The Science in Public team

Sarah Brooker and Niall Byrne lead a growing team of science communicators, writers, publicists and event managers based in Melbourne’s inner-west.

  • Niall Byrne is the creative director of Science in Public.
  • Sarah Brooker is the managing director of Science in Public.
  • Toni Stevens is a science communicator and our Chief of Staff with a background in journalism and environmental science.
  • Tanya Ha is Science in Public’s director of engagement and an award-winning environmental campaigner, television presenter, author, science journalist, speaker and sustainable living advocate.
  • Ellie Michaelides is a science communicator, project manager and our office manager, with a background in zoology.
  • Lydia Hales is our Senior Science Editor, with a degree in marine biology and zoology, and a masters in journalism.

We also work with a network of trusted associates.

  • Errol Hunt is a scientist, writer and project manager who is passionate about telling compelling science stories.
  • Tim Thwaites has 30 years’ experience of science writing, editing, teaching and broadcasting in Australia and overseas.
  • Margie Beilharz lectured in environmental policy and management after working in wetlands policy with the state government, and works with us as a project manager, editor and communicator.
  • Tom Rayner is a scientist turned photographer, and director of Tenure Chasers.
  • Jerome Pelletier is videographer and director of the production company Stepping Stone films.
  • Frankie Lee is an event producer, writer and marketing consultant who came to us from ABC Science in Sydney.
  • Branwen Morgan is a Sydney-based writer and communications consultant with a PhD in medicine.
  • Melissa Trudinger worked in the US biotech industry before coming home to Australia to work as a science writer and editor.

DSC_6660Niall Byrne

Niall is a science writer and publicist based in Melbourne. The focus of his work is helping scientists bring their work into the public space through the media, events and festivals.

He also guides science organisations in the development of communication strategies to reach their stakeholders, customers and the public.

Recent clients include: Nature; Monash University, The Australian Institute of Marine Science and the GAVI Alliance.

Some highlights of his work include:

  • story-telling and publicity for the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes (2004 to present), L’Oréal For Women in Science Fellowships (2007-present), the Eureka Prizes (2003-2006; 2013 to present), and the Clunies Ross Foundation (1998-2004)
  • working with CERN on the Australian end of the Higgs boson discovery at the High Energy Physics Conference (2012)
  • conference director, 5th World Conference of Science Journalists in Melbourne in 2007, and the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers in 2009
  • development and management of the Fresh Science program (1998-present)
  • a series of supplements for Nature (2003 to 2014)
  • re-building the public profile of CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory (1988-1998)
  • CSIRO’s communication response to disease emergencies such as equine morbillivirus, bat lyssavirus and pilchard deaths
  • CSIRO’s communication response to the escape of rabbit calicivirus from Wardang Island.

Brought up in Hadleigh, Suffolk in the UK, Niall completed a biology degree at Durham University before running away to the Antipodes.

DSC_9051Sarah Brooker

Sarah is a science communicator and event manager. She develops and delivers communication strategies for science organisations, manages science projects and events and provides media and presentation training.

With a background in biochemistry and genetics, Sarah moved into science communication by joining the science circus and completing a graduate diploma in science communication through ANU.

She went on to assist Biotechnology Australia establish the Gene Technology Information Service, a national enquiry centre on biotechnology and gene technology.

Familiar with the science, issues and public attitudes to do with biotechnology, she has presented widely to audiences including farmers, teachers, students, government groups and at international conferences.

Her freelance projects have taken her through Canberra to work on Science meets Parliament and 50th anniversary celebrations for the Australian Academy of Science; up to Queensland to develop and design a travelling biotechnology exhibition and across to China to extract DNA from bananas in a shopping centre.

Sarah was the Executive Officer for the 5th World Conference of Science Journalists which was held in Melbourne in April 2007.

She is now the managing director of Science in Public and coordinates the national Fresh Science program which publicises the work of early-career scientists.

DSC_8987Toni Stevens

Toni is a science communicator and our Chief of Staff at Science in Public with eight year’s consulting experience; with Science in Public and engineering firm Cardno.

She tried to escape her family of scientists by studying media production at the University of Canberra. However she was lured into an environmental science major by her interest in high school biology…

One year later she was campaigning the uni to create an environmental science/journalism double degree to suit her newfound passion for science communication. She was the first (and only) person to graduate from UC with this double degree.

Toni has a diverse role at Science in Public, from business development to social media management, communication planning to event management, project management to web editing. She also manages around 10 staff and contractors, overseeing the development and implementation of communication activities for our clients.

Some of her project highlights include:

  • promotion of the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science; including promoting the call for nominations to the science industry; as well as storytelling and media liaison around the winners
  • re-branding and ongoing management of the Stories of Australian Science website, plus Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
  • management and promotion of the L’Oreal For Women in Science Fellowships (until 2015); including promotion of the Fellowships, management of the application and judging process, and event management around the award ceremony and Girls in Science schools forums
  • development and implementation of communication strategies such as newsletters, websites, social media, media releases and stakeholder events for clients including the European Molecular Biology Laboratory Australia and the Centenary Institute.

Toni holds a double degree in Environmental Science and Communications (Journalism) from the University of Canberra. She also holds and honours degree in Applied Ecology from the same institution. Toni has also been on the Victorian branch committee of the Australian Science Communicators since 2014.

Tanya Ha

Tanya Ha is an award-winning environmental campaigner, television presenter, author, science journalist, speaker and sustainable living advocate. She is also a media commentator on environmental issues, was a National Tour Ambassador for National Science Week 2009 and was a delegate to the Australia 2020 Summit.

Tanya is an environmental, science and health communication specialist. She holds a science degree (Chemistry major), a postgraduate certificate in Scientific and Technical Writing, and a Master of Environment. Her work has included reporting for ABC TV’s science show Catalyst, answering viewers’ eco questions as the environment presenter for Can We Help?, radio broadcasting, writing for several magazines and conducting media interviews on environmental issues.

Tanya is also a popular author. Her books include the best-selling eco-guide book Greeniology and the acclaimed Green Stuff for Kids. In 2010 she won the United Nations Association of Australia Media Award for Environmental Reporting. In addition to her media work, Tanya also develops sustainable living and behaviour change programs.

Tanya is an Associate of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute and part of the teaching group for the Human Behaviour and Environment subject at the University of Melbourne. She also serves on the advisory boards/groups of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science, the Banksia Sustainability Awards audit panel, and the Thrive Research Hub at the Melbourne School of Design.

Tanya spent many years working on campaign development, media and engagement for the environment group Planet Ark. She is a past board member of the state government authority Sustainability Victoria and the green group Keep Australia Beautiful, and is an ambassador for the Living Smart program.

Tanya is online: and on Twitter: @Ha_Tanya.

Ellie Michaelides

Ellie is a science communicator, project manager and our office manager, with a love of animals and the environment.

She completed her Masters in zoology at The University of Melbourne in 2013, researching how environmental light pollution affects reproduction and survival in an Australian species of cricket.

During her Master’s degree, Ellie discovered a new-found love of science communication. She started with Science in Public in mid-2014.

She loves the diversity of her work, including rolling out the various science prizes such as the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, to writing short stories, fact sheets and newsletters for us and our clients. She also manages our internship program.

In her spare time, Ellie is the Communications Manager for Wild Melbourne, a non-profit organisation that aims to enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation for the natural world. She was also a founder and the life science editor for Lateral Magazine, an online magazine created by young scientists and science communicators, for two years.

Although she’s roamed from zoology into science communication, Ellie still keeps a foot in with the animals as a volunteer tour guide and bird handler at Healesville Sanctuary.

lydiaLydia Hales

Lydia is a science writer and project manager. She is Senior Science Editor at Science in Public, and a freelance science journalist.
Lydia has been published by Australian Geographic magazine, ABC Health and Wellbeing, ABC Science, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Australasian Science, The Canberra Times, ABC’s The Drum, the Lip! Yearbook, and has written book reviews for Science Book a Day.

She once had a poem non-delinquently published on a tree. This joined others’ work in an anthology to raise funds for Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease research, as part of Tasmanian Living Writers’ Week.  She has had creative writing in a few other small anthologies, and volunteered at the Melbourne Writers Festival and Emerging Writers’ Festival in 2013 and 2014.

She moved from Tasmania in 2009 to study Science (Marine Biology and Zoology) at James Cook University in Townsville, finishing with a small research project in the rainforest in Borneo. She then moved to Melbourne to complete a Master in Journalism. Prior to joining Science in Public, she held a temporary media and communications role at the Burnet Institute, writing for their website and providing assistance during the International AIDS Conference.

Our associates

DSC_6599Errol Hunt

Errol is a scientist, writer and project manager who is passionate about telling compelling science stories.

After a physics degree at Waikato University (New Zealand), Errol worked as a research physicist for Comalco Research in Melbourne, modelling and verifying physical processes in aluminium reduction cells.

He then side-stepped into travel publishing, becoming a writer, commissioning editor and associate publisher at Lonely Planet, ultimately project managing some 90 different titles. He was coordinating author of the first edition of the South Pacific guidebook, helped shape and implement the company’s media strategy in NZ, and led travel coverage of Christchurch following the 2011 earthquake.

Errol is an editor for the Institute of Physics (UK) and has most-recently been working at the Bureau of Meteorology on a project to collate great stories of industry working with Bureau research and environmental intelligence.

A passionate Westy, Errol lives in Footscray, where he works part-time with the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, explores Vietnamese and Ethiopian eateries with his family, and tinkers (endlessly, and often fruitlessly) with a 1957 Morris Minor.

DSC_9036Tim Thwaites

Tim is a freelance science writer and broadcaster who specialises in putting science, medicine and engineering into everyday language.

He has 30 years experience of writing, editing, sub-editing, teaching and broadcasting in Australia and overseas.

After a degree and graduate work in zoology, including several years in Canada, he trained and worked as a journalist at The Age.

He has since written and subedited for newspapers, newsletters and magazines both nationally and internationally, and has also worked for universities, government departments, research institutes, private companies and professional organisations producing news stories and features, writing background material and press releases, editing publications, and organising publicity. Tim has been heard regularly on radio.

As a foundation member of Australian Science Communicators, he was national president from December 2007 to December 2009. He was also first editor of its newsletter, acted as co-chair of the program committee for the 5th World Conference of Science Journalists in Melbourne in 2007, was convenor of its National Conference in February 2010, and is a member of the committee which for the past 13 years has organised Fresh Science, the national competition for early career researchers.

Tim has also taught non-fiction writing at La Trobe University.

Margie Beilharz

Margie is a Melbourne-based science communicator who has been working with Science in Public since 2008. Here she delights in taking control of publications and reports, as well as guiding communication for a number of our clients.

Margie followed up her PhD in Zoology with a couple of years in the Victorian National Parks Service working in Wetland Policy. She lectured in Environmental Management at Deakin University for nine years before taking a family break, which included a couple of years living in London.

In 2009 Margie completed a postgraduate certificate in Technical Communication from Swinburne University.

Margie works part time to allow her time for her family, dog, tennis, bike riding and travel.

TomTom Rayner

I’m an Australian scientist turned photographer.

As a scientist, I worked for over 10 years to improve the condition of Australia’s rivers. I conducted and published high-quality research, taught graduate programs and led teams of researchers. My work generated over $1 million in funding, 18+ peer-reviewed papers with 600+ citations, two book chapters and several first-class Honours and PhD graduates.

During this time, I also pursued an interest in science communication. I studied photojournalism at The Australian Centre for Photography, produced and presented a solo photo exhibition, crowd-funded the publication of a photo book, wrote a monthly magazine column featuring my underwater images and was a semi-finalist at the Wildlife Photographer of The Year competition.

In 2015, I left academia to start my own venture. As Director of Tenure Chasers, I use my scientific expertise and award-winning photography to help young academics fix their broken communication. I also work with the non-profit group Freshwaters Illustrated, run the important fisheries website, am a Senior Associate at Science in Public, Australia’s leading science communication agency, and am Photographer in Residence at Belsize & Co.

I’m Director at Tenure Chasers and a Senior Associate at Science in Public.

JeromeJerome Pelletier (Stepping Stone Films)


Jerome was born in the French speaking part of Switzerland. At the age of 14 he discovered his father’s super 8 camera – a small oddly shaped ‘state of the art’ Bolex camera. The gadget intrigued him, as well as the opportunity it was offering. Thus began a life-long passion for creating unique and beautiful images.

In 1990 he started his professional career with the opening of Canal 1 Atelier Video in Bienne, the home of Swiss watches, with his friend and colleague Yvan Kohler. After three successful years learning his craft, he decided to explore the world and came to Australia.

It didn’t take long for Jerome to fall in love with the beautiful Australian landscape, friendly people and relaxed lifestyle. And when, soon after arriving in 1994, he fell in love with his Australian wife Linda, his fate was sealed!

In 1999 he founded Stepping Stone Films and joined the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) as an active member. Since then Stepping Stone Films has grown into a successful boutique production company and his talent as a Director of Photography has been recognised and acknowledged through more than 20 awards from the ACS.

Jerome has worked with Science in Public on many short videos over the years, including videos for the L’Oréal for Women in Science Fellowship program, and the CSL Florey Medal.


Frankie Lee

Frankie Lee is an event producer, writer and marketing consultant.

She studied Communications at the University of Technology, Sydney and worked in the music industry for a long time before moving to ABC. Frankie was Marketing Manager at ABC Radio National for several years then moved to ABC Science.

At ABC Science, she looked after National Science Week, being one of the small team that founded Science Week in Australia in 1997. Frankie produced hundreds of science events including Cafe Scientific and Scientists on the Loose sessions in every state of Australia from 2002 to 2012. She was one of the founders of the Ultimo Science Festival in Sydney in 2005.

Frankie’s science communication career highlights include witnessing the ceremony where Dr Karl Kruszelnicki was awarded an IgNobel Prize at Harvard University for his research into belly button fluff and being tour manager and minder of Douglas Adams for his last Australian tour.

Branwen Morganbran

Branwen is a Sydney-based science and medical journalist and communications consultant with a PhD in medicine (UNSW). As a journalist, she has written and recorded stories for the Science Show on Radio National and spent time working with the ABC News in Science team. Between consulting for a range of clients, Branwen continues to write for popular and trade press including Cosmos magazine and Nature. Samples of her work can be found at

As a consultant, Branwen enjoys managing projects that encompass the development and implementation of communication and change management strategies. In one of her roles, she led the creation and deployment of a Flipboard-style news app for an Australian subsidiary of a multinational business and subsequently the redesign of the company’s social intranet turning it from a web portal that reflected the business structure to one that is end-user orientated. Branwen has extensive experience writing press releases, developing media packages, and pitching stories to journalists and news desks. She has developed and produced videos and podcasts to achieve clients’  specific communications goals.

Following completion of her PhD in 2002, Branwen spent several years in London where she worked at the UK’s Science Media Centre; as a conference organiser for the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College London; and as Head of Communications for the Coalition for Medical Progress (now amalgamated and rebranded as

DSC_6574Melissa Trudinger

Melissa is a Melbourne-based science journalist and communicator. She assists Science in Public with anything biotechnology-related, in particular with our work for EMBL Australia.

Melissa has a background in immunology and molecular biology research. She worked in the US biotechnology industry in a variety of roles for 7 years.

She returned to Australia to become the Science Editor for Australian Biotechnology News from its debut in 2002 until 2005.

She has a post-graduate diploma in Science Communication and was Co-Chair of the Program Committee for the 5th World Conference of Science Journalists, which was held in Melbourne in April 2007.