President’s update: Welcome to Brisbane for #ASC14!

Thank you to newly appointed ASC President Joan Leach for the conference welcome.

New ASC President Welcomes you to Brisbane for 2014 Conference

I was delighted to be voted in as 2014 ASC President late last year.  And while I claim no credit for the upcoming conference—that credit goes elsewhere and I will be flagging ASC members who have gone ‘above and beyond’ at the conference—I very much look forward to welcoming ASC colleagues to my home city of Brisbane in February!  If you haven’t quite decided whether to come or haven’t yet registered for the conference, please do so.  The program is rich—we will all learn something—and there are ample opportunities to catch up to people with whom you’ve been meaning to have that coffee or drink.  There are also networking opportunities to set up new projects and make new connections as well as learn new skills and research and project outcomes.


20 Years of ASC

2014 also marks an important milestone—20 years for the ASC.   Let me know if you have specific ideas for marking this occasion, and I’ll be reporting in from time to time on anniversary activities.   The conference will be a good opportunity to give an extra nod to all the members of ASC who have advocated for science communication over the past 20 years.  There is a lot to be proud of for ASC members, including being positioned to make a difference for the future.   This year also marks the Australian Academy of Science’s 60th year and members will be involved in various ways marking that anniversary as well.  Finally, I will risk immodesty by flagging my own personal anniversary—10 years in Australia.  I attended my first ASC/AMWA conference in Coolangatta in 2004 shortly after I landed in Brisbane.  ASC and AMWA members I met at that conference are still valued colleagues today and I credit ASC with helping to make me feel professionally ‘at home’ in Australia.   This is perhaps a key reason that, after 10 years of ASC helping me, I decided to sit in the hot seat to advocate for ASC members.


Getting the next 20 years off to a roaring start

ASC members offer an embarras de richesses when it comes to future planning.   I would like to harness this abundance of ideas for planning ASC projects, programs and advocacy.  If you have ideas or would like to volunteer some time on behalf of the organization, please contact me at   As I see it at present, my role is one of advocacy for members.  I would like to be certain that when there are science communication ‘problems to solve’, issues to address, or ideas to be generated, ASC members are at the forefront of decision-makers minds.  Among our members are those who put on the best engagement events, do the best evaluation, plan communication strategies that are effective, and do some of the best research in the area.  My goal is to make sure a broader range of organisations and people know that the future of science communication is being planned now by ASC members.

I look forward to catching up or meeting in you Brisbane in February!

From the president

Thank you to Claire Harris for preparing the update from the President.

If you haven’t seen the email from Rod Lamberts (9 July) you may have missed that Rod has decided to step down as President, due to health reasons.

This was not a decision I made lightly. I had some large and shiny plans for the ASC back in November last year and was enjoying the opening phases of enacting these with the ASC Executive and National Council. But having weighed up what’s possible for me, and what’s fair and practical for the ASC, the only reasonable path was for me to stand aside and let someone else take the lead.

This has been a reluctant decision, and speaking on behalf of the Executive members, and I’m sure the rest of the membership, we all feel for Rod in his situation.  We wish him the best and the Executive is glad to report that Rod will stay on the Executive and attend meetings when he can.

After discussions within the Executive and National Council (the representatives from our branch committees) I have agreed to take on the role of Acting President until the AGM. This will be a joint effort really, with Will Grant, Vice President and others in the Executive sharing the load.

As I said in my email to the list recently, this is an exciting time for the ASC. We are ramping up to the 2014 conference and will shortly be calling for expressions of interest to run sessions at the conference (keep an eye on the ASC website and Scope newsletter for updates). This event is a key pillar of the ASC associations objectives and will deliver a range of benefits, primarily to members, but also wider communities interested in science and the communication of its impacts on society.

We are also, with Will’s leadership, exploring what the future of ASC looks like with regards to professionalisation. So far, members have told us that becoming a professionalised association is something they would value. This is an important discussion and so we, on the Executive, invite your further thoughts.

I am also pleased to see that we have many enthusiastic writers working with our new Scope editor, Victoria Leitch, to bring new content to you all. This group effort has been specifically supported to encourage and harness the talent and passion of our members who want to contribute to ASC and help deliver as best we can as a volunteer association. This is a great opportunity for the writers – providing them with a tool to meet others, generate stories, build their profile and have their work delivered straight into the inbox of Scope subscribers. For all those who have been in touch to offer your time and enthusiasm, I thank you and look forward to enjoyable and rewarding projects ahead.

Another important recruitment is the general manager position – a vision shaped and implemented by the 2012 and 2013 Executives. We have received applications for this new role, which ultimately is aimed to deliver greater strategic partnerships, funding and the key projects.

I feel privileged to take on the role of president and look forward to meeting more of you over coming months. As always, your reflections on the ASC and how it is supporting or could better support its members are always welcome; either to me or your local branch reps.

Presidential Nominations – ASC AGM 2012

Presidential Nominations – ASC AGM 2012

The National Executive is pleased to announce there are two nominations for the position of National President of Australian Science Communicators for the upcoming AGM: Dr Rod Lamberts and Assoc Prof Nancy Longnecker.

Please find below nomination statements from the two candidates. Note that members who have designated proxies can now indicate how they will vote in the Presidential election. The protocol and form for nominating proxies and voting instructions can be found here:


Dr Rod Lamberts

 Hi Folks,

I present here two broad, big-picture visions I have for the ASC should I be elected to role of president for 2013, and also a very brief bio focusing on elements of my experience to help you judge my capacity to deliver.

If you want to quiz me on details or would like additional information, I’d be more than happy to oblige!

Cheers for now,


What I have in mind

Professionalizing the ASC

The public profile of science communication is the highest it’s ever been, and this trend shows no sign of reversing. With the L’Aquila earthquake case in Italy and the re-emergence of ASC-list discussions about instigating a code of conduct/ practice/ ethics, it is clearly time to reflect on what the ASC is now, and how it should evolve.

To that end, a major goal I would have as president would be to initiate the discussions and negotiations that would lead to the ASC becoming a professionalized body. This would include instituting a code of practice/conduct/ethics (and all that entails) and re-visiting the idea of the ASC becoming an accrediting body for both practitioners and training (a discussion I believe Jenni Metcalfe kicked-off during her presidential years).

This process would also involve exploring the nature and perceived benefits of ASC membership among existing ASCers, and identifying how we might extend the appeal of ASC membership to broader audiences.

Profile, position, partnerships (and prestige!)

Intimately entwined with professionalizing the ASC is raising the profile and prestige of the organization, and through that, the profile and prestige of its members. I believe that the ASC would benefit from increasing its public visibility as an organization, and also its strategic partnerships with relevant associations and institutions. Jesse Shore’s successes in getting formal ASC involvement in Inspiring Australia projects has been a pivotal early step in doing this, and something I believe should be nurtured and expended.

I would also like to see the ASC making regular, public comment on matters that are pertinent to its goals and its members, and this in ways that raise the public profile of science communication still further. We need to start speaking-up as an association and not just rely on the efforts of individual members.

 Could I do the job?

  • As the Chair/Convener of the 2012 ASC Conference, I have already demonstrated I can work successfully and effectively with the ASC council and executive.
  • I have a 15 year history working specifically in science communication in Australia and the region. Two highlights of this are my current roles as:
    • Deputy director of the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS) at the ANU
    • Consultant to UNESCO on science communication and science and public policy
  • I’ve been delivering training in general communication or science communication for nearly 20 years and have been designing and convening university programs in science communication since 2000.  I have also been conducting and supervising science communication research projects since 1998, a journey that began with my PhD research in science communication at the ANU.
  • I have a solid and continuously growing public presence commenting and advising on science, science communication and science policy matters. Examples of these can be found on The Conversation, a number of ABC sites (e.g., The Drum, ABC science), and in numerous radio and newspaper interviews over the last few years.
  • Finally, I have a large national and international network of well-established scientists, science communicators, government and policy professionals, and academics. 


Assoc Prof Nancy Longnecker

I ask for your support in the opportunity and challenge of working as ASC President in 2013. This post describes my vision and what I would bring to the role.

It is an exciting time to be a science communicator. Science communication is receiving wider recognition as a profession and as an academic discipline both nationally and internationally. A window of opportunity exists to increase the professionalisation of our field. This will lead to greater respect for the skills and expertise that are necessary to communicate science well. Appropriate valuing of science communication as a suite of skilled activities will see science communicators participating more often in strategic development in all stages and at all levels of science and technology projects. Development of a code of ethics for ASC is timely as it will assist the definition and valuing of what we do.

I was a science communicator before I had heard the term, becoming an official science communication enthusiast after attending the inspiring international PCST conference in Melbourne in 1996. I have been an active member of ASC ever since, serving as President of the WA branch and branch representative with the national ASC Council from 2004 to 2007 and ASC-VP in 2005.

ASC represents professionals in many areas – in corporate communications, informal education, science media and more. This is a challenge for ASC as our members have diverse needs. But diverse membership is also one of the strengths of ASC and provides the chance for members to network and benefit from a range of expertise and multiple perspectives. My work experiences include volunteer, professional and academic science communication. I was a science communicator with one of the earliest CRCs (CLIMA, from 1994- 2002, known for its creative approaches to science communication) and Associate Professor of science communication (UWA, 2002 – present).

I currently coordinate UWA’s academic science communication program and have been a driving force in it. Within a decade, the UWA program has grown to become one of the major academic programs in Australasia, providing postgraduate coursework and research and an undergraduate major in science communication.

Previous presidents and national councils have worked hard over many years to position ASC well. Science communication is being increasingly recognised as valuable activities that benefit science and society. We are in a good place to influence the field positively for ourselves and for future professionals.