Media releases

Dozens of stories and interesting people at 190+ Science Week events in SA

Science for ageing gracefully; cab sav chemistry; dinosaurs amongst us; and more

  • Who will win SA’s top science awards? And who are the unsung heroes?
  • Fighting cancer, virtual reality, and light and colour at our newest festival Big Science Adelaide.
  • What gives wine its colour, flavour and texture? Ask a wine scientist (yes, that’s a profession!).
  • Young scientists have healthy insights for seniors, from dementia to active ageing to hip replacements.
  • Are quotas the answer for women in science? Ask them.
  • Bioprospecting, climate change, and the rise of China: why should we care about Antarctic research?
  • Battle of the brains: who is the best, brightest and funniest physicist?
  • Ask the singing palaeontologist about dancing with the ‘dinosaurs amongst us’.
  • See a mobile astronomy observatory on wheels in Port Augusta.
  • The megafauna fossils of Naracoorte Caves.
  • Do you have a healthy relationship with your smartphone?

More on these highlights below, and others at, and on Twitter at @SciWkMedia.

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Modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previously thought

New dating of ancient human teeth discovered in a Sumatran cave site suggests modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previously thought.

The international research led by Dr Kira Westaway from Macquarie University and published in Nature, has pushed back the timing of when humans first left Africa, their arrival in Southeast Asia, and the first time they lived in rainforests.

This evidence of humans living in the Sumatra rainforest more than 63,000 years ago, also suggests they could have made the crossing to the Australian continent even earlier than the accepted 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.

Other Australian universities involved in the research included the Australian National University, the University of Queensland, the University of Wollongong, Griffith University and Southern Cross University.

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National Science Week 2017 showcases key importance of science to the community

Press release from: Senator The Hon Arthur Sinodinous AO, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science and Senator for NSW

National Science Week, which I am delighted to launch today, provides a valuable opportunity for all Australians to meet scientists, discuss hot topics, do science and celebrate its discoveries and impact on our society.

This is the 20th anniversary of National Science Week and it will be held from 12-20 August.

It has become one of Australia’s biggest festivals with 1.3 million people expected to participate in more than 2000 events, including hands-on and online activities and competitions from the Tiwi Islands to Antarctica and Christmas Island to Cape York.
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Bumper program of National Science Week events to inspire families about wonders of STEM

Media release posted on behalf of the New South Wales National Science Week Coordinating Committee and the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist

10 August 2017

Communities across New South Wales will have their eyes opened to the wonders of science and technology through a packed program of National Science Week events.

Close to 600 fun and family-friendly events will be hosted by universities, museums and research organisations across the state as part of the annual celebration of science, technology and innovation.

National Science Week, now in its 21st year, provides an opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of Australian scientists to the world of knowledge.

NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Mary O’Kane, says it also seeks to foster a love of science in young Australians.

“National Science Week is a chance not only to celebrate really great achievements and advances in science; but also to stir our next generation of science minds,” Professor O’Kane said.

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Dozens of stories and interesting people at 300+ Science Week events in WA

Neuroscience meets music; Indigenous engineers; the maths of primordial soup; and more

  • From suspended schoolboy to educational pioneer: 17-year-old innovator and 2014 Australian Young Innovator of the Year Taj Pabari, in WA for the Perth Science Festival
  • Western Australians to find out what’s lurking in their pantry
  • Are your genes your destiny? How close is Gattaca to reality, 20 years on?
  • Great Southern Science to be showcased at one-day conference in Albany
  • Who will be WA’s Scientist of the Year? Find out Monday 14 August
  • A prospective Martian—Mars One candidate Josh Richards launches his new book, following his quest to become a Martian
  • Bush tucker and behind-the-scenes tour of BoM in Geraldton
  • Scientist and mathematician Dr Rowena Ball on the origins of life, in Geraldton
  • Mock drug lab, blood and gore, solving crimes, making ice-cream, and bring your own soil sample to the ChemCentre Open Day in Bentley
  • What role did WA play in the discovery of gravitational waves? Plus… Galileo, blackholes and more in Gingin
  • Stories of Indigenous engineers in Kalgoorlie
  • Do you have a healthy relationship with your smartphone?
  • And science festivals in Perth, Geraldton, Albany, Gingin and Kalgoorlie.

More on these highlights below, and others at, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

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Dozens of stories and interesting people at 260+ Science Week events in Queensland

Scientists in the shopping mall; the science behind the energy crisis; forensic facial reconstruction; and more


  • Remarkable science careers: TV presenting, engineering sports tech, immunology with worms, and putting parasites in a book for kids
  • Are batteries the answer for keeping the lights on? What’s Australia’s energy crisis all about? Find out at the Big Picture Energy talks
  • Commonwealth Games sports science, medical science and making slime at Westfield
  • Meet the curators, and a science sleepover at Queensland Museum
  • The science of fireworks with the Brisbane Broncos
  • Meet the ‘farmer robot’ at Street Science at EKKA
  • Battle of the brains: who is the funniest physicist?
  • Find out how facial forensic reconstruction works from the scientist whose work helped identify a Belanglo victim—also in Toowoomba

Regional Queensland

  • Microbes cleaning up mine sites, how the land effects the Reef, and an ancient fanged kangaroo—talk with science’s female rising stars, touring Cairns, Cloncurry, Mt Isa, and more
  • New MacDonald has a drone: how science is shaping rural futures—Charters Towers
  • Art-science experiences in the tropics at Cairns

Everywhere: do you have a healthy relationship with your smartphone?

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Perth Science Festival coming, rain or shine

Media release posted on behalf of the Western Australian National Science Week Coordinating Committee

Perth Science Festival moves to the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre. Rain or shine, we’ll see you there with explosive shows, hands-on experiments, native animals and more!

Perth Science Festival is set to kick off National Science Week in Western Australia, with a free family-friendly event in a new indoor venue at the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Wander the stalls exploring Future Earth or cuddle up to native animals, then hear from inspirational speakers or jump on a fact-finding tour through art and video games.

With more than 70 different stallholders and shows across the weekend, there will be something for everyone!

Discover augmented reality and sample edible bugs in Scitech’s Future Earth zone, power your own city with Western Power, explore space with Gravity Discovery Centre and Perth Observatory, cuddle up to native animals with Kanyana Wildlife, WA Reptile Park, and Native ARC, and much more.

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Tasmania’s National Science Week Launch

Media release posted on behalf of the Tasmanian National Science Week Coordinating Committee

National Science Week Launch: 10am, Friday 11 August

The Hon Michael Ferguson will be joined by an array of esteemed Tasmanians to launch National Science Week in Tasmania and formally open the 2017 Tasmanian STEM Excellence Awards at the Festival of Bright Ideas (FoBI) schools day.

Joining the minister will be:

  • Dr Stephanie Downes, Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Centre (ACE CRC).
  • Andy Baird, Chair of the Tasmanian National Science Week Coordinating Committee and Deputy Director of Engagement at Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.
  • Jeremy Just, explosive live science performer

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570 Science Week events in NSW New South Wales launches National Science Week with NASA’s mission to Mars; boozy botany; the chemistry of life and death and more

8 August 2017, launch at 8.30am at Australian Museum

1 William Street, Sydney. Please enter via Crystal Hall, corner of William and College Streets

With NSW Chief Scientist Mary O’Kane, Australian Museum Executive Director and CEO Kim McKay molecular biology guru Merlin Crossley, Winny the Muttaburrasaurus, and students from Chifley Public School, animals and experiments.

Contact: Claire Vince on, or 0468 726 910.

Statewide highlights include

  • Can parasitic worms halt MS? Or honey fight superbugs?
  • Sporty science at the Innovation Games
  • The botany of brewing
  • The chemistry of the smell of death, with a modern-day Sherlock
  • Chemistry saving lives and creating jobs
  • Greenhouse or madhouse? What’s holding back climate action?
  • Dinosaurs invade the Blue Mountains, and more…

And more than 570 other events across the state.

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Future Earth, life on Mars, and a gallery full of bloody science

August a prime time to talk innovation and science—National Science Week kicks off 12 August

It’s time to plan your coverage of over 1,800 events across Australia for National Science Week from 12-20 August.

We have national touring speakers, and local events everywhere from the Tiwi Islands to Hobart:

  • the man behind the visual effects of Interstellar: Oliver James in Canberra and Melbourne
  • US science writer Dava Sobel, author of books The Glass Universe and Longitude in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Bendigo
  • the 17-year-old inventor of a build-it-yourself tablet, Taj Pabari—in Perth, Darwin and Brisbane
  • Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey—ABC’s national project
  • Australia joins the global Moonhack world record attempt for the most kids coding—national
  • Canadian astronaut and ‘Space Oddity’ Chris Hadfield coming to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne
  • Innovating Energy Summit: Powering Australia’s Future at Parliament House in Canberra
  • art meets science in ‘Blood’, the first exhibition of the new Science Gallery Melbourne
  • Future Earth science lessons in schools; science-themed Brain Break morning teas in workplaces

1,800 events across Australia during National Science Week, with more registered each day, including: [click to continue…]

Wine science, outer-space, hackerspaces, the scent of death, and are you a slave to your smartphone?

A taste of some of the 1,800+ National Science Week events and activities around the country.

  • What’s your relationship with your phone? (national)
  • Is your future written in your genes? (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth)
  • NASA scientists and potential Martians on the Red Planet (NSW)
  • Science Gallery International’s bloody Australian debut (VIC)
  • Hunting pests in pantries (WA and SA)
  • Plus many more

International guests

  • Canadian astronaut and ‘Space Oddity’ Chris Hadfield
  • The man behind the visual effects of the movie Interstellar Oliver James
  • US science writer Dava Sobel, author of The Glass Universe, revealing more hidden figures from the history of astronomy
  • English physicist, writer and broadcaster Paul Davies

Local science stars

  • Katie Mack—the astrophysicist J K Rowling follows—will be the Women in Physics Touring Lecturer, before heading back to America in 2018
  • Astrophysicist and science communicator Alan Duffy, Mamamia’s ‘hot astronomer
  • Lee Constable—Steminist, host of Network Ten’s science show SCOPE, and the brains behind Co-Lab: Science Meets Street Art
  • 17-year-old inventor, social entrepreneur and educational pioneer Taj Pabari, who developed a build-it-yourself tablet and creativity kit for kids
  • Forensic chemist and modern-day Sherlock Holmes Shari Forbes, who uses a ‘farm’ of buried bodies to study the smell of death and decay
  • Comedian, science communicator and Mars One candidate Josh Richards

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What fly guts could reveal about our health

Diet choice, reproduction of fruit flies affected by gut bacteria

Two Macquarie researchers are co-authors on a pair of intriguing papers about fruit fly gut bacteria.

The two new studies reveal that the gut bacteria composition of the common fruit fly affects consumption as well as reproductive behaviour.

The discoveries provide an exciting illustration into how of how microbes can influence the behaviour of host animals, which could be important for understanding gut microbiota and cognitive function in humans in the future.

Dr Fleur Ponton, is the last author on both studies and is based at Macquarie University’s Department of Biological Sciences.

“Beyond the biomedical significance of this research, there are potential interesting applications in the context of invasive and pest species control,” she says.

Macquarie University has a long history in pest control and hosts the Australian Research Council Centre for Fruit Fly Biosecurity Innovation.

The papers were co-authored by researchers from Macquarie University’s Department of Biological Sciences and the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and report that that the gut microbiota of the common fruit fly has a significant effect on their foraging behaviour and reproductive success, and that its influence can be carried down to the next generation.

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Better batteries for electric cars; smartphone testing for diseases & clean water; Nobel Laureate who transformed fuels, plastic and drugs; and more

Thursday 27 July 2017, at the RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress, Melbourne Convention Centre

Today at the Centenary Chemistry Congress

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The inventor of the nanocar; the man who unboiled an egg is now unfolding a $160 billion industry; confusing insects so they can’t mate; and more

Wednesday, 26 July 2017, at the RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress, Melbourne Convention Centre

Today at the Centenary Chemistry Congress

From a molecular motor to the nanocar and beyond: 2016 chemistry Nobel Prize recipient Ben Feringa is speaking in Melbourne and available for interview today and Thursday. More below.

The man who unboiled an egg: Colin Raston won an IgNobel Prize in 2015 for unboiling an egg. Now he and his team are taking the technology to market. And it’s set to transform the $160 protein folding industry. More below.

A pheromone-based alternative to insecticides; and cleaner, greener household products: Frances Arnold is confusing insects so they can’t mate (a bit like spraying bad perfume). And James Clark wants to take the fossil fuels out of solvents used in paint and cleaning products. More below.

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Chemical terrorism a stark reality; periodic table on a hair; how water and CO2 can replace toxic solvents; wood waste into green chemistry; and more

Tuesday, 25 July 2017, at the RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress, Melbourne Convention Centre

Nobel Peace Prize winner on eliminating chemical weapons

While the threat of countries using chemical weapons has diminished, “chemical terrorism is no longer a theoretical proposition or even imminent threat, but a stark reality,” according to His Excellency Mr Ahmet Üzümcü.

Winner of the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, Mr Üzümcü is the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

In 2013, the OPCW along with the United Nations and 30 partner countries participated in an operation to remove all the chemical weapons declared by the Syrian Arab Republic.

Since then, the OPCW has remained engaged in Syria through an ongoing fact-finding mission to establish whether chemical weapons have been used in Syria.

They’re also keeping a close eye on North Korea, one of only four countries who haven’t yet joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international treaty outlawing the production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons. The treaty came into force 20 years ago.

Limited availability for interviews – talk is at 2.30pm.

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

Business can help make the world a better place by driving the solutions to problems like climate change, food security and rising energy demand.

“I firmly believe that the companies who will lead the 21st century will be the ones that invent solutions to these mounting global challenges,” said Andrew Liveris, speaking last night at the RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress.

For Dow that’s meant developing a paint that removes toxic formaldehyde from the air, innovative packaging technologies that reduce food waste, and new methods of desalination that allow us to put more of the planet’s water to use.

Last year the company was awarded 754 US patents – eight times the number they were getting a decade ago.

“More and more companies are seeing that we can do well by doing good,” Andrew said.

But we also need governments to set smart regulatory and policy frameworks that enable innovation to flourish, and that’s not happening enough in Australia he said.

According to the World Economic Forum, Australia ranks 25th in the world when it comes to “business capacity for innovation”. And we’re also falling behind in our competitiveness in teaching young people maths and science.

Andrew says our quality of life will go backwards “if all we are is a farm, a hotel and a quarry”.

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Growing bones; inside Chernobyl; Obama green chemistry adviser; Trump’s Aussie mate; from frog venom to TV screens

It’s a week of discovering how chemistry is changing our world—international and national speakers are in Melbourne and ready to talk. Here are some highlights and we’ll have daily alerts for you with more people and ideas through the week. Media are welcome.

This Sunday, 5pm

  • Meet Trump’s ‘Aussie mate’ Andrew Liveris—Australian-born, US-based chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical Company, who Trump has appointed to lead his American Manufacturing Council. Liveris is not doing any media interviews but you can see and report his talk at 5pm
  • Opening of the RACI Centennial Chemistry Congress: 2,500 chemists, three Nobel Prize winners.

Monday 24 July

  • How seaweed and frog venom led to today’s OLED phone and TV screens. Andrew Holmes discusses what’s next for plastic electronics and solar energy
  • Molly Stevens grows bones—Molly is a tissue engineer growing bones, cartilage, nerve and heart tissue for regenerative medicine and bio-sensing. Last December she announced a patch that could fix a broken heart
  • Obama White House insider, and father of green chemistry, Paul Anastas on how we need to design smarter to create a sustainable society. For example, we need non-toxic solar cells, and biofuels that don’t compete with food production
  • New solvents from wood—invented in York, made in Tassie. The world needs good solvents for everything from cleaning the house, to making drugs, and miracle materials like graphene. York University’s James Clark has invented a new solvent that’s now being made in Tasmania.

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First female scientist to win the David Syme Research Prize in over thirty years

Fighting drug resistant bugs with ‘tyre tracks’

Cynthia Whitchurch discovered that dangerous bacteria in biofilms follow each other like ants, or 4WD drivers following tracks in the sand. Then she showed she could create microscopic tracks on medical devices to limit the spread of the bacteria that cause infection. Based on her work, new types of catheters are being developed that are less likely to become infected.

Cynthia Whitchurch in her lab. (Credit: UTS)

For these and other discoveries, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) scientist Associate Professor Cynthia Whitchurch has been jointly awarded the David Syme Research prize for the best original research in biology, physics, chemistry or geology, produced in Australia during the preceding two years. The prize was established in 1904 by a bequest from the publisher of The Age. It is administered by The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Science.

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Meet the publisher who believes science should be social and research should be read

Steven Inchcoombe, Chief Publishing Officer for Springer Nature, is visiting Australia.

Steven Inchcoombe is the Chief Publishing Officer for Springer Nature, overseeing the publication of over 2,900 journals including influential titles like Nature and Scientific Reports.

Steven was responsible for the Nature Publishing Group’s move into open access publishing, resulting in 60 per cent of their 2015 research articles being open access. Following the merger of the parent company in the same year, Springer Nature became the world’s largest open access publisher.

He was also behind the SharedIt content-sharing initiative which allows authors, subscribers and media partners to share links to the Springer Nature’s peer-reviewed research articles on social network and websites. A 15-month trial of this idea on led to 1.3 million additional article views.

Visiting Australia from the UK, Steven is speaking about big data, open data and open access publishing, and their value for academic research at a series of half-day symposia and networking events being held this week in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

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