politicians and government departments.
    • Plenary: Science to Policy: War Stories from the Heart of the Action – the big wigs will be prodded to tell all as they are quizzed about the role and funding for science communication in their patches.
    • Plenary: What’s the Buzz? What’s new in Science Television – get the goods on science for the small screen.

Other parallel session topics include (partial listing; PD means session has a professional development focus):
*       Speed mentoring (PD)
*       The consultancy game – a follow-on from the careers plenary
*       Making a communication plan – a seven step process (PD)
*        engaging with the media (PD)
*       Philanthropy, fundraising and science communication
*       Beyond evaluation (PD)
*       Science as theatre
*       Putting the ‘confer’ back into conferences (PD)
*       The latest in research in science communication
*       Science and art sessions and exhibitions
*       War on science

Website: The conference website is
Online registration is active. See

Jesse Shore
National President

ASC corporate members – meeting with Scitech

Interest is growing for organisations to become corporate members of the ASC. While I was in Perth for the 2011 ASC AGM I took the opportunity to meet with the management of one of our most recent new corporate members, Scitech.

Scitech is Perth’s and WA’s state-wide active and progressive science centre. Alan Brien, the director of Scitech, led the discussion which ranged over the recent history of Scitech and its key activities in science communication.

Some of the main points included that Scitech is the lead state institution for overseeing Inspiring Australia activities in WA. Alan’s team gave an update on developments of ScienceNetworkWA,, its online connection to science activity in the state.

We explored a few ways that Scitech and the ASC could work more closely together, starting off with the National Conference. I look forward to seeing some of the ideas being realised soon.

Jesse Shore
National President

ASC AGM outcomes

The first ASC AGM held in Perth was well attended and lively with discussion of many matters. Most of those present offered comments and questions which revealed the insight and enthusiasm of ASC WA members.

In brief, the main reports of this meeting held on 30 November were:

From the President:

  • Progress toward planning the 2012 national conference
  • The activity of the branches with ACT, SE-Qld and SA being especially active and WA running the enormous Astrofest event (attended by 3000 people)
  • Networking with the Tall Poppy Campaign and supporting science communication events run by other organisations
  • Maintaining contact with the National Inspiring Australia team and some of their state and territory representatives
  • Upgrades to the ASC website and news of major improvements planned for 2012.

From the Treasurer:

  • The Association remains in a sound financial position
  • Membership dues remain at $88 for an individual membership for a full year (dues were last raised 5 years ago) and student membership at 40% of the individual rate
  • Branches will receive capitation at 10% of the dues income from their members and up to another 10% for special projects on submission to the Executive;

The main outcomes were:

  • Election of 2012 ASC President: there was one nomination for President and I was elected.
  • Motion to amend the Constitution: the meeting approved the proposal for a minor change in wording to specifically mention that branches may have rules. The previous clause only mentioned branches having Constitutions.

The meeting ended promptly at 7.15pm and the David Ellyard’s third consecutive end-of-year science trivia quiz got under way. Forty five people formed numerous teams for a spirited evening of well-played competition. Last year the AGM made it to Adelaide for the first time and the decision to travel further west once again proved sound.

Jesse Shore
National President

Social media reaches elusive demographic

Interesting article in terms of using social media to reach a demographic and how to reach that elusive age group.

Inspiring Australia competitive grant round is coming soon

Inspiring Australia has announced a competitive grants round is intended to open in mid-January and will close by the end of February 2012. The grants round is to support all aspects of the Inspiring Australia strategy. There will be a focus on science engagement projects that target people who may not have had interest in or access to science engagement activities in the past.

Successful applicants will be announced and funding agreements confirmed by June.

A total of $5 million will be available for projects to be delivered in calendar years 2012, 2013 and/or 2014.

For the full notice see

Jesse Shore
National president

ASC national conference travel grants

Up to four travel grants of $200-400 each are available to ASC members from WA for attending the Australian Science Communicators conference in Sydney in February 2012.

The ASC conference will be held 27-29 February 2012 in Sydney at the Sydney Masonic Centre, a centrally located conference venue. We look forward to ASC members from around Australia attending the conference.

To make the event affordable we kept conference registration fees low and sourced economically priced hotels as part of the conference accommodation offering.

We want to encourage more distant members to make the trip and we know that travel costs are a factor, especially to our many members in Western Australia. The National Executive has noted that return airfares from Perth to Sydney average $200 more than flights from other capital cities, with the exception of Darwin which is even more expensive.

The National Executive and WA branch committee will help up to four ASC members overcome the hurdle of this extra cost. Each group are contributing equally to provide $800 towards travel grants. The branch will decide how to allocate the funds, in grants of $200 to $400 each.

ASC conference travel grants

General criteria. To be eligible all applicants must

  • be residents of Western Australia, and current financial members of the Association (you may apply for membership when you submit your application for the travel grant). You can join or renew membership online at
  • have limited or no financial support to attend the conference.
  • submit travel grant applications to the WA branch, by 6 January 2012. Details of the application are below.

To apply for the grant: send an email to WA branch,, with a statement in 100 words or less what you want to gain from attending the conference and how the grant will assist you to attend. Include full contact details with the address of your primary residence.

Applications will be assessed by representatives of both the WA branch committee and the National Executive. Applicants will be advised of the outcome in mid-January 2012.

Winning applicants must register for the conference to receive the grant and will get the early bird rate. Each winner will be invited to write an article for Scope about their conference experience.

The WA branch reserves the right not to award any grants.

Emma Donnelly, President of ASC WA Branch
Jesse Shore, National president

Australian Science Communicators welcomes new science and industry Ministers

The Australian Science Communicators, the peak professional group of people who make science accessible to diverse audiences, welcome the appointment of Senator Chris Evans as Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Greg Combet as Minister for Industry and Innovation.

“Minister Evans has an opportunity to encourage improving the communication of science in the tertiary education area and to continue to seek to engage Australians with science,” said Dr Jesse Shore, President, ASC.

Inspiring Australia is the government’s science communication program. The report proposing the program was announced in early 2010 at the opening of the ASC conference. The program has been in operation for around a year later and holds promise to increase the effectiveness of delivering science messages throughout the country.

The ASC will continue to work with the Inspiring Australia team and sees opportunities for the program to link science and innovation between Ministers Evans’ and Combet’s departments.

ASC congratulates Senator Kim Carr for his leadership as Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science & Research since 2007 and especially for his passion about communicating science.

Jesse Shore
President, Australian Science Communicators

Shafer says embargoes stifle journalism

Jack Shafer: Looking forward to taking a mallet to embargoes, not only the arts embargoes but the science, think tank, government, and academic embargoes. To hell with all of them.

See live chat here

Mistakes in scientific studies surge

Interesting ….. on the problem of article retractions. Offers watchdog site