About Lisa Bailey

ASC President 2019

A handy guide to running an ASC Branch

Frequently ASC-ed questions

Download the Guide here

If you find yourself running an ASC state or territory branch, there are some questions you might have.

  • How do we get funding?
  • How do you run an AGM?
  • Do we have public liability insurance?
  • What kind of communications channels are open to ASCers?

I’ve put together a first draft of a guide to help answer these questions, with links to lots of templates (e.g. treasurer’s report) and how to guides (how do you run an AGM?)

I hope you find it useful, and if you think of something missing, drop me a line to let me know president@asc.asn.au


Nominations are now open for the 2019 Unsung Hero Award of Australian Science Communication.

The Australian Science Communicators is proud to offer the Unsung Hero Award of Australian Science Communication

The award will be announced at the ASC Conference in Melbourne in February 2020.

Nominations close at 5pm on Friday 31 January 2020.

ASC Unsung Hero Award 2019 Nomination Form – Entry WORD
ASC Unsung Hero Award 2019 Nomination Form – Entry PDF

The Unsung Hero of Australian Science Communication is an initiative of the Australian Science Communicators.

Previous recipients are Kylie Andrews (2017) Kylie Walker (2015), Frankie Lee (2014) and Craig Cormick (2013). The award was launched by the 2011 National Executive and realigned from the previous ‘Unsung Hero of Science’ award (read some background here).


The criteria for nomination for the Unsung Hero Australian Science Communication are:

  1. Nominees (an individual or group) must be resident in Australia and actively engaged in science communication, interpreted broadly to include, but not limited to, pursuits such as:
    • teaching,
    • research,
    • broadcasting,
    • script and book writing,
    • science and policy,
    • science shows,
    • science promotion and
    • interpretation of science within cultural institutions.
  2. The work the nominee is being nominated for must have been carried out in Australia.
  3. Nominees should have not yet received significant recognition for their contribution to science and its promotion. This will almost certainly rule out a ‘top’ or popular science communicator. The nominee should have shown that they regard science communication as an integral part of scientific work.
  4. Nominees should have a considerable or prolonged record (at least several years) in science communication.
  5. The award is intended to recognise those whose contribution has been so significant over a period of time that they should by now have been recognised. It is unlikely that this would apply to a candidate whose contribution, however significant, is of short duration.
  6. Nominators must give careful consideration to what counts as ‘science’ – for example, nominees from technological or environmental fields should be nominated not just on the basis of their contribution to those particular fields, but because the scientific side of their work is strong and their communication contributes to a better understanding of the process and practice of science.


This award may be made to a candidate whose work is specifically in science education, promotion or communication in one or many fields where the science component of their work is highly significant.

Benefits of the award

Ideally, the award may assist the recipient in their work, for example by publicising a difficult issue or by recognising that they have been a ‘lone and unpopular voice’ in spite of their scientific achievements being strong.

The award may also help a recipient to focus attention on their efforts or give them greater credibility and help them overcome adverse or unfair criticism.

Selection Process

Selection is based solely on the written information provided on the nomination form.

A selection committee of representatives from the Australian Science Communicators will assess all nominations and determine award recipients.

In some instances the selection committee may request further information before making their final decision.

The Australian Science Communicators reserves the right to make no awards should the judges consider that the quality of candidates does not warrant awards, or should the nominated candidate(s) not satisfy the selection criteria.

Requirements for Award Nomination

The nominator must be a financial member of the ASC, but the nominee need not be a member. The nominator should first consult with the nominee and referees to ensure the nominee is aware of, and gives consent, to the application.

Each nomination must comprise a fully completed award nomination form. Preferable length: 2 pages.

Nominations close at 5pm on Friday 31 January 2020.   

Nomination enquiries to:
Lisa Bailey
President of the Australian Science Communicatorspresident@asc.asn.au

Send completed nominations to:
Kali Madden
Executive Officer – Australian Science Communicators

Nomination forms

Nominations close at 5pm on Friday 31 January 2020.

ASC Unsung Hero Award 2019 Nomination Form – Entry WORD
ASC Unsung Hero Award 2019 Nomination Form – Entry PDF

2019 AGM – President’s Report

Presidents report

2019 has seen us celebrate 25 years of the ASC.  It’s been my first year as President, and I’d like to thank everyone who has been invaluable in helping me throughout the year, especially the executive committee and Kali as our invaluable executive officer.

Activity over the year:

  • Regular communication through the ASC Channels including SCOPE, our member newsletter, the ASC-list and the Facebook Group. These avenues continue to provide useful ways for members to promote, seek collaboration or advertise and find new job opportunities.
  • ASC has celebrated our 25th anniversary with a recording on the future challenges for Science Communication, recently broadcast on ABC Big Ideas. We’ve also been collating reflections from past ASC presidents on not only the past but future challenges for Australian science communicators in the coming decade, currently being published through the ASC site.
  • We were represented at the Eureka Science Awards.
  • I participated in the World Conference of Science Literacy held in Beijing in October 2019 in my capacity as ASC President. In a plenary session to the conference I outlined the scope of science engagement activity in Australia and our future challenges including increasingly fragmented audiences, and ability to translate scientific knowledge into policy outcomes in a climate (no pun intended) of increasing environmental threat.
  • Also as part of this conference ASC has been invited to participate in a working group to establish an international organisation – the World Organisation for Science Literacy. I will approach this with interest in the spirit of fostering international collaboration.
  • We have also been busy preparing for the next National Conference, to be held in Monash in February 2020 with the generous support of our host partner the Monash Sustainable Development Institute. With a wide range of submissions I look forward to our (almost) annual conference event, the only of its kind for our unique mix of science engagement practitioners and researchers.

I’d like to acknowledge our outgoing Secretary Teresa Belcher for her contribution to ASC over the last 3 years.

I’d like to congratulate the state branches on supporting a wide range of diverse activities for our membership including

  • The Storytelling for Science Communicator’s workshop in Melbourne in July
  • The Friday Al Desko events in Canberra
  • The 2019 ASC Careers event in Brisbane
  • Communicate to Inspire event in Perth

And many many more.

Challenges have been expressed about the difficulty branches face in understanding what kind of support or processes they have access to in order to support their state based activity.  I appreciate the work that goes in from all our dedicated volunteer committee members, and so we look in 2020 to take action on this feedback with

The Big Science Communication Challenges: Craig Cormick

This post is part of a series which asked past presidents of ASC: What are the biggest science communication challenges Australia faces right now and over the next decade?

Response from Craig Cormick

I feel the biggest science communication challenge facing Australia is the fact we all eat different biscuits but don’t know enough about those who eat different biscuits to us, nor why they prefer them and who they talk to about them.

Let’s call that biscuit diffusion. Its Latin scientific name would be: bis cotus diffusion.

In plain English, without the biscuit metaphor, that means there are more and more diffuse audiences that are further and further apart from each other, and there are more and more diffuse messages that we need to target those different audience with, and there are more and more diffuse mediums that we need to use to best reach them.

Many of us get that. But many of us don’t.

For as target audiences diffuse it is harder and harder to see the other audiences who do not sit somewhere near us. In a supermarket it is pretty plain to see that not everyone likes the same types of biscuits as us, because all the other biscuits are there in front of us – and if we stay there in the supermarket aisle long enough we will even see some people choosing Iced VoVos and some choosing Wafers and some even choosing Ginger Nuts (yeah, I know, what are they thinking?)

But in a more diffuse landscape the different biscuits are nowhere near each other, and might even be in different shops in different suburbs. So our capacity to know what other biscuits exist is diminished, and our capacity to know anything about those other biscuit buyers is diminished ever further.

And we tend to work with people who like the same biscuits as us, and we tend to prefer simple messages over complex ones. This means we know just how to reach those other people who prefer the logic and reason of Scotch Finger biscuits, and we spend much of our time talking to them. But we just can’t really understand those crazy Iced VoVo eaters! I mean, we’ve showed them the data and facts about the superiority of Scotch Fingers but they just keep on buying and eating Iced VoVos! What is wrong with them?

We really have to admit our biscuit failures and we need to really work harder to better understand those other biscuit eaters, and know what messages and what mediums and what influences they respond to. We need to better understand not just the Ice VoVo eaters, but those who prefer Honey Jumbles and Tic Tocs and Vita Wheat and yes, even Tiny Teddies!

It is no good saying the problem is with them. No more than we can say the problem is with those who refuse to accept our facts on climate change, or that we were taken by surprise by the outcome of the US Presidential election, or the Australian Federal election, or the Brexit vote.

We should have been talking to those people who don’t think like us and know where they are and know what their preferred mediums and influencers are.  And we should be working with them to frame messages to best reach them.

They are not the enemy – regardless of their different views – they are just different biscuits eaters to us,  and the biggest challenge for science communications is to stop doing things the way we have traditionally done them, and concentrate on how to best reach them, understand them, and successful communicate with them.


2019 Australian science communicators remuneration and skills survey

As a science communicator do you ever wish you could find out how much your skills are worth on the job market?

We do, which is why we have teamed up with ANU’s Centre for the Public Awareness of Science to develop Australia’s first profile of Australia’s science communicators.

We’re looking to hear from anyone who plays a role in science communication, including people who communicate about science as part of their role, including scientists, academics and volunteers.

By answering the questions in this five to ten-minute survey you’ll help you and others benchmark the salaries that different kinds of science communicators get for the different skills and services they provide.

We’ll release a report of the results from this survey at our annual conference in February and hope to publish relevant findings in an academic journal.

To start the survey just click here – https://anu.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_a9SJvGelO387mLP


The survey will be open until 5pm, Monday 23 September.

Once you’ve finished please consider sharing this survey with any friends or relatives you may have who also communicate about science so we hear from all kinds of science communicators.

Lisa Bailey

President, Australian Science Communicators

Registrations for the ASC2020 Conference Now Open

ASC conferences are the premier Australian networking, knowledge making and professional development opportunity for those making science and technology accessible. Thanks to our major sponsor Monash Sustainable Development Institute, we will be returning to Victoria for the first time in over a decade, with the conference to be held in the new Learning and Teaching Building at Monash Campus from 17-19th February 2020. http://asc2020.asc.asn.au/

The theme of our 2020 Conference will address the urgency of the challenges we’re facing: priorities, policies and best practice science communication for human survival. What is the role for science engagement in setting policy priorities? How do communication efforts leverage behaviour change?

We will soon be opening registrations for producers and presenters to pitch their ideas for conference sessions. We will be trying several new formats in the 2020 conference to allow for maximum participation, with plenty of time for the face-to-face discussions that are constantly rated the most valuable aspect of the conference.

We know that some ASC members are facing increasing constraints on the ability to engage with professional opportunities, so the 2020 conference is offered at 2017 prices (not adjusted for inflation), with an uncatered option also on offer. There are also super-earlybird discounts available for the first round of registrations. We’ve opened registrations as early as possible to also take advantage of end of financial year expenditure.

The ASC Conference is one of the only national opportunities to meet a wonderful bunch of approachable, creative and experienced professionals, keen to share and collaborate.

Register Now

Improving communication with Improv

Standing in a circle passing an imaginary ball of energy around between each other is not, perhaps, the type of activity you would expect at an ASC event. It was however, a warm up game for the recent Improve your communication with improv workshop held in Adelaide in June. Hosted by Jarrad and Dane from On The Fly Impro, the session aimed to give us a taster of some tips and tricks from improvisational theatre to help us all become better presenters. The group was mostly made of PhD students and researchers looking to improve their presenting skills.

Improv workshop in Adelaide, June 2017

Alan Alda has been championing the idea of improv training for scientists for years, with the focus not on being funny but on really paying attention to your audience, making contact and keeping it personal.

The most memorable moment for me during the workshop was during a game where we were rhyming and matching words around the circle. Jarrad made the point that if you have to choose between being right or saying something…SAY SOMETHING. This probably goes against all the training that scientists have in placing value on making sure what is said is technically correct. Getting past the hesitation and self-censorship of your own head to just play the game and keep it moving was a huge challenge. But we have to be able to forgive ourselves mistakes when we’re speaking.

Some additional take-home tips included:
• Using the first 30 seconds of any presentation to humanise yourself to the audience
• Picking out people beforehand to make eye contact with during your presentation (and that realising that making eye contact can feel uncomfortable, but to do it anyway!)
• Make things obvious, and keep it simple. If you can say it with fewer words, do.

We could have kept going for hours, this really was just a taster, but if you’re interested in developing your skills and having a go at Improv there are groups all around that run classes so try out:
On the Fly Impro (Adelaide) – http://www.ontheflyimpro.com/
Impro Melbourne – https://www.impromelbourne.com.au/
Impro ACT – http://impro.com.au/
Impro Australia (Sydney) – http://improaustralia.com.au/
Impro Mafia (Brisbane) – http://www.impromafia.com/shows/
Just Improvise (Perth) – https://justimprovise.com.au/

This workshop was possible with support from an event grant from the National office.

South Australian Science Excellence Awards

Thanks to Lisa Bailey, RiAus for providing this information:

Calling members of the South Australian science and research community …

Do you know a recent PhD graduate with outstanding early-career achievement or a researcher with no more than five years workforce experience?  Or maybe a school or tertiary teacher who is making an outstanding contribution to student education and inspiring students to study further in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)?

In 2011, the South Australian Science Excellence Awards will be recognising outstanding achievement in the following categories:

  • South Australian Scientist of the Year
  • PhD Research Excellence

–          Health and Medical Sciences

–          Life or Environmental Sciences

–          Physical Sciences/Mathematics/Engineering

  • Early Career STEM Professional

–          Natural and Physical Sciences/Engineering/Mathematics

–          Health and Life Sciences

  • Early Career STEM Educator of the Year

–          School Teaching

–          Tertiary Teaching


The SA Scientist of the Year Award receives prize money of $20,000 with the remaining awards each receiving $5,000.

For further information, please visit www.scienceawards.sa.gov.au

Job Opportunities at RiAus

ASC members may be interested in the following opportunity…..

RiAus Employment Opportunities
1. Programs co-ordinator
2. Programs co-ordinator, youth and education
The Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus) –is a contemporary and accessible national home for science; a place for people to listen, talk, blog, download and think about science in all its shapes and forms – currently has vacancies for two positions within the programs team.
Passionate about engaging the public with science and technology, you will work on the development and delivery on a broad range of innovative science-communication activities for a variety of audiences.
Educated to degree level in a science-related subject and with relevant postgraduate qualifications and/or experience, your knowledge of and passion for science will make you an invaluable member of our small but vibrant Programs team.
Detailed job descriptions are available at http://www.riaus.org.au/science/about/job_opportunities.jsp

Please apply by 30 June 2011 (electronically or via hard copy) with a CV and covering letter to:
Lisa Bailey
PO Box 3652
Rundle Mall
Adelaide, SA 5000
Interviews will be conducted during the week of 4-8 July.

National Science Week (SA) Grants

National Science Week (SA) Grants

Thinking of holding an event in National Science Week?

Through the financial support of the Government of South Australia (via DFEEST), we are pleased to offer a number of small grants (upper limit of $2,000) to organisations who might need financial support to run an event in August in Science Week.
Applications close Friday 10 June 2011.

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