Making babies, the sex lives of cave spiders and bringing science to ‘wellness’

Bulletins, Media bulletins

Topics and talent: my top picks from National Science Week.


From today


And on Sunday (and online)

What triggers a pre-term birth? And how do you make a healthy baby?

Fertility experts will be speaking about the latest research on pregnancy at a free public symposium in Adelaide on Sunday. It will also be streaming online. More below.

Kind regards,

What does it take to make a healthy baby in the 21st Century?

The latest research is revealing the impact of poverty and prosperity; remote living and city living, thinness and obesity; and many other factors on fertility and reproduction.

The Society for Reproductive Biology are holding a free public forum on Sunday 23 August at the start of their annual conference in Adelaide (and online).

The topics include:

  • predicting risk of complications for mother and baby
  • the genetic, nutritional, and lifestyle factors that affect pregnancy outcome
  • a paradigm shift in the understanding of triggers of preterm birth
  • the long-term impact on children of preterm birth
  • and what doctors see in the clinics of Australia and Africa.

Speakers are available for interview. Please get in touch with Lydia on or 0457 854 515 if you’d like to talk to them.

Register online at

The forum will also be broadcast on the above website at 3:30pm Adelaide time. It will be moderated by Dr Paul Willis, RiAus.

A outback wrangler, a dog whisperer, a pharmacist turned home brewer and others talk ‘Beer Bombs and Surviving the Territory’ – Fannie Bay, NT

‘Beer Bombs and Surviving the Territory’ is an evening designed to show examples of ingenuity and scientific thinking to meet the unique challenges of living, learning and working in the Northern Territory. It’s the Territory’s official National Science Week launch event.

Listen to a selection of locals as they discuss their own ingenuity examples from beer brewing, to attracting NT tourists and surviving in a unique and isolated environment. The line-up includes chopper pilot and animal expert Matt Wright, the host of the Nat Geo Wild series Outback Wrangler, canine expert Emma Host and MLA and horticulturalist Gerry Wood.

Monday 17 August Event details

Media enquiries: Paul Lyons,, 08 8946 7423 or 0447 728 186.

A naked scientist, a chief scientist and two wildlife experts ask ‘where is the next challenge coming from?’ – Murdoch, WA

‘Animal, Human, Environment – Where is the next challenge coming from?’

tigerMurdoch University is hosting presentations from Professor Peter Klinken (WA Chief Scientist); Dr Chris Smith (BBC Naked Scientist); Ben Britton(Director of Wild Animal Encounters and the face of Nat Geo Wild) and Professor Trish Fleming (wildlife biologist) to discuss this question.

Monday 17 August Event details

Ben Britton is available for media interviews
Contact: Christine Allen, or 08 9215 0739 or 0468 676 933.

Crap or credible? Bringing science to wellness – University of Sydney, NSW

Actress and anti-vaccination campaigner Jenny McCarthy says she got her degree from the University of Google. Belle Gibson infamously claimed she cured herself from brain cancer through diet and nutrition… and, off the back of this, made a best-selling app and a career as a wellness guru, despite never having had cancer.

What would it take to encourage a more rational approach to wellness, and why don’t more evidence-based scientists participate in this growing industry?

ABC Radio’s Natasha Mitchell will host a discussion of these potentially life and death issues, with a panel of research and medical experts and communicators including consumer advocate Christopher Zinn, a Professor of Dietics Margaret Allman-Farinelli, neuroscientist and health blogger Dr Sarah McKay and lifestyle journalist Liz Graham, acting editor at body+soul.

Tuesday 18 August Event details

Media enquiries: Jackie Randles, or 0481 006 158

Sex lives of Tasmania’s huge cave spiders – Hobart, TAS

spidersJoin Associate Professor Alastair Richardson as he provides an insight into the lives of Tasmanian cave spiders, from their beautiful egg sacs to their kinky mating strategies.

Deep in many Tasmanian caves you will find Tasmanian cave spiders, which are ancient creatures with legs that span a dinner plate. These spiders have been the subject of a 23 year scientific research project, and a team has just spent two years filming them for an upcoming documentary on their intriguing lives.

Monday 17 August Event details

Alastair Richardson is available for media interviews
Contact: or 0488 330 082

What is Sydney’s alternative energy future? – Sydney, NSW

A Q&A style public forum, featuring leading scientists, will discuss the science behind cutting edge alternative energy technologies to secure a sustainable future for Sydney.

Science journalist Robyn Williams will moderate the forum, with a panel including Prof Mary O’Kane (NSW Chief Scientist), Prof Ben Hankamer (founding director of the Solar Biofuels Consortium) Dr Gary Ellem (Tom Farrell Institute, University of Newcastle), Tony Irwin (Technical Director SNR Nuclear Technology) and Scientia Prof. Deo Prasad (CRC for Low Carbon Living, UNSW).

Monday 17 August Event details

Prof Mark Van Kranendonk, chair of the forum organising committee, is available for interviews
Contact: or 0413 665 958, 02 9385 2439

Panelist Deo Prasad is available for media interviews
Contact: or 02 9385 4868

One-way ticket to Mars? Meet the man who wants to go – Mawson Lakes, SA & Ultimo, NSW

marsmanAnd he wants to put oxygen and art on the Red Planet.

“Helena” is a payload project developed by Josh Richards and the University of Western Australia for Mars One’s 2020 lander, designed to carry crowd-funded artwork and produce the first oxygen on Mars. Helena was the only southern hemisphere project short-listed in the top 10 of a recent international competition.

Josh Richards has progressed to the final 100 candidates for the Mars One Project. He was Co-Lead of the UWA Helena Project and is a member of NASA HI-SEAS Mission Support. Josh completed the Southern Hemisphere Summer Space Program conducted by the International Space University and UniSA in 2014.

Josh and his colleagues are presenting free lectures about the design and proposal for this payload project.

Monday 17 August: Mawson Lakes, SA Event details

Tuesday 18 August: Ultimo, NSW Event details

Potential Martian Josh Richards is available for media interviews.
Contact: or 0481 303 457

Secrets of space photography – Adelaide, SA

Cosmic photographer David Malin will be talking about ‘Vision, light and colour’ – revealing some little-known aspects of light, from the way it colours our view of the universe, to the perception of light and colour at low light levels.

spaceTuesday 18 August Event details

David Malin is available for media interviews

Event enquiries: Carolyne Bird (ANZFSS SA Branch),, 08 8226 7700

Bug collecting on a national scale – Australian National Insect Collection – Canberra, ACT

butterflyCSIRO is the custodian of a number of collections of animal and plant specimens that contribute to the discovery, understanding and conservation of Australia’s plant and animal biodiversity.

During National Science Week, CSIRO is offering a sneak-peek into their working research collections with a Collection Talk and Walk.

Monday 17 August Event details

David Yeates, CSIRO insect researcher and President of the Australian Entomological Society is available for media interviews.
Contact: or 0402592845, 02 6246 4282

Event enquiries: Kate List, or 02 6246 4046

Earthquake alerts, gems, fossils and other rock stars: what’s the science behind it all – Symonston, ACT

Geoscience Australia will offer four tours of its building and collections as part of its National Science Week acitvities, culminating with an open day on Sunday 23 August.

Led by Geoscience Australia’s experts, tours include a look at the Earthquake Alert Centre, the latest technology used to discover the age of rocks, microfossil labs and their extensive collections of gems, minerals and fossils.

Monday 17 – Sunday 23 August Event details

More about Science in Public

We’re always happy to help put you in contact with scientists. Our work is funded by the science world – from the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes to Nature. We’re keen to suggest interesting people and stories – and not just those of our clients’.

If you’re looking for ideas or people for features we know hundreds of science prize winners past, present, and future and are always happy to chew the fat about the developing themes in Australian science.

Feel free to pass these stories along to colleagues. And between bulletins, you can follow me on Twitter (@scienceinpublic) for more science news and story tips.
Kind regards,

Niall Byrne

Creative Director
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