President’s update

Thanks to Joan Leach for the update.

The Conference is just about now!

I spent a very productive hour this week listening to the new Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, AO, give his maiden speech at the press club. I’m now looking forward even more to his plenary opening of the ASC conference in Brisbane on the 11th… 11.00 am. Actually, it strikes me that the national press club has not one, but three (!!) featured science sessions this month. After the Chief Scientist, Alan Alda is speaking. Finally, there is a ‘women in science’ panel to round out the month. Science meets Parliament also looked to be a big success again this year. And the World Festival Science is heating up. Then, there’s the gravitational waves that must be coursing through us even as you read this. So a lot of buzzy things happening. I hope to see you in Brisbane!

Volunteer for Pint of Science!

Thanks Emma Ceccato for this opportunity!

Are you interested in sharing science with the public?

Do you enjoy relaxing with friends at the pub?

If the answer to both is YES, then Pint of Science Australia is for you!

Pint of Science is an international festival that aims to showcase the amazing research of local scientists to the general public in the relaxed venue of the local pub. In 2015, the Pint of Science Australia festival expanded to include Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane, hosting fantastic events over 3 nights.

For 2016 – we want to expand even more to include more themes and even more cities across Australia – and we need you!

Events in 2016 will take place from 23-25 May, and will incorporate the following themes: Beautiful Mind (neurosciences), Atoms to Galaxies (physics, chemistry) Our Body (life sciences) Planet Earth (geosciences) and Tech Me Out (engineering, computer science).

We are looking for volunteers for various roles: city coordinators, team coordinators, social media reps and fundraisers. Each team will source out a venue, speakers and activities for the night.

This is an incredible opportunity to be a part of our ever growing festival so if you are interested in getting involved, please register your interest here or email with what you’re keen to do, tell us a little bit about yourself and how we can best reach you.

Meet the Scientists event – NSW

Unwind with a FREE DRINK courtesy of your local ASC, nibble finger food and enervate your neurons with the ASC NSW Christmas event, as we chat with well-known scientists who are successfully communicating their research. We’ll ask them why they f*king love communicating science, how they do it, and we’ll challenge them to describe decades of science research in the space of a single tweet!

They explore the stars, seek the roots of evolution, and spend their days playing with eight-legged beasties.

Scientists are also increasingly at the forefront of communication channels across multiple platforms. Join us as we chat to Australian scientists making their mark in both research and communication; on TV, radio and social platforms.

Don’t miss this fun night. Come and have a drink and some simulating discussion with your local ASC branch, and chat to some science communication all-stars featuring Scientia Professor Rob Brooks, Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith and Lizzy Lowe.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015 from 6:30 PM

Pyrmont Point Hotel, Margot’s Room – 59 Harris Street Pyrmont, NSW 2009

Tickets $15 for members and $25 for non-members.


Scientia Professor Rob Brooks

Rob Brooks_web

Evolutionary biologist Rob Brooks studies sexual reproduction and how it shapes the lives of humans and other animals. He heads the “Sex Lab” at UNSW where he is Scientia Professor and Director of the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre. His work has shaped how we understand the evolution of mate choice, how sex alters the aging process, and the links between sex, diet, obesity and death. He has won major prizes for both research and popular science communication. His popular writing, including his first book Sex, Genes & Rock ’n’ Roll: How Evolution has Shaped the Modern World, explores the power of evolutionary thinking to illuminate the human condition.

Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith


Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith is an astronomer at the CSIRO and studies the birth and death of stars in our Galaxy. She is the Project Scientist for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), a telescope comprising 36 large radio ‘dishes’ under construction in the Western Australian outback. Lisa is leading the ASKAP early science project, which will study the evolution of galaxies through approximately 7 billion years of cosmic history and is due to start in 2016. Harvey-Smith is an accomplished science writer and speaker and was a finalist in the 2015 Eureka Prize for Promoting the Understanding of Australian Science Research. In 2012 she was listed in the Sydney Morning Herald’s “Top 100: Most Influential People”. Harvey-Smith regularly speaks in schools and is involved in a mentoring program for young indigenous people in WA.

Lizzy Lowe


Lizzy is a PhD student at the University of Sydney studying the effects of urbanisation on spiders. She uses outreach to introduce people to the amazing world of arachnids and start conversations about the importance of biodiversity in cities. She particularly enjoys visiting primary schools because kids are much more appreciative of creepy crawlies!

Event review: The Laborastory

Thanks to George Aranda for the event review!

“I had the good fortune of being part of a special edition of “The Laborastory” for National Science Week. The organisers of this local monthly staple of science storytelling stepped up and convened the event at St Michael’s Uniting Church in Melbourne’s CBD. Some 600 people turned up on the wintery evening to listen to science communicators such as myself, Chris Lassig, Katie Mack, Clare Hampson, and Teresa MacDonald. We talked about some of our favourite scientists in front of the church’s massive pipe organ, with projection artwork and a science choir (The Gaussian Ensemble). Great to be part of such a creative night of science communication, which was recorded, and the audio can be found at and video on Youtube.”

The Laborastroy, at St Michael’s Uniting Church in Melbourne’s CBD.

The Laborastroy, at St Michael’s Uniting Church in Melbourne’s CBD.

Some 600 people attended the event.

Some 600 people attended the event.


Thinking about going to see The Martian?

Join us, the Australian Science Communicators Victoria for a mesmerizing movie experience.

Come at 6pm for a drink and pre-movie speaker – the fascinating Dianne McGrath. Dianne is one of the shortlisted Mars One astronaut candidates from around the world. Mars One is a non-profit organisation seeking to establish the first permanent settlement on Mars.

The movie night will be on Thursday October 15 at Kino Cinemas on Collins St.

– Tickets are $20, including the movie, speaker and popcorn
– Please arrived at 6pm for a 6:15 start.

Tickets are limited so make sure you get your tickets on Eventbrite:

See who else is going on facebook


Location: Kino Cinemas on Collins St

Date: Thursday October 15th

Time: 6pm for 6:15pm start

Cost: $20


Sydney’s first citywide Science Festival

Thanks to Jackie Randles for the event overview.

Sydney’s science community is collaborating for National Science Week this year and for the first time, presenting a united front under the banner of the Sydney Science Festival. Coordinated by Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the Festival’s official NSW National Science Week launch event last Thursday evening at the Powerhouse Museum attracted around 2000 people to MAASive Lates: Science. This free, over 18s science-themed party offered a cold fusion of performances, opportunities to speed meet a scientist and hands-on activities.

With a fantastic line up of around 80 events across 40 venues, the Festival program features some of the world’s leading names in science like astrophysics’ pop hero Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson, space tweeting and singing astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield, and Stanford University’s own genetic guru Professor Kelly Ormond. Dozens of local experts are on the bill with a number of high profile partners joining the celebrations to cohost events including The Sydney Morning Herald, Intel and Google.

The NSW Executive Committee for Inspiring Australia and National Science Week has been working to encourage this level of collaboration for several years so it goes without saying that its members are thrilled with the initial results. It’s been a remarkable effort on both the part of the hard working Festival team at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences and all of the presenting partners to turn on this high quality program so quickly. Initial interest from audiences and media alike shows that our combined efforts are amplifying the community engagement results for National Science Week across Sydney, and I’ll be really interested to see how we track against last year’s results. Our hope is that in time, we can achieve the same level of recognition and participation for science as other prominent Festivals do for film, books and the arts – all popular, highly visible celebrations that add to Sydney’s appeal and cultural capital.

At the Festival’s conclusion there will be a high level meeting at which a wide group of senior leaders will be invited to share their views about the Festival’s future directions. At a time when outreach spending by universities typically has a strong connection to research funding and student recruitment, and when cultural institutions are increasingly dependent on strong revenue streams, negotiating outcomes that are beneficial to all is complex. But the benefits of collaborating as a group of science leaders far outweighs the costs and the time is ripe for us to work together to promote the importance of science investment for Australia’s economic and social wellbeing – not just now but into the future. Have a fantastic National Science Week everyone and I hope that you can get along to lots of events.

Follow Sydney Science Festival on:


Twitter:          @SydScienceFest



Event:             Sydney Science Festival

Dates:              13 – 23 August, 2015





Event Review: inaugural Australian Citizen Science Conference

Thanks to Vicki Martin for the event review.


Review of the inaugural Australian Citizen Science Conference

Canberra, 23-25 July 2015

The chilly winter Canberra morning couldn’t slow down the enthusiasm of attendees at the inaugural Australian Citizen Science Conference on 23rd July this year. Seats were as rare as hens teeth at this over-subscribed event, with more than 200 attendees registered from all over Australia and far flung corners of the globe.

After a warm welcome to country from Aunty Agnes Shea, elder of the Ngunnawal people, welcoming remarks were made by Professor Suzanne Miller (Queensland Museum), and Simon France (Inspiring Australia). Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb opened up the conference with a rousing pep talk about the importance of engaging the public in citizen science. The event coincided with the release of an Occasional Paper, Building Australia through Citizen Science, by the Office of the Chief Scientist. The paper can be accessed through

We were very fortunate to have two passionate speakers from Cornell University in the USA. Keynote speaker and singing ornithologist, Rick Bonney, shared his vast experience in the world of citizen science and public engagement in research. His singing was pretty good, too! (On the second day he sang us out to lunch – how many keynotes do that?)

The first of a series of speed talks and workshop sessions followed Rick’s keynote address, led by his colleague, Jennifer Shirk. Jennifer is well known for her contributions to the theory of public participation in scientific research (PPSR). Throughout the two days, the speed talks opened our eyes to the incredible array and diversity of citizen science projects across the planet and in our own backyard. The conference organisers allowed plenty of time for poster and networking sessions, during which the Shine Dome buzzed with conversation and connections, information and good food. Day two saw more speed talks and a panel discussion on the many forms of citizen science. The full program and book of abstracts are available for download at

An additional day was added to the conference for groups wanting to discuss specific issues in citizen science, including Bio Blitzes, the usability of technology, and citizen science and its influence on policy. These sessions were great for attendees to cement the lessons learned from practitioners in these areas, and allowed for more focussed discussion on these topics.

The feedback from people was overwhelmingly positive. Not only did attendees learn a lot, and have a lot of fun, it gave many a strong sense of community which will only help to strengthen the practice of citizen science in Australia. With the newly formed management committee, chaired by Philip Roetman, the potential for citizen science to build stronger partnerships between Australian scientists and the community looks very promising indeed. I’m looking forward to the next conference already.

Event Review: A quiet Wednesday dinner

Thank you to Amy Nisselle for her reflections on the dinner.

On Tuesday 22nd July I had the pleasure of attending a dinner hosted by ASC Vic Branch President George Aranda for visiting science communicator, Núria Elías at Artusi, Southbank. Núria was in Melbourne for the ASC’s Science Storytelling Workshop and we had a great time swapping stories about our areas of study, research and practice, plus the best places to spot Australian fauna (who knew there was a world-famous koala colony on the Great Ocean Road?!).

Núria told us about the NeuroEnhancement Responsible Research and Innovation (NERRI) program she coordinates for the Science, Communication and Society Studies Centre (SCS-UPF) at Universitate Pompeu Fabra (UPF), in her native Barcelona. I had no idea of the variety of neuroenhancements available, from pharmacological to physical to magnetic and electric, having relied solely on caffeine when writing my thesis. The NERRI program is asking Europeans their opinion about neuroenhancements – would they use them? If so, what type, under what circumstances? Our party was split. Some fervently said they’d never use anything, while others thought if they were going to use something then they’d trust magnetic stimulation in a medical setting over tablets, which is currently an unregulated industry.

Throughout the conversation we feasted on Artusi’s delicious fare, tasting each others risotto, pappardelle and tagliatelle and splitting decadent desserts. On a personal note, I was really excited to introduce my younger cousin to the ASC. Benny was in the first cohort of students at Melbourne’s John Monash Science School and is now studying Law/Commerce at uni. He said afterwards it was incredible to have dinner with such informed people and he was in awe most of the time. It was a nice reminder of something I take for granted these days – being surrounded by such learned, experienced and inspiring folks in the ASC.


Event Review: Science Storytelling Workshop

Thank you to George Aranda for the event review.

On the 16th of July ASC Victoria was delighted to host NZ Science Communicator – Elizabeth Connor, Captain of The KinShip (, a science communication organisation that “connects science with the human side of the equation.”

Elizabeth ran a Science Storytelling Workshop with about 20 guests who included science PhDs, scientists, science communicators and educators. She took us through her story of science communication, including some great original drawings that made the story all the more enjoyable. After a break for dinner which was provided by the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, we broke into groups examining the ways that we could elicit stories from the scientists in the group. This included using metaphors to embody those things that help and hinder scientists as they do their work; ideas for questions; the different types of ‘why’ that one can ask; and creating a positive environment for interviews. She showed videos of presenters at the start of a series of workshops and their presenting afterwards, where they had found the story in the science and could more easily communicate to the public. Overall it was a great night with lots of learning opportunities.

Some feedback about what people enjoyed:
  • Really enjoyed the group answers to questions posed in the workshop. Hearing from a number of people made the various points easier to learn
  • The “why” session.
  • Great presenter! Very likeable, interesting presentation and great knowledge/experience
  • Fun, great drawings. Loo conveyed a lot of information through her own stories. Personality really came through

Event review: The science nation

Australia’s newest public events series, The Science Nation, kicked off in May by touring the event The Storytelling of Science, which was run as a one-off event at the 2014 ASC conference, through Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney. All three events were a big success with strong attendance, and much fun being had by both the audience and speakers.

The Science Nation series’ first event – The Storytelling of Science included the best in the nation telling their own story of science, and the stories behind the latest discoveries. From the origin of the universe to the exciting technologies that will change our future, the event was one story you definitely needed to hear.

The Science Nation is celebrating National Science Week by answering the question that has plagued mankind for centuries: which field of research is the weirdest of all? To find out coming along to The Science Nation’s second event, The Great Debate: My Research Rules, which sees eight researchers compete in a debate tournament each trying to convince the audience that they do the weirdest, wackiest, craziest research in the world. With additional rounds of improvised, audience-inspired, topics this Great Debate is 90 minutes of science & laughs that promises to be fun for people of all ages. The Great Debate: My Research Rules is being held during August in Brisbane (15th), Sydney (22nd) and Adelaide (26th).

These events grew out of a triple anniversary event held at ASC2014. The broadcast video of the event is available here.