Pre-National Science Week Mixer – Victoria

Have you got an upcoming event to spruik as part of National Science Week? Or maybe you’d like to hear about the events happening in your area?

Join the Australian Science Communicators Victorian branch and other science-enthusiasts for an open mic and networking night. We’ll open the floor to National Science Week event-holders who’ll share what they’ve got planned for the big week ahead. There will also be door prizes up for grabs.

If you’d like to talk about your event in 1 minute on the night, please contact us via the link below. If you can’t make it along, we’ll be happy to show your promotional material.

The Wild Melbourne Journey – A case study in science communication

The Wild Melbourne Journey

Wild Melbourne

This is a FREE event but places are limited so register your attendance here and stay tuned for updates at the Facebook even page here.


And that’s a wrap! Here’s a story from our day at the beach #scistoryASC

Thanks to Sarah Keenihan for this post

Science is renowned for being factual, emotionless and objective.

So how on earth can we convince non-scientists that it’s also beautiful, revealing and intimately connected with life?

By creating stories.

On Friday June 3, ASC South Australia was delighted to host the event Storytelling in Science Communication: a day at the beach.

With a full house in attendance, we explored the role of storytelling in science communication, and considered the importance of culture, character, structure, mood, narrative, emotion, vulnerability, voice, crisis and resolution in attracting and enthralling audiences as we write, draw, talk and perform science.

We also discussed how digital tools can be used to support storytelling in science communication, including the creation of well-structured written content, the use of bespoke and meaningful images, putting audience at the forefront of communication design and thinking, the importance of multi-faceted production (audio, visual and textual content) and using social media effectively to attract and sustain audience interest.

A number of links and tools were mentioned throughout the day: here is a reference list to remind attendees and share ideas with others who weren’t able to be there.

Other useful links:

A very big thanks to all our attendees for this event. It was great fun to put together and we hope you found it useful and inspiring!







You ask the questions… turning the tables on the media on 27 June.

·         Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in a newsroom?

·         Who decides what stories to cover and when?

·         Where do science stories fit in?

·         And how do you get your research in the news?

Join us on Monday 27 June to find out as the Australian Science Communicators, Royal Society of Victoria, and Science in Public team up to introduce you to our local Melbourne science (and science-interested) journalists.

We’ll bring together a panel of working journalists from print, TV, and radio to tell us about what they do, and what they look for in a story. 

The panel will give you an introduction to the needs and challenges of TV news, radio, and the daily press.

We’ll kick off with a few questions like:

·         What turns science into news for them and their audiences

·         What they need to tell your story

·         How you can help them engage their audience and stay true to the science.

Then you can turn the tables and ask them your questions.

This event is FREE, but you’ll need to reserve your place via Eventbrite.
: Monday 27 June – nibbles and networking from 6pm, forum to start at 6.30pm

: Royal Society of Victoria, 8 La Trobe St, Melbourne
Register at

Event reflection – ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’

As science communicators, when we write about scientific discoveries for public consumption, we often search for the ‘so what?’ in the story – what are the implications for human kind and how will this discovery improve our lives for the better? But for discoveries in pure mathematics, there is often no application at all. Or at least an application may not be known right away.

This month, ASC Victoria continued its series of science movie nights in Melbourne with the screening of ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’ – a bio pic based on the short but incredible life of self-educated genius mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887- 1920).  It’s a story that explores the art and divinity of pure mathematics, as well as Ramanujan’s own struggle against British superiority and the rules of ‘empiricism’ or having to prove his mathematical theorems.

Dr Kevin Ormann-Rossiter – physicist, science historian and writer – primed us before the screening, giving some insights into Ramanujan’s world.  Ramanujan, he explained, was revolutionary not only for his mathematical discoveries but because he led the way for Indian academics to travel to England for study and to gain recognition on the world-stage. Much of what’s  known about Ramanujan’s journey from clerk in Madras to fellow of both Trinity College, Cambridge and The Royal Society, is through the accounts of Cambridge Mathematician GH Hardy – the man who brought Ramanujan to Cambridge, helped publish his work, and formed with him a kind of  ‘odd couple’ partnership.  Spoiler alert though:  Ramanujan’s life was cut unfortunately short when he succumbed to illness at only 32.

As someone who’s never been gifted in mathematics, I’m fascinated and awed by people with mathematical minds. The first time I ever heard about Ramanujan was actually via The Simpsons. At Simon Singh’s public lecture in Melbourne a few years ago ‘The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets’, Singh talked about the number 1729 and why it is slipped into the odd Simpsons episode by the show’s writers. It’s called the Hardy–Ramanujan number and the story behind it gives a small but compelling insight into the brilliance of Ramanujan’s mind. Hardy one recounted a visit to Ramanujan in a nursing home:

‘I remember once going to see him when he was lying ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one and that I hoped it was not an unfavourable omen. ‘No,’ he replied. ‘It is a very interesting number. It is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.’

It’s a key scene featured in the film that fans will likely anticipate.

For mathematicians and math fans such as those behind the Simpsons, using the number 1729 is a silent homage to Ramanujan and a symbol of love for his work. But for the rest of us, The Man Who Knew Infinity offers an accessible inroad through which we can gain a greater appreciation for the beauty of pure mathematics and the freakishly talented humans who are able to play with it.

By Victorian Committee Member – Laura Boland

Sharing amazing science stories at FameLab 2016

Thank you to Sarah Lau for the post.

I recently had the honour of MCing the WA semi-final of FameLab 2016 at the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle.

FameLab sees early career researchers share their research in a three minute presentation – using everything from props to poetry, but certainly no PowerPoint!

Beginning in 2005 at the Cheltenham Science Festival, FameLab has grown through a partnership with the British Council to include over 5000 researchers in more than 25 countries, becoming one of the leading international science communication competitions.

In WA, the 12 competitors spent the day leading into the semi-final in an intensive science communication workshop with leading science communicators and broadcasters (and ASC luminaries), including Frankie Lee, Renae Sayers and Kylie Sturgess.

The evening then lit up with the finalists showcasing a diversity of styles and topics to an appreciative audience.

The judging panel had the challenge of evaluating each presenter and presentation on ‘content, clarity and charisma’.

It was a tough call, but the winner of the WA semi-final was Mahmoud Bassal from The University of South Australia, with ‘The Cancer Conundrum’, about genetic and metabolic changes in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

Mahmoud also took out the Audience Choice Award.

The runner–up was Toby Brown from ICRAR-University of Western Australia and Swinburne University, with ‘Chasing Shadows’, about how dark matter shapes our Universe.

Programs such as FameLab are important in promoting excellence in science communication and demonstrating the many benefits of communicating research in interesting and accessible ways.

On a personal level, it is a very rewarding experience to be part of a program which helps early career researchers build their communication skills to expand the reach and impact of their research.

If you are in WA this week, you can see some of Australia’s best and brightest early career researchers share their work at the national FameLab final at the WA Museum in Perth on 5 May 2016.

FameLab 2016

ASC movie nights are back in 2016!

infinity email

Join us on Wednesday 11 May at Kino Cinemas to get the know THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY. Starring Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) and Jeremy Irons (Batman Vs Superman), it tells the life story of the extraordinary Indian mathematician and autodidact, Srinivasa Ramanujan. With no formal training in pure mathematics, he made extraordinary contributions to fields of mathematics, including mathematical analysis, number theory and infinite series. His life story was the inspiration for the academy award winning film, Good Will Hunting.

Prior to the screening we will hear from Dr Kevin Orrman-Rossiter, accomplished physicist, science historian, freelance science writer and reviewer.

As always, the cheap price includes popcorn.

Looking forward to seeing you all there.

When: Wednesday, 11 May 2016 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM (AEST)
Tickets: $20, including free popcorn

President’s update

Thanks to Joan Leach for the update.

The Conference is just about now!

I spent a very productive hour this week listening to the new Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, AO, give his maiden speech at the press club. I’m now looking forward even more to his plenary opening of the ASC conference in Brisbane on the 11th… 11.00 am. Actually, it strikes me that the national press club has not one, but three (!!) featured science sessions this month. After the Chief Scientist, Alan Alda is speaking. Finally, there is a ‘women in science’ panel to round out the month. Science meets Parliament also looked to be a big success again this year. And the World Festival Science is heating up. Then, there’s the gravitational waves that must be coursing through us even as you read this. So a lot of buzzy things happening. I hope to see you in Brisbane!

Volunteer for Pint of Science!

Thanks Emma Ceccato for this opportunity!

Are you interested in sharing science with the public?

Do you enjoy relaxing with friends at the pub?

If the answer to both is YES, then Pint of Science Australia is for you!

Pint of Science is an international festival that aims to showcase the amazing research of local scientists to the general public in the relaxed venue of the local pub. In 2015, the Pint of Science Australia festival expanded to include Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane, hosting fantastic events over 3 nights.

For 2016 – we want to expand even more to include more themes and even more cities across Australia – and we need you!

Events in 2016 will take place from 23-25 May, and will incorporate the following themes: Beautiful Mind (neurosciences), Atoms to Galaxies (physics, chemistry) Our Body (life sciences) Planet Earth (geosciences) and Tech Me Out (engineering, computer science).

We are looking for volunteers for various roles: city coordinators, team coordinators, social media reps and fundraisers. Each team will source out a venue, speakers and activities for the night.

This is an incredible opportunity to be a part of our ever growing festival so if you are interested in getting involved, please register your interest here or email with what you’re keen to do, tell us a little bit about yourself and how we can best reach you.

Meet the Scientists event – NSW

Unwind with a FREE DRINK courtesy of your local ASC, nibble finger food and enervate your neurons with the ASC NSW Christmas event, as we chat with well-known scientists who are successfully communicating their research. We’ll ask them why they f*king love communicating science, how they do it, and we’ll challenge them to describe decades of science research in the space of a single tweet!

They explore the stars, seek the roots of evolution, and spend their days playing with eight-legged beasties.

Scientists are also increasingly at the forefront of communication channels across multiple platforms. Join us as we chat to Australian scientists making their mark in both research and communication; on TV, radio and social platforms.

Don’t miss this fun night. Come and have a drink and some simulating discussion with your local ASC branch, and chat to some science communication all-stars featuring Scientia Professor Rob Brooks, Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith and Lizzy Lowe.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015 from 6:30 PM

Pyrmont Point Hotel, Margot’s Room – 59 Harris Street Pyrmont, NSW 2009

Tickets $15 for members and $25 for non-members.


Scientia Professor Rob Brooks

Rob Brooks_web

Evolutionary biologist Rob Brooks studies sexual reproduction and how it shapes the lives of humans and other animals. He heads the “Sex Lab” at UNSW where he is Scientia Professor and Director of the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre. His work has shaped how we understand the evolution of mate choice, how sex alters the aging process, and the links between sex, diet, obesity and death. He has won major prizes for both research and popular science communication. His popular writing, including his first book Sex, Genes & Rock ’n’ Roll: How Evolution has Shaped the Modern World, explores the power of evolutionary thinking to illuminate the human condition.

Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith


Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith is an astronomer at the CSIRO and studies the birth and death of stars in our Galaxy. She is the Project Scientist for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), a telescope comprising 36 large radio ‘dishes’ under construction in the Western Australian outback. Lisa is leading the ASKAP early science project, which will study the evolution of galaxies through approximately 7 billion years of cosmic history and is due to start in 2016. Harvey-Smith is an accomplished science writer and speaker and was a finalist in the 2015 Eureka Prize for Promoting the Understanding of Australian Science Research. In 2012 she was listed in the Sydney Morning Herald’s “Top 100: Most Influential People”. Harvey-Smith regularly speaks in schools and is involved in a mentoring program for young indigenous people in WA.

Lizzy Lowe


Lizzy is a PhD student at the University of Sydney studying the effects of urbanisation on spiders. She uses outreach to introduce people to the amazing world of arachnids and start conversations about the importance of biodiversity in cities. She particularly enjoys visiting primary schools because kids are much more appreciative of creepy crawlies!