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

Featured

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.

Lisa Bailey: President’s Update April

Late in 2020, I zoomed in to the World Congress on Science Literacy on behalf of ASC, where I was among dozens of international guests invited to share a 2-minute flash update on the theme of the Interaction of science communication and social governance in light of the pandemic year.  It was a fascinating insight into how SciComm and public health had done in light of this huge challenge.  My short contribution reflected on the SciComm lessons learned and re-inforced during 2020:

  • Ensuring your message is reaching the full diverse audience in all the languages needed – very important in a multicultural society like Australia.
  • The messenger is as important as the message – who is doing communication, are the best people being given the platform to share their expertise?
  • The value of trusted media sources, such as the ABC in Australia who performed an extraordinary job to share up to date factual information across many platforms.
  • Repetition repetition repetition – one message will always miss someone, and so you need to repeat it again and again.
  • Transparency of data, and how that data is being used to inform decision making.
  • The value of leadership.
  • And that it’s very important to communicate the uncertainties and limits of our knowledge, especially where the science is constantly evolving as we learned more about the virus over the year.

 

There are also some key things that we’ve learned from this crisis that can be applied to other crises we face like dealing with climate change.  We’ve learned that:

  • Delay is costly.  Time is the one resource that you never get back.
  • Whatever policies we put in place need to take human behaviour and our inherent biases into account.
  • The problems of inequality are magnified without timely effective action.
  • Global problems require global solutions and international cooperation across many levels.

More recently I sat on another zoom ca for the committee for the World Organisation for Science Literacy – a project championed by the Chinese Association for Science and Technology to foster international co-operation and knowledge sharing around science communication.  This group will be focussing on a number of activities in 2021 including:

  • Science Literacy Research Group
  • Resource Sharing
  • Activity and training (particularly for young people)

I will continue to sit on this committee on behalf of ASC, with a particular interest in the Science Literacy Research area, but if you are interested to know more about this, please get in touch with me at president@asc.asn.au

ASC Scope Interview: Dr Tullio Rossi, Director of Animate Your Science

Why did you choose to study science?

When I was 15, I learned how to scuba dive and I had a transformative experience during my first ever night dive. After descending into the spooky black waters, the guide gave me a signal to turn off my flashlight and wave my hands. So I did, and magic happened. The water started to glow. It was like floating in the middle of the Milky Way, but with the ability to play with the stars that surrounded me. The best part: it wasn’t magic! Rather, a well-known biological phenomenon called bioluminescence. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever witnessed in my life, and I was hooked. I was set to become a marine biologist.

 

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

During my PhD, I discovered how climate change affects fish and I wanted to make the public aware of my important findings. It was a matter of food security, after all. But how do you reach the public in this info-glutted world? Certainly not with peer-reviewed papers. That’s what pushed me to skill up in SciComm and produce my first ever animation. The success of this blew me away. All of a sudden, thousands of people from all around the world were learning about my research! I also racked up 3 awards in science communication along the way, but the best part was receiving messages from strangers saying “thank you for doing what you are doing”. Until that moment nobody had ever thanked me for my hard work… it felt amazing and this feedback accelerated my motivation. I realised that the world is not made exclusively of climate change deniers: there are nice people out there who value science and appreciate seeing researchers put in the effort to explain their work in an accessible way.  I treasure this experience because of how rewarding it was, and because it laid the foundations for my career in SciComm.

 

Where has your career led you?

When presenting my animation and other outreach work at a scientific conference, I noticed a lot of interest. Various researchers said things like: “I really like what you did”, “I wished I could do the same… I just don’t know how to do it”, “I don’t have the time”. This made me realise that I could help these researchers and maybe, just maybe, even make a business out of it. So after handing in my PhD thesis I decided to give up on the academic career and get an ABN instead. What followed were some of the hardest but also most rewarding years of my life: an insane roller coaster of hard work, extreme highs and lows and a lot of rejections. But I pushed through and now I am proud to say that my baby Animate Your Science is thriving and has clients on 5 continents, including Antarctica! Yes, we are lucky to work with the coolest client of all — The Australian Antarctic Division (pun intended)!

 

What excites you most about your work?

At Animate Your Science we help some of the most brilliant researchers on the planet have an impact: this is what’s most exciting and inspiring. In doing so, we learn about the latest research in all sorts of disciplines, which keeps our work fresh and always interesting. One day we work on explaining new cancer treatments and the next we work on the hunting behaviour of electric eels. The work is delightfully diverse, yet always meaningful.

 

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

When I look back, I can boil down my career in SciComm to the moment when I told myself “sit down and make this first video. Just do it”. If I didn’t make that decision and acted on it, I would not be where I am today. So my advice for anyone considering a career in SciComm is to find your creative tools, make something and put it out there. Depending on your skills and interests it could be a blog, illustrations, animations, web design, graphic recording, whatever. Just do it. The important thing is that you create something and share it with the world. This will be unique to you and set you apart from other job seekers, who don’t have anything to show other than their degree.

 

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

The greatest challenge of all was getting traction in the first year in business and convincing myself that I wasn’t delusional. Starting a business is a battle with the market as much as it is an internal battle with your self-doubt. So many times I questioned my choices and just wished I had a “normal” job and a steady income. Luckily, I believed in my mission, vision and values and through perseverance, dedication and hard work, Animate Your Science eventually gained momentum and things got rolling. The ultimate validation came when I received an award at the Springer Nature Launchpad Meetup in Berlin. Seeing that this top scholarly publisher understood and valued my idea finally erased my self-doubt for good. The morning after the event, when I processed the magnitude of what just happened, I cried with joy.

 

Contacts

Dr Tullio Rossi

contact@tulliorossi.com

Personal website

Twitter: @Tullio_Rossi

 

Animate Your Science

contact@animateyour.science

Twitter: @Animate_Science

 

ASC Scope Interview: Wesley Ward, Founder of The Comms Doctor

Why did you choose to study science?

All my life I have been a science ‘nerd’ wandering in the bush. As a child and a teenager, I was especially interested in life sciences and applied biology and chemistry – I just didn’t know what those words meant. For me, agriculture was a natural extension of these sciences, especially as I also liked to be ‘outside’ and to use my hands. And because I had no assets to fall back onto, getting a teacher’s scholarship to do agricultural teaching was the best way for me to get into agriculture and a career in science.

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

Definitely meeting new people and getting fresh ideas, in science and communication. Learning about email, the Internet and Content Management Systems were (at the time) great fun and very stimulating, especially when you floated challenging ideas and suggestions with managers and directors. That was when I learned most about how to manage people!

Where has your career led you?

From high school I started my first university degree in agriculture teaching at UNE at Armidale, and finished it in 1980. I was lucky enough to land a teaching job in Western Australia in what is arguably the best agricultural education system for senior high school students in Australia. It was a blast living all over southern WA in the 1980s – it was a growing place!

I was first exposed to #scicomms soon after starting teaching – let’s face it, you need to communicate to teach. I was working with media from the early stages of my teaching career, especially as I started to climb the Education Department ‘pecking order’. One of my early challenges was to teach ‘computers in ag’ in the early years of Commodores and Apples. I had to build the course from scratch (it was 1983), and learn how to run them at the same time! I have been looking at screens ever since while adding ‘IT repairs and maintenance’ to my skillset.

Then seven years living in the Pacific Islands widened my experience in communicating across cultures, languages and economic boundaries. In this time, I had two regional jobs: firstly in agricultural extension, then environmental communication. Here I developed a keen sense for networking and talking in various face-to-face and online forums, as this is the way you do business in the Pacific. During this time, I came across satellite radio, ‘electronic mail’ and this mystical ‘Internet’ thing (it was the early 90s).

On returning to Australia, I settled with my growing family into a (sort of) sedentary life in the media team of a local university in regional Australia. This posed a number of communication challenges as I worked in a dispersed team for the next 30 years: the closest my boss ever got to me was 150km, and we met in person once a year at the most! I wrote and promoted hundreds of research stories, particularly around science and education, with the help of this ‘Internet’ thingyme. I built and maintained the university’s first news website, and I finished a Masters and a PhD part-time.

What excites you most about your work?

The stimulation and search for new ideas are still there, and this is no better time. In the past 18 months, I have thoroughly enjoyed my change in work direction, establishing my home-based business as The Comms Doctor. I now pick the #scicomms jobs I want to do, usually based on the ‘fun factor’, and I also do some social research on collaborating in teams, which also is high in ‘fun’.

The pandemic has just focussed me a little more on what I can do online from home. My big challenge last year was to teach how to do social research online, including class exercises using Zoom and agriculture students doing interviews with each other from the middle of rural Australia at harvest time.

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

Be prepared to change and learn – constantly. Don’t get set in your ways, and be open to challenges and fresh ideas. One of the best conversations in my professional life was winding my way up the Mekong River to the Angkor Wat in Cambodia – I chatted for 4 hours with a wise 74-year-old man on the roof of an ancient Rhine tourist ferry about life working overseas and across cultures. He was an incredible, enthusiastic, inquisitive, worldly person who gave me some incredible insights into and stories about communication – and he was someone I just met on the boat …

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

I think maintaining relations with team colleagues over 1000s of kilometres is an incredible challenge, particularly if your organisation believes you can do everything ‘online’, and so you don’t need to meet face-to-face. You need to build trust and relationships to have good communication, and I believe you can’t do that – especially when you need to work as a close work team – until you meet face-to-face.

Now that is a challenge during a pandemic, but I believe a little creative thinking, flexibility, patience and ability to see and take opportunities can overcome these challenges.

 

Wes Ward

The Comms Doctor® and

Adjunct research fellow with CSU’s Institute for Land, Water and Society