Gut reactions, beer goggles, and mind over faecal matter

Media bulletins, National Science Week

Great health stories up for grabs now around Australia.

Why is so much pseudo-science aimed at women? What happened when the Spanish flu hit Parramatta? Can you beat the world’s only cancer-themed escape room? How do you feel about spitting for science?

These are just a few of the exciting, and occasionally stomach-churning, questions tackled at exhibitions, shows and talks across Australia during National Science Week (August 10 to 18).

Check out the state-by-state selection here, and if you’re after more great ideas for highly visual stories, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

Scientists, artists, performers and event organisers are available for interview throughout National Science Week.

ACT: Women’s Woo: pseudoscience and women’s health — Acton

Trish Hann, clinical educator in diagnostic radiology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, and vice president of the Australian Skeptics, turns a critical eye on nonsense therapies and treatments directed at women.

This talk is a tour through the world of women’s woo. There’s more of it than you realise, and it’s often weirder than you would expect. There are the obvious therapies that are skewed towards women, but don’t overlook the ostensibly gender-neutral ones, such as essential oils, naturopathy, psychics, and mediums – all of which have more female than male customers. 

In this talk, people of all genders will learn how to sort the sense from the nonsense.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

ACT: Changing lives with science: Cochlear developments — Acton

At this event, cochlear implant inventor, Professor Graeme Clark, will discuss the success and future of the pioneering hearing technology, often called the “bionic ear”.

He will be joined by nutrition scientist, Professor Jennie-Brand Miller, from the University of Sydney, who received cochlear implants after gradually losing her hearing as a teen.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

NSW: Parasites lost: The story of one woman, who has contained multitudes – Lake Macquarie

When Alanta Colley isn’t using her Master of International Public Health to save lives and prevent diseases and stuff, she’s making people laugh.

Parasites Lost combines science communication, storytelling, and comedy in a parable on parasites. It is a unique opportunity to learn about the secret life of some ingenious microorganisms, from someone who’s played host to a bunch of them.

As a public health practitioner, Alanta has travelled the world, living in villages in some of the most remote parts of Asia and Africa, sharing health education on how to prevent disease. In the process she’s also managed to contract most of the world’s least pleasant parasites. Essentially, she’s terrible at her job.

Friday 9 August Event details   

NSW: Exploring medical brain research — Castle Hill

Join Dr Lindsay Parker, a researcher at Macquarie University, as she discusses how she is trying to create better medicines for Alzheimer’s, chronic pain and brain cancer, by targeting unhealthy cells in the brain.

This event is part of Inspiring Australia’s Talking Science series, with 120 scientists giving talks in 70 libraries across the state as part of National Science Week.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

NSW: Pandemic in Parramatta — Parramatta

The deadly ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic that swept the world after the First World War, killing an astonishing 50-to-100 million people, reached Sydney in January 1919. By March, despite comprehensive attempts at containment, Parramatta was in the grip of an outbreak.

Join us in this centenary anniversary year for an immersive expert talk by virologist Professor Dominic Dwyer that draws on social history and medicine to explore the impact of the pandemic on Parramatta.

Wednesday 14 August Event details

NSW: Antibiotic resistance — Sydney

Join microbiologist Dr Laura McCaughey from the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Oxford, UK, for a fascinating look at the role vaccines play in helping to slow the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Laura was awarded a four-year postdoctoral research fellowship after her PhD, which enabled her to establish international collaborations between UTS and the University of Oxford. Laura’s main research questions concern how bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics and how to identify novel approaches to antibiotic development.  

Over the past four years she has been actively involved in highlighting the problem of antibiotic resistance, and the interventions necessary to prevent the problem escalating further, to the public.

Friday 16 August Event details.

NSW: From Sawbones to Specialists — Parramatta

This walking tour traces developments in scientific and medical knowledge that have influenced the treatment of patients and their ailments from colonial times to the present.

The route visits Aboriginal lands and the sites of the Colonial Hospitals, Estella Private Maternity Hospital, the George Street and Macquarie Street Asylums and the Parramatta District Hospital.

Sunday 18 August Event details

NT: HealthLAB: Science on Wheels – Darwin & North East Arnhem Land

A health education clinic on wheels will travel to locations around Darwin, and to the remote Milingimbi community in North East Arnhem Land to work with trainee Aboriginal health practitioners on country.

What does the world look like through ‘beer goggles’ when you’re stone cold sober? How good is your health? And how do your lifestyle choices affect the health of your body?

HealthLAB explores all these questions, and more.

Interactive displays and demonstrations will cover topics of preconception health, nutrition, the amount of sugar in soft drinks, poisons in cigarettes and other health topics.

Participants assess their own health in a pop-up laboratory, learn about healthy lifestyle choices, and find out about careers in health science-related fields.

Milingimbi: Tuesday 13 August Event details

Parliament House (Darwin): Thursday 15 August Event details

Charles Darwin University (Casuarina): Sunday 18 August Event details

QLD: Makings of a malignancy: The journey of a cancer cell —South Brisbane

The world’s first cancer-themed escape room.

Have you wondered what cancer is, how it develops, and why some cancers are curable while others are not? ‘Makings of a Malignancy: The journey of a cancer cell’ is an immersive experience to see the journey of a cancer cell first-hand.

Participants have to solve a series of puzzles based on the underlying principles of cancer biology in an engaging physical experience. The idea is to learn about the complexities of cancer while breaking down misconceptions surrounding the disease.

Friday 16 to Sunday 18 August Event details

SA: Shift work: how to work towards a more efficient, healthier you when working around the clock – Magill

In 2007 the World Health Organization classified night shift work as a probable carcinogen due to circadian disruption.

Shift workers are likely to have difficulty sleeping during the day and difficulty staying awake at work.

This gives them an increased risk for a variety of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart and gastrointestinal diseases. This is likely related to their altered sleeping and eating habits.

Sleep and chronobiology experts from UniSA’s Behaviour-Brain-Body research centre will provide tips to for shift workers to improve their daytime sleep and information to help them be their most productive during the night shift.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

VIC: Author Talk: The Knowledge Wars with Professor Peter Doherty — Mornington

Professor Peter Doherty became Australian of the year in 1997 and is the first person with a veterinary qualification to win a Nobel Prize. He has authored several books including The Beginners Guide to Winning a Nobel Prize, The Knowledge Wars and The Incidental Tourist.

Doherty shared the 1996 Nobel Prize for Medicine with Swiss colleague Rolf Zinkernagel for their discoveries about transplantation and “killer” T cell-mediated immunity, an understanding that is currently translating into new cancer treatments.

Passionate about promoting an evidence-based view of reality, Doherty recently published The Knowledge Wars, a “warts and all” view of science for non-scientists – and even people who don’t like science. It also suggests how any thoughtful citizen can bypass facile propagandists and probe the scientific evidence for and against some of the big issues, like climate change or genetically modified foods.

Thursday 15 August Event details

VIC: Spit for Science & Gut Feelings Spot Talks – Carlton

Museums Victoria is creating a world first live microbe map …. and they’re inviting you to spit for science!

Are you a cat or a dog person? A coffee drinker? Vegan? We want to know because recent research shows the mix of helpful microorganisms in your gut is affected by your lifestyle choices … but how? As Melbourne is the allergy capital of the world, do we have a unique microbe fingerprint that’s talking to our immune systems?

To investigate these questions, and more, the Museum is creating a digital microbe map of Victoria, and taking a sample from one end of the gut, the mouth.

Saturday 17 August Event details  

WA: Professor Fiona Wood: from treating burns to spray-on skin — Albany

A presentation from renowned burns specialist and plastic surgeon, Professor Fiona Wood.

Professor Wood is one of Australia’s most innovative and respected surgeons and researchers. A highly skilled plastic and reconstructive surgeon and world’s leading burns specialist, she has pioneered research and technology development in burns medicine.

Professor Wood will share her thoughts and insights on women in science and medicine, a perspective from WA’s first female plastic surgeon, featuring her invention of ReCell, the world’s first spray-on skin.

Thursday 15 August Event details

About National Science Week

National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year saw 1.2 million people participate in more than 2100 events and activities.

In 2019, National Science Week events will be held right throughout Australia—from world’s first global Indigenous hackathon ‘INDIGI HACK’ to ‘Dr Dolphin’ and his bottlenose friends in Adelaide, and from marking the Moon landing in Sydney to the science queens of Kings Park in Perth—including science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert panel discussions, interactive hands-on displays, open days and online activities.

National Science Week 2019 will run from 10 to 18 August. Media kit at, public event listings at