Tall Poppy Awards – Judging now underway

The Science Excellence Awards is South Australia’s premier event to recognise and reward outstanding scientific endeavour, including its application in industry and the advancement of science and mathematics education.

New categories for Awards

This year’s Awards are being launched with an exciting new set of categories focussed on high achievers in the early stages of their careers, including PhD graduates and early career STEM professionals and educators.

Judging is now underway. Finalists will be announced mid October and a Gala Dinner will be held at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on November 3rd. All eight 2011 SA Tall Poppies will be invited to the event where the TPoY will be announced and awarded.

More information:http://www.scienceawards.sa.gov.au/

South Australian Science Excellence Awards

Thanks to Lisa Bailey, RiAus for providing this information:

Calling members of the South Australian science and research community …

Do you know a recent PhD graduate with outstanding early-career achievement or a researcher with no more than five years workforce experience?  Or maybe a school or tertiary teacher who is making an outstanding contribution to student education and inspiring students to study further in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)?

In 2011, the South Australian Science Excellence Awards will be recognising outstanding achievement in the following categories:

  • South Australian Scientist of the Year
  • PhD Research Excellence

–          Health and Medical Sciences

–          Life or Environmental Sciences

–          Physical Sciences/Mathematics/Engineering

  • Early Career STEM Professional

–          Natural and Physical Sciences/Engineering/Mathematics

–          Health and Life Sciences

  • Early Career STEM Educator of the Year

–          School Teaching

–          Tertiary Teaching


The SA Scientist of the Year Award receives prize money of $20,000 with the remaining awards each receiving $5,000.

For further information, please visit www.scienceawards.sa.gov.au

Young Tall Poppy Science Award Campaign and the ASC

I am pleased to announce that the ASC has signed a Letter of Agreement (LoA) with the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS).

AIPS runs the nationwide Young Tall Poppy Science Awards. Selection criteria for these awards include outstanding research / academic achievement as well as excellence in communication and community engagement to promote an understanding of science. For more information about these awards visit http://www.aips.net.au/tall-poppies/tall-poppy-campaign/.

The winners of these awards participate in education and community outreach programs. The ASC has been looking for ways to involve the award winners in our branch events and national conference. The LoA will help this to happen as it states that a Tall Poppy’s participation in an ASC event will count towards their obligation to particulate in at least two outreach activities in the year following their award.

I will encourage ASC branches to develop events involving the Tall Poppy winners. Such events could explore the stratagems used by these early career scientists to communicate their work and what tools they seek to improve their skills.

The main points of the LoA follow:

“ASC and AIPS recognise:

  • the need to build connections between scientists and science communicators;
  • the need for professional development for both scientists and science communicators in science communication;
  • the importance of partnerships to further science communication objectives; and
  • the need to reward and celebrate science communication excellence.

ASC and AIPS agree that:

  • A Tall Poppy forum or other joint event will be held annually where possible in each State and Territory of Australia as a professional development initiative for ASC members and for the young scientists involved;
  • The Tall Poppy Campaign will liaise with relevant State & Territory chapters of ASC to make this happen; and
  • A Tall Poppy’s participation in such an event will count towards their obligation to participate in at least two outreach activities in the year following their Award

In addition, efforts to cross promote our mutual objectives will be made in any such initiatives, and our achievements will be reviewed after one year of operation of this agreement.”

Jesse Shore

National President

Promoting prizes related to communication of science

Recently I asked the ASC-list, “How can we work with science prize schemes to get added value for those of us who communicate science? Ideally we want a means which will also be beneficial to the prize schemes by attracting more attention, more nominations or some other desirable outcome.”

Several of you responded in a burst of discussion. I haven’t had time to digest all the views but I some useful things are likely to occur.

There are a number of worthy prize programs. In my post I hadn’t mentioned another major scheme, the Young Tall Poppy Awards, as I hadn’t seen an announcement about nominations. The ASC is looking forward to working closer with the various science prize schemes and there is lots of opportunity for interaction at the branch as well as national level.

Jesse Shore
National President

From the President, February 2011: Big year ahead

I sense a growing awareness of the importance of science communication. The Inspiring Australia report has played a part in this and I note that others are talking up the cause. Chemists involved in organising the International Year of Chemistry 2011 see this as an opportunity to get their messages across to the public. They know that to do so they need to communicate more effectively and will need skills to make it happen.

Since the election the Inspiring Australia has worked to get election promises of funding into the reality of the 2011 budget. This won’t be easy in the face of cut-backs to government programs to reallocate funds to rebuild flood and cyclone damaged infrastructure.

Still it should be a big year ahead for science communication and the ASC. What follows is only the briefest of reports but it has a few nuggets.

Inspiring Australia conference 2011: The Inspiring Australia team has raced to set in train a national conference called ‘Inspiring Science, Inspiring Australia: Telling Australia’s Brilliant Stories’. It’s on 28-29 March 2011 at the Arrow on Swanston, Melbourne. More information and registrations at http://iaconference.com.au/. It sounds like an important start to the IA program of activities for this year.

2012 National conference planning committee: Rod Lamberts, of ANU’s CPAS in Canberra, has agreed to chair the planning committee for our 2012 National conference. He returns from overseas soon and will convene the committee to start its planning task. Rod will report directly to the Executive committee about progress.

Science communication training programs: Last November I posted a message that the ASC has received a few requests to provide training in science communication related skills. I asked you to nominate Science communication training programs that either ASC members offered or knew of in Australia. I now have a list of courses which I can refer on to relevant enquirers.

Eureka Awards open for nominations: I note that the Eureka Awards are now accepting nominations of their various prize categories. Nominations close 6 May 2011.

Jesse Shore

National President

Inspiring Australia and science prizes

I’m seeking information and comments about science award programs in Australia which recognise science communication in selecting the award winners. I’ll provide some context before I fully phrase my request.

The ASC executive is pleased to note that several of our members have participated in initial actions to implement aspects of the Inspiring Australia report. Two expert working groups have convened, one on Science and the Media and the other for Developing an Evidence Base for Science Engagement in Australia. The latter will soon release its recommendations which I’ll post in a separate article.

This work has commenced over the past few months despite the absence of specific federal funding. As money was promised during the election campaign for some recommendations of Inspiring Australia the pace of activity will gradually ramp up. I expect there soon will be a group to review the science prizes funded by the government (related to recommendation 5 of Inspiring Australia).

An email from Questacon (acting for DIISR) says that, “…Questacon will be identifying how award programs can be further enhanced to engage the wider community in science and to profile Australia’s capability overseas.” Questacon welcomes comments on this.

Here’s my request: to prepare for Questacon’s invitation for comments, and the possible expert panel, I ask that you email me information and comments about science award programs at federal, state and local levels that recognise science communication or use it as a criterion in selecting the award winner.

And further context:

Toss Gascoigne reported to the e-list in August that “The Government has now provided $21 million to implement some recommendations from the report, in an election policy announced on 10 September.

Among other things, it will fund:

* the PM’s Prize for Science

* the Eureka Prizes

* National Science Week

* Science events and activities around Australia

* Promotion of science through the media

The three-page policy is at: http://www.alp.org.au/agenda/more—policies/science-for-australia-s-future/. The money is coming from cuts to other activities, such as the CRC program. There is no new money.”

It is good to see continued federal funding for a selection of the Eureka Prizes, especially as two prizes, the Eureka Prize for Science Journalism and the Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science, are strongly related to science communication.

Another interesting award program is the Young Tall Poppy Science Awards. To be considered for these prizes early career research scientist applicants need to have been very active in communicating their scientific research to lay audiences. This awards program operates in several states and territories and is seeking to expand nationally.

Rob Morrison has previously posted an article on the ASC website about how to assign value to an academic’s or research scientist’s science communication activities. The link to his paper is http://www.asc.asn.au/2010/08/what-counts/.

It would be good for ASC members to contribute to Rob’s thoughts and in turn to the anticipated expert panel. I look forward to hearing from you via jesse [at] prismaticsciences.com or add your comment below this article.

Jesse Shore
National President

Big Blog Theory finalists and the winner is…

Bec Crew, author of the entertaining animal behavioural science blog Save Your Breath for Running Ponies, won the National Science Week 2010 Big Blog Theory competition. I’m pleased to note that all four judges of the blogs, including myself, are ASC members. We examined 31 Australian based science blog entries to select the ten finalists. Look at http://thebigblogtheory.com.au/ to see how the public voting went. A separate group of judges assessed the microblogging category, won by Corri Baker, chemistry PhD candidate and lecturer at the University of South Australia.

Even with well defined judging criteria it was no easy task to assess the blogs but worthwhile to get a snap shot of the excellent local science communication efforts on the web. I’d like to acknowledge Laura Miles, our Scope editor, for her contributions to the judging criteria.

Here are the finalists and the links to their blogs:

Running Ponies http://runningponies.com/ (winner – Bec Crew)

Mr Science Show http://www.mrscienceshow.com

A Schooner of Science http://www.aschoonerofscience.com/

Brave New Climate http://bravenewclimate.com/

Homologous Legs http://naontiotami.com/

Pod Black Cat http://www.podblack.com

Conservation Bytes http://conservationbytes.com/

All in the Mind http://blogs.abc.net.au/allinthemind

Environment Blog http://www.abc.net.au/environment/blogs/

The Skeptics Book http://www.skepticsbook.com

The microblogging finalists were:

@cbsquared_ (winner – Corrie Baker)





Bec Crew will officially start her National Science Week tour Friday 13 August at the launch event at the Royal Botanic Gardens. During her blogging tour she will cover events in Sydney, Melbourne and the Northern Territory. Corri Baker will tweet about events in Perth from 15-17 August.

Jesse Shore
President and Big Blog Theory judge