Inspiring Australia update: Grant round announced – Inspired to communicate science in Tasmania?

Inspired to communicate science in Tasmania? Here’s your chance to make it happen.

Was your New Years’ resolution for 2013 to make things happen? Here’s an opportunity to take those great ideas and turn them into reality.

If you have considered running an event, workshop, lecture, or film night (or any other fantastic type of event) which communicates science to the public, but just haven’t had the means to do it, then this announcement is for you.

Inspiring Australia together with the Tasmanian Government and the University of Tasmania has announced a grant round for Tasmania-based science engagement activities.

Here’s the notice from the Inspiring Australia Initiative here …

Events get a boost in Tasmanian Grant Round Announcement

As part of the Inspiring Australia national initiative, the Tasmanian government, in conjunction with University of Tasmania, has announced a grant round for Tasmania-based science engagement activities in 2013.

Grants of up to $2000 are available, and individuals, organisations and businesses are all invited to apply. Activities must be held in Tasmania during 2013.

Details available at or by contacting the inspiring Australia Officer for Tasmania, Sarah Bayne, at

Applications close 21 February 2013.

Please note: this grant round is administered by the Tasmanian Inspiring Australia Officer. All enquiries should be directed to Sarah Bayne at the address provided.

This Inspiring Australia initiative is supported by the Australian Government through the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education in partnership with the Australian Science Communicators.

National Science Week success

Thanks to Rona Sakko and Brian Haddy for their time in providing this round-up of events. 

National Science Week 2012 in South Australia was a big one this year. The biggest, according to the State Coordinator, Rona Sakko.

She was thrilled there were so many new events this year and that there was so much variety in the type of events. They ranged from the University of Adelaide’s inaugural Microscopy Open Day, to ancient DNA talks from the South Australian branch of the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society.  The CSIRO played a significant role again, and this year, the association with Questacon proved a huge success.

An all-encompassing emphasis across the State saw country communities encouraged to participate, with events in many regional areas.

Two of the major events for SA were the Science Alive event in Adelaide and the SciWorld Sunday event in Mount Gambier.

According to Brian Haddy, coordinator of these events and SciWorld General Manager, both had better than expected attendance. The Science Alive event saw an astonishing 20,000 people attend over just one weekend and 2,500 high school students during the week. Mount Gambier, for its small population had a turnout of over 3,000 people – incredible!

The Science Alive event in Adelaide is Australia’s largest science expo event and is realised through a partnership with Inspiring Australia and a new association with Questacon.

Sixteen circus stars from Questacon’s Science Circus performed shows every half hour. On the main stage there were plenty of shows including Chemistry, Native Animals and Magic shows. Professor Rob Morrison and Doctor Deane Hutton even reprised their roles in live ‘Curiosity Show’ performances.

The Mount Gambier event, SciWorld Sunday, was partly funded by a National Science Week grant and was supported by Uni SA and the City of Mount Gambier. It was held at the new main corner development and also offered a variety of attractions including Questacon, shows on native animals, robotic workshops, showcases of bugs and slugs and plenty of aquariums. The incredible attendance might have been aided by the TV advertisement produced and run 210 times by the local WIN TV station.

Well done to everyone who helped make all of these events a huge success.

Member Profile: Susan Kirk

Susan Kirk is a nationally published writer, with a degree in journalism and TAFE qualifications in horticulture.  She has written for many different publications but lately writes extensively for Rural Press publications including Good Fruit and Vegetables and Australian Horticulture.

She wrote a number of the Taste booklets (Global Food and Wine) which showcased Australian produce and producers and even did a stint as a restaurant critique. She loves growing, cooking and consuming food so over the years the interest in ornamental plants turned into an interest in food plants.

She has just recently started a herb nursery with her partner Bob on the Sunshine Coast hinterland, aptly named, Hinterland Herbs, concentrating on culinary and medicinal herb plants.

She is a member of the Media Alliance, Horticulture Media Association and is a member of and the Queensland web editor for the Australian Science Communicators.

Best Science Apps for iPhone/iPad:

Thanks to Joe Hanson for posting his best science apps for iphone / ipod – for the science and technology obsessed – enjoy!

Best Science Apps for iPhone/iPad:


–       NASA has a great free educational app where you can track spacecraft and learn about projects.

–       GoSkyWatch, which is inexplicably free for the iPad only version (and a very underpriced $3.99 for iPhone/iPad compatible version). Seriously, it will change your life. Point it at something, it tells you what it is. It even draws constellations and has a red low-light mode.


–       Molecules lets you input any Protein Data Bank or PubChem molecule identifier and then renders a 3-D version that you can rotate, zoom and space-fill. Must-have for molecular noodling on the fly.

–       The Elements is pretty pricey for an app at $13.99, but it’s bar none the best app for exploring the periodic table.

In The Lab:

–       Life Technologies has a useful app called DailyCalcs that will calculate solution concentrations, convert units, figure out dilutions and give you cell culture plating tips. Nothing you couldn’t look up or figure out on a paper towel, but nice to have it handy for free.

–       If you’re like me and you have to keep track of a lot of PDFs and research papers, I’m still torn on whether Mendeley or Papers is better. I use both, and I like both. One is free, of course.


–       WolframAlpha: There’s Wolfram reference support built into Siri, but the full app is like a math search engine/calculator/reference guide all in one. Very cool.

–       Skeptical Science will help you refute climate deniers right from your pocket!

[Extracted from Joe Hanson’s Blog: It’s Okay to Be Smart – post link here]

If you know of or use any great science apps, share it! (email: )


Member Profile: Past President and Life Member, Robyn Williams

Robyn Williams is a past president and life member of the ASC. He is a science journalist and presenter of Radio National’s Science Show (since 1975), Ockham’s Razor and In Conversation.

Robyn is as prominent on radio as he is on television, having narrated programs such as Nature of Australia, and Catalyst, and appeared on World Safari with David Attenborough.

He has conducted countless interviews with scientists for ABC TV and he hosted a link between leading scientists of Australia and the United Kingdom at the Grand Launch for the Royal Institution of Great Britain, attended by David Attenborough and the Queen.

Robyn Williams is highly respected in the academic world. In 1993 he was the first journalist elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. In 1988, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Science from the Universities of Sydney, Macquarie and Deakin. The ANU awarded him a Doctorate of Law, and he is a Visiting Professor at the University of NSW and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland.

He was appointed AM in the 1988 Australian Bicentenary Honours list. He was elected a National Living Treasure by the National Trust in 1987 and even has a star named after him by the Sydney Observatory. Robyn has served in various positions including President of the Australian Museum Trust, Deputy Chairman of the Commission For The Future, and President of The ANZAAS Congress. He is an Ambassador of the Queensland Museum Foundation.

Robyn Williams has written over 10 books, three of which are on the Higher School Certificate reading list. In 1994, Robyn Williams took up a Reuters Fellowship at Oxford University where he wrote his autobiography And Now For Something Completely Different, in deference to one of his most popular interviews with John Cleese on psychiatry. His book, Future Perfect, focuses on cities, transport, communication, education and science.

Although Robyn Williams graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in England, he admits to having spent as much time acting as he has studying. Early in his career he made guest appearances in The Goodies, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Dr Who and stood in for Tom Jones for four months in his TV series.

Next week Robyn celebrates 40 years since joining the ABC Science Unit.

See Robyn address the ASC National Conference on Monday 27 February.

Life Member Profile: Barbara Hardy AO

Barbara Hardy has been working in the environment field in a voluntary capacity since the early 1970s.   During this time she spent five years at the Flinders University of South Australia studying the Earth Sciences (1974-79), following a Science Degree at The University of Adelaide in 1947 (majoring in Chemistry).

She has been a Commissioner of the Australian Heritage Commission, President of the National Parks Foundation of South Australia (now the Nature Foundation SA), Founding President of the Investigator Science and Technology Centre, and Chairman of the South Australian Landcare Committee amongst a number of other roles.

Barbara Hardy was appointed an Officer of the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1987, an Honorary Doctorate of the Flinders University in 1993, as well as an Advance Australia Award 1991, SA Great Award 1992, Institution of Engineers Medal 1992, ABC Eureka Award for the Advancement of Science 1994, and was named South Australian Citizen of the Year in 1996.  She is now a Companion of the Institution of Engineers Australia, and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Energy where she is a member of the Hydrogen Division.

In October 2001 she was appointed as the Member from Australia in the Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED), a major international project initiated and funded by the Japanese Ministry for Environment.   APFED “aims to propose a model of equitable and sustainable development for Asia and the Pacific Region”.  Barbara has now stood down as the APFED Member from Australia, as of July 2006, and her place was taken by Greg Bourne, CEO of WWF Australia.

In August 2009 the University of Adelaide presented Barbara with a Distinguished Alumni Award “in recognition of her lifelong commitment, and significant contribution to the advancement of Science Education, Science Awareness, and Environmental Conservation”.

In November 2009. The University of South Australia established the Barbara Hardy Centre for Sustainable Urban Environments.   This organization later became an Institute.

In April 2010 the University of Adelaide admitted Barbara to the Degree of Doctor of the University (honoris causa).

Barbara Hardy’s principal interests are in ecologically sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, environmental valuation, renewable energy production and use, and in business and industrial matters especially as they affect the environment within which we all live.

Member Profile: Chris Krishna-Pillay

Chris Krishna-Pillay is one of Australia’s most prominent science communicators and performers. His writing and performing credits include, Howard Florey – a Tale of Tall PoppiesSomniumPre-CoitalDante’s Laboratory and the Great Big Science Gig. He recently directed Faraday’s Candle for re-science.

Chris has performed across Australia, as well as in the UK, New Zealand and Japan. Recent engagements have been with BHP Billiton, Bunnings, ABC, Siemens, State Library of Victoria and CSIRO. Chris has experience in television, drama, musicals, stand-up comedy and radio (an extensive listing of performances is available on request).

Chris was science consultant for children’s television series Wicked Science (Network Ten), and has appeared on television on TodayScope and Totally Wild. He is also a regular guest on popular radio programEinstein A Go Go (Triple R radio).

Chris has worked for CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation – Australia’s national science and technology organisation) for more than 17 years and is Victorian Manager of CSIRO Education (note that the opinions expressed on this website are Chris’ own and not those of CSIRO (or anyone else). Chris is Secretary of the National Science Week Victorian Coordinating Committee and is a member of the Victorian Science Drama Awards Committee. He is a member of the Australian Science Communicators and has presented at education and performance conferences in Australia, the UK, the US, South Africa, Japan and New Zealand.

Please note opinions expressed on this website are Chris’ own and not those of CSIRO.

Past President and Life Member Profile: Toss Gascoigne

Toss Gascoigne has been part of ASC since it began in 1994.

He helped convene the historic first meeting at the National Press Club in February that year.  The leading lights in science communication met to discuss the formation of a new national association to provide a forum for science communicators.

Alison Leigh, the executive Producer of Quantum chaired the meeting, and the biggest debate was over membership.  Should membership be limited to science writers and journalists, or to anyone with an interest in the area and willing to pay the membership fee?

The latter view prevailed.  Julian Cribb was elected chair of a small committee to turn an idea into reality, and within a few months 375 people had signed on as Foundation Members at a cost of $25.  This gave the committee the impetus to draw up a draft constitution, put it to an inaugural general meeting in the course of the 1994 ANZAAS Conference in Geelong, and see the election of the first national executive.

The meeting approved, the constitution was endorsed, and Julian was elected President.  Toss became secretary.

That began a continuous ten year period on the ASC Executive, culminating in Toss being elected President in 2003-04.  It was a time of vigorous debates, teething problems and drama: the time when the part-time secretariat absconded with all ASC funds (they were paid back the next week, a brown paper bag of one thousand $10 notes).  Toss was elected a Life Member at the AGM in 2004.

Over this period he had worked for CSIRO, both on the Black Mountain site in the Pye Laboratory and in the national headquarters in the media unit.  He took over the position of scientific editor from Will Steffen, of climate change fame.

In 1995 he was invited to take up the position of Executive Director of FASTS, a struggling science lobby group founded in 1985 on the back of Barry Jones’ judgment of scientists.  They’re wimps, Barry declared, and if they don’t develop some backbone, scientists will never get a decent budgetary allocation.

FASTS pulled back from the brink, achieved stability, and later blossomed when “Science meets Parliament” was adopted in 1999.  Toss organised this event, and brought 160 scientists into Canberra for one-on-one meetings with members of Federal Parliament.  The event was a political and financial success, and was adopted as an annual event.  It won a Eureka Prize and an assured future for FASTS.

In 2004 Toss moved on.  He was instrumental in the establishment of a similar lobby group for the humanities, arts and social sciences (CHASS), and held the position as inaugural Executive Director for nearly five years.

There were other strands in his work as well: with Jenni Metcalfe he conceived and organised training workshops in media and presentation skills for scientists, and has run about 800 of these across Australia.  That’s about 8000 scientists with a new appreciation of what’s required to communicate.

Toss has also been involved in the international science communication scene, as a member of the scientific committee of the PCST Network (Public Communication of Science and Technology) since 1996.  He has encouraged many Australians to attend the biennial conferences (next one in Florence in April 2012), and was elected inaugural President in 2006.

Now he has stepped down from a fulltime job, and works on a consultancy basis with CRCs, government departments and academic groups on a variety of projects: reviews, events, strategic planning, writing articles and scripts.  There’s been a growing demand from international groups for the workshops he and Jenni Metcalfe devised, and in the next few months they will be running workshops in the Philippines, Thailand and New Caledonia.

Two books are in the pipeline.  Toss is editing a book on science communication in the countries of the Asia-Pacific Rim, and co-writing a chapter on the emergence of research on science communication in Australia, for an international review to be published by Springer.

It all began with CSIRO and ASC, nearly 20 years ago; and Toss is very grateful for the friends and the partnerships that ASC has provided.

(This is another new section we are trialing for SCOPE. It aims to put a spotlight on the people who have historically contributed to what ASC is today. We want to celebrate service to the organisation and introduce new members to these key people.)

Canberra meetup of the Science and Factual Filmmakers Network – Tonight!

*Event Tonight in Canberra*

Friday 28th October, 4.30-6.00 PM

Interested in making science films? Come along tonight to join the network, swap tips and hear about some exciting new projects on the boil.

We’ll be checking out a selection of top Scinema entries and getting a sneak peek at footage from The Long Conversation, a science communication project shot in the communities of the Murray Darling Basin. There are 15 minute slots available if you’d like to present your ideas or work, so come along and pitch a film concept, show off your latest cut, ask for help and contacts or just sit back and listen in.
When: Friday 28th October, 4.30-6.00pm
Venue: ANU, Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, Physics Link Building 38A, Green Couch Room

RSVP by email to or SMS to 0415032701

Bobby Cerini
Consultant in Science Communication & PhD Candidate

The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS)
A Centre for the National Commission of UNESCO

The Australian National University
Building 38A – Physics Link
Canberra, ACT 0200
CRICOS provider 00120C

Telephone: 0415 032 701
Email: <>


National Science Week Feedback Event – Adelaide

Do you want to have a say about National Science Week in South Australia? Do you have feedback or suggestions from this year or a great idea for 2012 and beyond? Are you keen to meet others involved in science-related outreach? You are invited to a Planning Session on Monday 31 October at RiAus (The Science Exchange, off Pirie St, City) from 1.00pm to 4.30pm.

Everyone is welcome to attend this session where we will be looking at ideas for the future direction of National Science Week in SA. These ideas will then be considered by our Coordinating Committee at a meeting in November, and a Strategic Plan set in place.

Some of the topics to be discussed include:

  • What does your organisation want to get out of National Science Week?
  • How can National Science Week be used to support and develop programs throughout the year?
  • What outcomes from National Science Week should we be measuring?
  • Who currently participates in National Science Week and how can we encourage more individuals and organisations to be involved?

Can’t attend in person? You can contribute to digital discussions by signing up to and going to the dedicated National Science Week forum at:

If you can join us on the day, please RSVP to Rona:

Rona Sakko
On behalf of SA National Science Week Coordinating Committee

Note – National Science Week is planning for the 2012 National Science Week grant round to be open for applications from 7 to 28 November 2011.