Kylie Walker is the Director of Communications and Outreach at the Australian Academy of Science, and will be one of our great speakers at the upcoming ASC 2016 conference to be held in Brisbane on March 11. Over her 20 year career, Kylie has seen the rise and fall of different trends and innovations in communicating science. What does she think will be the next big thing? We had a quick chat to her to find out.
ASC: How do you think the science communication space has change over the time you have worked in this area?
Kylie: Multimedia platforms have made a huge difference and opened up incredible new ways to communicate science, connect with audiences and really personalise the experience. Cosmos broke new ground with its medium-specific tablet app; science animator Drew Berry of WEHI took multimedia presentation of science even further by creating a beautiful, layered and highly interactive “text book”; the Academy’s secondary school education program Science by Doing has created fully interactive digital classroom resources: these approaches and others like them bring the beautiful and complex visual elements of science to life in a way that words simply cannot.
ASC: Why is communicating science important to you?
Kylie: I began my love affair with science as a child fan of science fiction. As I grew older I came to understand more and more that science fact is endlessly fascinating, central to our lives, and strikes at the core of many fundamental questions of our existence. I love the intersection between science and philosophy, the ‘wow’ factor of discovery, and the thrill of exploring future possibilities. And yet my school experience of science was unfortunately – like so many of the era – just a real yawn. What I love about my job is the opportunity to re-kindle in adults that childlike light of excitement and discovery, and the responsibility of working to ensure that science and scientists are well supported to keep pushing the boundaries of knowledge.
ASC: In the future, how do you think science will be communicated?
Kylie: On a grand scale, I can see a time when virtual reality, 3D visualisation and other technology will make science communication a fully immersive experience. But I think there’s also room for the personal touch, and the further demystification of scientists themselves. It would be great to incorporate communication skills more holistically into science degrees and to see technology-enabled live interactions between scientists and citizens flourish.