ASC Co-President’s Update, Jirana Boontanjai and Tom Carruthers

Welcome to 2022 and the January issue of SCOPE. For those lucky to have had a break, we hope it was a restful, safe and rejuvenating one. We did want to acknowledge the current economic and health crisis and that there will be many within our community who will be affected by the current situation in Australia. Our thoughts are with you, and invite you to reach out if there is anything we may be able to assist with during the year. We wish strength and perseverance to all the ASC community and particular endurance to those working on health or COVID-19 communications.

Looking forward, we’re both really excited for the year ahead and anticipating our first national committee meeting in the coming days. Local branches will be meeting soon as well. There’s progress already underway on forward planning for the year and we are considering a range of activities to support the membership. Expect to hear more soon about some rather valuable projects both at the local and national level via our channels for how you can get involved.

Finally, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the recent passing of Professor Mike Gore AO. Many within our community would know (and were even trained by) Mike. The monumental impact he has had in the science communication sector in Australia was inspirational and invaluable. His legacy lives on in the science circus, Questacon, the ANU and in the hearts of so many of his students and colleagues. We will be putting together a small tribute for Mike on behalf of the ASC in the coming days, so please keep an eye on our social channels for a call out should you wish to contribute.

Good luck and best of health for the year ahead.
T&J

ASC Co-President’s Update, Jirana Boontanjai and Tom Carruthers

Hello ASCers,

We’re excited for our first SCOPE newsletter as co-presidents! Jirana and I are grateful for the membership’s support in electing us into this role and are really keen to contribute back to the community at a national level.

We hope that you all found the recent symposium valuable. Personally, we both were inspired and impressed by the stories on the presenters’ research, practice and creativity. A huge thank you to the co-convenors who put together the program under Lisa’s direction.

We’d also like to formally thank Lisa who has led the ASC nationally over the last three years. Her contribution has provided the ASC resilience and much-needed stability during a very difficult time. Jirana and I are indebted to her for giving us a much easier starting point for our tenure as co-presidents. Thank you.

Looking toward 2022, the new executive will start regular meetings in late January or early February. Jirana and I are both very keen to capture ideas to develop the strategic direction for the association in a consultative manner. Get your thinking caps on over the break. We will be seeking input from the membership early in the new year.

All the best wishes over the new year period, and good luck with your communications,

Tom & Jirana

2021 ASC Online Symposium by David Harris and Jo Bailey

ASC’s online symposium this year had a Art and Design stream curated by David Harris and Jo Bailey and convened by David Harris.

The last session of the day (before David hosted ‘science cocktails’, which in a face-to-face situation may well have become their own ‘session’!) was titled ‘Mirofestos’: crowdsourcing ideas from highly-opinionated people. This online workshop used the digital whiteboard tool Miro. This platform is one that design lecturers (which David and Jo both are in their day jobs) have become accustomed to using to bring some of the activities of design studio culture (whiteboarding, critique, provocation/response, capturing visual iteration) online during pandemic ‘zoom teaching’. David and Jo felt that there was an opportunity to deploy this medium as a science communication tool for invested audiences, and wanted to see how it was taken up in the context of an online conference with very little ‘onboarding’ – just jump on and go! 

We used as a prompt a presentation that David gave at ASC2018 (when we were face-to-face in Sydney): his Against the Deficit Model: a Manifesto for Science Communication.

Download a PDF of the 2018 manifesto

The Against the Deficit Model manifesto, © David Harris, giffed by Jo Bailey

This was a deliberately provocative stance on some foundational issues for science communication. David stated:

You will get angry at some of these statements.
That’s ok. But I want you to think about why you are inflamed.
Is it because I’m wrong? Or is it because I’m right?

So what better way to channel that passion than via virtual post-it flame-wars and emoji-battles?!

What did we learn? Engagement was high, and activity was frenetic, as this fast-forward of the Zoom call screenshare shows:

The contributions were on the whole good natured banter even where the topics were on the contentious side. Amongst the scribbles and one-liners was some deep thinking and more expansive and reflexive commentary. We’ve not pulled out themes from the content yet, but it is available for you to browse: Check out the Miro board here: https://miro.com/app/board/o9J_ljLDIHg=/?invite_link_id=698639598886 

 One of the crowdsourced additional Miro frames on the things scicomm needs more and less of

Lisa Bailey: President’s Update November

It’s been three years that I’ve had the pleasure of chairing the executive for ASC as the current President, but for this AGM, I will be stepping down from my role to make way for someone new.  So nominations are open for the next President! 

If you are interested or know of someone who could be, please get in touch and let me know at president@asc.asn.au

I think there’s never been a better time to step into the role.  We’ll have just completed our first online national symposium, and the organisation is in the best financial position it’s ever been. I’ve found it to be so rewarding to be in contact with the huge variety of science communicators across Australia that make up ASC.  I’ve always wanted ASC to be an organisation to provide support and push us to better practise through knowledge sharing.  So if you’re passionate about the community here in Australia, I believe it’s a fabulous way to continue to build that.     

AGM
The Annual General Meeting will be 5.45pm on Thursday 18 November via zoom.  As part of the AGM there are positions vacant on the executive to fill including:
President
What is the role? Chair the national committee and executive.  Provide support and strategic direction in response to member needs. Promote and advocate for the organisation.
But what do you actually do?  Attend meetings of the National Committee (branch representatives from each state) and Executive.  Initiate and support programs of activity of ASC (lots of ways you can do that! Including convening project committees for particular tasks like webinars or conferences).
Treasurer
What is the role? The treasurer keeps correct accounts and books showing the financial affairs of the association with full details of all receipts and expenditure connected with the activities of the association
But what do you actually do?  Prepare budgets and finance update reports for meetings, manage capitation payments to states (there is a system in place for this). The treasurer is supported by the Executive Officer and professional bookkeeping and finance management software systems.   
Vice-President
This role is optional for the executive committee but is a great way to be introduced to the workings of the national organisation.


ASC Online 2021
Our national symposium will be held online from 17-19 November.  Full program details have now been announced, and registrations are still open. 
Program, click here.
Registration, click here. 

Notice for 2021 Annual General Meeting

Official notice of 2021 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 18 NOVEMBER 2021

The 2021 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 18 November 2021

Perth: 2:45pm

Darwin: 4:15pm

Brisbane: 4:45pm

Adelaide: 5:15pm

Sydney/Melb/Canberra/Hobart: 5:45pm

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

The current ASC President Lisa Bailey will be standing down from the President’s role.

Nominations for President:

Jirana Boontanjai and Tom Carruthers (nominating to act as co-Presidents together and share the position)

With Jirana as an education and engagement professional, and Tom as a communication strategist and technical advisor, they bring a wealth of expertise to the role from working in academia, government and the not-for-profit sectors. They recently reinvigorated Pint of Science as more than a science-in-the-pub event, but instead as a grass-roots program for EMCRs in sci comm and events management.

Camille Thomson

As a long time active member of the ASC, I feel I should take this opportunity to put my name forward and see how I can help shape the future of science communicators. I have had many roles being an educator and communicator myself as well as helping train early career scientists to communicate their work better. 

I’d love the opportunity to take on this important role

Nominations for Vice-President

Jen Martin

Hi, I’m Jen Martin, I founded and lead the Science Communication Teaching Program at Melbourne Uni. I joined ASC and attended my first conference back in 2010 and have been incredibly grateful to be part of this diverse and dynamic network ever since. I’ve contributed to ASC in a number of different ways over the years and was very privileged to be recognised as the Unsung Hero of Australian Science Communication for 2019. Now I’d like the opportunity to join the Executive and give back more to the organisation.

Johanna Howes

For those of you who haven’t met me at a past ASC conference, my name’s Joh Howes. After finishing up my PhD in Environmental Chemistry, I realised I liked talking about other people’s research and didn’t enjoy academia myself. So I joined the Science Circus in 2016 and have been working as a Science Communicator ever since. Right now I am one of three Experience Officers (content creators and managers) at Science Space in Wollongong. I spend most of my time training our incredible staff, writing shows and performing for online audiences in our Planetarium and Science Theatre.

I’ve been a part of ASC since 2017/2018 and have really enjoyed all of the networking opportunities. I would love to help out where I can on the committee and specifically speak up for those of us in more regional centres of the country. I’ve been serving as the NSW branch VP for the last 2 years and I’d like to continue learning about the organisation.

If you’ve got any questions, you can send me an email at jhowes@uow.edu.au

Nominations for Secretary

The existing secretary Michelle Redlinger has nominated to continue in the role for 2022.

Nominations for Treasurer

None received as of 15/11/21 

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) Monday 15 November 2021 and can be sent to president@asc.asn.au. Note that notices of motion require a proposer and a seconder.

Proxies

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 31 October 2021:

ASC Scope Interview: Jirana Boontanjai

Why did you choose to study science?

Whilst growing up, I hadn’t really thought of science as a career pathway, it was just my way of interacting with the world, asking ‘Why?’ whenever I could. I begged my parents for subscriptions to Australian Geographic, CSIRO’s Double Helix and Scientriffic magazines where I’d enter every competition I could to win ‘science’ toys. However, I remember the exact moment I realised that ‘maybe science is my ‘thing’?’. It was after my grade 6 graduation, where I received the Science Award. At my school, science was taught in a composite science/art class once a fortnight and it didn’t feel like science, it felt like art when compared to other subjects such as maths, which had its own allocated time daily. So to get an award for it, was surprising, and I must have really stood out as passionate about science. So from that point forward, I pursued science because someone told me I was good at it. When it came time to choose if I’d do a university degree, I was already drawn and immersed in science and doing better and more excited by the life sciences subjects so decided that I’d pursue that pathway. Having not grown up with any pets, I wanted to study zoology to become a Zookeeper, however my parents though I’d pigeonhole myself too early (they were soon to be right), so I compromised, and studied a double degree covering both Zoology and more broadly Biological Sciences.

Looking back now, what has been the best part of your career in SciComm?

Co-leading a team of volunteers to host Pint of Science across the nation for the last 4 years, where I’ve been recognised as an Emerging Leader by the Telstra Business Women’s Awards is probably my stand out. I know that this role has meant a lot to many in pursuing their careers, and personal development and it’s been great to be along for the journey to encourage and push them to success. This role has been a large part of my career and scicomm identity. I’ve learnt a lot, and grown a lot in the role, and having now handed it over to the next generation, there is a hole in my definition of self, that I’ll be working to fill once I answer, ‘What’s Next?’.  

Where has your career led you?

It’s interesting to think about career pathways. While teaching financial literacy and life skill lessons to school children, there was a workshop where we talked about career progression and how the skills we learn in one job can help us secure the next job, like using stepping stones, there are many pathways but you choose the direction. I always think back to this and think back to my career and the stones that I’ve stepped and side stepped to get to where I am now and to where I’m heading. The community that the Questacon Science Circus and ASC has developed has helped. My volunteer work with Pint of Science greatly shaped and opened doors to diverse job opportunities. I was able to use this to help gain skills that I couldn’t get in my paid roles and there have been jobs that I wouldn’t have gotten if it wasn’t for Pint of Science. I’ve been fortunate to work with some well-known organisations, and influential people through Questacon, Australian Academy of Science and the public service. I’ve still got a long way to go in my career, and I feel like my career is only starting.

What excites you most about your work?

As someone who is currently in-between jobs, and working in a field that I wouldn’t define as science communication, but rather education, I get excited by the behavioural changes of my audiences, whether that be them learning something, finding training valuable, or just the excitement of an opportunity to learn. I get excitement out of a successful event, or an event where my customer doesn’t realise something has gone wrong because to them it was flawless. I’m looking forward to my next science themed adventure with a few ideas that I’ve got brewing.

What advice do you have for anyone considering a career in SciComm?

Volunteer with Pint of Science? Haha! SciComm is a big field. Identifying what niche of scicomm you’re interested by is valuable. Is it written, journalism, TV, do you want to raise awareness or appreciation of science etc. This might be best achieved by trying out different opportunities, talking to others or volunteering so you can test it out for yourself. Across Australia there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer, you could help run national science week events or test out one of your own ideas, the World Science Festival in Brisbane, Fresh Science to name a few. Most importantly, think about how you can turn it into a viable paid career, or are you ok to continue volunteering your time just for fun? Keep in mind, that you might not get there tomorrow or the next day, a career is something you continuously work on, and continuously evolves as you learn more about yourself and the world.

What are some of the greatest challenges that you’ve overcome in your SciComm career? 

Balance. I don’t think I’ve overcome this yet, but it’s something I continuously work on. Balancing personal, work and career life. Do you keep them separate? Or do they overlap? How much overlap is too much overlap? Is it a conflict of interest or are you making use of your networks? I’ve been working to identify where my line is for doing scicomm as a career or as a hobby and probably like many at a similar stage in their career, it’s a hard choice, and presently I’m working through it to see where I end up and what I’m passionate about next.

Lisa Bailey: President’s Update October

ASC Online 2021
Join us November 17-19 to reconnect and recharge at ASC Online 2021.  We’ve created the most accessible and affordable way to connect with the science communication community across Australia as we explore research trends, best practices and more in our program.  Registrations are now open.

Call for Submissions are also now open- we’d love to hear from you! Submissions close 20 October.

Research Stream
The research stream will consist of a series of short (3-5 minute) Flash Talks. Submissions close Wednesday 20 October. Submissions will be reviewed for relevance and quality before acceptance.
 
Practice Stream
The stream will consist of a series of short (3-6 minute) Flash Talks. Submissions close Wednesday 20 October. Submissions will be reviewed for relevance and quality before acceptance.

Lisa Bailey: President’s Update September


My thoughts go out to all of you in lockdown out there (again) at the moment, as we slog on through this second year of pandemic life. It’s hard, and draining, and I hope you are all managing. 

In some brighter news, there is still a lot of ASC activity happening around the country, thanks to local branches (see some details below). Coming up in November we will also be running a shorter online symposium ASC ONLINE 2021 from November 17-19, we will release more information about the program and registration soon so keep an eye out for that. 
Meanwhile, it’s #scicommseptember over on the socials, where I’ve really enjoyed seeing people share their everyday scicomm experiences. If you want to join, press here.
 

“Trust the Science”

“Trust the Science”

Sounds like a good plan.  Trust is a shortcut for reliability, for credibility.  You wouldn’t trust someone who is constantly giving you bad info.   You wouldn’t trust some random unqualified person to re-wire your house or give you dental treatment.

So trust the science.

But being too trusting can leave us susceptible to misinformation and pseudoscience, as researchers recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology (I know, I know, How reliable are psychology studies anyway right?)

The study finds interesting, if perhaps not that unsurprising results that show that trusting the science is not enough to guard against misleading or false information. 

In the study, the research team recruited people to evaluate some made-up media articles – a new virus created as a bioweapon (sound familiar?)  and another on health effects of GMOs. 

Before evaluating the (fake) articles, the researchers either put people in a ‘Trust in science’ mindset, by asking them to list 3 examples of how science has benefited humanity,  or a ‘critical evaluation mindset’ by asking them to give examples where people needed to ‘think for themselves and not blindly trust what media or other sources tell them’.

They found that those with a higher trust in science were more likely to believe and spread false info that contained scientific references than false info without that veneer of science.  Priming people to critically evaluate claims reduces belief in false claims, but reminding people to trust in science does not.   The researchers concluded that  “trust in science, although desirable in many ways, makes people vulnerable to pseudoscience”. 

Trusting the science is not enough.

The researchers suggest that giving people a greater understanding of how the scientific process works (how study designs or peer review work for example)  and the motivation to be critical and curious may help give audiences the tools that need to sort reliable information from pseudoscience. 

Lisa Bailey: President’s Update May

HOLD THE DATE!  September 15-17 for ASC Online 2021.  While the impacts on travel and budgets mean that for many ASC members an in-person conference is not practical this year, we know that the opportunity to network, learn and share ideas with each other is one of the most valued parts of ASC.  So we’re looking to move online this year which will open up possibilities for participation for more people than ever.

So hold those dates (don’t worry, it won’t be 8-hour zoom calls each day!)  and watch for more information on how to participate, program details and more.