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Chemical-free is a myth says Chief Scientist; Dow CEO says business can save the world

Today at the Centenary Chemistry Congress

Chemical-free is a myth, says Chief Scientist

It’s a sad era for chemistry when you can buy chemical-free water, in a chemical-free plastic bottle, to wash down your chemical-free pills, from your chemical-free pharmacist,” says Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel.

More below.


  • Eliminating chemical weapons, His Excellency Mr Ahmet ÜzümcüDirector-General, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (2013 Nobel Peace Prize winner)
  • Using carbs to fight superbugs—Wisconsin chemist Laura Kiessling on how we can use the carbohydrates that coat every living cell in the fight against antibiotic resistant superbugs
  • Sir Martyn Poliakoff (University of Nottingham) is in the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s smallest periodic table (carved into a hair from his head). He’s a star of the YouTube series The Periodic Table of Videos. And in his day job he’s working to use CO2, water and other supercritical fluids to replace toxic solvents in applications such as dry cleaning.

And from last night

Business can solve today’s intractable challenges says Dow CEO Andrew Liveris, but Australia is falling behind..

More below. [click to continue…]

The ignorant versus the arrogant; growing bones; frog venom to TV screens; wood waste to solvents

Monday, 24 July at Melbourne Convention Centre
RACI Centennial Chemistry Congress: 3,500 chemists, three Nobel Prize winners, Trump and Obama insiders

The ignorant versus the arrogant – inside US politics

That’s how Obama insider and chemist Paul Anastas describes the US election result. He was appointed to the EPA by President Obama and now sees decades of environmental protection being rolled back. He’s angry. At the Congress, he’s talking about solving global challenges without creating new ones. For example, we need non-toxic solar cells, and biofuels that don’t compete with food production. He’s a pioneer of green chemistry, designing chemicals that are sustainable, non-hazardous and environmentally benign.

How seaweed and frog venom led to today’s OLED phone and TV screens

Andrew Holmes is President of the Australian Academy of Science and a chemistry pioneer whose discoveries led to plastic screens. Now he and his colleagues are working on plastic solar cells. He’ll discuss the impact of chemistry on Australia, and what’s next for plastic electronics.

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Stopping superbugs with ‘tyre tracks’; from chemical weapons to saving the planet; media award

Today: fighting superbugs with ‘tyre tracks’

Cynthia Whitchurch discovered that dangerous bacteria follow each other like ants, or 4WD drivers following tracks in the sand. She plans to stop them in their tracks and new catheters are being developed using her ideas. She’s won the David Syme Prize and is at UTS in Sydney.

More details below, and call Cynthia on 0408 408 443 or Marea Martlew, Media & PR Advisor (Science) on 0424735255

Starting 23 July: Chemistry: from chemical weapons to saving the planet

Trump’s ‘Aussie mate’, three Nobel Prize winners, and 2,500+ chemists converge in Melbourne.

Topics and speakers include:

  • CEO Dow Chemical Company and ‘Trump’s Aussie mate’ Andrew Liveris
  • Caltech scientist Frances Arnold, pioneer of ‘directed evolution’
  • Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
  • 100 years of Australian chemistry: what have we achieved and what’s next?

More below.

And coming up in August…

International geeks and gurus

  • Interstellar visual effects wizard Oliver James
  • Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and The Glass Universe
  • Physicist, astrobiologist, author and broadcaster Paul Davies
  • Canadian astronaut and ‘Space Oddity’ Chris Hadfield

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Grants, prizes and funding worth $3 million+; where is chemistry going?; and what are your Science Week highlights?

More than $3 million worth of science prizes, fellowships, grants and awards are open for nominations over the next couple of months, from $5K for young engineers to two CSL Centenary Fellowships worth $1.25million each.

This week, the Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research open—two $50,000 prizes for outstanding mid-career researchers working with stem cells in medicine, agriculture or any other field.

Read on for more.

We can help you make the most of Science Week

Last year, 1.3 million Australians got involved in 1,800 registered National Science Week events around the country. We’re the national publicists for Science Week, providing communication support for event organisers and briefing media outlets with tasty story leads.

If you have an event or topic you think has strong media potential, let us know and we’ll consider including it in our media releases and briefings. Email us at scienceweek@scienceinpublic.com.au.

And it’s not too late to create an event, or to register an existing event via www.scienceweek.net.au/event-holder-registration.

More below.

New media and engagement training dates

Do you (or any of your staff) need help shaping your science into a story for stakeholders, the public, industry, or the media?

Join us for our scheduled one day courses around the country or talk to us about a customised course. More below.

  • Sydney – 31 August
  • Melbourne – 1 August, 12 September
  • Canberra – 5 September
  • Adelaide – 19 September
  • Perth – 21 September

Also in this bulletin:

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What are you doing with China? Explore big data and open source publishing at Nature Springer events; a taste of Science Week; and more

Are you working with industry or university collaborators in China?

We’re creating a list of China-Australia research collaborations. We’re interested in everything from pure research collaborations to industry collaborations. We’ll share the results with the Australian Embassy in Beijing. More below.

Big data: big deal?

Big data, open data and open access publishing are hot topics. Beyond the buzzwords, what is the value for serious research? Springer Nature are holding a series of free symposia and networking events next week in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Hear from their Chief Publishing Officer Steven Inchcoombe, who believes science should be social and research should be read. Read on for details.

Get a piece of the Science Week action in August

Last year, 1.3 million Australians got involved in 1,800 registered National Science Week events around the country. It’s the prime time for open days, events and broad science engagement.

This year marks Science Week’s 20th birthday. International visitors include theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, astronaut and ‘space oddity’ Chris Hadfield, and Simone Giertz, YouTube’s queen of ‘crappy’ robots.

Plus, IMPACT7 will see innovators compete to present the brightest ideas. There’s still time to nominate. And ‘Blood’ will be the inaugural exhibition at Melbourne’s new Science Gallery.

More below.

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Keeping the lights on in Ecocities, and a global voice for Indigenous public health equity

This evening: Ecocity World Summit launch in Melbourne 

Population growth, transport and congestion, keeping cities healthy, increasing density without the loss of green space, and energy security (aka ‘keeping the lights on’)—a reminder that the program of July’s Ecocity World Summit will be launched at 5.30pm tonight at The University of Melbourne.

It will provide an overview of the speakers and topics we can put you in touch with for stories in the lead up to and during the Summit.

More details on the event below. For more information about the Summit, contact Tanya Ha on 0404 083 863 or tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au.

A global voice for Indigenous public health equity

An new Indigenous Working Group will be established within the World Federation of Public Health Associations, aiming to create a platform for change to address the health inequities experienced by Indigenous peoples worldwide.

Media release below.

Kind regards,

Niall  [click to continue…]

Last chance to push your colleagues for the PM’s Prizes and others; Nature promoting Melbourne…

The deadline for this year’s Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science is next Wednesday. The first stage is relatively painless so please push your unsung heroes of science and innovation forward.

We know that most nominations happen because a peer or supervisor nudges the nominee forward. So nudge away. We’re especially keen to see a strong field for the early-career prizes. The Prize for New Innovators is great for young researchers who have science/engineering credibility and have made a commercial outcome possible.

And for the up-and-coming researchers with the gift of the gab, consider the Top 5 under 40 competition organised by the ABC and UNSW.

Here’s a list of dates for you:

More on all of these below.  [click to continue…]

From Public Health to Al Gore and EcoCities

congressThe World Congress on Public Health wraps up in Melbourne today with resolutions and demands for action on public health and on chemical weapons. More below.

But wait there’s more…EcoCities. In July Al Gore will be one of dozens of international speakers at the Ecocity World Summit.

What’s an EcoCity? Why do we want to be one? Can I speak with Al? These and other questions will be answered…

This Monday evening at a briefing on the Summit at 5.30 pm Monday 10 April at the Dulux Gallery, Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne.

More details below.  [click to continue…]

Three cheers for the nanny state: World Congress on Public Health kicks off in Melbourne, Monday morning

Two and a half thousand public health leaders are discussing how to transform lives by the million for the next 50 years.

And they want to talk to you.

  • Celebrating billions of lives transformed by public health.
  • Australians are living more than twenty years longer.
  • China’s life expectancy has doubled since 1949.
  • The roads are much safer, and we’re less likely to die from smoking.
  • Childbirth is 10x safer for the baby and 100x safer for mum.
  • And we’re not dying of TB, dirty water, deadly workplaces.


  • Globally, why are 4,000 people still dying from TB every day?
  • We defeated SARS in style, but Ebola and Zika were harder; what’s next?
  • Tobacco will kill six million people this year.
  • We have new plagues—sugary drinks and over consumption.
  • Chronic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, are now responsible for 85 per cent of deaths worldwide.
  • Violence against women and children continues.
  • Indigenous peoples from Nunavut to Alice Springs are dying too young.
  • And people with mental illnesses are losing even more years.
  • Climate change.
  • Trump.

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Fighting TB’s daily death toll of 4,000 lives; scientists in Poliwood; and how’s that weather!

Today: 200+ scientists meet parliamentarians in Canberra

Today, science leaders and early career researchers are meeting politicians at Parliament House—a clash of cultures or a meeting of minds? The researchers are available to talk about the experience.

Read more via Science & Technology Australia.

Today: Minister Sinodinos releases National Science Statement

Recognition of basic research, acknowledgement of the need for long-term thinking, and of the need for further internationalisation of Australian science are some of the highlights.

Our friends at the Australian Academy of Science have issued a release—details at www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases and the AusSMC has reactions at www.scimex.org/newsfeed/expert-reaction-national-science-strategy-released.   [click to continue…]

The big one: $750,000 for science/innovation/teaching—nominations for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science now open

Also in this bulletin: from the Academy to the ABC, a host of prizes; join Nature’s promotion of Australia’s science capital; and Alan Duffy on our training

Power and wealth untold—not quite—but the Prime Minister’s Prizes do wonders for your altmetrics. It’s time to put forward your unrecognised leaders and your rising stars.

Nominations are sought from industry and academia for the two major prizes worth $250,000 each and the $50,000 early to mid-career awards. It’s easy to nominate online and winning one of the awards really can be transforming.

“Winning this award is the single best thing that has happened in my career, and it clinched the success of my application for promotion to Professor,” says Angela Moles from UNSW of winning the 2013 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year.

For Rick Shine, winning last year’s Prime Minister’s Prize for Science helped raise public awareness of his work protecting native animals from cane toads and helped him to secure more funding. And for Ingrid Scheffer, who won the top prize in 2014 along with Sam Berkovic, the award secured her place as a sought-after speaker on her research into epilepsy and on the topic of women in science.

More below.
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What is saving and taking women’s lives?


Globally women are living longer, healthier lives—what are the success stories and new challenges?

Girls born today—International Women’s Day—can expect to live 20 years longer than women born in 1960, the same birth year as Nigella Lawson, Bono and Erin Brockovich.

In Nepal and China, the life expectancy for women has doubled over the past 50 to 60 years.

Child birth is much safer for babies and mums, more women are surviving cancer, universal education is giving girls the opportunity to achieve their goals, and infectious scourges of the past are no more.

But domestic violence and chronic diseases remain huge challenges in Australia, and the world’s poorest women are likely to bear the brunt of climate change.

Public health experts are available for interviews about the diseases, discoveries, substances and social policies changing women’s health—past, present, and future.

Media release below[click to continue…]

The world’s largest 3D metal printer/giant jet door hinge at the Airshow; saving lives by the millions; and making plastic fantastic

Today at the Airshow:

The Monash team that brought you the world’s first 3D printed jet engine…

Now has the world’s largest 3D metal printer, and have just used it to print a giant aircraft door hinge—the largest powder bed 3D printed metal aerospace component. It’s 11kg and 40 by 80 by 39cm in size.

Media call today at 11am on the Victorian Government display at the International Airshow in Avalon.

More information below.

Tomorrow in Sydney: polymer science making plastic fantastic

Smarter bank notes, health-protecting wearable electronics, and bendy solar cells are just some of the ways that polymer science is making plastic fantastic.

This week, three Australian researchers will tell audiences in Sydney and Melbourne how they are putting polymers to work.

More below or email toni@scienceinpublic.com.au[click to continue…]

Saving lives by the million; improving cities with Al Gore; and a truckload of prizes, funding and other opportunities

There’s a host of opportunities to recognise and support your researchers this month, including:

World public health and Ecocity meetings coming up in April and July

Australians have gained 25 years, and China’s life expectancy has doubled. Public health has transformed millions of lives. But Australia is a hotspot for lifestyle-influenced diseases such as diabetes, alcohol-related liver damage, obesity, stress, and mental health challenges. We’re also facing an ageing population and a changing climate.

The World Congress on Public Health will be held in Melbourne from 3 to 7 April, bringing together academics and policy makers from universities and institutions around the world, including the World Health Organisation. Read on for details.

And from 12 to 14 July, Melbourne will host the Ecocity World Summit, focusing on sharing the best knowledge, research and practical solutions to ensure urbanisation meets the needs of current and future generations. Topics include climate change adaptation, smart cities, food and water security, energy, infrastructure and urban health. Read on for more information.

And there are opportunities to help share your science…  [click to continue…]

Be noticed by those who matter; Australia Day science list; prizes; and funding opportunities

Australia Day was a good day for science

Not only was stem cell researcher Alan Mackay-Sim awarded Australian of the Year last week, Andrew Holmes, the guru of plastics and light and science academy president, received an AC, and many others were on the honour roll. We’ve scoured the list for science mentions. If we’ve missed anyone let me know.

Put your science in front of those who matter most: Stories of Australian Science

Has your team got an exciting discovery, invention, or other news you’d like to celebrate?

We’re calling for stories to feature in the 2017 edition of Stories of Australian Science, our online collection and annual print publication bringing together discoveries, prize-winners and top achievers in Aussie science.

We distribute the stories all over the country and overseas. Prices start from $1,200 with discounts for multiple stories. More below.

Need help telling the story in your science to the media, government, funders, investors…?

We’re holding media and communication training courses for scientists around the country. These courses will help your team find the best way to communicate your work to different audiences, manage tricky questions about your research, and give you the chance to practise interviews with working journalists from TV, radio and print.

We’ll be in:

  • Melbourne: Wednesday 8 February, Tuesday 2 May, Thursday 22 June
  • Adelaide: Wednesday 22 February, Tuesday 6 June
  • Sydney: Thursday 16 March, Thursday 25 May
  • Perth: Wednesday 8 March, Wednesday 5 July
  • Canberra: Wednesday 5 April

More below.

Also in this bulletin:

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Going for gold – UK’s women in science experience; put your research in front of politicians diplomats, journos…


Half of Australia’s science university students are women. So why are only 21 per cent of the professors teaching them women?

Forty Australian universities and other research organisations are signed up and working towards bronze Athena Swan accreditation for supporting women in science. What can they learn from the UK’s ten-year experience of addressing the ‘leaky pipeline’?

UK chemist Professor Tom Welton is in Australia to share how his team at the Imperial College London Chemistry Department achieved a gold Athena Swan Award for promoting gender equality.

His tour of events and workshops kicks off in Melbourne tomorrow. Next week he’s in Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.

The tour is organised by the Science in Australia Gender Equity as part of their efforts to help their members tackle inequality and achieve Athena SWAN accreditation.
More below.


Has your team got an exciting discovery, invention, or other news you’d like to celebrate? Consider taking part in the 2017 edition of Stories of Australian Science, our online collection and annual print publication bringing together discoveries, prize-winners and top achievers in Aussie science.

We distribute the stories all over the country and overseas. Prices start from $1,200. More below.  [click to continue…]

Tell us your stories of Australia-US collaboration; get your science noticed by those who matter; $4 million for citizen science; and media training

We’re looking for stories of Australia-US research collaborations for a collection for the Australian Embassy in Washington DC. Our focus will be on innovations that are close to a commercial application and/or has achieved a practical outcome for both nations. More below.

Earlier this year we asked for Indonesia and Japan story leads. Our collection of Stories of Australia-Indonesia Innovation has been published online. It features a better vaccine for rotavirus, the latest in the discovery of the Hobbit, and stories on how Australian research is supporting the transformation of Indonesia. It’s now available online. More below and read the stories here. Our 2015 Japan stories are here. And look out for Japan collaboration videos in the New Year.

We’re also calling for great stories to include in our 2017 publication of Stories of Australian Science. It’s an annual print and online publication, bringing together discoveries, prize-winners and top achievers in Aussie science, which we distribute all over the country and overseas. Prices start from $1,200. More below.

As funders start to incorporate altmetrics, good communication will become more important than ever. We now offer a range of communication, pitching and media training services. Our first dates for 2017 are out now. More below.

Grants for citizen science are now available from the Australian government. They’re handing out $4 million. The deadline is 17 February. More below.

We close this Wednesday 21 December and re-open on Wednesday 4 January.

Have a lovely Christmas and we look forward to more brilliant Australian science next year.

Kind regards,

Niall  [click to continue…]

The physics of kangaroo’s knees; no more exploding smartphones; cracking fusion power; and a zero carbon future

In this bulletin:

It’s the second day of the Physics Congress in Brisbane and we’ve got stories on an “atomic MRI machine” even smaller than the cells in your body from Melbourne University researchers; how ANU researchers are developing a diamond-based quantum computer; University of South Australia researchers working out if plasma jets can replace lasers in cancer therapy; and more.

We’re also looking at diversity in science, with speakers covering where we are at for ‘women in science,’ what it means for women’s leadership in Asia and Australia, for LGBTIQ scientists, and diversity in general.

Researchers available for interview, contact:

More at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/physicscongress[click to continue…]

Fusion; gravitational waves; fighting dengue; and solving Indonesia’s and Australia’s development challenges

This week:

Blue carbon, climate change, coral reefs, biofuels, breeding mosquitos to fight dengue, disease resistant crops, what data is good data—and how do we use it? Speakers from the Australia-Indonesia Science Symposium available for interview. More below.

And from Sunday:

A Nobel Prize winner, a Nobel Prize hopeful, Australia’s role in the world’s largest science experiment, plus plenty of quirky physics stories—the biennial Physics Congress starts on Sunday 4 December. More below.

For more information or to arrange interviews email me, or contact Toni Stevens on +61 401 763 130, (03) 9398 1416, or toni@scienceinpublic.com.au

Kind regards,

Niall [click to continue…]

Golden bananas for vitamin deficiencies; harvesting social media to inform policy; breeding mozzies to fight dengue – Ministers open the Australia-Indonesia Science Symposium

Transforming Indonesia and Australia with science and innovation: Australian and Indonesian ministers open international science symposium

Opening ceremony 8:30 am / Press call with ministers 9:20 am
Monday 28 November at the Shine Dome, Canberra.
Scientists available all week.

Today in Canberra:

  • A new drought-tolerant sugar cane for Indonesian farmers; and golden bananas and other crops to reduce vitamin deficiencies (Professor Bambang Sugiharto, Universitas Jember, and Professor James Dale, Queensland University of Technology)
  • What do the people want? Harvesting social media to inform policy (Diastika Rahwidiati, Pulse Lab Jakarta)
  • The future of mangroves—and why they’re essential for fisheries and coastal health (Professor Catherine Lovelock, University of Queensland)
  • Breeding mosquitoes to fight dengue; and why is it hard to acquire immunity to malaria (Professor Adi Utarini, Universitas Gadjah Mada, and Dr Diana Hansen, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research)

The first Australia-Indonesia Science Symposium has brought together over 100 leading researchers from the two nations to discuss how science and innovation can meet shared challenges. [click to continue…]