Join our Council: a rewarding experience with manageable commitment

As our Annual General Meeting (AGM) gets closer, we’re looking to embark on a transformative journey in how our ASC Council operates. By shifting from the three legacy roles (President, Treasurer, Secretary) to a more tailored model, each member will be able to focus more practically on supporting a range of outputs aligned with our strategic vision. We hope this will create opportunities for more impactful involvement. This change is not just a structural adjustment; it’s a step towards a more effective, rewarding and engaging volunteer experience.

Introducing a new, flexible structure

Our new Council structure aims to offer a range of diverse roles, each focusing on specific outputs and functions, alongside general committee members. These still have the regular responsibilities of a not-for-profit committee, but are now more tailored to lead the next phase for the ASC.

As normal, during the AGM the membership will elect a president or co-presidents. After this, the membership elects members to sit on Council (not into specific roles). After the AGM, the President/s will work with the elected Council Members to fill the following roles:

Vice President (Treasurer)

Vice President (Science Communication Policy)

Secretary (Events)

Secretary (Awards)

Secretary (International Engagement)

General Members

Branches also have an ex officio seat on Council – meaning one member from the Branch is invited to join to represent their Branch.

This approach aims to allow for a more personalised involvement, aligning with your skills, interests, and time availability. Please get in touch if you wish to find out more about any of these roles.

Understanding the commitment

Committing to a role on Council might seem daunting, but we want to reassure you that it’s a manageable and flexible commitment. Members are expected to attend four meetings throughout the year, and to respond to email in a reasonable time frame. Beyond this, the time you dedicate will depend on your role and personal capacity. We value your contribution, no matter the size, and aim to ensure that your experience is rewarding without being overwhelming.

If you’re unsure and want to chat further or hear more before saying ‘yes’, get in touch and we’ll chat it through with you.

Why consider joining?

If you’re hesitant about volunteering, here’s why you should give it a thought:

Tailored involvement: Choose a role that suits your interests and time availability. You’re in control of your involvement level.

Flexible time commitment: With flexible responsibilities and increased support of a refreshed secretariat, we hope you won’t feel overburdened.

Personal growth: Gain skills and experience in a supportive environment. It’s a chance to grow professionally and personally.

Have impact: This is an opportunity to have a significant impact on the future of the ASC as we finalise the strategic plan and start plotting what the next phase of the organisation will look like.

Getting Involved

If you’ve RSVP’d for the AGM already, check your email for details on how to edit your form. Remember, this is about finding the right fit for all of us. If you’re interested in a position but are concerned about the commitment, reach out to us for a chat. We’re here to work with you and find a balance that suits your schedule and comfort level.

Fill in the form via the link above to:

  • register to attend the AGM or appoint a proxy to attend in your place;
  • submit an agenda item to be discussed at the AGM; and
  • self-nominate to be an Executive Committee member.

Joining the ASC committee is an opportunity to be part of something impactful, with a commitment that respects your time and contributions. Whether you’re taking a small step or a giant leap, your involvement is valuable to us.

The ASC honours & post-graduate research symposium

We are excited to present the program for the ASC Honours and Post-Graduate Research Symposium for 2023. This event is more than a showcase; it signifies our commitment to fostering confidence in our students and providing the community with a timely insight into contemporary research in Australia and Aotearoa, New Zealand.

We are also very excited that our host for the symposium will be Jo Savill, senior science communicator at the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC). 

Register to attend 

START TIME: 21 November 2023

3pm AEDT | 2:30pm ACDT | 2pm AEST | 5pm NZDT | 1:30pm ACST | 12pm AWST

3:00pm AEDTSymposium begins
3:10pm AEDTCommunicating Science: Is it Time for a More Anthropological Approach?
Chris Ellis (PhD student, The University of Sydney)

There is an increasing pessimism of science communication as science  attempts to define origins of the universe, life and consciousness. Science communication is essential in order to mobilise people to act against some of humanity’s most pressing problems, including climate change, but it may have trouble achieving this if it does not take a more anthropological approach. 
3:35pm AEDTMusical NMR: Building a Molecular Ensemble
Jake Willett (Masters of Science (Physics), The University of Melbourne)

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is a staple in the molecular imaging world and is the foundation of MRI. It is an inherently quantum mechanical phenomenon which is often hard to understand. HOWEVER, there is a connection between NMR and music: a more familiar topic, that may help in bridging the gap between the micro and macro world.
4:00pm AEDTComparing COVID-19 Vaccine Information in Indonesian and Singaporean Online News
Priscilla Seah (Master of Science Communication, ANU)

Comparing how COVID-19 vaccine information was presented in two vastly different countries in terms of their COVID-19 management, secularity, and cultures. Did religion themes dominate, or were news media articles more scientific-based? What perspectives were emphasised? How did news media in these countries convince the public to take the vaccine and counter hesitancy?
4:30pm AEDTFrom 2D to 4D: Reconstructing a Giant Extinct Aussie Amphibian
Jack O’Connor (PhD student, Monash University)

Can 2D skeletal illustrations inform 4D locomotion animations? This talk outlines how I developed a novel procedure in 3D modelling software to recreate the morphology of one of Australia’s few described Jurassic vertebrate species; Siderops kehli. The resulting animated asset provides insight into the lifestyle of this giant Australian amphibian through the lens of science communication.
4:55pm AEDTChanging environmental behaviours, using ABC’s War on Waste as a case study
Rachael Vorwerk (Master of Communication, RMIT)

Non-preachy tone. Relatable contexts. Step-by-step how to’s. Targeting consumers, businesses and government. What exactly was it in ABC’s War on Waste that led to such widespread change in Australia? Learn about new insights and practical tips on how we can use communication strategies to change behaviour at scale. 

To enhance accessibility and promote ongoing learning, all presentations will be recorded and uploaded to the ASC YouTube channel. This serves two purposes: it keeps the broader community informed about the latest developments in our field, and it provides our students with a valuable platform to demonstrate their presentation skills—a key attribute in academic and professional environments.

Join us to engage with pioneering research and support the next generation of scholars.

Click here to register for the Zoom session.

We look forward to your participation in the symposium!

Member update: attending the 2023 PCST Venice Symposium

A/Prof Jen Martin, ASC national Vice President

At the end of September I had the great pleasure of attending the PCST Venice Symposium Science communication education and training: Challenges and strategies for research and academic institutions. Venice is a long way to go for a three-day symposium but having never come across an event before focused exactly on what my team does (teaching communication skills to scientists in an academic institution), my strong suspicion was that it would be worth making the effort to attend. And that definitely turned out to be the case. It was an absolute joy to spend three days with roughly 100 people from around the world who are deeply passionate about science communication education and training.

Many of the 100 symposium attendees in the beautiful courtyard at Venice International University on the island of San Servolo.

The symposium took place at Venice International University which is located on San Servolo island, about 10 minutes by boat (vaparetto) from Saint Mark’s Square in Venice. The island is tiny and very beautiful and used to be an asylum. These days it has a restaurant, café, lots of accommodation for students and other university visitors and a variety of teaching and meeting spaces. It also has some beautiful gardens and one of my favourite things was seeing people arrive each morning on the early vaparetto to walk their dogs in the gardens – presumably because there’s so little green space in Venice itself.

The first day of the symposium included a number of keynote presentations and roundtables including discussions about what research and academic institutions are doing to support researchers’ science communication and how these institutions can integrate science communication research and evaluation insights into practice and training. Day one finished with a visit to the glorious San Zaccaria church in Venice and a fascinating session on ‘The Art of Conversation and Conversation in Art’.

On the next day we broke into four working groups, each focused on a different aspect of the broader topic:

1: Supporting researchers’ public communication;

2: Recruiting science communication professionals and developing their competencies;

3: Evaluating and improving the quality of research communication;

4: Using science communication research results in institutional activities.

Each working group spent part of their time hearing presentations from members of the group and part of the time in discussion with the goal of coming up with key recommendations on their topic. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to share my story of founding the science communication teaching program at the University of Melbourne including what my team does and some of the things we’ve learned along the way about how to establish and grow such a program. We also heard from many other people involved with amazing training programs and it was interesting (and more than a little sad) to discover just how common and widespread an experience it is for science communication education, training and research to be undervalued and insufficiently supported in universities and research institutions around the world.

The Australian contingent at PCST Venice (L to R): Toss Gascoigne (ANU), Jen Martin (University of Melbourne), Tullio Rossi (Animate your Science) and Jenni Metcalfe (Econnect Communication).

On the last day each group presented their recommendations, and we had a fantastic whole-group discussion about our conclusions and what useful steps we could take to improve science communication education and training. The result is a statement to leaders of academic and research institutions worldwide which highlights the need for research and academic institutions to consider the strategic value of the public communication of science, and to mobilise support for these activities. The statement is going to be useful for anyone seeking institutional or local support for science communication and I’ll share with our ASC membership when it’s published.

Aside from the stunning location, of course the best thing about any conference is the people you meet and PCST Venice was no exception. In addition to catching up with some other wonderful Australian scicomm people (Jenni, Toss and Tullio), I met so many other scicomm educators, practitioners and researchers from around the world, many of whom I’ll definitely stay in contact with. Science communication education is a small field and I feel incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to connect with so many others who do work I think is exceptionally important and valuable.