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 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]

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.

ASC national conference – only weeks away #ASC14

The Australian Science Communicators National Conference 2014, 2-5 February, Brisbane is only weeks away. So get in quick to claim your spot to attend this premier networking event promising thrills, new skills and (gasp) entertainment!

Register now

  • to attend in person
  • for livestreaming (click on the *special item tickets link)
  • for special events like the Storytelling of Science event and the very special SCANZ-ASC breakfast (click on the *special item tickets link).

Just some highlights include:

  • Over 100 distinguished speakers across disciplines and industries.
  • Leaders and visionaries of our time sharing their thoughts and ideas… check out some of the featured speakers.
  • The best networking you’ll find: cross-industry, cross-geography and cross-disciplinary with attendees from all career stages from students to leaders in their fields.
  • Three days of main conference program featuring case studies, talks, roundtable discussions, workshops and training, and debates.
  • A full stream of professional development including: web building, editing, animation, online strategy, commercial foundations, getting published, journalism and storytelling.
  • A program designed to inspire. With a theme of Insight, Impact, Innovation, ASC2014 emphasises innovation in science communication stimulated by understanding our audiences, using visual communication and new media, and demonstrating the impact of our efforts.
  • A spectacular sci-art exhibition (called SPECTRUM), SCINEMA screening, poster showcase and speed networking event.
  • The conference dinner featuring Robyn Williams (ABC Radio National’s The Science Show and Ockham’s Razor) presenting the Unsung Hero of Australian Science Communication Award.

Public events (why not bring your friends!):

  • The Storytelling of Science: a triple anniversary celebration’ featuring Tim Flannery (Chair of the Climate Council), Lynne Malcolm (ABC Science), Jenny Graves (Australian Academy of Science Secretary for Education and Public Awareness)
  • A first ever joint Science Communicators New Zealand and Australian Science Communicators breakfast event. Learn about the evolution of science communication in New Zealand and Australia with this panel featuring: Ian Lowe, Toss Gascoigne (Director at Toss Gascoigne & Associates), Jean Fleming (Professor of Science Communication and Associate Dean of Outreach at the University of Otago, New Zealand) and Jenni Metcalfe (Director of Econnect Communication). (Delegates get discounted entry!)

Stay in touch by:

Got a question? Email the program committee (program.committee [at] or regarding registration/logistics, Eventcorp our Professional Conference Organiser (ASC2014 [at]

ASC changed my life…

That’s right! We’ve heard some whispers that the ASC community has changed some people’s lives. This grassroots organisation that started back in 1994… Who’d have thunk it back in that inaugural meeting at the Press Club in Canberra.

As we come up to celebrating 20 years of ASC, we (the Executive) reckon it’s time to hear your stories.

Did you find an amazing job through the ASC-list? Did you meet someone who inspired you to get into science communication or join a science outreach project?

Tell us below! Or tweet us at @ausscicomm

So what have we heard about ASC recently?

“As a sci comm. student with UWA, I found ASC very useful, as it gave me a chance to engage with established professionals and consider future career directions. As an early career professional, being involved with ASC, and particularly volunteering at the branch level, meant that I had the chance to develop skills and build a network of contacts.” (member of 10 years)

“I heard about ASC when I studied Science Communication as a postgrad at UQ. I’ve been a member for almost ten years, about 5 of that on Branch Committees, and have really enjoyed meeting inspirational people and learning from the diverse community to approach issues I tackle at work from different, more effective, angles.” (Member of 9 years)

ASC National Conference 2014 – registrations open

The next Australian Science Communicators National Conference will be held on 3–5 February 2013 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Register here

With the theme: Insight, Impact, Innovation, ASC2014 will emphasise innovation in science communication stimulated by understanding our audiences, using visual communication and new media, and demonstrating the impact of our efforts.

Join the discussion leading up to the event as well as at the event, which is sure to include many opportunities to get involved and express your thoughts, experience and perhaps artistic flair.


It is with great pleasure that we announce the release of the new Super Earlybird registrations for ASC2014.

Super Earlybird registrations will only be available until 1 September 2013! Registrations start from $380.00! Don’t miss out on the BEST registration rates for the ASC2014 Conference.

We welcome you to attend and be part of this important event. Sponsors are welcome and a range of sponsorship packages are available.

ASC2014 Conference Organising Committtee

ASC seeking new webmaster

Express your enthusiasm for the world of the web, gain new skills and make a difference to ASC

Location: anywhere in Australia with broadband internet access.

Honorarium: $1000 per annum, with the expectation of being available regularly to provide user and technical support.


The ASC website and email lists are crucial communication channels for the organisation. They present our external profile to the world as well as providing a resource to our members, a network of 400+ professional science and technology communicators across Australia and overseas.

Over recent years the website has been upgraded and improved and the lists maintained thanks to help from committed webmasters. Now, due to family commitments, ASC needs a new webmaster.

The role includes the following activities:

  • Providing ongoing technical support and modifications of site structure and content, for example, being able to modify the WordPress theme (eg. updating backgrounds, changing structures like tabs) and managing the creation and amendment of areas on the site (new pages/sections/menu items/images to home page etc.)
  • Managing  ASC-lists and website user support: assist members to register, manage permissions process and support (eg. password help, pointing list subscribers to help content, promoting some individuals to editors)
  • Having time regularly to modify and approve posts, fix small errors in content, manage ongoing amendments, changes, bug fixes and spam
  • Reviewing and deciding on updates, plug-in options and security upgrades to ensure the website can keep in top shape (preferably hosting a test server of the site elsewhere so that we don’t bring the live site down when unknown changes are made that break the site)
  • Providing advice/input on development directions for the website and associated web projects (with consultants and broader ASC Communication Team as applicable)
  • Participating in regular meetings (monthly at this stage) with other members of ASC Communication Team
  • Exploring cross-overs with the YourMembership system (later in 2013)
  • Briefing the National Executive on issues and upgrades needed as required.

The key selection criteria for this role are:

  • Established interest in science communication
  • Experience in WordPress, website design, list/email management, wiki development and good practices to ensure the ASC website and ASC-lists are modern and engaging communication platforms
  • Experience with servers and technical website development
  • Excellent time management skills
  • Capacity to commit 15 hours per month to ASC activities.

Applications are invited by email no later than 5 pm on Monday 15 July to the attention of Claire Harris, ASC co-Vice President at:

Please include a brief CV (two pages maximum) and a statement addressing the selection criteria with relevant evidence along with contact details of two professional referees (one page maximum). Applications must be submitted in PDF or Word 2003/2007 format (.doc or .docx). Candidates must be current financial members of ASC.

If you have any technical questions about the role, email Kali Madden, ASC Executive Officer at:

Encourage discussion, write for the Big Science Communication Summit – tickets to attend up for grabs!

As you would have seen in Rod’s recent post, ASC is a community partner with the Big Science Communication Summit event in June.

This opens up exciting opportunities for our members to be involved in the event, explore today’s sci comm issues and be on-ground reporters for the event. Tickets to attend are up for grabs and you can have a writer profile on the Summit website.

We are now calling for ASC members to act as ‘stream’ ambassadors, helping to raise awareness of the discussion, promote engagement and report on developments at the Summit. See for more of an idea of what’s happening.

While what you do is open to negotiation – we know people have different interests – there are a couple of goals we’re trying to kick here and we are seeking very active, committed contributors.

1. Before the event: discussion and engagement about the topics. Your mission: pick one or more of the five streams (see below) and write a piece about the topic, which will be posted on the Summit Blog. You will work to explore in the ASC community the issues in sci comm in Australia and drive discussion in social media forums and possibly a live webchat.

2. At the event: promote discussion, tell the stories. Your mission: you are an on-ground reporter, using social media to engage, gathering content and ideas from sessions to write an article or two for the ASC website.

We are seeking current ASC members with the following skills and attributes:

  • confidence in using social media and a participatory attitude to channels including Twitter, Flickr, forums, Wikis, blogs, Reddit, Facebook, etc. Someone who will actively engage with users to promote engagement and moderate discussion on the Summit.
  • science-savvy enthusiast, actively engaged and interested in issues involved in Australian science communication. Someone who will promote discussion and interest in these elements to benefit the Summit attendees and participants.
  • able to work to deadlines and maintain a steady level of involvement in the run-up to the event.

The fun kicks off from the Friday the 17th May working with the Science Rewired team so please send your expression of interest with information about your skills and experience and your preferred stream to jobs@asc.asn.auby Thursday 16th May. (Please note, you must be a current ASC member to participate.)

ASC Vice President


Big Science Communication Summit program and streams:

The five streams/themes are:
It’s a two way street: engaging ALL Australians in the sciences.
Considering Australia’s relatively small and geographically dispersed population, where are the significant gaps within science engagement in Australia and how can we ensure a more equitable system of two-way science communication irrespective of geography, ethnicity, age or social condition? In the future how will we communicate to and learn from under-served groups, such as those living in outer metropolitan, regional and remote areas; Indigenous communities; people for whom English is a second language; and people who are disabled or have limited mobility?

Participative science: encouraging the best in citizen science.
How can the platforms and processes of citizen science be used to deliver public science engagement activities across Australia? What are the most valuable ways for science communicators, practitioners and the public to work together?

Beyond tweets and blogs: leveraging the changing media landscape.
An exponential increase in the form and function of new media both nationally and internationally has brought into stark relief the complex relationship between science, the media and the public. How can Australian science communicators make the most of the increased opportunities available online? Is there a need for stronger collaboration between scientists, artists, producers and editors to develop new ideas and push the boundaries of traditional media content?

Diminishing degrees of separation: developing collaborative approaches across sectorsWe all hold pieces of the jigsaw that makes up best practice in science communication, and finding ways to more easily collaborate and join our efforts provides for a sum picture greater than any of its parts. Such collaboration needs to occur across state and territory boundaries, between education, science, media/public relations and industry sectors and between key national organisations such as the Academies, Science and Technology Australia, Australian Science Communicators and CSIRO. There are currently a number of networks including the Inspiring Australia officers in each state and territories and nationally, and other federal, state and territory government networks, as well as a national science communications community that cross media, education and private enterprise.Collaboration clearly makes a lot of sense, so what is currently preventing these and other networks better collaborating and maximising their impacts? And do networks make it harder for non-aligned individuals to participate?
This workshop will seek to map better ways to bring those jigsaw puzzle pieces together to collaborate nationally, examine what can realistically be achieved, and discuss what will indicators of success look like?

Data at work: developing the evidence base to guide future action. In order to develop the most robust and effective science communication and engagement projects it is imperative to develop a strong evidence base. What baseline data on science communication in Australia already exists and what vital areas are data-deficient? How should this information be shared and publicised? And what are the ramifications for future funding and policy decisions?

Jobs: ASC seeking paid (and volunteer) writers!!

Get creative, gain new skills, make a difference to ASC

Location: anywhere in Australia with broadband internet access
Payment: per article for Inspiring Australia articles; love and appreciation for other writing.

We all know that writing is a critical skill for science communicators. The ASC needs people that can contribute to a number of writing projects, some are paid (money) and some are volunteer (paid for with thanks, adoration, and a growing prominent public portfolio of pieces as an ASC Writer).

1. Inspiring Australia Updates: Writing posts to ASC website about Inspiring Australia activities and projects. Writers for this task will need to deliver to a set structure and adhere to a style guide. Payment is a flat fee per post. For more details please contact

2. Website posts: You can do this now as all members have access to the ASC website (set up in WordPress)… To get some experience and write content you just need to get the latest login and get cracking. Kali and Claire can provide support to get your articles up there. Payment is a byline, love and adoration.

3. Articles for SCOPE: This is writing fun stuff for our monthly member newsletter. This newsletter goes straight to the inboxes of 400+ members! What a great way to get exposure and have some articles for your portfolio… Payment is a byline, love and adoration.

To express your interest for the above fun times, please send:

a)    a CV

b)    a statement noting which jobs you are interested in

c)     examples of your writing

d)    a statement addressing the selection criteria below:

  1. Established interest in science communication
  2. Writing and editing experience
  3. Enthusiasm!

Applications are invited by e-mail no later than 5 pm on 24 May 2013 to Claire Harris (ASC Vice President) at:

Applications must be submitted in PDF or Word 2003/2007 format (.doc or .docx). Candidates must be current financial members of ASC.

If you have any questions about the roles generally, please email

Job: ASC seeking Scope newsletter Editor

Have your finger on the pulse, gain new skills, make a difference to ASC

Location: anywhere in Australia with broadband internet access
Honorarium: $150 (+GST) per issue, with the expectation of 10 to 11 issues produced per year.

Scope is the monthly online newsletter of the Australian Science Communicators (ASC), a network of 400 + professional science and technology communicators across Australia and overseas.

The current Editor, Sally Miles, is resigning due to competing commitments, so ASC is looking for a new Editor (or two co-editors) effective from the June 2013 issue. Sally will be available to handover to the new Editor to ensure a smooth transition into the role.

The role includes the following activities:

  • Sourcing content from ASC branches, members and web editors (usually in the first two weeks of the month)
  • Occasionally interviewing people (members and non-members) for profile pieces
  • Listing recent news items or summarising topical stories to keep members up to date on current science communication issues
  • Editing content for consistency of style and formatting including permalinks, extracts and tagging
  • Working with the membership officer to ensure the member distribution list and log-in activation codes are current
  • Formatting the month’s material into short ‘teaser’ formats with click-throughs
  • Managing images and checking we have rights to use images in newsletter
  • Circulating (via Mail Chimp) to the membership on the third Thursday of the month
  • Responding to feedback from members, the National Executive
  • Attending the monthly ASC Communication team meeting and providing input (or driving) Scope planning
  • Liaising with the webmaster, membership officer, web editors and the national president as needed.

The key selection criteria for this role are:

  • Established interest in science communication
  • Computer and internet literacy, in particular familiarity (or can quickly get familiarity) with WordPress, MailChimp, Dropbox, Word/Pages, PowerPoint, Keynote
  • Excellent time management skills
  • Capacity to commit ~15 hours per month to ASC activities.

Applications are invited by email no later than 5 pm on 19 May 2013 for the attention of Claire Harris (ASC Vice President) at:

Please include a brief CV (two pages maximum) and a statement addressing the selection criteria with relevant evidence along with contact details of two professional referees (one page maximum). Applications must be submitted in PDF or Word 2003/2007 format (.doc or .docx). Candidates must be current financial members of ASC.

If you have any technical questions about the role, email Sally at:

ASC Canberra AGM and 2012 PM Science Prize Winner

28 November 2012
5:30 pmto8:00 pm

ASC Canberra AGM and Special Guest speaker Professor Ken Freeman – 2012 Prime Minister’s Science Prize recipient



(Professor Ken Freeman – picture courtesy of DIIRST)

It’s that time of year again where the committee for next year is elected; all members are encouraged to attend the AGM. Following the AGM we will hold a public event (sponsored by Inspiring Australia and CSIRO Discovery) where attendees will hear from Canberra local, Professor Ken Freeman, recipient of this year’s Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.

When: Wednesday the 28th of November

Where: CSIRO Discovery Centre, CSIRO Discovery, Lecture Theatre, Clunies Ross St, Black Mountain, ACT (map and parking info)

Time: 5:30-8:00pm

5:30-6:15pm: ASC Canberra AGM – ASC Members only, drinks and nibbles provided.

  • Nominations for positions on the ASC ACT Committee are open (more details below).
  • The Committee encourages new applications from ASC members who would like to get involved in shaping and leading activities and events.

6:30-7:15pm: Professor Ken Freeman – Open to public.

  • Hear from Professor Ken Freeman about his career, what work led to receiving the prestigious PM’s Science Prize, how important communication has been throughout his career and more recently with the media interest around him winning the award.

7:15pm-8pm: Food and Drinks

RSVP:  Please RSVP for catering purposes.

Cost: Event free for ASC members and members also get tickets for lucky-door prizes. Non-members: Gold coin donation on entry

For further enquiries on event or if you would like to nominate for a 2013 committee position please contact


The ASC Canberra AGM Agenda

Are you a proactive member wanting to be part of shaping ASC? All positions on the committee are genuinely open. The committee’s main responsibilities are organising networking and professional development events for ASC members in Canberra and supporting and shaping the national activities.

1. Confirmation of members attending, apologies, proxies.
2. Confirmation of the Minutes of the previous Annual General Meeting
3. Tabling of treasurer and president reports
4. Nominations sought for office bearers (those in bold mandatory). Where more than one nomination, vote by members in secret ballot (nominees leave the room).

  • President
  • National liaison position (this position can be held as a dual-role by President, Treasurer or a Committee member)
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Social Media and Web Officer
  • Promotions Officer
  • Digital Media Officer
  • Networking and Memberships Officer

5. Any other business
6. Close meeting

To receive more information on the duties of the positions or to register your interest in being a committee member email ‘asccanberra AT’.

If you cannot attend the meeting, please send a proxy vote via email as we need a quorum (20% of current member numbers or 20 members, whichever is less).

Being on the committee is a great way to build your professional network, get event management experience and learn new skills. And the committee has been known, of course, to enjoy catching up often for breakfast or over a beer.

More information about the ASC Canberra Committee can be found at:

Science communicators: where would science be without them?

24 September 2012
6:00 pmto7:30 pm

Communicating complex topics such as climate change, human health, water  management and biotechnology can be challenging. Scientists and their organisations often need to manage attacks on credibility, mistrust and misinformation. So who is working with scientists to help them communicate their research and participate in the
public and political debate? Peek behind closed doors and you will often find science communicators.

Science communication is a growing discipline and a critical element of public engagement. For this Australian Science Communicators, Inspiring Australia and CSIRO Discovery event, we’ve grabbed the people from behind those closed doors so you can come and find out what motivates them and how they do their jobs.

If you’ve ever wondered how successful science communicators learned to master the art of conveying the complexities, relevancy and potential implications of new scientific knowledge, then this interactive forum will give you a glimpse into the careers of six (that’s right, six!) passionate science communicators in the ACT. They will share their experiences, both good and bad, in communicating science to various audiences and reveal the challenges of understanding the needs, expectations and concerns of specific audiences.

This event is aimed at science communicators, researchers, scientists – at all levels – who are interested in learning about what practicing science communicators do in their day-to-day working lives and why it matters. It will also provide attendees with a forum to explore networking opportunities.

Date: Monday 24 September 2012

Time: 5:45pm for a 6pm start. The event will run until about 7:30pm with nibbles and drinks provided after the event

Where: CSIRO Discovery Centre Lecture Theatre, Clunies Ross St, Acton ACT 2601 (directions and parking details)

Cost: free for members; non-members gold coin donation

And: lucky-door prize for members

RSVP: or call 02 6246 4646



Image of Kylie WalkerKylie Walker is Director of Communications and Outreach at the Australian Academy of Science. After more than a decade in mainstream journalism in Sydney, Perth and the federal press gallery, she has spent the past six years as a Canberra-based communications professional advocating on the federal political and media stages for not-for-profit and membership groups in the health and science sectors.


Image of Simon CoplandSimon Copland is Science Communications Officer in the Colleges of Medicine, Biology and Environment; and Physical and Mathematical Sciences at the Australian National University (ANU). He is experienced in a range of science communication activities and is currently studying his Masters in Science Communication. He is also an active writer – he is the political editor of FUSE Magazine and has published material in ABC’s The Drum, New Matilda and the Sydney Star Observer.

Image of Chris CassellaChris Cassella is Managing Director of ScienceAlert Pty Ltd, an ex-Microsoft programmer and failed neuroscientist. Over the last five years, he has transformed ScienceAlert into the #1 provider of science news on Facebook. With almost two million fans worldwide, ScienceAlert’s Facebook page is more popular than the Wall Street Journal, Time
Magazine and the Economist. Chris is a strong proponent of Facebook as a platform to inspire and engage young people around the world with science.

Image of Janet SalisburyJanet Salisbury has a background in cancer research and 10 years of postdoctoral research experience. Since 1990, she has built up her own company, Biotext, a science information consultancy specialising in health, biomedical science, agriculture and the environment. Janet’s work has covered topics such as evidence-based medicine, infectious diseases, air and water quality, and sustainable development.  She has an interest in the interaction of scientists, decision makers and the public in the development of science policy.

Image of Mary MulcahyMary Mulcahy is Communication Manager for CSIRO’s Energy Group. She has oversight of the Energy Group communications strategy, and leads a national team responsible for communicating about the outcomes from CSIRO energy research to government, industry and community. After completing a science degree, Mary’s first job was as an ecologist with the Tasmanian Inland Fisheries Commission looking at instream flow requirements for four major Tasmanian rivers.   After a stint as a high school teacher, and completing a Graduate Diploma in Science Communication, Mary worked in a range of education outreach programs including managing the Graduate Diploma in Scientific Communication at ANU and Questacon and then took on the challenge of helping to set up a similar interactive science centre in Malaysia. Following that, she managed the science outreach centre at the University of New South Wales and then joined the University of Technology in Sydney to manage research communications across the University.


Image of Toss GascoigneToss Gascoigne is a consultant specialising in science communication, and with broad experience working across all disciplines. He has served as Executive Director for three national organisations over the last 15 years: the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS); the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS); and Australian Science Innovations (ASI). Toss is a former President and life member of Australian Science Communicators and the inaugural President of an international group called the Network for the Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST). Since 1995 he has regularly published articles, book chapters, policy documents and commentaries on matters relating to science communication and science and research policy.