2023 conference tickets now available

Tickets for the 2023 February conference are now available on the membership website. Now’s the time to grab that early bird ticket – they automatically run out on 31 December.

Keep an eye out for the abstract submission form in the coming days. There will a range of talk, panel, workshop and other engagement options. Note that for an abstract to be considered for the program, the presenters will need to have a valid, full program conference ticket.

For more details, head to the event page.

The ASC is now an STA Member

As part of our strategic review, we have been seeking opportunities to increase the public value and relevance for ASC membership.

Over several conferences and meetings across the past 3 years, the ASC has considered becoming a member of Science Technology Australia (STA). Earlier this year we again discussed this at a National Council meeting, where we considered the benefits and sought to identify the costs associated.

This process has been finalised and we can now announce that the Australian Science Communicators is now a full member of STA.

This brings with it benefits to our members in terms of having access to expert briefings on government budget and legislation implications for the sector, further connection to the STEM network in Australia, and, importantly, representation at the table to raise communications issues that we as an organisation feel are important.

There are also direct member benefits, such as having access to Science Meets Parliament or other STA-run programs.

One such program is available now to members – but expires Monday 7 so if you wish to engage, hurry and put in an application.

We will provide more update on the STA membership at the AGM.

STEP UP AS A STEM AMBASSADOR

Want to serve Australia’s scientific community and deepen your knowledge of how science can engage effectively with policymakers? Get your application in to STA now for the prestigious STEM Ambassadors program.

Applications close 9am AEDT Monday 7 November 2022.

This innovative program was created by STA in 2019, and has since trained 41 STEM Ambassadors matched with MPs and Senators.

In this new program intake, another 25 MPs and Senators from across the breadth of the Parliament have asked for a STEM Ambassador for 2023-24.

The STEM Ambassadors are drawn from Science & Technology Australia’s member organisations and come from a diverse range of academic backgrounds and interests.

STEM sector professionals who are members of STA member organisations are encouraged to apply for the program directly via the application link above.

Join the inaugural ASC Honours and Masters Research Symposium

We would like to invite members and non-members to join us for the inaugural Masters and Honours Research Symposium on 16 November, featuring students researching science communication presenting their work.

The Symposium

This online symposium will see students present their research to the SciComm community, with the opportunity for moderated questions and discussion afterwards.

Check out our program below and register now to secure your spot in the audience.

A careers networking event

The symposium will conclude with a networking event where attendees will hear from people who might answer the ‘What’s next?’ question that poses many students as they finish their degree. Featuring four professionals across a range of careers, this event will offer practical advice and tips for progressing your career.

This will be relevant for students starting their professional career in SciComm, as well as those who are early in their career and potentially considering a future role change. Get to know our panellists in the section below.

About the Honours and Masters Research Symposium

There are not many opportunities for students completing science communication research to present, and even less if you’re not a PhD student. Over the coming years, we are going to change this with symposia like this one, so as to support the community by providing an opportunity for these students to present to peers in both Australia and Aotearoa, New Zealand. It is our view that while a student gains valuable skills in the process of conducting a research project, it is the whole SciComm community who benefits most by having access to up-to-date data to inform our practice. We encourage more individuals to engage with SciComm research.

We intend to make this an annual event that encourages students to develop confidence in presenting and provides the community with a yearly snapshot of current research in ANZ. We will record all presentations and upload them to the ASC YouTube page with the intention that students are able to use these videos as examples of their presentation ability, something we’ve noticed has become more and more valuable to have.

Please encourage and inform your networks and any interested individuals to engage with this free event.

Program

4:00pm AEDT Symposium begins
4:15pm AEDT Ventures in the vocabulary of viral variation
Lucy Campbell (Bachelor of Science (Honours), Australian National University)

This presentation will explore how SARS-CoV-2 variants were named and framed in news media communication, in the time surrounding the introduction of the Greek letter variant labeling system.
4:50pm AEDT Identifying obstacles to remove them: Including people living with a disability
Tam Pinkerton (Bachelor of Science, Honours in Science Communication, University of Western Australia)

We know that multiple barriers exist that frustrate people living with a disability who are participating in citizen science. Identifying these obstacles is important for designing inclusive projects that have better outcomes.
5:25pm AEDT ‘It’s Kind of Alienating’; Queer relationships with science
Clare Boon (Masters of Science Communication, University of Western Australia)

Science communication has a diversity problem. Despite doing its best to address this, there is one group they have failed to include; the queer community. This research looks at the lived experience of queer people at university and how their experiences with science has led them to their area of study. It aims to unpack the ways science feels unwelcoming to queer individuals.
6:00pm AEDT Career Night begins
MC’d by Jenni Metcalfe, we will hear a short snippet from of the individuals, detailing their career story:
– Dr Cobi Calyx, postdoctoral fellow
– Mike McRae, freelance science writer
– Tanaya Joshi, impact and communications
– Duncan McIntyre, energy and policy
6:30pm AEDT Open Q&A
6:50pm AEDT Opportunity for more personal interactions via breakout rooms
7:30pm AEDT Event ends

About our Career Night panellists

Jenni Metcalfe, our MC for the night, is a science communicator who loves to: find, tell and share people’s stories; help scientists use the right communication strategies to truly engage people; and train and mentor scientists and others involved in science to communicate. She is passionate about facilitating positive changes to people’s lives and the environment they live in. She has been working as a science communicator since she joined CSIRO in 1989. From late 1995 Jenni has been operating the science communication consultancy, Econnect Communication. Jenni is a foundation member of Australian Science Communicators and was President 2006-2007, when she co-chaired the World Conference of Science Journalists in Melbourne. Jenni’s vision is to ‘bring science to life’.

Dr Cobi Calyx joined the Centre for Social Impact at UNSW as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2019, after graduating from her ANU PhD in science communication and deliberative democracy in 2018. She has earlier qualifications in health promotion, international studies and journalism, as well as experience with Australian Aid-funded projects in Asia and the Pacific. During her PhD she was a Visiting Scholar at Melbourne Law School and taught in Masters courses in the University of Melbourne on interdisciplinarity, environment and global governance. Dr Calyx has more than a decade of experience working at the intersection of environmental governance, science communication, health promotion and disaster response. She has been employed in governance organizations ranging from the UN in Geneva to state environment and disaster response agencies.

Mike McRae has been writing science for over a decade, working with CSIRO, the ABC, and the Australian Museum to educate, inform, and entertain. His interest in the social side of science features in his books Tribal Science: Brains, Beliefs, and Bad ideas, and Unwell: What makes a disease a disease?

Tanaya Joshi is the Impact and Communications Officer at Earthwatch Australia, an international research charity which focuses on using citizen science to empower people for climate action. Holding a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) and Masters of Environment and Sustainability, she is passionate about creating positive impact through the effective communication of science. Tanaya has worked as a media manager with national science festival Pint of Science, a science communicator for boutique agencies, and is a freelance science and culture writer at SAARI, a South Asian publication creating diverse media.

Duncan McIntyre heads the Energy Division at the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW). He is responsible for the oversight and development of Australian Government energy and energy efficiency programs and policies, and the advancement of Australia’s energy interests through international engagement. Duncan has held senior leadership positions in the Australian Government for more than twenty years, in agencies including: Industry, Science, Energy and Resources; Prime Minister and Cabinet; Communications; and Finance. He has tertiary qualifications in science, communications, and public administration and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD). Duncan has a long association with science communication and Questacon, as an Explainer at Questacon from 1987, in the Questacon Science Circus in 1996, and acting as Deputy Secretary responsible for Questacon in 2021. He has a passion for science, communication, and balls of flaming cornflour.

The strategic review: where we’re up to

If you’ve kept up with our SCOPE newsletters and other communications activity over the past 9 months, you’d know that the ASC Executive have been running a structured discovery-led strategic review process. This has been the primary purpose of our work in 2022, and we’ve made some significant progress.

We wanted to share an update of where we are up to with this piece of work, what’s next, and a short outline of where we hope to be in the coming months.

Discovery

Initially envisioned as a series of working groups, this shifted into a series of facilitated open and closed roundtables with members and friends of the ASC. Through this process we’ve been addressing questions on what the core value of the ASC is to members, what kind of role we should play in the sector more broadly, and how to better support local activity.

We further supplemented these sessions with a suite of interviews of key stakeholders, some directed surveys, and desktop-research into our archives to understand past efforts.

While we feel we have a reasonably good grasp of the member sentiment currently, we recognise that not everyone was able to attend the roundtables or a personal interview. It is still fundamentally important to this process that we capture as many views on what the ASC could and should be into the future.

To that end, the team have put together a survey to ensure that there’s the opportunity to capture your thoughts. The survey touches on the general themes covered by the roundtables, along with some additional concepts prompted by our archive investigations.

We are keen for as many members and stakeholders of the ASC to fill in the form. Note that if you’ve already attended the roundtables, we’ve included the ability to skip over parts where you’ve already had your say.

Click here to go to the form.

The form is not limited to ASC members, so please share it with any who you think have an interest in the ASC.

The form will close on 1 November 2022, so get your responses in by then.

Development

Through October to December, the Executive team will be digesting all of the insights gained via discovery, and formulating our point of view on the future direction of the organisation. Building on that, we expect we will have a drafted guiding strategy document, with recommendations for a suite of constitution changes by the end of the year.

We’re also hoping to document a suite of overviews on the various discovery phase outcomes. By creating this archive, we hope that this will help simplify the role for future executive committees in their strategy development.

It is worth noting that the AGM will be held in November, and with that we are expecting some minor changes in the executive team. As such, we expect the the strategic development phase will be handed over November/December, informed by the outgoing members where appropriate. Of course, we thank all the energy that former executive members have put into the organisation.

Implementation

We hope to call a Special General Meeting in February/March 2023 to formally adopt the forward-looking strategy and the first round of any required changes to the constitution. As per constitution rules, we will be giving a formal notice to the membership prior to the changes being adopted.

After the Special General Meeting, the strategy will be considered either approved, provisionally approved (with some exceptions or amendments required), or rejected.

Changes to the Constitution will be considered approved or rejected.

Pending the outcome of these votes, the implementation phase will commence supported by the National Council.

Review

Critical to any strategy is a structured review process to ensure that it remains fit for purpose. Minor annual revisions will be scheduled as part of the AGM process, with a formal revision to be published every 5 years. The Constitution will be reviewed as required.

And that’s it

Both of us want to thank the whole membership for your valuable support through this year so far. It has been a journey and will continue to be into next year, and we thoroughly appreciate all the energy and time members have invested in this process.

If you’ve any questions or want to further engage in this process, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at presidents@asc.asn.au

Jirana & Tom

The inaugural ASC Honours and Masters symposium

The Australian Science Communicators would like to invite all Masters and Honours students researching science communication who will be completing their degrees in 2022 to present their research at our online symposium between 14-19 November 2022.

There are not many opportunities for students completing science communication research to present, and even less if you’re not a PhD student. We’d like to support the community by providing an opportunity for these students to present to peers in both Australia and Aotearoa, New Zealand, and where feasible, encourage more individuals to engage with research.

This online symposium will see students present their research to the scicomm community, with the opportunity for moderated questions and discussion afterwards. The symposium will end with a networking event where attendees will hear from people who might answer the ‘What’s next?’ question that poses many students as they finish their degree.

At present, we are looking for submissions from students who are interested to participate. 

Register Here. 

Submissions are due on the 14th October 2022. 

We encourage all students who are researching science communication, even if their program doesn’t formally have science communication in the title, and are finishing their degree this year to register. From the interested cohort we will confirm the symposium date before then advertising publicly to the wider community.

We intend to make this an annual event that encourages students to develop confidence in presenting and provides the community with a yearly snapshot of current research in ANZ. We will record all presentations and upload them to the ASC YouTube page with the intention that students are able to use these videos as examples of their presentation ability, something we’ve noticed has become more and more valuable to have.

Please encourage and inform your networks and any interested individuals to jump at this free event.

If you are unable to participate, please keep an eye out on our socials and website as the ASC Conference is coming and we look forward to your participation then.

ASC Community – we hope that you’ll be interested in attending to find out what these students have been up to, and supporting these students as they progress through their academic journey, wherever it may take them. Please keep an eye out for the event.

Vale Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Today, we woke to the news of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

For 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II reigned as Australia’s Head of State. During her reign, The Queen visited Australia 16 times and saw more of this country than many locals, visiting every state and territory.

We acknowledge the links many of our institutions and organisations within the science and science communication sector had to Her Majesty.

From leading institutions like the Australian Academy of Science (formed under a Royal Charter signed in person by Her Majesty), to the RIAus and the many other institutions that carry the Royal title (both here and abroad), to programs like the National Youth Science Forum and National Science Week with their strong links to the Governor General, many of our science outreach programs have some connection to the crown.

While we know that there are different views on the role of the monarchy here in Australia, it is without question that Her Majesty’s impact on the globe has been monumental, especially in the not for profit and charity sector. The Queen’s position and role has been significant in providing support and public attention to these organisations.

We pay our respects and acknowledge the broad-reaching impact Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made. Our condolences are with the Royal Family. May she rest in peace.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet are coordinating condolence messages online.

The 2023 Science Communicators’ Conference

We’re back! After what feels like an eternity, we’re in the throes of coordinating the next ASC national conference.

Held in Canberra, Australia on the 15-17 February 2023, this conference will be in person with some online accessibility options for those unable to travel.

If you’ve an interest in contributing to the organising committee, please let us know by filling in this form. We’re seeking people to assist with a range of roles, from project management and communications, through to on-the-day support chairing sessions.

We’re aspiring to have a full range of content streams and themes to engage our entire community (and some who haven’t engaged with us before).

But perhaps most importantly, we want to create plenty of moments to engage with each other after what has been a very long time apart.

Block out the date in your calendar now, and keep an eye on the SCOPE newsletter for the announcement for when tickets are on sale.

Statement on the Russian war

From the Co-Presidents

We are a group of science communicators. Many of us act in roles that require impartial observation and conscientiously unbiased reportage. We therefore typically avoid declarations of support for either side in an ongoing debate. A journalist should not advocate. A public servant should not lobby. A scientist should not express subjective opinions.

Regardless of our professional roles, as a community we can agree: war is devastating.

We are devastated by the loss of life and the grievous suffering inflicted upon the Ukrainian people. We are devastated by the pointless death of Russian soldiers, caused at the decree  of their leaders. We are devastated by how this conflict has impacted the global community and will continue to harm humanity for years to come.

The Australian Science Communicators thoroughly condemn this war and the Russian leaders who continue to choose to not end it.

The Australian Science Communicators thoroughly condemn this war and the Russian leaders who continue to choose not to end it.

We call on our members (and those who are not yet members) to join us in finding ways to voice our abhorrence of the unnecessary harm caused to those impacted by this conflict. We call on our friends here and abroad to do whatever they can to support those in need. We call on all international governments to contribute in whatever way possible to end the suffering.

We know a statement won’t suddenly halt the conflict. Other, bigger organizations with greater geopolitical relevance have delivered statements on massive platforms, with sadly little impact, to date. But we also know that words can create powerful bonds between people.

Communication is, at its core, a bridge between people; a way to convey understanding, share perspective, and build compassion.

In Australia, ANZAC day is only a few short weeks away. Lest we forget the horrors caused by conflict, let us not slide into the error of glorifying battle. The true cost of war is not limited to the sum of dollars, hryvnia, ruble, or even the sum of land and material possessions lost. It is the countless lives ruined, the immeasurable pain inflicted upon generations, and the incalculable loss of progress toward a brighter and more prosperous future for humanity.

Finally, we know that many in or coming to Australia have ties to either Ukraine or Russia. Our community sees you. We remind ourselves and encourage others to resist the emotive reaction of blame and hatred towards an entire culture whose current leadership has failed them and harmed us all. The creation of an ‘other’ can only lead to further division and pain. While it will feel too soon for many, communication and compassion is the path to recovery.

The ASC Working Groups

We know that we can do things better – but what do we need to do first?

As the Executive Committee, we were elected by you to represent the membership in its decision-making. Over the past few months, we’ve initiated a process of reviewing the current situation that the ASC finds itself in, and to prioritise short, medium and long term activities that will make the ASC more resilient to external pressures, more valuable to its members, and more relevant within the sector.

There’s so much opportunity for us to grow the ASC into an even more vibrant community and an association that gives back to members.

To this end, we are in the process of standing up seven working groups to support the Executive Committee and the broader membership, in the hope of establishing some momentum into the future.

We know that the best ideas come from diversity. We ask that you consider supporting the community by contributing to these working groups over the coming months.

It is still early days, but we are seeking expressions of interest from the membership to support this work. Soon, we will have formalised terms of reference for these groups and role description/expectations. For now, please put your details into this form even if you don’t think you’ll have time to be a formal member of the working group, but have something that may be worth contributing to one or more of the groups.

The seven working groups are:

  • Strategy Group
    • To discuss the strategic priorities of the ASC, where the association should strive to be in 10 years, and to develop a forward looking and aspirational strategic plan.
  • Finance Group
    • To discuss financial issues and set a forward plan for stability, recommend income generation to fund projects and staff, and support other projects with the Treasurer.
  • Membership and Branch Group
    • To determine who the members are, why they become members, and how we can better provide value for their membership. In addition, this group will make recommendations on how to support local branches more effectively.
  • Communications Group
    • Building off the work from other groups, this team will seek to find ways we can better communicate with each other and the wider community.
  • Stakeholder Engagement Group
    • To discuss international and national engagement with other businesses and organisations, and to develop recommendations on key relationships to foster to best support our strategic goals.
  • Awards and Bursaries Group
    • Investigate the current awards and bursaries landscape in the sector, recommend a suite of supports, and recommend on sponsor opportunities for supporting the awards.
  • Events and Conference Group
    • To recommend and curate a series of nationally relevant and accessible events, and to contribute to conference coordination.