ASC partner with BIG science communication summit

Thanks to Claire Harris for her run-down of the ASC/BIG science blogosphere team.

There is no doubt that the BIG Science Communication Summit provided a memorable experience for those that attended. And… for those who watched from afar via the EASELivestream and on social media (for example, using the hashtag #bigsci13 on Twitter).

ASC was proud to be a community partner with the Inspiring Australia, TechNyou and ScienceRewired teams and to be part of delivering the vision for the BIG Science Communication Summit. The event aimed to deliver an opportunity for science communicators to collaboratively discuss the challenges they face individually and collectively, and to develop solutions through engaging both before and during the event.

ScienceRewired provided an opportunity for six ASC members to have berths on the social media team – to drive discussion and debate – and to attend the event.

The ASC Live Bloggers were:

  • Amelia Swan (@SwanAmelia)
  • Victoria Leitch (@craniophiles)
  • Melissa Lyne (@malyne)
  • Kali Madden (@ASCkali)
  • Sarah Lau (@LaLaLausy)
  • Sam Askin (@samaskin). Sam actually contributed from his office in Townsville. Kali said: We were all amazed that he could be so ‘in the moment’ and we thought he must have been sitting in the gallery with the rest of the team!

The super team of live bloggers (ok, yes I was one of them but hell, I’m going with super!) were encouraged to explore topics of interest and contribute Tweets, blogs, photo galleries. The ASC live bloggers also played an important part in reporting the happenings at the event, particularly the workshops, as they weren’t being live-streamed.

Kylie Sturgess, the Social Media Coordinator for ScienceRewired led us through the, at times for me slightly confusing, social media playground set up for the event. (I for one had some experience in Twitter, Facebook and blogs but Storify, live streaming… not so much.)

Kylie Sturgess actively podcasted, networked and blogged/Tweeted/photographed the event along with the team. She gathered some great stories on Storify.

I think I can speak on behalf of the team to say that Kylie was a bundle of fun and a font of knowledge on social media.

Apparently #bigsci13 trended on Twitter on both days for Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney and we got feedback from attendees present and online saying they appreciated the contributions from the team.

Bloggers’ selfie: Claire Harris (left), Vanessa Hill (middle), Victoria Leitch (top), Kylie Sturgess (bottom)

Some Tweets:

@sciencerewired: Missed a session from yesterday? Didn’t see it livestreamed? Thanks to our Social Media Team, catch up at: … #BigSci13 This Tweet was Retweeted 14 times.

@DoUBelieveInDog: @sciencerewired Can confirm you are coming through loud and clear and amazeballs on the live stream #bigsci13  🙂 (Just need more #dogs!)

@nessyhill: Mwahhahaha RT @chachiconnell: So there’s bloggers hidden in the gallery #bigsci13 I’m getting flashbacks of the #redwedding #GoT

See some of the live bloggers’ contributions on one of the Storifys.

Check out some of the blog posts written by the team:

Thanks for a great experience and all your hard work ASC crew, Kylie and indeed all involved in the event.

Bloggers’ selfie: Will Grant (left), Sarah Lau (middle), Amelia Swan (left)

Sally hands over the reins of the ASC SCOPE newsletter

Article prepared by Claire Harris on behalf of the ASC National Executive

In the last two years as our Scope editor, Sally Miles has played a very important role for ASC and its members. She has, as Jesse says below, transformed this communication channel through writing engaging articles, working with members to tell their stories, interviewing sci comm leaders and ferreting out interesting tidbits of news for us all. She has also recently upgraded the newsletter with slicker design and a move into MailChimp.

I spent a few moments with Past-President Jesse Shore and Executive Officer Kali Madden to hear their thoughts.

“As editor of Scope, Sally Miles has transformed the ASC newsletter and made it a more valued membership benefit,” said Jesse.

“The smart new look she recently created for Scope complements and emphasises her focus on featuring current content. Sally has expanded the range of topics in the newsletter and increased the number of people contributing to the various editions,” he said.

Kali agreed, highlighting Sally’s enthusiasm, care and attention to detail.

“Sally brought so much to the table in her role, which was very much appreciated and made her a valued member of the ASC Communication Team,” said Kali.

“Our thanks go to Sally for keeping Scope fresh and very readable and for laying the groundwork for others to build on her achievements,” said Jesse.

The National Executive would like to take this opportunity to thank Sally for her efforts.

With Sally stepping down, we are pleased to announce Victoria Leitch as our new Scope editor. Victoria’s background includes a PhD in craniofacial biology and work as a science communicator at Puratap and CRC CARE (CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment). Victoria is excited to take on the position and build upon the the solid foundation left behind by Sally and her hard work and enthusiasm.

Have you loved Sally’s work or want to say hello to Victoria or send some feedback on Scope? Please feel free to email

Apply for new position: General Manager of the Australian Science Communicators


You are invited to express your interest in appointment to the newly-created part-time position of General Manager of the Australian Science Communicators (ASC).

Location: anywhere in Australia with broadband internet access. Committee meetings held via Skype.

The ASC is a professional body representing and supporting some 500 science communicators working in a wide range of roles. The ASC organises a variety of social and professional development events to allow its members to both mingle and learn, maintains a website, email lists for posting and a monthly electronic newsletter and stages National Conferences. The ASC enjoys a high profile in the science communication community and a strong relationship with relevant programs of the Commonwealth Government.

The General Manager will be responsible for the external relations of the ASC, including management of externally funded projects (such as those linked to the Inspiring Australia initiative), liaison with Government and with organisations that share its objectives, and delivery of National Conferences. The General Manager will report directly to the President of the ASC, and will work in parallel with the already-appointed Executive Officer who is responsible for internal administration and member value.

The appointment will be for six (6) months in the first instance but can be renewed subject to satisfactory performance. Remuneration will be calculated on the basis of one day’s work per week as a stipend but there will be opportunities for additional remuneration based on performance in certain areas.

Skills and Experience


·        Substantial experience in science communication, including awareness of the nature and activities of the Australian science communication community.

·        Verbal and written communication skills of a high order

·        Demonstrated success in the initiation, marketing and delivery of projects and collaborations

·        Strong administrative, relationship management and negotiation skills.


·        Experience in interaction with Government agencies.

·        Experience in the staging of conferences.


·        Manage a range of externally-directed projects intended to raise the profile and impact of the ASC in the science communication and wider communities.

·        Secure of additional revenue for the ASC through sponsorship or by the initiation of new externally-funded projects.

·        Build and sustain relationships with other relevant organisations, including Government.

·        Lead the staging of National Conferences.

·        Report regularly or as required to the President and the National Executive on progress and initiatives.

·        Attend meetings of the National Council and National Executive.

·        Work cooperatively with the Executive Officer.


Over the six month contract the remuneration will be $300 per week.

This is equivalent to:

Gross annual base salary:


Superannuation (9.25%):





Applications for appointment to this position, addressing all criteria and accompanied by a CV and references, must be received by the Executive Officer, Kali Madden,, by 28 June 2013. The employment contract which contains the complete list of duties, details of remuneration and performance bonus is available on request from Kali. It is anticipated that the appointment will commence in late July 2013.

Enquiries contact

Will Grant, ASC Vice President,, may be contacted to discuss the position. Email enquiries are preferred for an initial enquiry.

From the President – Rod’s update

Howdy folks,

Well aren’t these exciting times to be an ASC-ist? This month marks the beginning of the formal process we hope will lead the ASC down the path to professionalisation.

Professionalisation will lift the value of everyone’s ASC membership to the next level. Being a member of a professional ASC association should be a peer-endorsement of competence (hell, let’s say excellence) in whatever aspect of science communication that member operates. I personally would love to see a time where people who want to engage science communication services actively look for membership of the ASC as a badge of trustworthiness and expertise that is second to none.

The call for initial submissions went out from Will Grant to the ASC list on March 27, and already a solid handful of responses has come back. We have received interesting and useful thoughts, and also some offers of help to move us ahead. There is a very enthusiastic vibe surrounding this process so far, and I hope any and all of you who are interested will get on the band wagon.

Of course, this is not a trivial exercise, and the ramifications are not trivial either. If you have any ideas or comments, concerns or reservations, please contact Will or me.

We are also now in the build-up to the Big Science Communication Summit in June, an event that will have a strong ASC presence woven throughout (stay tuned for more via the list). For me, this really marks the beginning of the countdown to the ASC conference in February 2014, and I expect that issues, ideas and relationships from the Summit will inspire us in building our own conference.

And speaking of the 2014 ASC national conference … would you like to be part of the conference team? We need a few dedicated and idea-rich folks to play with us starting ASAP. Please contact me if you want to explore the wonder that is the ASC conference committee!

Cheers for now,


Dr Rod Lamberts

National President

Australian Science Communicators


Cheer squad, critic or crusader? Science and medical writers today

17 May 2013
6:00 pmto8:00 pm

Cheer squad or critic? Awareness raiser, crusader or watchdog? What is the role of science and medical writers today?

Join us for a discussion on this, and more, by a panel of expert science and medical writers in Sydney on 17 May. This is a joint event of the Australian Science Communicators and the Australasian Medical Writers’ Association.

Our speakers are:

  • Jane McCredie — executive director of the NSW Writers’ Centre
  • Mikey Slezak — Australasian correspondent for New Scientist
  • Bianca Nogrady — freelance journalist, author and broadcaster.

As well as the role of science and medical writers they’ll be covering:

  • employment options
  • audiences, styles and philosophies in science and medical writing
  • relationships with other fields.

This session is for anyone who cares about the public discussion of science and medicine.

Place: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney (near Bathurst St)

Drinks and nibbles start at 6 pm, discussion begins at 6:30 pm (for about an hour).

Seating is limited and bookings are essential:

Cost: Free for ASC and AMWA members; $10 for the general public

Enquiries: Helen Sim 0419 635 905 (voice or text)


Jane McCredie is an author and journalist specialising in science and medicine. She is co-editor with Natasha Mitchell  of this year’s anthology of The Best Australian Science Writing and writes a weekly blog on medicine for the Medical Journal of Australia’s electronic sister publication, Her book on the science of sex and gender, Making Girls and Boys, was published in Australia in 2011 and in the US (under the title, Beyond X and Y) in 2012. The former popular science publisher at NewSouth Books, Jane is now executive director of the NSW Writers’ Centre.

Michael Slezak is New Scientist’s Australasian correspondent. Since starting there a year ago, he’s written about everything from dinosaur footprints to space mining, and covered every twist and turn in the Higgs boson story. Before that, he spent two years as a medical journalist at Reed Business Information and studied and taught philosophy of science at the University of Sydney.

Bianca Nogrady is a freelance science journalist, broadcaster and author, who is yet to meet a piece of research she doesn’t find fascinating. In nearly a decade of freelance reporting, she has written for publications including Scientific American, The Australian, Ecos magazine, Australian Doctor and the ABC’s health, science and environment websites. She is also author of The End: The Human Experience Of Death (in bookstores this month) and co-author of The Sixth Wave: How To Succeed In A Resource-Limited World (2010).


Big Ideas event in the ACT – Is Australia producing too many PhDs?

Thanks to Toss Gascoigne and Ian McDonald for providing this information. 

Long hours, short-term contracts, uncertain employment, and cut-throat competition for grants, fellowships and positions. The work may be on interesting and important issues and the company stimulating, but for many the reality of a career in research isn’t so rosy.

This event was held yesterday – we look forward to hearing the reviews.

ABOUT the event

Paul Barclay, presenter and series producer of Big Ideas on ABC Radio National.

Paul Barclay, presenter and series producer of Big Ideas on ABC Radio National.

In 2012, the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education commissioned the Australian Council of Learned Academies to investigate the career pathway for researchers in Australia.

Science communication consultant Mr Toss Gascoigne was asked to conduct the survey and draft the report, Career support for researchers: Understanding needs and developing a best practice approach [external link, 997 KB PDF], which highlighted job insecurity as the number one problem facing Australian researchers.

Join our panel of experts as they discuss the pros and cons of getting a PhD, and explore a best practice approach to how the career pathway of researchers might be improved.

Mr Paul Barclay, the host of ABC Radio National’s Big Ideas program, will be facilitating the panel discussion.

Our speakers include:

  • Mr Toss Gascoigne – Author, Australian Council of Learned Academies report, Career Support for Researchers
  • Professor Aidan Byrne – CEO, Australian Research Council
  • Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea – Chair, Early-Mid Career Researcher Forum (an initiative of the Australian Academy of Science)
  • Ms Melanie Hand – PhD student, Dairy Futures Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

Report findings

The 1203 researchers who participated in an online survey and focus group discussions say the best thing about a career in research is working on interesting and important issues, and working in a stimulating environment.

Respondents say that best thing about a career in research is working on interesting and important issues, and working in a stimulating environment.

They appreciate the PhD program, which supports students as they work through their training; they feel encouraged to take up post-doctoral appointments; and they value the mentoring provided formally or informally by their institutions or their workplace.

Questions regarding the adequacy of salaries and assistance available to women re-entering the workforce draw mixed responses, rather more negative than positive.

On the less positive side are job security, uncertainty of funding and workload.

Almost universally, respondents to the survey like their work but not the employment system in which they work. For many the reality is seen as a frustrating round of chasing grants and fellowships while trying to write papers and (for some) manage a heavy teaching load.

Respondents say solutions to these matters require:

  • a greater investment in the system
  • more funding for fellowships and grants
  • more funding for universities so they can ‘carry’ researchers over the lean times between winning grants
  • more time to allow early career researchers to publish and establish themselves
  • more support to reduce work loads in the mature stages of a career.

This event is proudly brought to you by Australian Science Communicators [external link] and Inspiring Australia – a national strategy for engagement with the sciences[external link].



Update from the National President

From Rod Lamberts, ASC National President …

The commencement of 2013 has been filled with a flurry of activity for me, most of which involves getting my head around the nuances of the presidential seat.

The start of the year has also marked the start of some exciting initiatives for the Australian Science Communicators, some of which I can reveal here.

First, we are working away in the background to prepare our advertising campaign for the General Manager Position. Of course, once this is ready, information will flow through the ASC list, website and all our other communication channels.

Second, both thanks to and in concert with Jesse, I have been injected into the Inspiring Australia conversations on behalf of the ASC. There are many wonderful opportunities in this partnership and I look forward to exploring them more.

I am also hoping to announce two Vice Presidents soon. Of course, I need to make sure the people I’ve spoken with are still keen before naming names and labels!

And finally, I’m in the midst of planning a way to progress the development of the the ASC code of conduct.

Many exciting initiatives are slowly taking shape as I dust out the cobwebs of 2012 and begin to lurch properly into 2013.

I appreciate any feedback, thoughts or comments on any of these initiatives.



Rod Lamberts
National President


ASC branch events 2012

The ASC branches were again very active in 2012, holding 42 events across Australia. Members were able to attend all events for free or at substantial discounts.

The pdf (link below) has information about each of these events and provides a bank of ideas for those of you wanting to organise an event.

Jesse Shore

ASC branch events 2012, for posting

ASC constitution – includes amendments up to 27 November 2012

The 2012 AGM voted in favour of the proposed amendment to the Constitution regarding a detail of Corporate membership. The updated Constitution showing all the changes since it was adopted in 2003  can be viewed in this link.

Constitution amended 2006, 07, 08, 10, 11, 12, with wording as of 27 Nov 2012

Jesse Shore

Member profile – Rod Lamberts, incoming ASC National President

My Bio-festo (part bio, part manifesto)

By Rod Lamberts

The first time I heard the term ‘science communication’ was 16 years ago. I was reading an article about water quality in the Canberra Times and I remember thinking, I’m really not interested in water quality, but that was still a damn good read. The by-line said the author was a science communication grad student at some place called the Centre for Public Awareness of Science at the ANU. I thought I knew the ANU pretty well, but I’d never heard of this ‘CPAS’ place. It sounded interesting, so I decided to investigate.

A few phone calls, an interview, some meticulous bureaumancy, a PhD in science communication, 15 years making a nuisance of myself and boom, I’m deputy director of one of the oldest, largest and most diverse academic science communication centres in the world. I now get to teach, learn, research, offer advice, cast opinions, mingle with people I’d never dreamed I would meet, travel the world, and have some of the most inspiring (also sometimes confronting) conversations of my life. And I get to call it all ‘work’. I have to say, it’s not a bad gig.

Before coming to sci-comm, I wandered through the academic worlds of psychology and medical anthropology. Both very interesting and fun, but neither fully worked for me. I also tolerated a suit job for an entire 7 months (meh…), and before that, spent a year and a half in the bush making corporate types talk-and-play-nice with each other.

I’ve been a bouncer, a psych research consultant, pumped petrol, sold army surplus and even used to be a pretty flash grill cook. But the most fun I’ve had, and the most consistently interested I’ve been, has been since I started playing in the science communication space.

But enough on my background, I’m keen to consider here what actually is in the science communication space.

We all know sci-comm is a complex and diverse animal. A science communicator might be a scientist, a journalist, a performer, a researcher, a film-maker, an evaluator, a trainer, a writer, a policy-player, an author, a commentator or a teacher. We might serve in the public, private, or non-government sectors. We could work in a one-person outfit or a large corporation. We are practitioners, theoreticians and everything in between. In short, we are a bloody diverse mob.

So if science communication is so broad, what then does it mean to be ‘a science communicator’? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. In fact, I’m not sure that trying to define it by what we do is the best way to go. In my 15 years of science communicatistry, the main thing I’ve seen uniting people in this broad church is a flock of attitudes rather than any single, or unique, practice.

We seem to have a positive – but still critical – view of science and its benefits. We have an abiding fascination with new knowledge, a passion to share what we know with others, and a desire to make a positive difference. We want our world to be driven by evidence-based ideas, evidence which includes social and cultural morés as well as facts gleaned in the lab.

In short, I think we are united more by ethos than activity.

What we also share is a professional or personal stake in a world where science communication – however defined or practiced – is a term now in common use. It is increasingly being seen as a fundamental part of human scientific endeavour.

This suggests to me that the time has never been more ripe for us to take stock of what the ASC and its members represent, and how we might evolve.

When I nominated for the presidency, I was especially driven to do so because I believe that it’s time to take the next step as an association: it’s time to professionalise.

A fitting first step for this will be to agree on a code of practice (and/or ethics) which reflects the ethos we share as members of the association. To do this, we will have to have some robust, inclusive discussion about who we are, what we are, and what we embody.

Once agreed, a code of practice plants our banner. It shows the outside world what the ASC and its members stand for, and acts as a yardstick against which we can critique our own actions. It’s going to take a while and is bound to be a little contentious at times, but I think it will be worth the growing pains.

More soon!


Anyone who has ideas, concerns or questions about professionalising the ASC, please do get in touch with me