Shocking psychological experiments, the art of selling Australian science to the world, Fresh Science and more

Bulletins, Science Communicators
I’m reintroducing my occasional bulletins about science-related events in Victoria.

Tomorrow, there are three talks:

And this Friday science filmmaker Sonya Pemberton will be talking about the business and art of getting Australian science to global TV audiences.

On Monday 24 September, Prof Julian Savulescu will give the inaugural Menzies Scholars lecture about the ethics of diagnosis and treatment. When did shyness, internet addiction, PMT and eccentricity become mental illnesses, and what are the limits to diagnosis and treatment?

Also in this bulletin:

Thursday 13 September: The story behind a shocking psychology experiment

Stanley Milgram caused a stir when, in 1963 he and his colleagues reported that ordinary students repeatedly gave a man what they thought were lethal shocks, because they had been told to by an authority figure.

Join Australian psychologist and writer Gina Perry, author of “Behind the Shock Machine,” as she outlines the story of these experiments and discusses scientific ethics.

The talk is on at 6.30pm Thursday 13 September at Embiggen Books, 203 Lt Lonsdale St, Melbourne.

The talk is free to members of Australian Science Communicators (ASC) and Australasian Medical Writers Association (AMWA).

More information:

Thursday 13 September: Shining a flashlight into the darkest corners of the universe

Was Einstein right? How did the first stars and blackholes form? Are we alone in the universe? These are some of the questions that may be answered by the $2 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radiotelescope, to be shared between Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Dr. Lisa Harvey-Smith, Research Astronomer at CSIRO will be speaking at NICTA’s Big Picture lecture series about this giant radio telescope which will consist of thousands of separate radio dishes and other antennae spread across the southern hemisphere.

Lisa will be speaking at 6pm Thursday 13 September at the Charles Pearson Theatre at The University of Melbourne, with light refreshments in the hour before the talk.

More information:

Thursday 13 September: Flexible, active brain-computer interfaces for epilepsy

Professor Brian Litt and his team at the University of Pennsylvania work on applying the latest computer science and neuroscience to help patients with epilepsy and other “brain network” disorders.

Brian will be in Australia to give an ICT for Life Sciences Forum talk on his work using brain-computer interfaces with epilepsy patients.

He will be speaking at 6pm Thursday 13 September at Brown Lecture Theatre at The University of Melbourne, with light refreshments in the hour before the talk.

More information:

Friday 14 September: Sonya Pemberton on selling Australian science to the world

Friday on My Mind is a series of free talks every Friday focused on who’s doing what in film and television.

This week’s guest at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is Sonya Pemberton, one of Australia’s leading documentary writers, directors and executive producers.

Sonya, who has written and directed over 50 hours of television, will discuss her approach to pitching and securing commissions with local and international broadcasters; the essentials of market research and how to deliver documentary programs that manage to both inform and entertain.

More information:

18 September: Re-engaging doctors in health

Problems arising from poor communication between doctors include incorrect medication, delays or failures in treatment, duplication of diagnostic testing and preventable readmissions.

Associate Professor Christine Jorm is an anaesthetist turned patient safety and quality expert who will be speaking in Melbourne on how to tackle communication issues in healthcare and how to get better outcomes for patients.

Christine will be giving the inaugural David Penington Lecture, named for eminent medical academic and former VC of University of Melbourne.

She will give her talk at 6pm Tuesday 18th September at St Vincent’s Hospital, Fitzroy.

More information:

24 September: When did shyness, internet addiction, PMT and eccentricity become mental illnesses?

The Menzies Foundation invites you to the 2012 inaugural Menzies Scholars Lecture – The ethics of diagnosis and treatment – with 1994 Menzies Scholar in medicine, Prof Julian Savulescu.

  • What are the risks and benefits of medicalising normal human variation?
  • Are we willing to use drugs to enhance people – making them better than well?
  • Are we creating conditions like ADHD to give us an excuse to medicate our children?
  • What are the risks and benefits of Australia’s Healthy Kids Check?

These issues and more will be explored at the inaugural Menzies Scholars Lecture on Monday 24 September 2012, 4 pm to 5 .30 pm, followed by refreshments. It’s at the Menzies Foundation, Clarendon Terrace, 210 Clarendon Street, East Melbourne 3002

Numbers are strictly limited; please RSVP by 19 September to Pam Shearman, (03) 9419 5699.

15 October: Fresh Science at the pub­–drinks, science and the odd firework

Hear the latest science over a beer from a bright bunch of early-career scientists fresh out of our media bootcamp.

The young scientists will describe their work in less than a minute, in rhyme, reason or verse at the Duke of Kent pub at 293 La Trobe Street, Melbourne, starting from 6.15pm on 15 October.

Last year we heard about smart bandages, the sawfish saw, printable solar cells, wallaby immune tricks, ocean arteries, backward planets and more.

The science is free, meals and drinks are at bar prices.

More information:

About Fresh science

Fresh Science is a competitive media training and awareness program for early-career researchers (less than five years after the award of their PhD).

Over the past 15 years Fresh Science has trained 211 early-career scientists in how to engage with the media, students, the public, business and government.

This year, thanks to funding from DIISRTE through the Inspiring Australia initiative and partners in other states, we’ve expanded the program to include state finals in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

25 September: The brave new world of e-publishing

Andrew Stammer, Director of CSIRO publishing will ponder the big questions of modern publishing: print to e, paid versus free, monograph or tweet, and can I afford to retire?

Andrew will discuss the brave new world of e-publishing: trends, pros and cons and how it is changing the face of scholarly and lay publishing.

This Australasian Medical Writers Association event is at 6.30 pm, Tuesday 25 September 2012 at Embiggen Books, 203 Lt Lonsdale St, Melbourne.

More information:

10 and 12 October: Art meets science at the Melbourne Fringe Festival

A show at the Melbourne Fringe Festival will explore the history of schizophrenia through art, story-telling, science and personal perspective.

Hosted by Lynne Malcolm (ABC Radio National “All in the Mind”), the show features:

  • Professor Brian Dean, CRC for Mental Health
  • Emma Last, The Dax Centre
  • Professor Jayashri Kulkami, Alfred Hospital

The show is a collaboration between the Cooperative Research Centre for Mental Health and The Dax Centre, which showcases 15,000 works created by people with an experience of mental illness and trauma.

This free event is on at 6.30pm Wednesday 10 October and Friday 12 October at the Kenneth Myer Building, The University of Melbourne, Genetics Lane, Parkville.

For more:

Media training dates coming up in Melbourne

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

Our next Melbourne courses are tentatively scheduled for Thursday 27 September and Wednesday 14 November.

The course 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 undertake practice interviews for TV, radio and newspaper.

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

We welcome expressions of interest for possible future courses. If you’re interested in attending, or have any questions, please contact me on

More information: