Welcome to our new ASC Council

A very warm welcome to our new Council as we head into 2024! These members were elected to Council at our recent AGM and have since chosen to fill a range of roles that support ASC’s strategic vision.

Please join us in welcoming the new team! Their diverse and rich experience will help to lead ASC strongly through an exciting 2024.

Council Roles

Co-President: Tom Carruthers
Co-President: Jirana Craven

Vice President, Policy: Shanii Phillips
Vice President, Treasurer: Jodie Haigh
Secretary, Membership: Claire Chakrabarti
Co-Secretary, Events: Jen Martin
Co-Secretary, Events: Camille Thomson
Secretary, Awards: Tahnee Saunders
Co-Secretary, International Engagement: Preeti Castle
Co-Secretary, International Engagement: Lucy Zhou

General Members:
Anna Quinn
Jacqueline Stephens
Jin-oh Choi
Shelley Wilson

Branch Representatives:
Melina Gillespie (S/E QLD)
Isabella Robinson (Canberra)
Rocky McGellin (Perth)

Learn more about our wonderful council!

Dr Tom Carruthers (Co-President)
Canberra-based, freelancing at Carruthers Studio and Science in Public, and adjunct lecturer of science communication at UWA

Dr Tom J Carruthers is a science communicator, thinker and creative based in Canberra, Australia. He passionately advocates for diversity and equity, the need for science engagement that goes beyond scientific literacy, and to increase the community’s value of specialist expertise across all sectors.

With professional experience in the academic, government, private and not-for-profit sectors, Tom is a creative and purpose-driven communications strategist and science communicator. He has developed digital audiences exceeding 2.4 million followers, led science festivals with hundreds of events and staff, and provided crisis counsel to business leaders.

As a science commentator, he comments on breaking science news and has featured in podcasts and webinars on the communication of science and social media engagement. He is a thought leader in the space, calling for better recognition of science communication research learnings within the practice, and an appreciation of science communication expertise in government and the broader community. 

Tom holds a PhD in biological chemistry (ANU), a Master’s in science communication outreach (ANU), and has experience working in the Australian university, government, not-for-profit and private sectors. He is the former Digital Strategist and Communications Operations Manager at the Australian Academy of Science, client partner at Ogilvy PR, and co-Chief Executive Officer at Pint of Science. Along with his co-presidency role, he is freelancing at Carruthers Studio, is Media Director for Science in Public, and is an adjunct lecturer of science communication at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia.

Jirana Craven (Co-President)
Melbourne-based, Online Events Coordinator at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP)

Jirana is an education and engagement professional, with experience in some of Australia’s most well-known science organisations. Presently the online events coordinator at the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP), she is passionate about creating community change and does so within her extracurricular projects.

She has led teams at Pint of Science where she was a finalist for the 2020 Telstra Business Women’s Award, ACT Emerging Leader category; inspired Australia’s kids as a science communicator with Questacon, and helped leading academics progress their discipline at the Australian Academy of Science. Prior to joining the national chapter, Jirana was previously President for the ASC ACT branch. 

Shanii Phillips, (Vice President, Policy)
Perth WA, Senior Customer Insights Analyst at Scitech

Like most people, Shanii fell into the world of science communication through a little bit of luck and meeting a lot of good people, and now identifies as a passionate science communication researcher-practitioner. In her current role leading the Customer Insights team at Scitech Discovery Centre, Shanii is responsible for the development and implementation of evaluation tools, and analysing and reporting data regarding visitor experience and impact of Scitech’s programs in the science centre, in the community (through school incursions and community events) and professional development programs for educators. This role combines her passions for science communication, high quality evaluation of practice and new interest in social impact. 

Shanii is particularly interested in the opportunities science communication can play in social justice and informed decision-making. Prior to pivoting into evaluation, she worked as a science centre presenter (and performer) for 7 years, and loves any opportunity to blow up a fiery hydrogen balloon or set off a fog bomb with liquid nitrogen! Over the next 12 months, Shanii is excited for the ASC to advocate for the professionalisation of science communication. This includes recognising the important role of science communicators, the unique skill-sets required, and the importance of investing in science communication research to better understand how we can continue to empower the community to engage with and make informed decisions about science that affects their lives every day, based on best-practice and contemporary research.

Jodie Haigh, (Vice President, Treasurer)
Canberra ACT, Communications Manager at Science Technology Australia (STA)

I’m a communications professional and trained scientist with a solid technical background. I possess a rare combination of multi-disciplinary experience across large scientific international organisations. I’ve led high-performing digital content and communications teams in complex organisational environments. I’m a purpose-driven leader who enjoys collaboration and transparent partnerships that engage and create impact.

I’ve dedicated my career to research- and science-based communications roles driven by my experience as a first-generation university student from a low socioeconomic background. Through this experience, I understand first-hand the importance of equity and inclusion (E&I) in society and passionately believe that effective communication ensures E&I while advancing the public good. I’m the Communications Manager at Science & Technology Australia (STA) – the nation’s peak body in science and technology, representing 115,000 scientists and technologists. Until 2023, I led the whole-of-organisation social media strategy for Europe’s life science research organisation – EMBL – targeting key audiences across thirty member and associate states, including Australia, and encompassing EMBL’s six sites across five countries. I’ve previously worked as a scientific journal editor, lead production editor for a science news website and scientific video production team leader.

I take pride in training and guiding junior colleagues and supporting colleagues to build high-performing teams in creative and collaborative environments. I’m technically proficient across various digital products, including content management systems, social media platforms, and content creation software. I excel at understanding the user journey through channels and demonstrate a keen eye for detail to ensure a cohesive brand identity across all content. I’m passionate about digital accessibility and inclusion.

I’m thrilled to support this vibrant, diverse community of dedicated individuals over the next 12 months. I eagerly anticipate collaborating and gaining knowledge alongside the membership as we advance ASC’s strategic goals and uncover valuable opportunities for our community.

Dr Claire Chakrabarti, (Secretary, Membership)
Brisbane QLD, STEM Program Manager at Austmine

As the STEM Program Manager at Austmine, Claire is a key figure in Australia’s Mining Equipment Technology Services (METS) sector. She holds a Ph.D. in Biogeochemistry from the University of Sheffield, UK and is an alumna of both the Oxford Women’s Leadership Development Programme and the Homeward Bound Women in STEM Leadership Programme.

In her career, Claire has made impactful contributions to STEM education and outreach, particularly at the Queensland Museum Network and SparkLab Sciencentre. Her leadership in developing and executing innovative STEM engagement programs has been notable. Currently, she leads Austmine’s ‘Accelerating Women in METS’ program, dedicated to enhancing career opportunities for female university STEM students and graduates through leadership training, practical work experience, skills development, and extensive networking.

Claire’s expertise is multifaceted, encompassing strategic leadership, project management, scientific research, effective communication, and educational mentorship. She is a passionate advocate for women in STEM, committed to showcasing the diverse career opportunities within this field. Her interests extend to environmental sustainability, climate change, and addressing ecological issues.

As a member of the Australian Science Communicators (ASC) council, Claire is excited to help foster a connected, professional community of science communicators, advocating for their recognition, and promoting meaningful, impactful dialogue in the field.

A/Prof Jen Martin, (Co-Secretary, Events)
Melbourne VIC, Academic at University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Jen Martin spent many years working as a field ecologist until she decided the most useful thing she could contribute as a scientist was to teach other scientists how to be effective and engaging communicators. Jen founded and leads the University of Melbourne’s acclaimed Science Communication Teaching Program. She is deeply committed to helping scientists develop the skills they need to be visible, make connections and have impact.

Jen also practices what she preaches: for 18 years she’s been talking about science each week on 3RRR, Australia’s largest community radio station. She writes for a variety of publications, co-hosts the Let’s Talk SciComm podcast, MCs events, was named the 2019 Unsung Hero of Australian Science Communication and received the 2020 University of Melbourne David White Award for Teaching Excellence. She is also a member of the Homeward Bound Teaching Faculty and a Board Member of the Australasian Dark Sky Alliance. When she’s not talking or writing about science, you can find Jen running marathons or singing with her choir. 

Camille Thomson, (Co-Secretary, Events)
Canberra ACT, SciComm Specialist at House of Kitch Communications and Treasurer Pint of Science

Camille is a Science communicator and Educator who has worked closely with both schools and scientists for almost 20 years. She sees herself as more of a translator and facilitator, creating events and content with leading researchers nationally, linking them to audiences live and digitally. Her career has included time with the Australian Institute for Policy and Science, Geoscience Australia, the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. Most recently she has moved to House of Kitch Communications. She has also volunteered with Pint of Science Australia and been on the committees of the Australian Science Communicators in NSW and the ACT.

She is always striving to communicate science topics and current research in a way that is engaging and accessible to all.

Dr Tahnee Saunders, (Secretary, Awards)
Melbourne VIC, Postdoc researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI)

Tahnee studies how our cells clean up when their powerhouses (mitochondria) get damaged. This process is important for a range of diseases, in particular neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease. With close to a decade of lab experience, Tahnee holds a BSci and MBiotech from the University of Melbourne, and a PhD from Monash University. Tahnee believes that the role of a scientist doesn’t end in the lab, and that discoveries need to be communicated with the public. Whether this be scientists communicating their science, or scientists working with science communication professionals. Tahnee wants to ensure and facilitate the proper communication of science research in Australia. After all, much of Australian science is funded with taxpayer money, and is done with the end goal of benefiting Australians. Why shouldn’t we be updated on the amazing work and discoveries Aussie scientists are making? 

Tahnee is excited to contribute to ASC to further prop up Aussie science through clear and engaging science communication.

 Preeti Castle, MBA, GAICD (Co-Secretary, International Engagement)
 Perth WA, Strategic Engagement Director at the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI)

Preeti has specialist expertise in developing strategies to build trusted partnerships and engage stakeholders with complex scientific and technical concepts. With more than 25 years’ experience in strategic communications and engagement across science, environment and sustainability, Preeti has held leadership roles in financial services, and established and operated a niche consulting firm which developed successful market positioning strategies for national and international firms.

As the Strategic Engagement Director at The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI), Preeti leads stakeholder engagement and communications strategies that inform the development of end user led, prioritised biodiversity science research.

Preeti is on the National Council of the Australian Science Communicators and is a Board Member of the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia, contributing specialist skills to promote engagement with international standards on best practice land restoration. Preeti has served as Deputy Chair and Non-Executive Director of the Munda Biddi Trail Foundation where she led the development of a successful organisational strategy.

Preeti holds a Bachelor of Arts (Communications), a Master of Business Administration (The University of Western Australia) and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Working with science and technology communities is both exciting and rewarding. I love learning something new each day and the challenge of taking complex concepts and transforming them, through language, to convey clear and concise value propositions that resonate with target audiences. Enhancing accessibility to knowledge and lifting awareness of how to use that knowledge, is critical for solving the complex issues of our time, such as climate change and nature loss.

The Australian Science Communicators (ASC) is a great network of enthusiastic, skilled professionals working towards better outcomes for society. We have a real opportunity to lead cross-sector collaboration, develop effective communication pathways and enable meaningful change nationally and globally. I look forward to contributing to the ASC as a member of the National Council.

Lucy Zhou (Co-Secretary, International Engagement)
Marketing Director at Beijing Practicable Technology Co. Ltd

Member of ASC (Australian Science Communicators), AAAC(American Association for the Advancement of Science) and CSWA(China Science Writers Association).

Lucy’s passion in science and technology since childhood. She believes STEM is the key factor to develop the world and human life. Lucy Zhou has comprehensive experience in exhibition planning, budget management. She has run her own businesses since 2013 in Australia, and 2023 in China.

Lucy believes in the “integrity, passion, dedication” principles and appreciates “team work and embrace changes” attitude.

Lucy is proud of her services and also positive changes to the community. She provided office and treasurer support to Clota Cottage in Box Hill VIC between 2007 to 2013; Event Planning Services for Australian Hainan Association of Victoria since 2013; Co-Chair for Australian Hainan Chamber since 2022.

Anna Quinn, (General Member)
Melbourne VIC, Senior Comms Advisor at the ARC SRI Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF)

Anna leads the communications for the ARC SRI Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF). Drawing upon a decade of experience in communications, media, marketing, storytelling and digital, she manages a broad range of communications initiatives to support SAEF to achieve its vision. This includes developing and implementing communications strategies to amplify the program’s research to broad audiences and translating science for various platforms and content types.

After stints in the arts industry at the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Anna discovered her passion for science communication while working at Museums Victoria. While here, she promoted science research, exhibitions, events, museum collections and Phar Lap. She now loves working with scientists to get their work out beyond the pages of science journals and ensuring people know that if we don’t meet the Paris Agreement targets, Antarctica is coming for us.

As a new member of the ASC, what excites Anna is supporting work to ensure the association is in the best possible position to promote science.

Dr Jacqueline Stephens, (General Member)
Adelaide SA, Associate Professor in Public Health at Flinders University

Dr Jacqueline Stephens is an epidemiologist who conducts research focused on improving access to healthcare, particularly for those living in rural and remote locations. Her research uses data linkage in a mixed methods approach by contextualising the epidemiological findings with community narratives to better understand the context of the epidemiological data. She is an avid supporter of science communication and has spoken about her science career at school events, has organised STEM events for young people, and is the Chair of the South Australian National Science Week committee. She engages regularly with local and national radio, TV, and newspapers, as well at public events.

Jin-oh Choi, (General Member)
Launceston TAS, Co-CEO Pint of Science

Jin-oh Choi is the Co-Chief Executive Officer of Pint of Science Australia, an innovative and dynamic branch of the global science festival that brings scientists to the public in local bars and pubs to discuss their research and findings in a relaxed and informal setting. He is a passionate advocate for science communication and education in Australia, and works to make scientific knowledge and research accessible to the Australian audience.

Jin-oh is also a lover of craft beer and enjoys combining his passion for science and beer through his work at Pint of Science Australia. He believes that by connecting science with something as relatable and approachable as a pint of beer, it allows people to engage with science in a new and exciting way. He is committed to making science accessible to all and his work at Pint of Science Australia is a testament to that. He is constantly looking for new ways to bring science to the public, and is always open to new ideas and collaborations.

Jin-oh looks forward to engaging and making positive contributions to the National Council for the Australian Science Communicators. He is excited by the possibilities and future of the ASC. Not only in the form of the 2024 conference but also other forms of engagements with both the membership and the broader community.

Shelley Wilson, (General Member)
Newcastle NSW, SMART Program Team Leader at the University of Newcastle

I’m delighted to be joining the ASC Council for 2024! I’m inspired by the leadership of the members and vision of the executive committee, and I’m excited to more actively contribute to the organisation moving forward.

Shelley Wilson is an educator, engineer, and science communicator based in Newcastle, NSW. She is a passionate advocate for equity and inclusion, and dedicated to making science education accessible and engaging. She currently leads the University of Newcastle’s longest running, not-for-profit science outreach program, SMART: Science, Maths and Real Technology (est. 1998). In this role, she mentors undergraduate students in effective science communication, creates Science Shows, and facilitates hands-on STEM Workshops. Shelley delivers curriculum aligned Professional Development workshops for pre-school and primary school teachers, and is a Little Scientists Trainer and Google Computer Science Education Outreach Partner.  

Shelley has presented to diverse technical and community audiences across Australia as an engineer and educator, on topics from Water Sensitive Urban Design through to Inquiry-Based Learning in STEM. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil)(Honours) and Bachelor of Engineering (Surveying)(Honours) from the University of Newcastle, and is completing a Masters of Teaching (UNE). As a casual academic at the University of Newcastle, Shelley introduces undergraduate students in the Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood and Primary)(Honours) and Bachelor of Teaching(Primary)(Honours) programs to the study of science and technology.   

Melina Gillespie (SEQ Branch Representative),
Brisbane QLD, Communications at CSIRO

Melina is a science communicator with a background in ecological research and expertise in science communication and engagement. As the Communication and Stakeholder Engagement Manager for GISERA at CSIRO, she works in a contentious space to communicate about the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the onshore gas industry to a wide range of target audiences—industry, government, academia and publics. She has experience in project management of research in the ecological rehabilitation of disturbed lands and bridging the divide between the science and practice, which ultimately led her to a career in science communication. Melina has worked in university, non-profit, consultancy and government environments. Her objective is to develop and implement effective communication strategies and activities, to encourage best practice science communication that is informed by scientific research.

Melina’s research interests include:
• Science communication – strategies for communicating research findings in contentious spaces
• Engagement with communities and organisations on science and research
• Biodiversity and sustainable ecosystems
• Rehabilitation of degraded lands, mine closure, completion criteria and rehabilitation success
• Seed biology, germination and establishment requirements of Australian native species
• Global food security
• Australia’s energy transformation.

Melina joined the ASC in 2014 and became actively involved in the South East Queensland branch where she is based. She acted as Secretary for this group for several years before becoming Branch President. She loves the networking and professional development aspect of this active branch, and enjoys running ASC science events online and with the members in Brisbane. Participating in National ASC activities and the annual conference is also a highlight of being an active ASC member.

Isabella Robinson (Canberra Branch Representative),
Canberra ACT, Science Communicator at Australian Academy of Science (AAS)

Isabella is a science communicator, digital content creator and artist with extensive experience translating scientific ideas for a variety of platforms and audiences.

Isabella has a background in molecular plant science and entomology. In 2020, she described four new species and a new genus of flies and named them after Marvel characters. She has also written and illustrated science comics for online platforms and print, hosted webinars for National Science Week, and presented science workshops online and in person for schools and holiday programs.

Currently, she produces videos, articles and social media content for the Australian Academy of Science and serves as the Branch Representative for the ACT Australian Science Communicators branch.

Beyond her work, she is passionate about storytelling in every form, including literature, video games, Tabletop RPGs, comics, ARGs and video.

She is dedicated to fostering connections and meaningful relationships within the science communication community and providing members opportunities to build and develop their skills.

Rockwell McGellin (Perth Branch Representative),
Perth WA, Digital Content Coordinator at International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) UWA

Hi! My name’s Rockwell, but Rocky is fine for short. I’m a jack of all trades with a Masters in Science Communication.

Right now, I hang out behind the scenes at ICRAR, sharing stories about our universe and the really big telescopes we use to study it.

In the past, I’ve written articles, designed learning, produced podcasts, scripted live science shows, published papers, and spent many, many daytimes pretending it was nighttime in planetariums.

I’m excited for the national conference to come to Perth so I can show you all my beautiful home town!

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