2014 Grants Program Report

In its foundation year, three grants were on offer worth a total of $1200, these included:

  • The ASC Grant for Professional Development (two grants $300 each)
  • The Peter Pockley Grant for Investigative Journalism (one grant $600) 

The grants program was officially announced on July 1, 2014 and promoted via the ASC website www.asc.asn.au/grants and email distribution lists, and the ASC social media channels. The grant application round was open from July 1-August 1, 2014 and six applications were received (four for ASC PD grants and two for Peter Pockley grant). All six applications were reviewed and rated by our grants review panel made up of Toss Gascoigne, Robyn Williams and Alison Leigh (past Presidents of the ASC and life members) and I thank them for their willingness to be involved in the grants program.

I am pleased to announce this year’s recipients are:

  • The Australian Science Communicators Grant for Professional Development:  Abbie Thomas and Amanda Niehaus
  • The Peter Pockley Grant for Professional Development in Investigative Journalism:  Sarah Keenihan.

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to apply for a grant and it was noted that all applications were worthy recipients but unfortunately only three could be awarded. The executive council now hope to grow this program over coming years so more grants can be on offer, and I welcome sponsored grants from external organisations.

Each grant recipient will write a short summary on what training they undertook with the grant money for our Scope newsletter, so keep an eye out for these articles in the upcoming editions of the newsletter, received to your email inboxes.

More about the 2014 grant recipients:

Abbie Thomas (ASC member since 2001)
Abbie Thomas is the Manager for the Scientists in Residence Program at AusSMC. She joined the ASC to find out more about how to communicate science and wanted to support the idea of people writing about science in Australia. Abbie recently undertook a two day digital marketing course as part of her ASC professional development grant, which included the skills to show you how to measure and report the effectiveness of your social media activity.

We asked Abbie to describe science communication in the space of a tweet:

To save the world, add a dash of brilliant scientist to a slurp of clever communicator, pour generously into our minds and soak it up

You can read more about Abbie’s professional development here.

Amanda Niehaus (ASC member since 2014)
Amanda Neihaus is a part time ARC Research Fellow at the University of Queensland.  She joined the ASC to meet likeminded people who value both great science and great writing, and improve her own skills as a communicator and as a teacher of communication. Amanda recently completed an online course at Stanford University as part of her ASC professional development grant, this course had a focus on short story writing – called ‘creating invented worlds’. With these new skills her ultimate goal is to craft a series of short stories based on the evolutionary trade-offs between ageing and reproduction.

We asked Amanda to describe science communication in the space of a tweet:

Every academic should be able to translate their most recent paper into fewer than 140 characters

You can read more about Amanda’s professional development here.

Sarah Keenihan (ASC member since 2008)
Sarah has around 15 years’ experience in science research and communication, and has created a successful freelance science communication career. Sarah joined ASC in 2008 whilst working as a science communicator for Bridge8. The membership connected her with people following similar careers and who confronted the same issues as she, along with keeping her up to date with national news and activities. Sarah has undertaken The Walkley Foundation Digitial Media Bootcamp s with the support of the Peter Pockley grant. As a result she has learnt new approaches for social media news gathering, management, verification and analytics, become familiar with and apply tools for web scraping, data cleaning, data conversion and data analysis, update skills in creating graphs, charts, maps and timelines, and identify new platforms and methods for multimedia reporting and production.

We asked Sarah to describe science communication in the space of a tweet:

Science communication occurs when the What? Why? and How? of science impact on an audience by creating surprise, knowledge and delight

You can learn more about Sarah’s professional development here.

This report was brought to you by Ian McDonald, ASC Grants Program Manager and was presented at the 2014 ASC National AGM.

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About Ian McDonald

I have a strong research, education and communication background. I thoroughly enjoy writing and presenting about topics relevant to the community, such as environmental and ecological research, health and medical research, along with public policy and legislation. I have combined these powers to help engage the public with knowledge through blog posts, magazine articles, podcasts, videos, social media pages, presentations and running large scale community based events. I have been working professionally as a Science Communicator in Canberra since 2009 and I am also available for freelance and consultancy work. I am a prominent and engaged member of the Australian Science Communicators.

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