2012 AGM – summary of outcomes

Dear ASC members,

The 2012 AGM, held on 27 November, elected Dr Rod Lamberts, of CPAS at ANU, as the next President of the ASC. I congratulate Rod on taking over the reins of our Association and I thank Associate Professor Nancy Longnecker, of UWA, for also nominating for the position. The membership had two excellent experienced people to choose between and it was a tight election result.

The AGM passed the proposed amendment to the Constitution. From today, Corporate Members can nominate more than ten staff to their membership at a pro-rata rate. They still retain the option to take out multiple Corporate Memberships.

There was useful points raised about the Association’s finances, the running of the next conference, and the details of the General Manager’s position. Informed by these discussions, the meeting authorised the National Council to consider raising the annual membership fee (within a reasonable amount) to cover anticipated increases in running costs.

The meeting also directed the National Council to further develop the draft professional code of ethics, to have it mention global responsibilities, and for the final version to be voted on at a General Meeting during the year.

It was good to see a large numbers of members taking part in the AGM. We had more than 20 members attend the meeting and around 40 proxies.

A lot of discussion was packed into the 80 minutes of the meeting (including the video cross to Guy Nolch to get a word from our Unsung Hero winner). The official matters was followed by a science trivia contest, run by David Ellyard and ably assisted by Robbie Mitchell, the head of the SE-Qld branch. The only thing I’ll add about this fast paced, hotly competed event is that the team which included Rod, Sarah Lau (our National Secretary) and me did not win. So much for Executive clout.

The meeting marked several changes in the National Council and National Executive teams:
New President – Rod Lamberts
New immediate past-president – Jesse Shore
New Treasurer – Peter Wheeler

We thank Tim Thwaites, who now steps down as the past-president, David Ellyard, who retires after 11 years as Treasurer, and Rob Morrison, who has been a great contributor for years as Vice-President.

I thank Sarah Lau for her work as National Secretary and Claire Harris for her contribution to both national committees. Both Sarah and Claire may continue in their roles pending decisions by the new President and incoming National Council on various positions.

I also thank James Hutson, our webmaster for more than four years, who stepped down from his busy post in November. We are in the process of seeking a new webmaster.

Kali Madden and Sally Miles continue as Executive Officer and Editor of Scope respectively. We are fortunate to have such energetic, committed and effective people in these roles.

I’ll still be involved on the National Committees, have some projects to wrap up, and will make the odd squeak via cyberspace, but otherwise Rod now shoulders the brunt of communicating with the ‘tribe’.

It’s been an interesting three years.

All the best,
Jesse Shore


Unsung Hero of Australian Science Communication – Guy Nolch

The Australian Science Communicators are proud to announce that the winner of the Australian Science Communicators Unsung Hero Award of Science Communication for 2012 is Mr Guy Nolch, editor and publisher of Australasian Science

The judging panel selected Guy as the standout choice from a number of worthy nominees. The judges mentioned Guy’s many notable achievements and attributes:

  • his long period of distinguished science publishing (20 years publishing Australasian Science);
  • training and mentoring science communicators;
  • making scientists’ work accessible to and understood by the public;
  • dealing with controversial issues;
  • his major contributions to the discussion of science policy and scientific issues in Australia;
  • and for the fostering of good science journalism in Australia and for promotion of leading Australian scientists and their research.

The ASC created this award to honour a person or group who exemplify science communication, who have not yet received significant recognition for their contribution to science and its promotion, and for work done in Australia over a considerable or prolonged time.

This is the first time the ASC has made this national award. In the past the ASC acknowledged unsung Australian scientists, but now feel that it is time to put into the spotlight those who communicate the science.

Guy joined the AGM meeting via a video Skype hook-up for the announcement and our accolades. Guy said he was humbled at winning the award. His humility was appropriately accompanied by his ear-to-ear grin.

Guy has been making his living as a science communicator for many years and as such he is a beacon to us all. Next year the ASC will once again shine its own light on another previously unsung science communicator.

Appointing a proxy for ASC AGM 2012

Proxy Instructions

Members unable to attend the AGM in person are able to give proxies to other members attending the meeting. As there are two matters of business that require specific instructions, it is important that members wishing to designate a proxy observe the following points:

  • Download and complete the proxy form, and ensure a copy of this form is with their proxy to take to the AGM
    • Check one box only in the Presidential vote
    • Check one box only for the proposed Constitutional amendment
    • If you do not provide voting instructions in these sections, you authorise the proxy holder to decide how the proxy will vote
    • Notify the National Secretary, Sarah Lau (slau@chemcentre.wa.gov.au) or National President, Jesse Shore (jesse@prismaticsciences.com) of their proxy
    • Ensure that the proxy form is completed prior to 5.00pm AEDST on Tuesday 27 November 2012

Please note that the Presidential election is a secret ballot and instructions and votes will remain confidential at all times. All voting instructions and proxy forms will be collected and destroyed at the conclusion of the AGM.

Download the proxy form here: Appointment of Proxy.

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: http://wp.me/p1Zzkn-ep6.


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.

ASC President – roles and duties under new arrangement

The ASC is in a period of healthy change. An important new step is the previously announced intention that we will seek to have a part-time General Manager to look after a range of externally-directed activities.

The National Executive has been considering how the new appointment will affect the roles and duties of key positions in the Association.

The final contracts for the General manager and Executive Officer will define their positions so that all main players will know their boundaries within our evolving Association.

Just in time for the AGM, the National Executive has written a short duty statement to guide the activities of the new President. The wording of the following brief list of roles and duties is consistent with the Constitution, which only loosely defines the President’s role.


  1. To provide leadership to the ASC, particularly in the framing of policy by the National Council and National Executive.
  2. To chair meetings of the National Council and National Executive and all general meetings of the ASC, wherever possible.
  3. To work with the General Manager, the Executive Officer, the Secretary and other office holders in the framing of agendas for all meetings.
  4. To supervise the work of the General Manager and the Executive Officer, and support them in the performance of their duties.
  5. To act as spokesperson for the ASC as required.
  6. To sign all agreements and contracts on behalf of the ASC

Jesse Shore
National President

ScienceRewired – Looking at science from new digital perspectives

Posted by Jesse Shore for Joanne Sinclair:

ScienceRewired was launched at the Science Exchange in Adelaide on 11th October 2012. The Science Exchange was a fantastic venue with great facilities. The building is a beautiful mix of old and new – huge screens in the auditorium (perfect for Skype presentations) and glorious stained glass windows. It was an inspiring place to spend a day in.

As a Science Communicator from the Parenting Research Centre in Melbourne I was looking for interesting examples of science engagement and I wasn’t disappointed.

Highlights included presentations about citizen science platforms such as the Atlas of Living Australia, Skynet and Foldit. I was particularly impressed with the way these organisations encouraged and rewarded participants and communicated results to them. They did this in various ways such as with leader boards, digital trophies and video blogs. In one case some Foldit players who helped to create a novel protein structure were senior authors on a paper in Nature.

Another highlight was hearing about the Serval project from Paul Gardner-Stephen. Paul’s team is working on free open source software that helps mobile phones talk to each other independently, without mobile networks and infrastructure. This has huge implications for disaster relief and remote communities. I found this very interesting as the Parenting Research Centre has projects where we are working with indigenous communities in remote areas.

There are two things that I’d like in a future event;

  1. A session or event on using Twitter, blogs, live streaming etc. for professional development and networking. It seems like there’s massive potential for this, especially as science communicators often work alone. As a Twitter newbie, I’d love a science communicator to guide me around Twitter and show me who they follow. This would give me practical ideas and tips that I could use in my work.
  2. Discussion on whether using digital platforms works, that is, is it working to engage people and change their behaviour? Also, how to measure and research what works.

Joanne Sinclair won a free ticket to attend ScienceRewired, courtesy of the ASC. The Parenting Research Centre kindly covered travel and accommodation costs.





ASC Member Profile: Dr Mona Akbari

Dr Mona Akbari
Communications and Media Officer, Australian Academy of Science

I wanted to do scientific research since I was twelve years old! I marvelled at the process of discovery and spent hours looking at the stars, studying ants and tracing the patterns of leaves and generally poring over my older brothers’ science books. Every time I read in a science textbook that ‘we don’t know the reason this happens’ or ‘science has not yet resolved this question’, I would get excited about discovering the answer. This launched me into over twenty years of focused work and study leading me into an Honours degree in biochemistry and a Doctorate in molecular genetics.

It was towards the end of my PhD that I got the first inkling that perhaps I didn’t fancy a lifetime of working on a narrow area of science. I certainly did not look forward to the prospect of constantly juggling grant applications with the ‘publish or perish’ drive. But I didn’t give up! I was determined to finish my doctorate and ‘have a go’ at research in the real world. After all, if there was one thing I had learnt from watching other students was that no-one really wants to write-up their thesis and pretty much looks for every excuse to procrastinate.

It was while I was doing my post-doctoral research in Canberra that I heard about the courses offered at Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at the ANU. I decided to investigate and had an epiphany! I realised that while I enjoyed doing the actual science experiments, I equally enjoyed explaining its intricacies to others and sharing the big picture of its potential impact on society.

I enrolled for a course in science communication at the ANU, edging into greater communication roles while also taking time off to have two children. I wrote articles for newsletters and magazines explaining scientific research findings, I designed websites and wrote content to appeal to wider audiences, I designed and wrote promotional material and I prepared talks and speeches, while still keeping one hand in research.  Eventually, I decided it was time to take the plunge into science communication and took on my current role at the Australian Academy of Science.

The Academy brings together Australia’s leading scientists to recognise research excellence, advise government, foster international scientific relations, promote science education and public awareness of science. The Academy was founded by Royal Charter in 1954 by Australian Fellows of the Royal Society of London and currently has over 450 elected Fellows.

My role is to promote public awareness of the scientific research carried out by our Fellows, publicise the Academy’s activities and events, and attract media and community attention to our policy submissions to Government, our scientific conferences, and our science education programs. No two days are the same, being interspersed with writing media releases, media liaison, writing articles for newsletters, updating the website news, organising and ensuring maximum attendance at our public lecture series on topical scientific issues, writing speeches, taking and sourcing photographs, recording of interviews of our scientific heroes for posterity and most recently engaging with younger audiences through social media.

I really enjoy the diversity of this ever changing role and how it’s evolved from more traditional communication tools to the more creative social media avenues. It really is the best of both worlds for me in that I get to read and talk about science discoveries every day and also contribute to how this science shapes our society.

Thanks Mona for taking the time to write this for ASC members. 

Time to hand over the ASC Presidential reins

I am coming to the end of my third one-year term as President. It has been a busy three years and I feel the time is right for someone else to take on the leadership position of the ASC.

The ASC is now busier than ever and the commitments on the President’s time have grown apace as tasks have become more varied and complex. The Executive has recognised this and is seeking to appoint a part-time General Manager to take on many time consuming aspects of the association. This will enable the President to focus on developing policy and to maintain an overview of operations.

I will be stepping into Tim Thwaites shoes as I take over the Past-president’s role. This position was created a few years ago to ensure the continuity of corporate knowledge in the national committees. In this role Tim has contributed, like Jenni Metcalfe before him, to strategic decision making and to helping guide the development of our national conference.

It has been my privilege to serve the ASC for three years as President. I look forward to continued involvement with the ASC in my new role and to helping the new President settle into his/her busy position.

Jesse Shore
ASC President

Lots happening at the ASC 2012 AGM – 27 November in Brisbane

There will be plenty to discuss and decide at the upcoming AGM:

  • I’m stepping down after three busy one-year terms as president so we have to elect a new national president.
  • We will announce the winner of the Unsung Hero of Australian Science Communication for 2012
  • Corporate membership is proposed to be tweaked. There is a motion for a constitutional amendment to enable a single Corporate membership to cover more than 10 representatives at a proportionally higher rate. This won’t affect the one vote per Corporate membership. The motion will be issued for discussion very soon.

This year’s AGM will be hosted by ASC’s SE-Queensland branch. The AGM will be at the Ship Inn from 6.00-7.15pm. The Ship Inn is at the corner of Stanley & Sidon Streets, Southbank Parklands, Brisbane.

After the business is over David Ellyard will present his highly entertaining and always fiercely competitive science trivia quiz. There will be prizes.

The AGM is for financial members only and the quiz will be open to all.

We will be circulating the AGM minutes and other papers imminently.

Jesse Shore
ASC President

President’s busperson’s holiday in London, Oxford and Paris

During a holiday to the UK and Paris, I couldn’t resist including some science communication experiences among the many leisure activities.

I visited Phil Dooley, former president of the ASC NSW branch and Executive member at his workplace near Oxford. Phil is the News and Education Officer at JET (Joint European Torus), which is the shared fusion experiment run by the European Fusion Development Agreement. Phil is part of the team which communicates to various audiences the research involved in creating fusion events in a plasma.

Among his many duties Phil selects the picture and story of the week for the EFDA website. Phil showed me through the facility and we were able to walk around the world’s largest tokamak as it was shut down for maintenance. My accompanying photo shows Phil dwarfed by the power array which heats the plasma. I contributed to the day by giving a talk to staff about two exhibitions I developed about nuclear science. This provoked a discussion about how to communicate this complex subject to a general public and the relative value of interactive displays.
In London I talked with the Roland Jackson, CEO of the British Science Association, about the science communication initiatives of the BSA. We spent much of our time talking about Sciencewise, the UK’s national centre for public dialogue in policy making involving science and technology issues.

I also had a general chat with Karen Bultitude, an Australian who is lecturer in Science Communication and Director of Research in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at the University College London. Karen is a mine of information about the active UK science communication area.

A couple of museum visits were noteworthy. The Wellcome Collection in Euston Road, London, stages artful and intriguing displays and is well worth a visit. Across the Channel in Paris, the Musee des Arts et Metiers features a great collection but displayed with a lack of context and engagement. The main exception is the automatons’ theatre. The charm of these venerable mechanised robotic objects transcends the simplicity of the interpretation. I didn’t stay for the demonstration but I’d expect it would be worth watching even though it’s only in French.

Jesse Shore
ASC President