President’s Update

Thank you to Joan Leach for the President’s Update.

Save the date! 11 March 2016

I’m very pleased to announce that the next ASC conference will be in Brisbane in March 2016. We have tried to tie in our next meeting with the World Festival of Science so that our members who are involved can make their travel dollars go further. Also, we hope that as the WFS announces its program ASC members might satisfy their curiosity at the festival and enjoy networking time with ASC members as well. Our venue and program will be announced shortly. But, circle that date and plan to be in Brisbane. We’re going to organise the 2016 conference into one packed day for ASC and break out events during the World Festival of Science. More news coming…

Issues for AGM?

ASC is gearing up for its AGM and a SGM to consider the ASC constitution. If you have any queries you would like to put to me personally, please do so at I’m also very interested to hear about colleagues who would like to join the executive of ASC so please get in touch if you’d like to get more involved.

Volunteer for Pint of Science!

Thanks Emma Ceccato for this opportunity!

Are you interested in sharing science with the public?

Do you enjoy relaxing with friends at the pub?

If the answer to both is YES, then Pint of Science Australia is for you!

Pint of Science is an international festival that aims to showcase the amazing research of local scientists to the general public in the relaxed venue of the local pub. In 2015, the Pint of Science Australia festival expanded to include Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane, hosting fantastic events over 3 nights.

For 2016 – we want to expand even more to include more themes and even more cities across Australia – and we need you!

Events in 2016 will take place from 23-25 May, and will incorporate the following themes: Beautiful Mind (neurosciences), Atoms to Galaxies (physics, chemistry) Our Body (life sciences) Planet Earth (geosciences) and Tech Me Out (engineering, computer science).

We are looking for volunteers for various roles: city coordinators, team coordinators, social media reps and fundraisers. Each team will source out a venue, speakers and activities for the night.

This is an incredible opportunity to be a part of our ever growing festival so if you are interested in getting involved, please register your interest here or email with what you’re keen to do, tell us a little bit about yourself and how we can best reach you.

ASC online shop

Thanks to George Aranda for the story behind the new ASC shop!

In October the ASC-Victoria organised an event for The Martian. To celebrate this event I asked James Hutson how he felt about putting together a t-shirt, around the great line in the film “I’m going to have to SCIENCE the shit out of this.” Unbeknownst to me, James had been involved in discussions with a previous incarnation of the ASC exec years ago, about the idea of putting together an online shop with all sorts of ASC merchandise. Chatting to the current ASC executive, they were all very keen to revisit the idea of an ASC shop, and the feedback from the ASC community on Facebook has been great. There have been a handful of sales, include several requests to increase or reduce the level of swearing on this first t-shirt.
Hopefully we can come up with more ideas for t-shirts and other items that can fill the ASC shop!
George Aranda wearing a T-shirt from the ASC online shop

George Aranda wearing a T-shirt from the ASC online shop

Event review: The Laborastory

Thanks to George Aranda for the event review!

“I had the good fortune of being part of a special edition of “The Laborastory” for National Science Week. The organisers of this local monthly staple of science storytelling stepped up and convened the event at St Michael’s Uniting Church in Melbourne’s CBD. Some 600 people turned up on the wintery evening to listen to science communicators such as myself, Chris Lassig, Katie Mack, Clare Hampson, and Teresa MacDonald. We talked about some of our favourite scientists in front of the church’s massive pipe organ, with projection artwork and a science choir (The Gaussian Ensemble). Great to be part of such a creative night of science communication, which was recorded, and the audio can be found at and video on Youtube.”

The Laborastroy, at St Michael’s Uniting Church in Melbourne’s CBD.

The Laborastroy, at St Michael’s Uniting Church in Melbourne’s CBD.

Some 600 people attended the event.

Some 600 people attended the event.


President’s Update

Thank you to Joan Leach for the President’s Update.

Award Season

Award season is well and truly underway—I was very pleased to be invited to the Eureka awards this year.  Citizen science, quality long-form science journalism, and generally good science communication all got a shout out at the awards.  Next up, the Premier’s Prizes for Science.  While I’d like to see a named ‘science communication’ award in the mix, it is rewarding to hear quality science communication touted as a basic component to award-winning science.  And, yes, the Nobel prizes are also being revealed and with that perhaps there is an uptick in public recognition of science.  For an alternate take on how big prizes for science might backfire, I recommend this article  It re-ignites the age old argument that science progresses ‘on the shoulders of giants’ and, more than ever, is a collaborative enterprise.  Awards for a few, the author contends, are unjust given the hundreds of small discoveries that go into making a big one.

Strategic Planning and AGM

The ASC Executive and members of the National Council are going to huddle in Canberra in November to make sure the ASC constitution is compliant with the rules for organisations, check in on our finances, and set some goals for the next few years.  This will happen right before the AGM—we’ll be announcing that formally soon—but it looks like 18 and 19 November in Canberra. If you would like to put something on the agenda for the meeting, please let me know.

Event review: Pre National Science Week Mixer

Thanks to Bonnie Murphy for the event review!

“ASC Victoria kicked off the 2015 Pre National Science Week Mixer at Markov on August 13th, this time joined by international guest Yvette d’Entremont, aka SciBabe.

With over 50 attendees the mixer was a hit yet again. National Science Week event holders were given the opportunity to promote their events with a short and sweet 2 minute presentation, flyers and brochures as well as posting their shows on the timeline wall.

Representatives from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Mt. Stromlo Observatory, Laneway Learning, 3CR community radio and many more filled the room with conversations and enthusiasm for the upcoming science week.

While everyone munched on crispy wedges and sipped their drinks, ASC Vic president George Aranda started off the presentations with introductions. We were honoured to have in our presence Yvette d’Entremont (SciBabe) who joined science week taking arms against the likes of anti-vaxxers, homeopathic cures and food additive alarmist.

Raffle door prizes on the night included show tickets, books, NatSciWk coffee mugs and more. Thanks to several generous event holders and Science in Public, nearly everyone was lucky enough to walk out with goodies including tickets to events like New Scientist: Mysteries of Matter, Blinky Bill movie screenings and Dr Karl’s most recent books.

The event was of a success- a night of networking, entertainment, learning and fun. It was inspirational to see the members of ASC Vic community and event holders active and interactive! “

Happy punters enjoying the event - R to L George Aranda, Claire Farrugia, and SciBabe and friend.

Happy punters enjoying the event – R to L George Aranda, Claire Farrugia, and SciBabe and friend.


Position vacant: Scope 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 450 + professional science and technology communicators across Australia and overseas.

The current Editor, Victoria Leitch, is resigning due to competing commitments, so ASC is looking for a new Editor (or two co-editors) effective from the August 2015 issue. Victoria 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 executive 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 first Wednesday 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 a team of volunteer contributors to gather and create newsletter stories/content
  • Liaising with the webmaster, executive 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
  • 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 Friday 28 August 2015 for the attention of Kali Madden (ASC Executive Officer) at:

President’s Update

Thanks to Joan Leach for the President’s Update.

ASC sending members to the Freelance Focus Conference—follow them on twitter!

ASC members attended the Walkley Freelance Focus conference on the 5th and 6th of August. The program was stellar. We asked Daniel Oldfield, Ian McDonald, and Tara Roberson to tweet from the event and write up their ‘top freelance tips’ from the conference — you can find them below in this issue of Scope. In the meantime, check out #FreelanceFocus and you may want to follow ASCers below to hear more:


We’re also keen to hear about other events nationally where we can send ASC members to build their skills and bring back tips for the rest of us. We were able to give tickets to ASCers in the ACT, in Melbourne, and in Brisbane for this Walkley conference. Let us know if there is something going on relevant to ASC in your part of the country!

Our colleagues at AMWA (Australasian Medical Writers Association) are busy getting ready for their 32nd annual conference in Brisbane—I note more than one ASC member on the program. Check it out here:

ASC responds to STEM discussion paper

At the end of June, the Commonwealth Government put out a consultation paper “Vision for a Science Nation” that responded to the Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb. ASC has welcomed these developments as the consultation paper goes some way to valuing the work that science communication and engagement does toward a “science nation.” Our response highlights the following issues:

  • ASC supports a national strategy that integrates science communication and engagement skills into STEM education
  • ASC is a willing future partner in Inspiring Australia for a national strategy of STEM engagement
  • ASC members are active contributors and potential partners in Australia’s cultural diplomacy efforts. Our view of science communication in Australia is a global view.
  • ASC promotes science communication as a bedrock skill for commercialisation

I’ll keep ASC up to date with this process as it unfolds.

On the cover of Facebook.

Thanks to Dustin Welbourne for the Facebook update!

The ASC Facebook group appears to be growing at a relatively steady rate with now > 1300 members. There is a core group of 20–50 people that regularly post material and engage in conversations. A special thank you needs to go out to James Hutson who did up an appropriate banner for the page.

The posts are a good mix of science communication related news, science or science communication science events, and job postings or opportunities for science communicators.

We are also using the Files function on the page to create content lists. These lists so far include Science Games, Podcasts, and Blogs and Vlogs.

There are some things we would like to see more of. Having members post photos and give a 200 word snippet of events would be great. Not all people that use social media use all platforms of social media. Thus, having these stories would raise awareness and interest in those events.


Sydney’s first citywide Science Festival

Thanks to Jackie Randles for the event overview.

Sydney’s science community is collaborating for National Science Week this year and for the first time, presenting a united front under the banner of the Sydney Science Festival. Coordinated by Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the Festival’s official NSW National Science Week launch event last Thursday evening at the Powerhouse Museum attracted around 2000 people to MAASive Lates: Science. This free, over 18s science-themed party offered a cold fusion of performances, opportunities to speed meet a scientist and hands-on activities.

With a fantastic line up of around 80 events across 40 venues, the Festival program features some of the world’s leading names in science like astrophysics’ pop hero Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson, space tweeting and singing astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield, and Stanford University’s own genetic guru Professor Kelly Ormond. Dozens of local experts are on the bill with a number of high profile partners joining the celebrations to cohost events including The Sydney Morning Herald, Intel and Google.

The NSW Executive Committee for Inspiring Australia and National Science Week has been working to encourage this level of collaboration for several years so it goes without saying that its members are thrilled with the initial results. It’s been a remarkable effort on both the part of the hard working Festival team at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences and all of the presenting partners to turn on this high quality program so quickly. Initial interest from audiences and media alike shows that our combined efforts are amplifying the community engagement results for National Science Week across Sydney, and I’ll be really interested to see how we track against last year’s results. Our hope is that in time, we can achieve the same level of recognition and participation for science as other prominent Festivals do for film, books and the arts – all popular, highly visible celebrations that add to Sydney’s appeal and cultural capital.

At the Festival’s conclusion there will be a high level meeting at which a wide group of senior leaders will be invited to share their views about the Festival’s future directions. At a time when outreach spending by universities typically has a strong connection to research funding and student recruitment, and when cultural institutions are increasingly dependent on strong revenue streams, negotiating outcomes that are beneficial to all is complex. But the benefits of collaborating as a group of science leaders far outweighs the costs and the time is ripe for us to work together to promote the importance of science investment for Australia’s economic and social wellbeing – not just now but into the future. Have a fantastic National Science Week everyone and I hope that you can get along to lots of events.

Follow Sydney Science Festival on:


Twitter:          @SydScienceFest



Event:             Sydney Science Festival

Dates:              13 – 23 August, 2015