An end to Yarra Valley pinot? Saving plants and lives, and Spanish space photos – science in public in Melbourne

Science Communicators

Will climate change Victoria’s wines and how do we save the plants that feed and clothe us – find out at free public talks as part of the 18th International Botanical Congress in Melbourne this week.

Hear about new ways of spruiking science – in fruit markets, cathedrals and other novel venues at an ASC Victoria event on 2 August.

In this note I’ll tell you about these events and about other Victorian and national science communication activities.

Other events coming up in the next few months include a dinner discussion about GM food, a photographic display on tour from Spain  and more media training course in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

And I’ve include a heads-up of science prizes. Dates for the awards dinners of L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowship, Prime Minister’s Science Prize winners and Australian Museum Eureka Prizes have been announced. But you can still nominate for the Victoria Prize and Fellowships, the Australian Academy of Science awards and the CSL Florey Medal.

On 24 August, schools have the chance to send up to 20 girls to meet brilliant young female scientists – this year’s For Women in Science fellowship winners.

More details below.

International Botanical Congress public events

Novel sci-comm activities targeting adults – farmers’ markets to cathedrals

GM Food: A Dinner Discussion. Should GM crops contribute to global food security?

Surprises of the Cosmos

L’Oréal Australia Girls in Science forum – Wednesday 24 August

Upcoming media training courses in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra

Science Prizes:

International Botanical Congress public events

It’s the XVIII International Botanical Congress in Melbourne from 23-30 July, and you can participate through five free public events being held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre every day next week.

Four public talks are in the Plenary Hall at 6:30pm:

  • Fruits of the vine—future climates and wine, with Professor Snow Barlow, The University of Melbourne (Monday 25 July)
  • The World of Plants, with Professor Peter H. Raven, Missouri Botanical Garden, USA (Tuesday 26 July)
  • Sister Water Lily meets the Big Bad Banksia Man, with Dr Peter Bernhardt, Saint Louis University, USA (Thursday 28 July)
  • The Atlas of Living Australia: infrastructure for biodiversity research, with Dr Donald Hobern, CSIRO Entomology (Friday 29 July)

And there’s a lunchtime public forum on Wednesday 27 July:

  • Brave New World—can we solve tomorrow’s environmental and energy problems by using life itself? Robyn Williams from the ABC Science Show moderates a debate in which Prof. David Mabberley, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK, and Dr Kevin Thiele, Western Australia Herbarium, argue against Dr Jeff Powell, University of Western Sydney, and Dr Kirsten Heimann, James Cook University as to whether we should be focussing on microorganisms or multicellular creatures in searching for solutions to the environmental and energy problems we face today.

There’s more information about the events online at

And you can check out the conference website at

Science in markets and cathedrals

When: Tuesday 2 August, 6.30pm – 8.30pm

The Australian Science Communicators invite you to a forum exploring new ways to talk about science.

Free for ASC Members, $10 non-members.

Place: Ian Potter Room, Graduate House, University of Melbourne, 220 Leicester Street, Carlton VIC 3053

The Victorian re-science team ( has been piloting science events in unusual venues and everyday environments which target adult audiences. Whether it is scientists presenting at the Vic Market or a drama & science performance at Melbourne Anglican Cathedral these ideas are novel experiments in science communication.

This ASC Victoria event will be an opportunity to hear some of the recent lessons learnt by the re-science team. We’re told the session will provoke and support discussion of how to better build and sustain sci-comm activities for Victorian adults.

Food provided (please include any dietary requirements in your RSVP).

Bar available.

Car parking available on Leicester Street (free after 6.30pm).

Please RSVP to Ian Muchamore by Friday 29 July

GM food: a dinner discussion. Should GM crops contribute to global food security?

TechNyou invite you to a GM dinner for Science Week.

Melbourne: A National Science Week event organised by TechNyou and the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, University of Adelaide.

Title: GM Food: A Dinner Discussion. Should GM crops contribute to global food security?

Date: Wednesday 10 August, 2011

Time: 6pm for 6.30pm seating.

Location: The Pumphouse Hotel. 128 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy Vic. Light nibbles provided.

A discussion on the acceptability of GM crops in the solutions to food security.

We need to find a way to feed an extra 3 billion people by 2050 with predicted greater constraints on availability of farmable land, water, fuel and fertilisers. Should gene technologies play a role? In what circumstances would these technologies used in food production, be acceptable?

With an expert panel, participate in a discussion, give feedback, hear what others have to say and vote on the level of acceptance of different and real scenarios using genetic modification technologies in food production.

Participants will get a chance to listen, learn, discuss and perhaps help influence the direction of research in this area.

Registration is essential for this event as numbers are limited. You read more information and register online at or by contacting TechNyou on 1800 631 276 or email

Surprises of the Cosmos

Scienceworks is hosting a photographic exhibition put together by the Consulate General of Spain in Melbourne.

The exhibition will take you on a journey from our Solar System to the Milky Way and beyond. Several astronomical objects such as planets, stars, nebulae and galaxies will surprise you with both their beauty and mystery.

The images are from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canaries, as well as NASA and other observatories. This exhibition has been exhibited in Lisbon, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Utrecht, London, Madrid, Sydney and Canberra among others.

The exhibition will be opened at an evening function on Wednesday 27 July and will be running until 9 October.

More details at

L’Oréal Australia Girls in Science forum – Wednesday 24 August

We’re inviting schools to send up to 20 students to meet this year’s For Women in Science fellowship winners, and to hear about their research in a forum chaired by ABC TV News national science and environment reporter Sarah Clarke.

The 2011 L’Oréal Australia Girls in Science Forum will be held at the Australian Synchrotron in Clayton from 12:30-2:45pm on Wednesday 24 August.

Each year, L’Oréal Australia awards fellowships worth $20,000 to support the research of three women scientists chosen from applicants across Australia.

These inspiring women are in the early stages of their careers and many are juggling the demands of raising a family while pursuing a career in science. Past Fellows have included biologists, botanists, zoologists, doctors, astronomers and physicists.

At this free forum, students will hear from this year’s Fellows. Each scientist will talk for five minutes about their discoveries in a way that is understandable, interesting and relevant. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

The students will then tour the Synchrotron, guided by PhD students and postdoctoral scientists.

The forums are best suited for female students in years 9, 10 and 11, if you know of any teachers who might be interested, please tell them to get in touch with AJ Epstein on (03) 9398 1416 or

Upcoming media training courses in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra

We are holding two media training courses next month—on Tuesday 12 July in Melbourne and Tuesday 19 July in Sydney. If you know of anyone who may be interested in attending please forward this onto them.

And we have now finalised course dates in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne for the remainder of 2011.

Our media training course is designed for scientists and anyone who needs to communicate complex and technical ideas via the media.

It will help you improve your chances of being accurately reported, and you will learn what to expect when the media covers a story.

Three working journalists will come in over the course of the day and you will conduct practice interviews for TV, radio and newspaper. The workshop structure is licensed from our friends at Econnect Communication.

Please feel free to forward this onto any colleagues who you believe may be interested.

The courses run from 9.30am to 5pm, and cost $740 + GST per person which includes coffee, morning and afternoon tea and lunch.

More details at

Upcoming courses, subject to demand:

Melbourne (at The Clare Café, Carlton)

  • Thursday 18 August
  • Tuesday 4 October
  • Wednesday 2 November
  • Wednesday 7 December

Sydney (at The Big Dig Archaeology Education Centre, The Rocks)

  • Wednesday 7 September
  • Tuesday 18 October

Canberra (at the Australian Academy of Science)

  • Tuesday 20 September
  • Friday 14 October

L’Oréal Australia for Women in Science Fellowships

Recipients of the 2011 L’Oréal Australia for Women in Science fellowship will be announced at an awards ceremony in Melbourne on Tuesday 23 August.

The annual L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowships are awarded to three female early career scientists to reward excellence in their Australian research and to boost their prospects of sustaining their careers and rising to leadership positions in science.

The L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowships, worth up to AUD$20,000 each, are part of the National Fellowships program: over 700 women in 35 countries have been awarded for research in their own countries.

You can read more about the fellowships and the past winners online at

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science will be announced at a reception at Parliament House on 12 October.

There are five prizes to be awarded including

  • The Prime Minister’s Prize for Science
  • The Science Minister’s Prize for Life Scientist of the Year
  • The Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year
  • The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Excellence in Science Teaching (primary)
  • The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Excellence in Science Teaching (secondary)

You can read more about the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science and about last year’s winners online at

CSL Florey Medal

Nominations open soon for the 2011 CSL Florey Medal.

This year’s prize has doubled, now being worth $50,000 and past winners include former Australian of the Year Ian Frazer and Nobel Prize winners Robin Warren and Barry Marshall.

The prize is awarded to an Australian biomedical researcher for significant achievements in biomedical science and human health advancement.

The Florey Medal was inaugurated in 1998 by the Australian Institute of Policy & Science (AIPS) to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Sir Howard Florey, Nobel Prize winner and discoverer of penicillin. The Florey Medal is part of the Tall Poppy Campaign which aims to recognise and promote scientific and intellectual excellence in Australia.

For more on past Florey Prizes:

Victoria prize

Nominations are now open for the Victoria Prize.

The $50,000 Victoria Prize is awarded annually to an individual whose scientific discovery or technological innovation has significantly advanced knowledge or has potential to lead to a commercial outcome or other benefit to the community.

Created in 1998, the Victoria Prize celebrates leadership, determination, endeavour and creativity. Candidates are nominated by individuals, groups of individuals or professional associations.

Nominations are assessed against the following criteria:

  • significance of the impact or outcomes of the discovery or innovation, particularly in relation to other achievements within the field
  • the novelty of the achievement, its application or future application
  • the international significance of the discovery or innovation.

A selection panel consisting of leading members from Victoria’s science, engineering and technology sectors assess each nomination.

Nominations close: 2.00pm (AEST), Wednesday 3 August 2011

You can read more information about the prizes and how to apply online at

Australian Academy of Science awards

The Australian Academy of Science recognises and supports outstanding contributions to the advancement of science.

The honorific awards were established to recognise distinguished research in two categories: awards of medals and prizes are made to early career scientists under the age of 40, and the prestigious career awards are made to scientists for life-long achievement.

There are five different categories of awards, they are;

  • Academy Medal
  • Honorific awards
  • Research conferences
  • Research awards
  • Travelling fellowships

Nominations for 2012 are now open and close in the next month or so, more information online at

Australian Museum Eureka Prizes

Presented annually by the Australian Museum, the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of research & innovation, leadership & commercialisation, school science and science journalism & communication.

Nominations have closed and the winners will be announced on 6 September 2011.

More information about the prizes and past winners online at