Time to voice your thoughts: The ASC Working Groups

As mentioned in previous blogs, the national committee were in the process of creating working groups focussed on different areas of improvement within the ASC with the intention to redefine ourselves, our strategic direction and increase overall engagement and value of the membership. After our quick poll, we’ve decided to pivot and change the style of engagement to address the interest and availability of members to participate. 

As such, instead of the original concept of working groups, national will run a series of facilitated roundtable discussions where it is encouraged for members past, present and future to attend, along with representatives from organisations within the sector. After these sessions, national will collate the feedback and identify the future direction of the ASC.

In these sessions, participants will discuss prompting questions where their answers will be compiled and sent to the committee for further discussion and where possible, implementation.

These sessions will be broken up into four sessions starting at 3pm AEST | 2:30pm ACST | 1pm AWST: 

Roundtable 1 (June 18. 3-5:30pm AEST): Membership & Branches

Roundtable 2 (June 19. 3-5:30pm AEST): Conferences and Events

Roundtable 3 (July 16. 3-5:30pm AEST): Communications

Roundtable 4 (July 17. 3-5:30pm AEST): Awards & Bursaries

Attendance is not mandatory but strongly encouraged to ensure you get the most out of your membership. All sessions will be run as individual events, so you can hop in and out as your schedule allows, but if you can attend them all, please do! If you would like to have your voice heard however are unable to attend the related session, please still register as we hope to send communications prior/post the session which will allow for further engagement during/after the event.

All sessions will be run via Zoom, please register via the above links and share with your related communities and encourage attendance from your organisation, where relevant. It is strongly recommended that corporate members have at least one representative from their organisation attend.

If you have any questions in the lead up please feel free to send an email to: president@asc.asn.au 

May ASC Co-Presidents’ Message, Jirana Boontanjai and Tom Carruthers

The lead up to May stirs strong memories for us. Before becoming the ASC presidents, our April and May would be filled with hundreds (if not thousands) of messages, emails, meetings and volunteers preparing for the Pint of Science festival. This year, although not filled with Pints, our personal lives have exploded with house moves, new jobs, renovations and family visits. It’s been hectic!

We’ve still managed to progress a few things, albeit slower than we’d normally like. There’s been some cool activity reestablishing dormant branches. A steering committee is forming in preparation for a newly elected Melbourne committee by the next national AGM. Sarah Bradley and the team will be coordinating events throughout the rest of the year to help kickstart re-establishing the branch. Please reach out if you’re keen to contribute in Melbourne. In Adelaide, a similar model is being run by Lisa Bailey and we are sure she will accept any local help. Finally, we want to hear from anyone who would be willing to help reignite activity in NSW/Sydney. Please do get in touch to find out how you can get involved and what support the national team can give you.

As mentioned in our last update, we are still looking for interested individuals to help us shape the future activity and direction of the ASC. You can find out more HERE (we’ve fixed the form!). Please don’t hesitate to get in contact if you want more information.

There’s an ongoing project to develop a publicly accessible Business Directory for ASC members to have their services listed on the website. We are trying to prioritise this work to make sure this happens but want to understand who wants to use it so that we can make it most useful. If you would be interested in being listed in such a directory, please fill in this form at your earliest convenience as we are very keen to have something up as soon as possible.

Finally, some international news. Tom is now representing Australia and the ASC on the preparatory committee of the World Organization for Science Literacy and was introduced to the committee at the first meeting of the year. There are some very exciting projects starting and underway where there is the opportunity for the ASC to play a leading role. There are also some potential paid and volunteer opportunities for ASC members to contribute to the work of WOSL. You can find out more about WOSL at their website and Tom will update us via the ASC blog and this newsletter when more information is available.

April ASC Co-Presidents’ Message, Jirana Boontanjai and Tom Carruthers

The months are flying fast! We’re definitely looking forward to our Easter break.

With the Executive Committee, 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. To best achieve this though, we need the best minds in the business – that’s where you come in! Shortly there will be a formalised terms of reference and role expectations for seven working groups, but for now we ask that anyone who values the ASC and wants to help improve it pop your details in this form so that we can start the conversation.

We’ve previously addressed our concern towards those affected by the events occurring in Ukraine. We have made a public statement on our website, (link here).

Last month we had our first National Council meeting where we heard from local branch representatives about what the teams are getting up to, including the diverse array of events being held for the membership. We also have a revival of activity in Adelaide with Lisa Bailey getting things going there. Keep an eye out for an event coming near you, and make sure you’re actively subscribed (via the ASC website) to your most convenient branch/s. Some of these events will be open to the national cohort too and will be advertised accordingly.

With a federal election coming in May, we wish those associated with the government and public service sectors smooth sailing during what can be a challenging time. See you on the other side.

February, ASC Co-Presidents’ Message, Jirana Boontanjai and Tom Carruthers

Happy Chinese New Year to those who celebrate this festival, and welcome to the year of the Tiger. It’s also World Interfaith Harmony Week, and later this month is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11 Feb). We know that many of you will be acknowledging this day within your organisations and personally. We hope that you have meaningful messages on gender equity to share and continue the fight for full and equal access and participation for women and girls in science.

After a somewhat extended break over New Year, the national team will be meeting officially in their new roles for the first time tomorrow. For what feels like the real start of our co-presidency, this is a particularly exciting moment and we are keen to get going on plotting out the coming year. We’ve already had a catch-up with our National Editor, Cedric Bauer, to start discussions on this newsletter and our other internal communications. The three of us had a unanimous desire to amplify the voice of, and to prioritise projects in response to the broader membership.

To that end, we’ve put together a quick form to capture some initial thoughts to help shape our thinking for the year ahead both for SCOPE and more generally. You can access the form here, or feel free to email us directly if you’d prefer.

And finally – a quick congratulations to our National Secretary, Dr Michelle Reidlinger, who as of earlier this year, is the new Editor in Chief of the Journal of Science Communication. We wish you all the best in the role.


ASC Co-President’s Update, Jirana Boontanjai and Tom Carruthers

Welcome to 2022 and the January issue of SCOPE. For those lucky to have had a break, we hope it was a restful, safe and rejuvenating one. We did want to acknowledge the current economic and health crisis and that there will be many within our community who will be affected by the current situation in Australia. Our thoughts are with you, and invite you to reach out if there is anything we may be able to assist with during the year. We wish strength and perseverance to all the ASC community and particular endurance to those working on health or COVID-19 communications.

Looking forward, we’re both really excited for the year ahead and anticipating our first national committee meeting in the coming days. Local branches will be meeting soon as well. There’s progress already underway on forward planning for the year and we are considering a range of activities to support the membership. Expect to hear more soon about some rather valuable projects both at the local and national level via our channels for how you can get involved.

Finally, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the recent passing of Professor Mike Gore AO. Many within our community would know (and were even trained by) Mike. The monumental impact he has had in the science communication sector in Australia was inspirational and invaluable. His legacy lives on in the science circus, Questacon, the ANU and in the hearts of so many of his students and colleagues. We will be putting together a small tribute for Mike on behalf of the ASC in the coming days, so please keep an eye on our social channels for a call out should you wish to contribute.

Good luck and best of health for the year ahead.

ASC Co-President’s Update, Jirana Boontanjai and Tom Carruthers

Hello ASCers,

We’re excited for our first SCOPE newsletter as co-presidents! Jirana and I are grateful for the membership’s support in electing us into this role and are really keen to contribute back to the community at a national level.

We hope that you all found the recent symposium valuable. Personally, we both were inspired and impressed by the stories on the presenters’ research, practice and creativity. A huge thank you to the co-convenors who put together the program under Lisa’s direction.

We’d also like to formally thank Lisa who has led the ASC nationally over the last three years. Her contribution has provided the ASC resilience and much-needed stability during a very difficult time. Jirana and I are indebted to her for giving us a much easier starting point for our tenure as co-presidents. Thank you.

Looking toward 2022, the new executive will start regular meetings in late January or early February. Jirana and I are both very keen to capture ideas to develop the strategic direction for the association in a consultative manner. Get your thinking caps on over the break. We will be seeking input from the membership early in the new year.

All the best wishes over the new year period, and good luck with your communications,

Tom & Jirana

2021 ASC Online Symposium by David Harris and Jo Bailey

ASC’s online symposium this year had a Art and Design stream curated by David Harris and Jo Bailey and convened by David Harris.

The last session of the day (before David hosted ‘science cocktails’, which in a face-to-face situation may well have become their own ‘session’!) was titled ‘Mirofestos’: crowdsourcing ideas from highly-opinionated people. This online workshop used the digital whiteboard tool Miro. This platform is one that design lecturers (which David and Jo both are in their day jobs) have become accustomed to using to bring some of the activities of design studio culture (whiteboarding, critique, provocation/response, capturing visual iteration) online during pandemic ‘zoom teaching’. David and Jo felt that there was an opportunity to deploy this medium as a science communication tool for invested audiences, and wanted to see how it was taken up in the context of an online conference with very little ‘onboarding’ – just jump on and go! 

We used as a prompt a presentation that David gave at ASC2018 (when we were face-to-face in Sydney): his Against the Deficit Model: a Manifesto for Science Communication.

Download a PDF of the 2018 manifesto

The Against the Deficit Model manifesto, © David Harris, giffed by Jo Bailey

This was a deliberately provocative stance on some foundational issues for science communication. David stated:

You will get angry at some of these statements.
That’s ok. But I want you to think about why you are inflamed.
Is it because I’m wrong? Or is it because I’m right?

So what better way to channel that passion than via virtual post-it flame-wars and emoji-battles?!

What did we learn? Engagement was high, and activity was frenetic, as this fast-forward of the Zoom call screenshare shows:

The contributions were on the whole good natured banter even where the topics were on the contentious side. Amongst the scribbles and one-liners was some deep thinking and more expansive and reflexive commentary. We’ve not pulled out themes from the content yet, but it is available for you to browse: Check out the Miro board here: https://miro.com/app/board/o9J_ljLDIHg=/?invite_link_id=698639598886 

 One of the crowdsourced additional Miro frames on the things scicomm needs more and less of

Lisa Bailey: President’s Update November

It’s been three years that I’ve had the pleasure of chairing the executive for ASC as the current President, but for this AGM, I will be stepping down from my role to make way for someone new.  So nominations are open for the next President! 

If you are interested or know of someone who could be, please get in touch and let me know at president@asc.asn.au

I think there’s never been a better time to step into the role.  We’ll have just completed our first online national symposium, and the organisation is in the best financial position it’s ever been. I’ve found it to be so rewarding to be in contact with the huge variety of science communicators across Australia that make up ASC.  I’ve always wanted ASC to be an organisation to provide support and push us to better practise through knowledge sharing.  So if you’re passionate about the community here in Australia, I believe it’s a fabulous way to continue to build that.     

The Annual General Meeting will be 5.45pm on Thursday 18 November via zoom.  As part of the AGM there are positions vacant on the executive to fill including:
What is the role? Chair the national committee and executive.  Provide support and strategic direction in response to member needs. Promote and advocate for the organisation.
But what do you actually do?  Attend meetings of the National Committee (branch representatives from each state) and Executive.  Initiate and support programs of activity of ASC (lots of ways you can do that! Including convening project committees for particular tasks like webinars or conferences).
What is the role? The treasurer keeps correct accounts and books showing the financial affairs of the association with full details of all receipts and expenditure connected with the activities of the association
But what do you actually do?  Prepare budgets and finance update reports for meetings, manage capitation payments to states (there is a system in place for this). The treasurer is supported by the Executive Officer and professional bookkeeping and finance management software systems.   
This role is optional for the executive committee but is a great way to be introduced to the workings of the national organisation.

ASC Online 2021
Our national symposium will be held online from 17-19 November.  Full program details have now been announced, and registrations are still open. 
Program, click here.
Registration, click here. 

Notice for 2021 Annual General Meeting

Official notice of 2021 Australian Science Communicators AGM (online via Zoom)

This is the official notice of the Australian Science Communicators’ Annual General Meeting, to be held online via zoom on THURSDAY 18 NOVEMBER 2021

The 2021 AGM is an opportunity for members to hear about the year’s events at the national level, and also to have their say about what should happen in the year to come. It also includes reports from the President and Treasurer.

When: Thursday 18 November 2021

Perth: 2:45pm

Darwin: 4:15pm

Brisbane: 4:45pm

Adelaide: 5:15pm

Sydney/Melb/Canberra/Hobart: 5:45pm

Where: Online via zoom (please RSVP and you will be emailed a link to join).

RSVP via Form below or via this link

Only financial ASC members are eligible to attend the AGM. Please check you have renewed your membership community.asc.asn.au

Executive Council Positions

The current ASC President Lisa Bailey will be standing down from the President’s role.

Nominations for President:

Jirana Boontanjai and Tom Carruthers (nominating to act as co-Presidents together and share the position)

With Jirana as an education and engagement professional, and Tom as a communication strategist and technical advisor, they bring a wealth of expertise to the role from working in academia, government and the not-for-profit sectors. They recently reinvigorated Pint of Science as more than a science-in-the-pub event, but instead as a grass-roots program for EMCRs in sci comm and events management.

Camille Thomson

As a long time active member of the ASC, I feel I should take this opportunity to put my name forward and see how I can help shape the future of science communicators. I have had many roles being an educator and communicator myself as well as helping train early career scientists to communicate their work better. 

I’d love the opportunity to take on this important role

Nominations for Vice-President

Jen Martin

Hi, I’m Jen Martin, I founded and lead the Science Communication Teaching Program at Melbourne Uni. I joined ASC and attended my first conference back in 2010 and have been incredibly grateful to be part of this diverse and dynamic network ever since. I’ve contributed to ASC in a number of different ways over the years and was very privileged to be recognised as the Unsung Hero of Australian Science Communication for 2019. Now I’d like the opportunity to join the Executive and give back more to the organisation.

Johanna Howes

For those of you who haven’t met me at a past ASC conference, my name’s Joh Howes. After finishing up my PhD in Environmental Chemistry, I realised I liked talking about other people’s research and didn’t enjoy academia myself. So I joined the Science Circus in 2016 and have been working as a Science Communicator ever since. Right now I am one of three Experience Officers (content creators and managers) at Science Space in Wollongong. I spend most of my time training our incredible staff, writing shows and performing for online audiences in our Planetarium and Science Theatre.

I’ve been a part of ASC since 2017/2018 and have really enjoyed all of the networking opportunities. I would love to help out where I can on the committee and specifically speak up for those of us in more regional centres of the country. I’ve been serving as the NSW branch VP for the last 2 years and I’d like to continue learning about the organisation.

If you’ve got any questions, you can send me an email at jhowes@uow.edu.au

Nominations for Secretary

The existing secretary Michelle Redlinger has nominated to continue in the role for 2022.

Nominations for Treasurer

None received as of 15/11/21 

Reps on the National Council

Branches are required to nominate and endorse a National Representative to join the National Council at their Branch AGM. If this has happened, please notified the National Secretary.

Agenda items and notices of motions

Proposed agenda items, notices of motion must be received by 5.30pm (AEDT) Monday 15 November 2021 and can be sent to president@asc.asn.au. Note that notices of motion require a proposer and a seconder.


Members unable to attend the AGM in person can provide an online proxy. This will allow members to nominate another current ASC member attending the meeting to hold their proxy, or alternatively the National Secretary. Instructions for nominating proxies will be circulated prior to the AGM along with the final notification of official business. Please note, organisations that have a membership may nominate only one (1) representative to vote.

The following items are current as of 31 October 2021:

ASC Scope Interview: Jirana Boontanjai

Why did you choose to study science?

Whilst growing up, I hadn’t really thought of science as a career pathway, it was just my way of interacting with the world, asking ‘Why?’ whenever I could. I begged my parents for subscriptions to Australian Geographic, CSIRO’s Double Helix and Scientriffic magazines where I’d enter every competition I could to win ‘science’ toys. However, I remember the exact moment I realised that ‘maybe science is my ‘thing’?’. It was after my grade 6 graduation, where I received the Science Award. At my school, science was taught in a composite science/art class once a fortnight and it didn’t feel like science, it felt like art when compared to other subjects such as maths, which had its own allocated time daily. So to get an award for it, was surprising, and I must have really stood out as passionate about science. So from that point forward, I pursued science because someone told me I was good at it. When it came time to choose if I’d do a university degree, I was already drawn and immersed in science and doing better and more excited by the life sciences subjects so decided that I’d pursue that pathway. Having not grown up with any pets, I wanted to study zoology to become a Zookeeper, however my parents though I’d pigeonhole myself too early (they were soon to be right), so I compromised, and studied a double degree covering both Zoology and more broadly Biological Sciences.

Looking back now, what has been the best part of your career in SciComm?

Co-leading a team of volunteers to host Pint of Science across the nation for the last 4 years, where I’ve been recognised as an Emerging Leader by the Telstra Business Women’s Awards is probably my stand out. I know that this role has meant a lot to many in pursuing their careers, and personal development and it’s been great to be along for the journey to encourage and push them to success. This role has been a large part of my career and scicomm identity. I’ve learnt a lot, and grown a lot in the role, and having now handed it over to the next generation, there is a hole in my definition of self, that I’ll be working to fill once I answer, ‘What’s Next?’.  

Where has your career led you?

It’s interesting to think about career pathways. While teaching financial literacy and life skill lessons to school children, there was a workshop where we talked about career progression and how the skills we learn in one job can help us secure the next job, like using stepping stones, there are many pathways but you choose the direction. I always think back to this and think back to my career and the stones that I’ve stepped and side stepped to get to where I am now and to where I’m heading. The community that the Questacon Science Circus and ASC has developed has helped. My volunteer work with Pint of Science greatly shaped and opened doors to diverse job opportunities. I was able to use this to help gain skills that I couldn’t get in my paid roles and there have been jobs that I wouldn’t have gotten if it wasn’t for Pint of Science. I’ve been fortunate to work with some well-known organisations, and influential people through Questacon, Australian Academy of Science and the public service. I’ve still got a long way to go in my career, and I feel like my career is only starting.

What excites you most about your work?

As someone who is currently in-between jobs, and working in a field that I wouldn’t define as science communication, but rather education, I get excited by the behavioural changes of my audiences, whether that be them learning something, finding training valuable, or just the excitement of an opportunity to learn. I get excitement out of a successful event, or an event where my customer doesn’t realise something has gone wrong because to them it was flawless. I’m looking forward to my next science themed adventure with a few ideas that I’ve got brewing.

What advice do you have for anyone considering a career in SciComm?

Volunteer with Pint of Science? Haha! SciComm is a big field. Identifying what niche of scicomm you’re interested by is valuable. Is it written, journalism, TV, do you want to raise awareness or appreciation of science etc. This might be best achieved by trying out different opportunities, talking to others or volunteering so you can test it out for yourself. Across Australia there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer, you could help run national science week events or test out one of your own ideas, the World Science Festival in Brisbane, Fresh Science to name a few. Most importantly, think about how you can turn it into a viable paid career, or are you ok to continue volunteering your time just for fun? Keep in mind, that you might not get there tomorrow or the next day, a career is something you continuously work on, and continuously evolves as you learn more about yourself and the world.

What are some of the greatest challenges that you’ve overcome in your SciComm career? 

Balance. I don’t think I’ve overcome this yet, but it’s something I continuously work on. Balancing personal, work and career life. Do you keep them separate? Or do they overlap? How much overlap is too much overlap? Is it a conflict of interest or are you making use of your networks? I’ve been working to identify where my line is for doing scicomm as a career or as a hobby and probably like many at a similar stage in their career, it’s a hard choice, and presently I’m working through it to see where I end up and what I’m passionate about next.