ASC Constitution, 2015 Special General Meeting and 2015 AGM

The ASC Constitution was reviewed and adopted at a Special General Meeting in Canberra on 18 November 2015.
The Constitution is available here.
The minutes from the Special General Meeting are available here.

The ASC Annual General Meeting was held on 19 November 2015.
The minutes from the Annual General meeting are available here.

For queries and corrections, please contact

Who needs science journalists anyway?

Thank you to Bianca Nogrady for this piece!

According to this report from Undark magazine, the National Association of Science Writers in the US is experiencing an all-too-familiar existential crisis; who exactly are they?

Unlike the ASC – which accepts executive and council members from across the broad church that is science communication and science journalism – positions on NASW’s board are limited to professional journalists.

But that looks set to change with the recommendation from an ad-hoc committee that the executive be opened up to science writers and ‘public information officers’ (who we call science communicators).

Many science journalists within NASW appear to oppose the move, while the majority of science communicators and PIOs are in favour.

This tension exists within the ASC as well. The organisation was founded by a mixed group of science journalists and science communication professionals, and we share a common passion for the communication of, and about, science.

But, as has been discussed a lot lately [see this video of last year’s ASC NSW event on this very topic] , science journalists and science communicators are different creatures, with different and sometimes competing agendas. If we try to play down these differences or pretend they don’t exist, we risk making the ASC irrelevant to one or another of those groups.

There’s no doubt science journalism is on the back foot in Australia, if not the world. We have very few dedicated science reporters in the mainstream media and most of the science journalism is being done by freelance journalists who also derive income as science writers and communicators. It’s worth pointing out that not many of these in-house or freelance journalists are ASC members; something we’re working to change. Cosmos magazine is fighting the good fight to keep long-form science journalism alive in print, but as we heard at the recent ASC conference in Brisbane, it’s a tough battle.

So why should the majority of ASC members, who define themselves as science communicators, care about the fate of science journalists, either within the ASC or outside it?

Because now, more than ever, we need to support, encourage and nurture science journalism in Australia. Who else would be in a position to uncover our own government’s censorship of international reports on the state of the Great Barrier Reef [], report on scientific fraud, or get the general public caring about gravitational waves? Science journalists bring science – warts and all – to the general public.

The rift within the NASW is raising the prospect that science journalists will desert that body en masse and form their own organisation. The fact that they have the numbers to even contemplate this is probably only a factor of the sheer population size of the US. In Australia, such an organisation would be dwarfed by the Flat Earth Society or Trump Supporters For Climate Change.

Some might argue that journalists have the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance –the union and peak body for journalists  – so why don’t science journalists stick with that?

Speaking personally; I’d say because it’s boring. At ASC meetings, and get-togethers with fellow science journos/writers/communicators, I have the kind of conversations that leave my brain buzzing for days. As a science journalist, I have so much more in common with someone who works as a PIO for a research organisation than I do with a journalist who works in-house for a metropolitan daily covering the court round.

Science journalists, like science communicators, do what they do because they are drawn to science. Whether they see themselves as a cheer squad, critic or impartial witness, it’s about science.

The Australian Science Communicators was named as such to make it as inclusive as possible. I hope we can keep it that way.

More from Bianca (Freelance science journalist and author):


BREAKING NEWS: Chief Scientist Alan Finkel to headline #ASC2016

We are delighted to announce that Alan Finkel (Australia’s Chief Scientist) is our keynote speaker for ASC2016!

Dr Finkel commenced as Australia’s Chief Scientist on 25 January 2016. He is Australia’s eighth Chief Scientist.

Alan Finkel - official photo

Dr Finkel has an extensive science background as an entrepreneur, engineer, neuroscientist and educator.

Prior to becoming Chief Scientist, he was the Chancellor of Monash University and President of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE).

Dr Finkel was awarded his PhD in electrical engineering from Monash University and worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in neuroscience at the Australian National University.

In 1983 he founded Axon Instruments, a California-based, ASX-listed company that made precision scientific instruments used at pharmaceutical companies and universities for the discovery of new medicines. After Axon was sold in 2004, Dr Finkel became a director of the acquiring company, NASDAQ-listed Molecular Devices.

In 2006, he returned to Australia and undertook a wide range of activities. He led the amalgamation that formed the Florey Neuroscience Institutes; he became Chair of the Australian Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) and was a director of the ASX-listed diagnostics company Cogstate Limited. He was Executive Chair of the educational software company Stile Education, Chair of Manhattan Investment Group, Chief Technology Officer of Better Place Australia and Chair of Speedpanel Australia.

Committed to science education, Dr Finkel co-founded Cosmos Magazine, which in addition to magazine publishing operates a secondary schools science education program. At ATSE, he led the development and implementation of the STELR program for secondary school science, which has been adopted in nearly 500 Australian schools. Dr Finkel also established the Australian Course in Advanced Neuroscience to train early career neuroscientists.

Find out more about the conference (in Brisbane on March 11) on the website

ASC conference – Join us in Brisbane on March 11, 2016

A huge thank you to all those who took the time to respond to the conference planning email sent to members in August this year. Your views were very supportive of a March 2016 conference, along with a longer term view to planning joint conferences in future. Below is our first conference announcement since that email and we plan to follow up with many of you soon.

We are delighted to confirm that the very popular ASC national conference is being held in Brisbane to tie in with the World Science Festival, an annual week-long festival for all things science. The festival runs from March 9 to 13 and we have scheduled the main ASC conference on Friday, March 11 when the world festival has a day programmed primarily for schools (we hope this means less scheduling conflicts for members!)

We’ve arranged a later conference start (registration at 10:30 for an 11am start) so that delegates may choose to attend brekky with the Brians and our very own Robyn Williams (details below). Tickets are selling (very) fast. If you have even an inkling that you will be joining us for the conference then we’d recommend buying your brekky ticket right NOW! Contact us at for the member discount info.

Satellite and social events are highly likely so you may wish to plan to attend Brisbane for a few days to make the visit really worth your while at a time when luminaries in science and science communication will abound! View the festival program online here to help your planning.

VOLUNTEERS: Great opportunity to network and contribute to your national community event. As you may be aware, the national conference is made possible by a huge contingent of capable ASC member volunteers who help out with everything from website content & marketing, to mic running on the day. We are looking for our 2016 crew now so if you are interested please contact us at and let us know how you’d like to be involved.

Member offer – Breakfast with the Brians

Before the ASC Conference starts on March 11, ASC members can head to a breakfast event that promises to be as entertaining as it is thought provoking, Australia’s Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist (and successful winery owner), Brian Schmidt, meets internationally renowned string theorist and best-selling author, Brian Greene (think The Elegant Universe and  Big Bang Theory). You’ll recognise them both as favourites on the best talk shows – from Adam Hills to David Letterman – as they discuss ‘life, the universe and everything’ with ABC broadcaster, former ASC President and lifetime member, and national living treasure, Robyn Williams.

Ticket price ($50.00) includes light breakfast.  Breakfast is served in foyer from 8.15am.
Contact us at for the member discount info.

President’s Update

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

Save the date! 11 March 2016

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

Issues for AGM?

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

ASC online shop

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

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

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

Careers and Networking Night – ACT Branch

If you are wanting to get into a science communication career then the
ACT branch Careers and Networking Night at ANU is for you.

And people in the field looking for fresh new talent can meet all the

When: Thursday April 23, 5:15 pm-6:30 pm
Where: Green Couch Room, Australian National Centre for the Public
Awareness of Science (CPAS), Physics Link building 38A, ANU
Cost: Free.

Register here

The night will begin with a series of short talks highlighting different
pathways and careers in science communication. Hear about current and
exciting new undergraduate and postgraduate courses offered by CPAS which can kickstart your sci comm career.

Guest speakers include:

Lara Davis – How a chemistry graduate ends up a geoscience
communicator, via a Dip Ed.

Amanda Cox – Digital comms professional, science marketing at ANU, from a biochemistry background via the not-for profit and government worlds.

Phil Dooley – PhD in physics turns IT trainer, high school workshopper
then science writer at ANU.

Katie Howe – Comms professional, no science background, hey how did
she get in here?!

Anna-Lisa Hayes
– Environmental scientist turns science communicator
in the government sector.

Following the talks there will be an opportunity to network over FREE food
and drinks.

Please register here:

Thursday April 23, 5:15 pm-6:30 pm

Where: Green Couch Room, Australian National Centre for the Public
Awareness of Science (CPAS), Physics Link building 38A, ANU

Cost: Free.

The ASC and Inspiring Australia: working with the national strategy for engagement with the sciences

The Australian Science Communicators continues to be an active partner in the Inspiring Australia strategy. We are a member of the Science Sector Group, which provides national leadership and coherent action among non-government science sector organisations. This group aims to enable collaboration, information sharing and, where appropriate, coordinated approaches to issues around science. An important objective is to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, quantity and quality of Australian public science engagement.

Australia aspires to be an inventive society with a technologically skilled workforce, a scientifically literate community and scientifically well informed decision makers. The Inspiring Australia strategy aims to build a strong, open relationship between science and society, underpinned by effective communication of science and its uses.

The ASC shares many of the underlying aims of Inspiring Australia. We view that our involvement in several of Inspiring Australia’s activities will add value to the efforts of both groups.

Inspiring Australia

ASC changed my life…

That’s right! We’ve heard some whispers that the ASC community has changed some people’s lives. This grassroots organisation that started back in 1994… Who’d have thunk it back in that inaugural meeting at the Press Club in Canberra.

As we come up to celebrating 20 years of ASC, we (the Executive) reckon it’s time to hear your stories.

Did you find an amazing job through the ASC-list? Did you meet someone who inspired you to get into science communication or join a science outreach project?

Tell us below! Or tweet us at @ausscicomm

So what have we heard about ASC recently?

“As a sci comm. student with UWA, I found ASC very useful, as it gave me a chance to engage with established professionals and consider future career directions. As an early career professional, being involved with ASC, and particularly volunteering at the branch level, meant that I had the chance to develop skills and build a network of contacts.” (member of 10 years)

“I heard about ASC when I studied Science Communication as a postgrad at UQ. I’ve been a member for almost ten years, about 5 of that on Branch Committees, and have really enjoyed meeting inspirational people and learning from the diverse community to approach issues I tackle at work from different, more effective, angles.” (Member of 9 years)

Member profile – Sarah Lau

Thank you to Sarah Lau who shared her deepest darkest secrets with us for this Q&A profile!

When not working as Communication Manager for ChemCentre in Western Australia, Sarah spends her time keeping things in order as the Secretary of the ASC. As a long-term member, Sarah’s commitment to the ASC is a great example of what keeps a volunteer organisation like ours running like clockwork. She kindly took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some ASC profile pop-quiz questions.

Read on to find out about everything from ASC WA events to malformed origami!


When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?

As a small child, my career choices were heavily influenced by books and television, so I went through phases of wanting to be a journalist, a police officer, a lawyer… at one point I’d even settled on being a spy. Eventually when I hit high school I decided I wanted to get into science, but a disastrous Year 12 practical chemistry exam made me realise that lab work wasn’t for me. So I decided to combine my passion for science with my love of talking and working with people, which led me to science communication.

Apart from being superstar secretary of the ASC, what work do you do?

In my daily role, I am the Communication Manager at ChemCentre, the WA chemical and forensic science facility. This is a fascinating and varied job which sees me doing everything from briefing media on synthetic drugs to devising marketing strategies for air monitoring analysis. Right now I am working with our team to deliver a series of August outreach activities, tying into National Science Week, and culminating with ChemCentre’s annual Open Day. (Shameless plug – if you’re in WA, come by on Saturday 24 August!)

With another hat on, I work as a science communication and presentation consultant. The most exciting role I have taken on recently was for The University of Western Australia, working with some of UWA’s highest profile scientists to deliver the Science for our Future Festival program across South East Asia.

Has your time with the ASC helped or hindered your work?

I joined ASC as a student when I was studying Science Communication at The University of Western Australia. I found it was very useful, as it gave me a chance to engage with established professionals and consider future career directions.

As an early career professional, being involved with ASC, and particularly volunteering at the branch level, meant that I had the chance to develop skills and build a network of contacts.

Now, my role with ASC has grown to allow me to support the evolution of ASC as we expand and move towards a professional association. As I’ve become more involved with ASC, one my favourite things has been the chance to connect with ASC members from across Australia and hear their experiences.

Why is science communication important?

I see science communication as ‘bridging the gap’ – bringing skills and expertise to connect the world of science and an intended audience. I’ve always considered that science communicators help make science accessible, relevant and engaging. Science communicators also bring perspective and expertise to scientists to help the scientific process in the modern world. The benefits to ensuring science is communicated are wide-ranging, including better informed decision making in the wider community, and increased uptake of science at the policy and governance level. I think the recognition of science communication as a specialisation is increasing, and along with it, an appreciation of the value of science communicators.

What ASC events are you looking forward to this year?

In WA, there is a fantastic local committee which has worked hard to create a diverse programs of events, including social, professional and networking events. We’ve had some great evaluation events and I’m looking forward to this program continuing this year. Fast forward to 2014 – I am excited about the ASC National Conference in Brisbane!

When you are not science communicating, what are your hobbies/interests?

Not much has changed since I was young, so books and television still feature prominently. I adore music and I’m easily distracted by music videos. I also love checking out the great cafes and bars now popping up all over Perth. And for the novelty category – I enjoy attempting geometric origami structures, which is an odd choice for someone with little artistic ability or patience!