From the President, February 2011: Big year ahead

I sense a growing awareness of the importance of science communication. The Inspiring Australia report has played a part in this and I note that others are talking up the cause. Chemists involved in organising the International Year of Chemistry 2011 see this as an opportunity to get their messages across to the public. They know that to do so they need to communicate more effectively and will need skills to make it happen.

Since the election the Inspiring Australia has worked to get election promises of funding into the reality of the 2011 budget. This won’t be easy in the face of cut-backs to government programs to reallocate funds to rebuild flood and cyclone damaged infrastructure.

Still it should be a big year ahead for science communication and the ASC. What follows is only the briefest of reports but it has a few nuggets.

Inspiring Australia conference 2011: The Inspiring Australia team has raced to set in train a national conference called ‘Inspiring Science, Inspiring Australia: Telling Australia’s Brilliant Stories’. It’s on 28-29 March 2011 at the Arrow on Swanston, Melbourne. More information and registrations at It sounds like an important start to the IA program of activities for this year.

2012 National conference planning committee: Rod Lamberts, of ANU’s CPAS in Canberra, has agreed to chair the planning committee for our 2012 National conference. He returns from overseas soon and will convene the committee to start its planning task. Rod will report directly to the Executive committee about progress.

Science communication training programs: Last November I posted a message that the ASC has received a few requests to provide training in science communication related skills. I asked you to nominate Science communication training programs that either ASC members offered or knew of in Australia. I now have a list of courses which I can refer on to relevant enquirers.

Eureka Awards open for nominations: I note that the Eureka Awards are now accepting nominations of their various prize categories. Nominations close 6 May 2011.

Jesse Shore

National President

The new improved ASC SA branch

The SA branch of ASC reformed in 2010 after a lapse of several years. It has been a successful year, with strong membership and support of programs. Given that the branch lapsed because too much was being done by too few previously, the committee was structured this time to ensure that each person on it has only one job to do. This ensures that the various tasks are done well, but there is a finite limit to what is being asked of each busy person.

This worked very well in 2010 and we have extended it for 2011. It also means committee meetings are short and few, being held for about 30 minutes after some events. Effectively the “portfolio” system manages itself, thanks to the quality of those who have taken the portfolios on.

For those interested in experimenting with this, the various positions are President, VP, Secretary Treasurer, Program Coordinator, Event Manager, Membership Co-ordinator, Minutes Secretary, and three committee members, who take on some of the extra tasks and overflow (eg forming a program committee). Some are also representatives of other bodies (eg National Science Week [NSWk], RiAus) with whom we work closely.

The program in 2010 consisted of two kinds of activities, monthly events and additional workshops. Both are free for members while non-members pay, and this encourages some to join on the night to get free entrance to what is on offer. We also have a policy that members can bring a prospective member to one event free to see if they like us.

A special event in National Science Week is the ASCSA/NSWk awards of Unsung Hero of Science and of Science Communication (2 awards). We started this at the same time as the national award many years ago, and have run it ever since, the National Science Week Committee taking it on when ASCSA lapsed. it is now jointly run. We expanded the awards from just science to an additional science communication award for two reasons. (1) Many applicants for the unsung hero of science were actually in science communication, and (b) who will offer such an award if ASC doesn’t? These awards have good local recognition and press coverage, and we make them at the launch of National Science Week in front of a large and influential audience, the Minister handing out the awards while the Chief Scientist reads the citation.

2010 ended with the national AGM in Adelaide, followed by a fabulous evening with David Ellyard doing his quiz, and Zoz Brooks providing tremendous video interludes, showing extracts from his TV shows (mostly very high speed video of scientific phenomena slowed down).

Our program for 2011 is already mapped out, thanks to our terrific programs group, and I would be happy to share it. We would also love to see the programs of other branches, as there will certainly be good ideas there that we could also try.

Rob Morrison, ASCSA Pres/branch rep.

Workshops (eg media training, how to make a video segment etc) are typically $50 for non-members; partly to raise funds, butr also to show members that they get value for their membership (2 workshops and you are in credit).

Dr Rob Morrison
rob.morrison [at]

Call for Conference Papers: Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand (POPCAANZ)

POPCAANZ is a new organisation for anyone studying popular culture.  Our members span academics, professionals and enthusiasts.  As the chair of the Popular Science area, I would like to invite ASC members to submit abstracts for our upcoming 2011 conference at the end of June in Auckland, NZ.

The deadline for abstracts is March 1st, but please contact me (b.lott [at] if you are interested but need more time. We are also putting together a round table discussion at the conference to debate and define what popular science in Australia and New Zealand actually is. It should be an interesting and lively discussion. For more information about the conference please see our POPCAANZ website.

POPCAANZ also publishes the Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, which offers one of the few opportunities in the world to publish peer-reviewed academic articles focussing on popular science. More information about the AJPC can be found here. I am the Popular Science editor for the AJPC, so if you would like to submit a manuscript, you can either submit it through the POPCAANZ president (t.johnsonwoods [at] directly to me (b.lott [at] for review.

National Launch of the International Year of Chemistry

The International Year of Chemistry has its official launch next Tuesday, 8 February, in Canberra.

The website for the launch information and registration is via this pdf on the shac communications website.

The website for IYC Australia is Check out the events calendar.

I’m assured that science communication will play a role during the year. Check out the travelling exhibitions activity, four of which were developed by yours truly, which will soon have more details added. You can read descriptions of the four displays at



Jesse Shore

President, Australian Science Communicators, 2011