Stories from the Interview Booth—Carbon capture and storage meets dairy farmers

Thank you to Michelle Wheeler for preparing this story from the booth!


As science communicators, we all love to share the latest exciting research and the stories of the scientists who make it their life’s work.

But what if the science itself was dependent on direct help from your audience?

A carbon capture and storage group has formed an unlikely working relationship with dairy producers in Victoria after discovering that the perfect place to research the geological storage of carbon lay beneath their farms.

Geologists at the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC) began looking closely at the Otway Basin in south-west Victoria as a site for research in 2004 after an Australia-wide search.

The site had the right kind of rocks for carbon storage in addition to a natural source of carbon dioxide generated by volcanic activity millions of years ago.

The only problem was that the lush, green area was covered with small dairy farms.

CO2CRC communications and media advisor Tony Steeper said a lot of work had been done to engage the local farmers.

“We’ve had to bring the landowners with us on a journey, if you like, to undertake the first storage demonstration in Australia,” he said.

“They’ve had to understand how CO2 storage works, how we monitor it, how we know it’s safe, how we characterise the geology so that we’ve got confidence that it’s all going to work.

“That’s been a long process but they’ve been incredibly receptive and very positive.”

Mr Steeper said seismic surveys were particularly difficult for farmers because the scientists had to lay out a grid of sensors across their paddocks and deploy a vibration truck that stopped every twenty metres or so.

“They’ve got to move their cows, they’re worried about crops if they’re growing crops, they’ve got scientists running all over their land so it’s a fairly challenging thing for us to do,” he said.

CO2CRC conducted social research in 2006 and 2011, undertaking focus groups and telephone surveys to see what they were doing well and where they needed to improve.

“One of the things that we got right was employing a community liaison officer, based in the local community, that provides a point of contact for the farmers to go to,” Mr Steeper said.

The centre also distributes a local newsletter and holds public meetings and annual open days.

Mr Steeper said it turned out the scientists had a lot to learn about the dairy industry as well.

“We have had issues in the past where researchers have left gates open and so on and it hasn’t gone so well,” he said.

“Running pre-survey inductions for every researcher that emphasise two-way respect has meant the farmers are pleased with how we operate and the researchers have a better understanding of the requirements of the farmers.”

Stories from the Interview Booth—A disease of poverty

Stories from the Interview Booth showcases some of the most interesting tales presented at the #ASC14 Conference Interview Booth. Thank you to Michelle Wheeler for sharing these stories!

Since being diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease at the age of seven, Carlisa Willika has had four major heart operations.

The 13-year-old has a mechanical heart valve, takes daily blood-thinning medication, requires penicillin injections every 28 days and can’t play contact sport.

Sadly, rheumatic heart disease is preventable.

“It’s a disease of poverty so in most developed countries it doesn’t exist any more,” RHD Australia communications officer Emmanuelle Clarke said.

“In Australia rheumatic heart disease is most common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and unfortunately most of the cases occur in children between five and 14 years old.”


Pic credit: An RHD Australia doctor supporting rheumatic heart disease control programs – Emmanuelle Clarke.

Ms Clarke faces a tough job communicating information about a disease that affects almost no one in big cities and developed areas.

Doctors and nurses coming from urban areas can misdiagnose rheumatic heart disease and the fact that most sufferers live in remote communities presents a unique set of challenges.

Acute rheumatic fever is caused by the streptococcus bacteria and enters the body through skin sores or the throat.

Ms Clarke said people usually suffer from aches and swollen joints and the disease causes permanent damage to the valves of the heart.

“Once someone has had an episode of acute rheumatic fever, they usually get it again and again unless they receive penicillin injections every 28 days,” she said.

“With each episode it causes more damage to the valves of the heart, which ends up being rheumatic heart disease.”

Ms Clarke said the condition is linked to poor hygiene and overcrowding in houses.

She said rheumatic heart disease can halve a person’s life expectancy and those dying were often young people in their most productive years.

“I’ve heard a story of a young man playing football in a remote community and dying in the middle of the football game due to a heart attack as a result of rheumatic heart disease,” Ms Clarke said.

According to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, 98 per cent of cases of acute rheumatic fever in the Northern Territory are in people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent and 58 per cent occur in children between five and 14 years old.


Navigating the Animation Process (Part 1 of 5 – Initial Briefing)

Navigating Animation 1

From concept to screen, getting the best results.

by Adrian King (Animation/visual–fx producer, designer & artist)

I presented this material at a workshop at the ASC Conference 2014 in Brisbane. Some positive feedback has prompted me to write a condensed summary for ASC members who couldn’t attend. I hope you find it useful.

Creative processes can be described as the series of decisions required to turn something imagined into something tangible. This might sound like magic, and to some it is, but how do we learn to get the best results from the process? Every decision starts with a question, so the best way to get the best results from any process is to have a firm grasp of the language of the process. Fortunately we can break the process down into a bite size chunks that de-mystify or decode it. This is what we need, and exactly what I‘ll be doing with this series of articles on Navigating the Animation Process.

I like to break down the entire process into 5 stages, each of which has a number of key processes and assets. In this first article we’ll take a quick overview and then look closely at stage 1. Stay tuned for stages 2–5 in subsequent articles.

The Stages

  1. Initial Briefing
  2. Concept & Script Development
  3. Design
  4. Production
  5. Delivery

Stages 1–3 are your planning stages. Stage 4 is where most of the costs are incurred. It’s essential to get stages 1–3 right in order to avoid hidden costs or wasted time and energy down the track. Just like building a house.


  • Make the primary goal of the first 3 stages to ensure that only minor creative decisions remain to be made during stage 4.
  • The more major creative decisions remain once you enter stage 4, the higher the risk of disappointment!

Let’s have a deeper look at each of the 5 stages…

1. Initial Briefing

It all starts with an idea, a little spark of imagination, some neural activity forging new pathways in the brain. But how do we get this out of our heads and onto the screen? First step – put it on paper. You need to go on a quest! Ask yourself questions (the challenges) and speak, write, draw, or act out the answers. Go on – have fun with it!

The first thing I ask when someone enquires about producing some animation is how well defined is the brief? Most producers, including myself, will spend some time facilitating an enquiry process with a client to define these (free of charge) until we get to a point where we can provide an estimation or quotation of costs of the next three stages. We need the brief to be well defined in order to provide accurate costs. We love clients who come armed with well defined briefs!

The goal of this phase is to turn those sparks of imagination into a well-defined written brief consisting of as much of the following essential and preferred information as possible. A good animation producer will be able to help you achieve this if you don’t have it already.


  • Title (or working title)
  • 1 sentence description
  • 1 paragraph summary
  • 1 page synopsis
  • Audience/demographics
  • Purpose/intention
  • Date required by
  • Duration
  • Media platform(s) where it will be shown

Preferred (and sometimes essential)

  • List of core messages
  • A list of all stakeholders/agencies involved, and their interest in the outcome
  • Sequence/timing requirements (if available)
  • List of characters (if required)
  • Voice over and dialogue requirements (if required)
  • Related or associated campaigns
  • Any creative material (sketches, designs or writing) already developed for work (if available)

In most cases, armed with a well-defined written brief, we can then provide an accurate cost for the entire project (Stages 2, 3 & 4). However sometimes we need to complete stages 2 or 3 in order to provide an accurate quote for the stage 4 (Production). In that case we would provide an accurate quotation for stages 2 & 3 (Concept/script development & Design) and a close estimation for stage 4. After stage 2–3 that estimation can then be firmed up to provide an accurate quotation.

If the client provides a budget constraint, the results of stages 2 & 3 can be tailored to ensure the production costs match the budget, which can help speed up the process.


  • Write down all the essential information for the initial brief.
  • Include as much as possible of the preferred information.
  • Expect a good animation producer to help you during this stage by asking questions that will help you define the brief.


  • The written brief (aka the scope of work)

Next month we’ll continue the journey with stage 2 (Concept/Script Development).

Till then…

Adrian King (Animation/visual–fx producer, designer & artist)

(PS: You can send any questions you’d like answered about the animation process by logging in and leaving a comment below, or contact me directly at

Stories from the Interview Booth at #ASC14—They had to run, run, run…

Stories from the Interview Booth showcases some of the most interesting tales presented at the #ASC14 Conference Interview Booth. Thank you to Michelle Wheeler for sharing these stories!

If you were at the ASC14 conference dinner, you’ll know Scottish palaeontologist Professor Flint as a man of brilliant lyrics and tunes you can’t get out of your head.

You’ll know he’s a little eccentric, passionate about the Australian story and has the kind of energy that gets hundreds of science communicators on their feet doing dinosaur actions.

But you might not realise Professor Flint’s creator Michael Mills has been on real fossil digs, spent time hanging out with one of the inspirations for Jurassic Park’s Alan Grant character and calls some of Australia’s leading palaeontologists friends.

Oh, and he’s not actually Scottish.

Mills, who is the creative director of Heaps Good Productions, said the character of Professor Flint came about after he read Tim Flannery’s book The Future Eaters.

He was Australian right up until the final dress rehearsal when Mills walked past a puppet wearing a Tam o’ Shanter and realised that if Professor Flint was Scottish the song “rocks and bones” became “rrrocks ‘n’ boones”.

“All of sudden it became funnier,” Mills said.

“It also allowed Flint to be an outsider saying how cool this stuff is because at times in Australia we’ve got this cultural cringe where we’re a bit shy about raving about some of our stuff.”

If making Professor Flint Scottish was genius, what happened next was just brilliant good luck.

The SA Museum decided to host a palaeontology week, bringing Australia’s best palaeontologists to Mills’ home town of Adelaide just as he had created the character.

Professor Flint became an important part of the event and Mills got to hang out with some of the leading palaeontologists from Australia and around the world.

“For me, part of the buzz was the privilege that you have of sitting in a room at dinner at night with guys like (Jurassic Park inspiration) Phil Currie, (Flinders University Professor) Rod Wells and (Queensland Museum curator) Scott Hocknull and all of the Australian palaeos that have discovered all the stuff because in the end it’s their stories that I’m telling,” he said.

“And they impressed upon me the importance of getting the content right.”

Mills has since gone on fossil digs at Emu Bay, been shown museum collections closed to the public and sends his lyrics to palaeontologists to check he has them scientifically correct.

In the process he has amassed a depth of knowledge that leads many to mistake his alter ego for a real person.

“We constantly have people seeing Flint as real and that’s because I’ve learnt enough about the palaeo to be able to talk the stuff,” Mills said.

They had to run, run, run, they had to hit top speed,

They had to run, run, there was a dinosaur stampede.








Rules of order and the art of chairing

…with some words from recent ASC2014 conference session chairs…


(Modifed and re-used under Creative Commons License)

In the recent national conference for all those who make science accessible our session chairs had a lot on their plate.

As well as ensuring that more than five hundred delegates could move between over seventy individual sessions in a somewhat orderly fashion without stealing time from other sessions or from networking, they were also responsible for conducting each session in a way that delivered the greatest value to the gathered audience interested in the topic being discussed.

The role of a Chairperson can be traced back to the early development of procedure in parliament.

According to Robert’s Rules of Order,

“The distinguishing feature of the early parliaments was the fact that the barons of the Council were invited not only to express their opinions individually on matters laid before them by the king, but to discuss, with each other, the overall “state of the realm” —the business of “king and kingdom” rather than only “the king’s business”.
(see Introduction, xxxii)

The latter part of the sixteenth century through the seventeenth century “was a period of prolonged internal conflict over the Prerogatives of parliament—as opposed to those of the king—which stimulated an increased interest in procedure…” (see Introduction, xxxiii)

These early efforts to learn to rule democratically led to the development of a number of rules of order still in use by chairs today.

Points of order such as: ‘one subject at a time’, ‘alternation between opposite points of view’ and ‘refinement of the debate to the merits of the pending question’, help us to explore the “state of the realm” collectively with a view to discovering or creating new knowledge for the benefit of all.

Although our national conference is not exactly parliament, session chairs have a similar set of challenges.

We thought we’d ask three session chairs highly commended in recent conference feedback for a few pointers on how they do such a good job.

Will Grant:

“The only two things I’d say is

  • be religious on time (stop on time is *the* most important thing, start on time if at all possible. Reward those who came on time not those who turned up late), and
  • be human.”

Leonie Rennie:

“I think Will put his finger on the key issue: Timing. You need to agree with presenters before the session how long each will speak, in what order, when there will be questions and who will field them. Give signals (eg five fingers for five minutes left) to warn speakers when to stop.

Start on time, otherwise speakers are disenfranchised, and those who arrived on time are forced to wait.

Being human is a good idea, although it isn’t something I consciously think about. I will try harder.”

Sarah Lau:

“I would say one of my main things is to prioritise content. I know I will always have a few things more than I can get through so I like to know in advance what I can chop when I start to run short on time.

I agree with Leonie’s strategy and if I can, discuss time limitations and signals with speakers beforehand.

Will’s recommendation is also important – stopping on time, although I find the ‘organic’ conversations may carry on. I normally try to signal the end of proceedings, formally wrap up and then let people continue to chat if they so desire.”


A big THANK YOU to all our ASC2014 Conference Chairs and Facilitators for volunteering their time and expertise to facilitate the growth of new knowledge fairly and collectively.

See: Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th edition (By Henry M. III Robert, Daniel H. Honemann, Thomas J. Balch).

President’s update

Thank you to our President A/Prof. Joan Leach for the March/April update.
Not that there was any doubt, but the variety of evaluations coming in on ASC14 shows that the conference was definitely seen as a success by our members. Interestingly, 61% of colleagues we met in Brisbane were at their first ASC conference. The top three words used to describe the conference were “interesting,”  “fun,” and “engaging.” Finally, the nominations for ‘most useful session’ went on for 3 pages and name-checked just about everyone! Of course, we’ve learned some things, too. Our members want more professional development sessions, more time for networking (we are communicators, after all), are predictably savvy receivers of communication advice and don’t like to be told how to do it without evidence for why it works, and need fruit and not just cupcakes to function at conferences. So, the conference team and Executive are working through this data to help plan future conferences and events…and professional development sessions.
This month, I’m trying to get across the range of activities that are going on nationally and work with our volunteers to find ways we can support more of the activities our members want. I do want to send out a general ‘save the date’ invitation for 2 October for an “International Roundtable on Science Communication” to be held at Customs House in Brisbane in conjunction with the International Communication Association. I’ll send more about this out via SCOPE in due course, but this event is an attempt to highlight science communication activity in the Asia-Pacific region and Australia’s leading place in it.
Finally, I’ve had more than a few conversations in the last several weeks to bring me down from the conference (sugar) high. As the next Federal budget approaches some science communicators find themselves and their work not only under scrutiny but under pressure and threat. I’ve heard a range of interpretations of ‘what might happen’ (and what has happened) but I’m keen that, as a community, ASC supports our members and affirms the value of what we do. As ever, I’m keen to hear from members about how ASC might respond to our changing context and clearly assert our value.

WA travel grant recipient – Tamika’s trip to #ASC14

Thank you to Tamika Heiden for sharing her conference story.

Wow, what a great conference the ASC conference in Brisbane was. Being an ASC conference newbie I didn’t know what to expect. I had glanced through the program a couple of times prior to deciding to go to the conference and found that there were sessions within the program that intrigued me. One of those sessions was around Knowledge Brokering. Being a knowledge translation specialist I was interested to see how brokering was conceptualised within the science communication world here in Australia. Having been trained and worked with several Canadian KT organisations and knowledge brokers I had my own views on what this should or could be.

In my opinion the conference provided something for everyone. There were some very specific project examples of science communication from various areas, but there were also many sessions about ideas, different ways of communicating and examples of how to do this.

From start to end this conference kept me interested and informed. The opening address by Ian Lowe set the stage for what was to be an insightful and thought provoking conference. Geoff Garrett’s Ian Lowe address introduced the “baton of leadership” and inspired the audience through storytelling insights such as the video clip of “the girl effect”, an example I have since used to inspire scientists in ways of communicating their message. It was also on the first day that I went to Shawn Callahan’s Storytelling for Leaders workshop. I was uncertain of what to expect from such a session but believe that for me it was probably the most important and relevant session of the conference. Within this session Shawn so eloquently tied the content to examples of storytelling that we had seen that morning without realising they were in fact very powerful stories.

Other sessions of interest to me were the Impact session, where there was an interesting discussion around the use of communication to create impact from science. The particular focus was on the ARC’s definition of impact and the use of the term communication. Personally I believe that both the ARC and NHMRC have not yet hit the mark when it comes to their communication and expectation of research impact and translation. The other session on this day that I was indeed excited to attend was the Knowledge brokering session. It was interesting to hear people’s views and opinions within this area and although the discussion was very relevant, and indeed the use of knowledge brokers is important, there was no mention of an overarching model (knowledge translation strategy) that a knowledge broker could and should be part of within the research process.

I cannot stress enough how fantastic this conference was. I found the opportunities for networking, and the speed networking session in particular, to be abundant and positive. The variety of activities on the program from keynotes, to breakout sessions, and workshops, provided a great array of content. Congratulations must go the both the organisers and speakers for providing such a great event. I must thank the WA branch of ASC for supporting my attendance at the conference. I think I am hooked, see you in 2015!






#ASC14 interview booth – FAQs about the mainstream media

Thank you to Michelle Wheeler for sharing her answers to these FAQs with us.

As anyone who attended the ASC Conference in Brisbane this year knows, there was an awful lot going on. So much so, that even as you grabbed a quick coffee or bite to eat during the breaks, you may have noticed science journalist Michelle Wheeler still hard at work in the ‘Interview Booth’.

This new component was designed to give ASC’ers a chance to sit down with a working science journalist, to discuss ideas they might have for a story, get advice on media releases or simply to ask questions and gain some insight into what today’s journalists are up against when it comes to getting a science story out there.

For those who missed out, here are Michelle’s answers to some of the more frequently asked questions at the booth.

What is a typical day like in a newspaper newsroom?

A day in a newsroom can vary a lot depending on the organisation, the day of the week and whether there is late-breaking news, but here’s an example from one newspaper.

Most journalists arrive between 8am and 10am and immediately start ringing contacts, going through emails and generally checking to see what stories might be around that day. Before 10.30am, journalists brief the chief of staff on what is happening in their round and pitch the stories they are planning to focus on. The chief of staff will give some basic direction on which stories they think should be followed up, how long they should be and whether photographs are needed, and may give journalists stories they have come up with as well.

At 11am the chief of staff goes into a morning news conference with the senior editors to discuss the stories journalists are pursuing that day. The section editors, such as the sport, world and business editors, all report on the main stories they are looking at that day and the editor of the paper will add a few stories he would like looked at as well.

About 2.30pm journalists are required to send “newslist messages” to the chief of staff for each of the stories they are working on for the next day’s paper. These notes contain a mock first sentence for the story and the key points as well as the author, length and whether there are any photographs or graphics to accompany the article. These messages are taken into an afternoon news conference where the editor plans out which stories will go on which pages. This finishes about 4pm, at which point the chief of staff often gives final directions to the journalists about their stories.

The absolute latest a journalist would generally be able to file a story and still make the first edition of the paper is about 7pm, with the earliest copies being printed by 7.30pm.  There are later deadlines throughout the night for different editions of the paper to allow for late-breaking news. At any point during the day almost everything planned can go out the window if a huge story breaks.

When is the best time to send a media release?

The best time for most reporters to receive a media release is first thing in the morning, when journalists are calling contacts and looking at what is happening that day. If the release is sent out late in the day it has to be good enough to replace something else for the story to be written because by the next day it is often considered old news.


Should I call journalists to follow up if they haven’t responded to an email release?

This is a point of contention among both journalists and PR professionals and there are going to be plenty of people who disagree with me. As a journalist it is very annoying to constantly receive cold calls from PR officers you don’t know asking why you didn’t call them about a media release for an event totally unrelated to the round you cover. For some reason people organising charity luncheons are particularly bad at this.

On the other hand, it’s great to get calls from media managers you know or have worked with on stories before. Sometimes it’s handy to be able to chat about different angles for new research and even if I know a story isn’t going to run I’ll often ask the media manager about other stories coming up in the future (such as upcoming research or papers and reports due to be published) that I have in my diary.

Be polite – ask if there’s any extra information the journalist needs rather than demanding an explanation for why a story hasn’t been picked up. Don’t call on deadline and don’t get disheartened if journalists don’t always have time to chat.

Should I worry about pictures?

Yes! A fantastic photograph can easily bump a story from page 15 of a newspaper to page three, get it featured online or determine whether the story runs at all. Pictures are particularly important for newspapers in tabloid (compact) format, which the vast majority of major papers in the country now are.

Newspapers will generally choose to take their own photographs if they can but that doesn’t mean they won’t run supplied images occasionally if they are particularly good or of something they couldn’t usually capture themselves. For television it’s worth mentioning any vision opportunities or scientific visualisations you have in the release.

#ASC14 wrap up

Thank you to Claire Harris for preparing the ASC2014 wrap up.

Well it was an amazing, full on four days for the Australian Science Communicators National Conference held in Brisbane at the beginning of February.

The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre welcomed 372 delegates through the doors.

The Sunday Storytelling of Science event — featuring Prof Peter Adams, Prof Tim Flannery, Prof Jenny Graves, Lynne Malcolm, Dr Jesse Shore and hosted by Dr Andrew Stephenson — attracted 266 people in the audience.

The conference featured more than 65 sessions from plenary talks in the auditorium to workshops in the smaller concurrent rooms, speed networking and an Australian and New Zealand breakfast.

We had many lovely volunteers who helped the event run smoothly and this included four reporters/bloggers and people helping to livestream the event to 13 subscribers from around Australia and one in New York.

Some key links to re-live or explore what happened:

Media and other stories:


Post-conference surveys are always interesting and we know from past surveys and feedback, gathered over the years, that we can expect a range of opinions. This is understandable when you consider the diversity in job roles, experience, needs and interests. So far, we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback, with people telling us the conference was extremely valuable to them. A couple of people told us that it was their best conference experience ever (and they’ve been to more than a dozen in their careers). Wow.

The survey recently closed and so we will be busily combing through all the feedback and passing it on to those who will benefit in coming weeks, once all the data is in. However, we thought it might be timely to share just a few of the comments with you below.

If you feel that you could have offered a better session than what you saw, or an important aspect of the science communication landscape was missed, then the ASC would love to hear from you.

ASC2014 Program Committee

Any comments about the professional development sessions?

We encouraged a range of PD sessions with a whole stream devoted to them. Some hit the mark and some didn’t. The ASC would be very interested to learn more about what PD and training needs you feel you need to support you in your work, so please get in touch.

  • “The editing sessions were excellent – I really enjoyed the little games and exercises and the presenter was very knowledgeable.”
  • “Mind-blowing”
  • “Hands-on, interactive, information-rich sessions were valuable and I got a lot out of them. It is easy to tell the well-prepared sessions from the ones with no content at all to those that were mere presentations. More activities that really make you think and learn are most effective for these PD sessions.”

What were the best aspects of the conference for you?

Networking of course came through as the best aspect of the conference. Some of the comments:

  • “Feeling and being part of the Australian Science Communicator’s community – the opportunity to meet friends and acquaintances and make new ones, and to find out about science communication activities and research around Australia.”
  • “Sense of community spirit. Presence of younger, less jaded folks.”
  • “Networking and the opportunity to exchange ideas with peers.”
  • “Learning about all aspects of science communication from all over the country. Networking opportunities.”
  • “The Plenary sessions with Drew Berry and Lloyd were fantastic and inspiring.”
  • “Hearing creative ideas put into practise and seeing the evaluations of how these have worked.”
  • “Thanks again for one of, if not the, best and inspiring professional conferences I have attended.”


Some speakers rocked attendees socks off and some need to develop further (including improving their presentation skills). Some people said that the sessions were great, but they did want (or were expecting) something more or different. All feedback is valuable so thanks again. Some comments:

  • “Ian Lowe was fantastic!”
  • “I will never look at WWE wrestling the same way again!”
  • “The vast majority of the sessions I attended (if not all) had really good speakers and were really engaging and informative sessions.”

President’s update

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

First off, a hearty thank you to those who joined fellow ASC members in Brisbane for the 2014 conference.  I’m still buzzing after the conversations I had and the presentations I heard.  Claire Harris and Kali Madden, joined with countless volunteers, put on a conference to remember.  We’ll be looking at the conference feedback/evaluations to help us plan for the future.  If you didn’t get a chance to do the evaluation and have something you’d like to tell us about your conference experience, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Given that this is our 20th anniversary year, we’re planning a few more events around Australia over the next 10 months.  As these plans solidify, I’ll make sure they are advertised in SCOPE as well as on our social media platforms and website.  We are hoping that these events will be low-cost for members but will be useful as well as engaging.  Again, if you, your local branch of ASC, or your organisation is interested in partnering with ASC to explore some area of science communication, I’d like to hear about it and try to make it happen.

At the conference, I mentioned a book that I read late last year that pretty much blew me away.  That is really saying something as I can be as jaded as the next academic!  Several of you have followed up with me to say that they, too, found it powerful or wanted to seek it out (at their local independent bookshop, of course).  The book is Global Crisis:  War, Climate Change, and Catastrophe in the 17th Century and the author is Geoffrey Parker.  It was published in 2013 with Yale University Press.  The book explores the ‘little ice age’ of the 17th century and the political, social, and human costs of climate variability–not only for the Europeans, but also for those in China and South America (where extensive records were kept).  Even if you’re not a history buff, the stories that Parker relates about how some of the greatest thinkers and communicators of the age despaired are quite moving and remarkable.  And while it would be too easy to draw direct comparisons with our age, Parker’s use of data and storytelling are models for science communicators engaged in climate adaptation.  I don’t recommend too many books as ‘must haves’ but this one is worth sharing.

In closing, I’d like to encourage you to revisit the ASC website.  We’re trying to set up some ‘interest group’ areas for discussion of topics that interest you.  If you’re considering setting up an interest group, we’d like to help.