Media release: New grants program launched for communicating science far and wide

1 July 2014

To celebrate its 20th year, the Australian Science Communicators (ASC) is proud to support a new Annual Professional Development Grants Program.

The program, launching today, will provide members with an opportunity to gain support to undertake further professional development. The new grants program includes three separate grants for science communication including one for investigative journalism, honouring the late Dr Peter Pockley, a life member of the ASC. Read more about Dr Peter Pockley below.

Dr Joan Leach, ASC President said that this is part of the ASC’s focus on supporting members, wherever they may live and however they contribute to helping Australians engage with science.

“We have over 560 members from many corners of the country. They may be working for big organisations or themselves and may be using a range of skills related to science communication, engagement, media and education,” said Dr Leach.

“These grants are about supporting members, in a small way, to develop up skills and experiences for their futures,” she said.

In its foundation year, three grants will be offered:

  • The Peter Pockley Grant for Investigative Journalism (one grant $600)
  • The ASC Grant Science Communication (two grants $300 each)

According to Dr Ian McDonald from the ASC Executive and manager of the grants program, all ASC financial members are eligible to apply for a grant and details are on the website.

“We encourage all members to apply for a grant, which will support recipients in undertaking professional development in the field of science communication and improving their skills,” said Dr McDonald.

The scope of the grant is not limited, with members able to apply for anything they reason will help their careers.

“For example, members can apply for a specific workshop, short course or conference or members could apply to use the grant to cover costs in undertaking a mentorships with experts,” said Dr McDonald.

More details are available at http://www.asc.asn.au/grants and applications close on 1st August 2014. The recipients will be announced at the Australian Science Communicator’s National AGM later in the year.

For interviews contact: ASC Vice President, Claire Harris, 0413 883 414, vicepresident [at] asc.asn.au

Background on Dr Peter Pockley:
Dr Peter Pockley, a life member of the Australian Science Communicators, passed away in August of 2013. He is widely acknowledged as making an incredible contribution to the field of science communication and scientific journalism.

In 1964 Dr Pockley was the first scientist to work full-time as a science reporter and producer in the Australian media, and became founding Head of Science Programs at the ABC. He established the Science Unit for TV and Radio.

After leaving the ABC, Dr Pockley was appointed Head of the Public Affairs Unit at the University of New South Wales from 1973 until 1989. He then joined the Sun-Herald as a Science and Education Columnist.

As a freelance journalist Dr Pockley wrote for most of Australia’s major newspapers and many overseas, including Nature as Australia’s correspondent.

Dr Pockley established the Centre for Science Communication at the University of Technology, Sydney and was a Visiting Fellow at the National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science in the Australian National University from 1996-2006.

In 2010 Dr Pockley was awarded the Australian Academy of Science Medal; only the seventh winner in its 20 year history and the only journalist to ever receive the award.

Read more about Dr Peter Pockley at ‘Vale Peter Pockley’ in Australasian Science.