About Lisa Bailey

ASC President 2019

Notice for 2020 Annual General Meeting – new date Thursday 10 December

Official notice of 2020 Australian Science Communicators AGM (online via Zoom)

This is the official notice of the Australian Science Communicators’ Annual General Meeting, to be held online via zoom on THURSDAY 10 DECEMBER 2020 (please note new date)

The 2020 AGM is an opportunity for members to hear about the year’s events at the national level, and also to have their say about what should happen in the year to come. It also includes reports from the President and Treasurer.

When: Thursday 10 December

Perth: 5pm

Brisbane: 7pm

Adelaide/Darwin: 7.30pm

Sydney/Melb/Canberra: 8pm

Where: Online via zoom (please RSVP and you will be emailed a link to join).

RSVP via Form below or via this link

Only financial ASC members are eligible to attend the AGM. Please check you have renewed your membership community.asc.asn.au

Executive Council Positions

Given the turmoil of 2020, the current executive has offered to remain in to provide caretaker/continuity to the organisation over 2020/21.

The current ASC President Lisa Bailey will be remaining in the President’s role.

The current ASC Secretary position shared by Shiloh Gerrity and Michelle Riedlinger will continue.

The current ASC Treasurer Aiden Muirhead will continue.

The current ASC Vice President Lynette Plenderleith will continue.

If you are interested in joining the Executive Council (as Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President x 2), then please contact the National Secretary. If more than one person is interested in a particular position, then an election will take place.

Reps on the National Council

Branches are required to nominate and endorse a National Representative to join the National Council at their Branch AGM. If this has happened, please notified the National Secretary.

Agenda items and notices of motions

Proposed agenda items, notices of motion must be received by 5.30pm (AEDT) Tuesday 1 December 2020 and can be sent to president@asc.asn.au. Note that notices of motion require a proposer and a seconder.


Members unable to attend the AGM in person can provide an online proxy. This will allow members to nominate another current ASC member attending the meeting to hold their proxy, or alternatively the National Secretary. Instructions for nominating proxies will be circulated prior to the AGM along with the final notification of official business. Please note, organisations that have a membership may nominate only one (1) representative to vote.

The following items are current as of 3 November 2020:

Building new worlds for exploration: designing online exhibits during COVID-19

Written by Dr Debbie Devis

I never thought I would be chatting about psychology and loneliness whilst running from a zombie, but COVID-19 has surprised me in unexpected ways. When the pandemic hit, we all had to adjust. For us at MOD. at UniSA, that meant we had to close galleries and set up an online exhibition called LIFE INTERRUPTED. It was important to maintain live, interactive escapes from the isolation of staying at home and so two of my pet projects were born. These projects were MOD.Craft, a public, moderated Minecraft server, and MUSEUM.shift, a tabletop role playing game (RPG) written by myself and another moderator, Josh Vanner. Both of these interactive exhibits were designed to subtly introduce science concepts to young adults, whilst also providing a safe online space to continue interaction with  MOD. and others.


MOD.craft was broken into two exhibits; BIOPHILIA focused on whether nature needs to be real to gain the benefits of being outside, and in LIFE AFTER we explored whether we would choose to work together or alone after a major disaster. The greatest lesson I learned during this was the importance of community. We built up a group of regular visitors who invited friends and who were looking for company, but this led to most of the science discussions we ended up having. The regularity of moderators doing silly things like taming llamas and fiercely protecting villagers broke down some of the scary walls of “silly questions”, so our conversations became predominantly community lead as people started to ask us questions unrelated to our exhibit themes. The topics covered ranged from “What is unfalsifiability?” to “ How could we reverse gravity?”.

Image of an island created in Minecraft

An Island Retreat – by MODzilla for MODcraft BIOPHILIA

It is difficult to say whether this ease of comfort was driven by Minecraft or the fantastic facilitation from moderators, but minecraft provided such an easy medium to build those relationships. We built houses based on our own artistic styles and backgrounds, so visitors were able to identify which people were experts in which fields and direct targeted questions they had burning in their minds. This exploded when we set up a Discord server to allow people to talk to us in game when they weren’t playing, because people regularly came to chat, even if they couldn’t play. Overall, this made me realise the importance and power of online communities for breaking down barriers between demographics. Demonstrating  that we are all just humans with all our own skills and fallibilities is what made our visitors respond so well to us and the idea of chatting science.

Visitors wrote books in Minecraft about their experience in LIFE AFTER

Visitors wrote books in Minecraft about their experience in LIFE AFTER

MUSEUM.shift was a completely different experience, and was a game designed for people to take home and play with friends. This is a roleplaying game where players pretend to be a museum worker in a fantasy museum. A single player is the “game master” and tells an open ended, choose your own adventure story that players participate in. For example, the game master might say “As you are straigenting the tapestry, you hear a bleating as a sheep pushes its way out! What would you like to do?”. Each game was completely different depending on the decisions players made and ranged anywhere from strict logical progressions to complete absurdity. These were small games of 2-5 players, so it didn’t not have the same community strength as MOD.craft, but it did allow a lot more moderator lead science.

MUSEUM.shift games don’t require any specific knowledge background, but Josh (our resident RPG expert) and I would prepare as much as we could to put accurate history, science and art principles into each game. If a player asked to search the reference library for details on wormholes, this provided us an opportunity to give them accurate information. On another occasion a player wanted to melt a slime monster, so we were able to make up a machine based on thermal resonance.  The hardest part of this for us was how unpredictable each game is, but the opportunity to add a bit of science into the game became evident as soon as we started playtesting the game.

Museum Shift Map

Map of the fantasy museum in MUSEUM.shift. Players use this to fuel their imagination.

Both exhibits challenged my idea of how I communicate science. I often feel like I am not doing enough unless the science is explicit in what I am saying, but the breadth of science discussions we had in both exhibits made me reevaluate that notion and see the benefit of “unexpected science content”. I still got killed by a lot of skeletons, but at least it means somebody asked me about why plants don’t need bones.



Members Q&A Webinar Friday 28 August – Fred Watson

Join us for the next in our series where we will be hosting Australia’s Astronomer-at-large, writer, science communicator, good lighting advocate and traveller Fred Watson.

Fred has had a long and distinguished sci-com career, well-known for his astronomy slots on ABC radio, and his books include “Stargazer – the Life and Times of the Telescope”, “Why is Uranus Upside Down? and Other Questions About the Universe”

Send through your questions on writing, broadcasting, the universe and just what an Astronomer-at-large does anyway?

Friday 28 August

4pm AEST

Free, register via zoom webinar here.

Note – these sessions are free for all ASC members.  To join, or check your membership, visit http://www.asc.asn.au/join/

Volunteer Positions – apply now!

We need your help!

ASC would love your help.  We’ve got a few new volunteer positions available.  Click on the position below for the full position description:

·         Social media strategist volunteer – Express your enthusiasm for the face of #scicomm, hone your skills and make a difference to the Australian science communication community.

This role shapes the voice of ASC. Take the reins of our social channels and provide strategic direction to our communications. Provide recommendations to the ASC Committee as to where and how we should focus our efforts and assist in developing and implementing social campaigns where they can be most effective.

·         Digital Systems volunteer – Bring your troubleshooting mastery and your eye for detail to deliver a better experience for our members.

This role is all about giving members an intuitive, user-friendly experience when they interact with ASC.

·         Awards coordinator volunteer – Help ASC shine a light on those who have been doing great work, often without recognition, in science engagement in Australia.

This role provides the coordinating link between members and the committee for awards collation for the presentation of the Annual ASC Unsung Hero Awards. There is also scope within this role to review current and potential future ASC Awards.

Each role is remote, and can be done from anywhere in Australia, and comes with an honorarium in acknowledgement of the time and effort. For more information please visit the website for full position descriptions, and to apply send a short (2 page maximum) CV and a few sentences outlining your interest in the role to office@asc.asn.au with VOLUNTEER in the subject header by Monday 31 August.

Each role is 12 months.



Members Q&A series – Bobby Cerini 7 August 2020

What is the future of interactivity for hands-on science discovery centres like Questacon? There are huge challenges ahead as museums, science centres and galleries adapt to ‘the new normal’.
Join us for the next installation of our Q&A series with Dr Bobby Cerini, Deputy Director and General Manager of Science and Learning at Questacon as we explore the challenges and opportunities 2020 has thrown at this sector of science engagement.

Friday 7 August

4pm AEST (BYO knock off drinks!)

via Zoom webinar

Register now via this link

This event is free for all current ASC members – to join or check your membership status visit http://www.asc.asn.au/join/

Members Q&A series – Joan Leach 24 July 2020

Join us for the next event in our members Q&A series where we will be joined by Joan Leach, Director Director of the Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science at the ANU (colloquially known as ‘CPAS’) since January 2016.

CPAS’s research and teaching interests are varied and interdisciplinary- covering science communication, public engagement, policy, knowledge brokering, risk, and ethics. We’ll explore how CPAS is responding to the challenges and opportunities this year has thrown at us, what sci-com research we should be paying attention to and how sci-com teaching at CPAS has translated to online delivery.

Friday 24 July

4pm AEST (BYO knock off drinks!)

via Zoom webinar

Register now via this link

This event is free for all current ASC members – to join or check your membership status visit http://www.asc.asn.au/join/




Members Q&A series June – July 2020

After our first Q&A with Norman Swan in May, we’re excited to bring you more in our Q&A webinar series.

These are free for all current ASC members, click on the links below to register.

Like many events around the world, Pint of Science Australia earlier this year cancelled their festival in support of physical distancing.

By mid-April they realised they could still bring science to your local … local house of course!

Join us for a Q&A with Jirana and Tom, co-CEOs of Pint of Science Australia, to learn more about how they quickly adapted their festival and took it online with talks, quiz nights, AMAs and podcasts for an audience from across the country. Pick their brains as to what worked, what didn’t, and their biggest learnings from taking their sci-com festival online.

Register here

From catastrophic bushfires to pandemic coronavirus, 2020 has thrown science into the spotlight in ways that it often isn’t in day to day media coverage.

Join us for a Q&A with the ABC Science Editor Jonathan Webb to learn more about how and why the team covers the science they do, and what it’s like to work for one of the most trusted brands in Australian media.

Register here


Members Event: Q&A with Dr Norman Swan

COVID-19 presents one of the largest science communication challenges ever, with rapidly evolving science, enormous social and economic impacts and a rising global death toll. Access to timely and trusted information is critical, and for a huge number of Australians Dr Norman Swan of the ABC has been one of the key respected journalists covering this through a range of media.

Join us for a Q&A with Dr Norman Swan to find out how he and the ABC team have been tackling the issues around communicating such a complex issue.

You can submit your questions in advance through your event registration, or submit through the zoom chat function during the session.

When: Friday 1 May, 12.45pm AEST

Where: Zoom Webinar

register at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_qVEK_NP8Quu5dm3x90W0qw

*please note this event is available for current ASC members only, check your membership or sign up at http://www.asc.asn.au/join/

COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

The now designated global pandemic of COVID-19 coronavirus is having unprecedented impacts across the world as authorities attempt to contain transmission and manage cases. At the time of writing this, Australia currently has 197 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), including 3 deaths.  The Prime Minister announced yesterday that gatherings of more than 500 people should not go ahead from Monday as part of social distancing measures to prevent peaks of new cases and ease the strain on health services.

It’s a time when, more than ever, people need ready access to clear, timely and relevant information that is evidence-based.

For science communicators – we may be able to help contribute to creating useful resources for our audiences, or pointing to and sharing trusted sources through our networks.  For some of us, the impacts are already being felt with the cancellation of major events like the World Science Festival in Brisbane and the PCST Conference in Aberdeen.

Below is a collection of reputable resources that you might find useful.

Official advice is to follow these simple steps to help slow the spread of the virus and to reduce the risk of infection:

➡️ Wash your hands with soap and water before and after eating, and also after using the toilet

➡️ Avoid physical contact with others when possible

➡️ Cough into your elbow or into a clean tissue, then throw the tissue in the bin

➡️ Seek medical attention if you’re feeling sick. Be aware that most people currently experiencing cold and flu symptoms won’t have COVID-19

For science communicators who would like to delve deeper into the research, the WHO have compiled a downloadable database of all current COVID-19 research: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/global-research-on-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov


Keynote presentations at ASC2020

The upcoming conference program is looking fantastic with a huge range of speakers sharing experience and expertise across health, environment, media, research, creativity, behaviour change, gender equity and more.  We are very pleased to announce and highlight some of our keynote sessions for ASC2020 below.

Monday opening plenary – Can we save our grandchildren? Inspiring change in an age of denial and despair

The planet is in melt down. Since the 1970s scientists have issued repeated warnings about global warming and of the catastrophic impacts on our planet and our survival unless we reduce carbon emissions . Yet as the scientific evidence mounts, the facts are deliberately obfuscated by political and institutional restraints and vested interests .No wonder many scientists report feelings of frustration, depression and despair.

How do scientists and science communicators can overcome these obstacles?

How we can present the facts about the climate emergency and the array of interconnected existential threats in a way that resonates with people across all sectors of society and make a compelling case for taking action?

Produced by Alison Leigh, past Editorial Director and current consultant to the World Congress of Science and Factual producers, featuring

Tuesday lunchtime plenary – Broadcasting for Impact

Stephen Oliver, ABC

In this session Stephen will discuss producing broadcast content that has far reaching impacts from attitudes to recycling, to senate inquiries on seafood labelling, and how lessons learned are being translated to current ABC projects on climate change including The Fight for Planet A: The Climate Challenge documentary.

Stephen Oliver has written and directed many award -winning films and series, developing two distinct strings to his bow – making entertaining comedic docs about popular culture like “Skippy: Australia’s First Superstar”, “Chateau Chunder: A Wine Revolution”, “The Secret History of Eurovision” and “Stop Laughing this is Serious”, alongside hard-hitting campaign shows like “What’s the Catch?” which led to a Senate Inquiry on seafood labelling, “How to Save the World” on climate change which broadcast to over a million viewers on the opening day of Paris COP21 and “For the Love of Meat”. He has since launched his TV commissioning career at the ABC with notable success, looking after some of the national broadcaster’s biggest hits including Logie and AACTA winning War on Waste, Venice TV prize and AACTA winning Employable Me, Love on the Spectrum, Don’t Stop the Music, Can we Save the Reef? and Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane. Stephen introduced impact campaigns to the ABC, with notable success, including on two series of War on Waste, with 68% of the huge audience declaring to have changed behaviour after watching the show. He has two major climate shows in production for 2020, but his tireless environmental campaign shows have since persuaded him to give up his habit of eating exotic and endangered animals.


Tuesday afternoon plenary – Effective engagement with Policy Makers

Subho Banerjee, Research Program Director, Australia & New Zealand School of Gov’t (ANZSOG)

How do policymakers come to decisions? Why do scientific “truths” sometimes get ignored? What influence if any can scientists have on the process?

This session from a science-trained policy wonk will help you get inside the head of a policymaker and understand what is going on in there. Learn how to get on the agenda and have fruitful discussions that create real change.

Dr Subho Banerjee is the Research Program Director at ANZSOG. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the ANU, and Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University. He works on the interface between academia and public policy practice.

Subho was previously a Deputy Secretary in the Australian Public Service, and has served in a range of strategic policy and program implementation roles spanning economic, social and environmental policy areas. He has also worked as a management consultant in the private sector, and for an Indigenous policy thinktank.

Subho holds a BSc and PhD in Physics from ANU. He also holds Masters qualifications in economic and social history, and environmental change and management, from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes scholar.


Registrations are still open for ASC2020 – click here for registration options.