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

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.



Dr Tullio Rossi

Personal website

Twitter: @Tullio_Rossi


Animate Your 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



Lisa Bailey: President’s Update March

I have a group chat with a group of friends from high school that’s not always super active, but this week was a flurry of excitement as a couple of my mates got their first COVID vaccinations.  Even when you’re a health professional, you can still feel nervous if you’re one of the first people in Australia to get it.

Aussies generally have high trust in vaccines, although there is some hesitancy around the COVID vaccines.

Mistrust of vaccines, no matter how unfounded, causes an increased perceived risk of vaccination.   Recovery of public confidence in vaccines takes time.  And the speed of the rollout is what we’re aiming for – the Australian government has stated their ambitious but achievable goal of delivering 45 million vaccine doses by the end of October this year.


So how much information does the public need in order to trust the system that provides vaccines?   And how much is too much?

These are the exact research questions that our next guest in our webinar series, Dr Kate Attwell, will be answering.


A political scientist, Dr Attwell is interested in the intersection of policy, identity, attitudes and behaviour as they pertain to health consumers, healthcare providers and governments. She leads the large interdisciplinary research project “Coronavax: Preparing Community and Government” with colleagues from UWA and Telethon Kids Institute.

Join us online on Wednesday 17 March at 7.30pm AEDST and register via this link

Request to participate in Australian National University social research project

Hi there!

My name is Nic Badullovich and I’m a PhD student at the Australian National University in Canberra.

I am completing my PhD at the Crawford School of Public Policy and am conducting research on the communication of climate change in Australia. I am hoping to speak with Australian-based climate change communicators as part of one of my PhD studies.

I am hoping to speak with communicators in Government, non-profit organisations, universities, and other relevant areas. If communicating climate change makes up a core part of your job, then it would be great to talk with you and learn from you. While communicating climate change can happen in many forms and at many levels, this study is seeking people that do this as a primary function of their current job. The discussion would be recorded so that I do not forgot what we discuss, and any personal information you provide will be made anonymous, meaning that no one else will know that you participated in the project. That means this will be a strictly confidential discussion. I’ll share the insight from our discussion as part of my PhD, but I will not say who was involved – this project has also been approved by the ANU Human Ethics board.

I hope the discussion would be enjoyable, and the intention would be able to help me answer a few questions that I have guiding my research, as well as capture the experience of real communicators. I will ask questions like “what are your experiences in communicating climate change” and “is communicating climate change different to others?”.

An information sheet can also be sent to you which provides more detailed information on the project. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with me at (

Finally, if you know of someone who might be interested, please feel free to forward this information onto them if you feel comfortable to do so.

Thank you for your consideration and I hope to meet you in the future!


Nic Badullovich

PhD candidate

Resources, Environment & Development (RE&D) Group

Crawford School of Public Policy

The Australian National University

Lisa Bailey: President’s Update February

Hello everyone, I hope that your 2021 has gotten off to a good start.  There’s a lot to look forward to, and it isn’t just that 2020 is behind us…

In terms of science communication, things to look forward to – there will be new organisations entering the public engagement space with the likes of the Australian Space Agency launching the new Space Discovery Centre in Adelaide, there will be the enormous challenge of clear and convincing communication to ensure a safe and speedy COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, and there will be some way that we will bring the ASC community together online this year in the absence of a physical conference.  If you’re keen to come on board to shape and guide an online symposium, please reach out at

Thank you.