Prize time; stories needed; charge up your communicators

Bulletins, Science stakeholder bulletins

It’s down to work in 2014 with the challenges of communicating science in an arguably more hostile environment.

Prizes are a powerful platform to create role models and reach our investors – the Australian public. Please consider who you can put forward for prizes new and old which open for nomination in the coming weeks.

In particular we’re looking for 60 early career researchers for FameLab Australia, a new initiative combining our Fresh Science program with the British Council’s global program.

Strong stories can drive public and political opinion. Our Stories of Australian Science collection will highlight the best of 2013. And we’re offering audits, mentoring and training services to help your scientists make the best of their moment in the media spotlight. More on those below.

Networking will help your science communication team prepare for the challenges of 2014. Please consider getting involved in the Australian Science Communicators conference in Brisbane next month and with Science Meets Parliament in Canberra in March.

Finally if you have anyone attending the AAAS in Chicago please let them know about our promotion of Australian science there.

In this bulletin:

Looking for passionate young researchers to win a trip to the UK: launching FameLab Australia

We’re looking for passionate early career researchers with a peer-reviewed discovery to present their science as part of the inaugural FameLab Australia – a new competition presented by the British Council and Fresh Science.

The competition builds on Fresh Science, but with a twist.

Plain speaking is essential. Music, song, poetry and props are optional.

Applicants can be honours students, graduate students or up to 5 years post-PhD, and researching in any field of science, maths or engineering.

FameLab Australia will add an international element of performance to the existing Fresh Science program, which celebrates the achievements of early career researchers and shares their work with media and the public.

Up to 60 early career researchers will be chosen to join us at state finals across Australia, where they will:

  • learn to find the story in their science and explain their work to a general audience
  • practice their media skills with journalists from TV, radio and the papers
  • get on stage to present their work to the public, with three minutes to inspire them…and our panel of judges

The top two from each state final will jet over to Perth for the national final.

Over four days, they’ll perfect their pitch with help from experts in communication and presentation, and we’ll tell the media and science community about their work.

The winner of the national final will head to the UK to represent Australia at the FameLab International Grand Final, at the Times Cheltenham Science Festival in June.

Applying is easy. Applicants need to:

  1. Tell us about their work in our short online form
  2. Show us their passion in a simple video – a smartphone will do – explaining their discovery

Key dates

  • Nominations for FameLab Australia are now open and close at 5pm on Thursday 20 February 2014.
  • FameLab state finals will be held across Australia in March and April, followed by the national final in Perth from 12-15 May.
  • The International Grand Final will be held as part of the Times Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK from 3-8 June.

To apply online, and for program details and selection criteria, head to:

FameLab Australia is presented by the British Council, Cheltenham Festivals and Fresh Science; and supported by Inspiring Australia, the Western Australian Museum and the British High Commission, Canberra.

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science will open for nominations next month.

The $300,000 major prize will reward an Australian scientist (or team) for their exceptional achievement advancing human welfare or benefiting society.

Past winners of this prize include:

  • Ian Frazer, for the creation of the first vaccine designed to protect against a cancer
  • Graeme Clark, for the bionic ear
  • and in 2013, Terry Speed, for his contribution to making sense of genomics and related technologies with statistics

Two awards acknowledge outstanding early to mid-career research, by researchers not more than 10 years past their highest degree:

  • $50,000 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year
  • $50,000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year

And two awards celebrate the contribution of science teachers:

  • $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools
  • $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools

L’Oréal seeks the best women in science for Fellowships

Nominations for this year’s $25,000 L’Oréal Australia & New Zealand For Women in Science Fellowships open in March.

Three Fellowships will be awarded in 2014, supporting three women researchers to consolidate their careers and rise to leadership positions in science.

Read more about past Fellows and the Fellowship program at

New prizes for stem cell researchers

The details are still being finalised, but you’ll hear an announcement soon about two new prizes for stem cell research, supported by the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia.

Applications are likely to open in mid-February – to find out first, subscribe to their newsletter at

We’ll also post details in this bulletin.

Eureka Prizes

At last year’s Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, we heard about: a ‘vaccine’ that stops mosquitoes from spreading dengue; a laser that knows when giant mining grinders will fail; lighter, strong armour for our troops in Afghanistan; and fatherhood – from a sea dragon’s perspective.

What interesting yarns will we uncover in 2014?

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, now in their 25th year, celebrate Australian science in its many forms, with prizes for: research and innovation; leadership and commercialisation; science communication and journalism; and school science.

Charge up your science communicators for 2014: ASC conference

  • What are the challenges for Australian science? Hear from the heads of the ARC and NHMRC, Aidan Byrne and Warwick Anderson.
  • How is the science beat changing? Make change work for your organisation.
  • How do you communicate contentious science? Evidence vs rhetoric in climate change, fracking, vaccination.
  • What does the community think about science and how do they react to what they’re told?
  • Who’s publishing your work? The rise of open-access journals and publishing.

We’ll be chatting about these ideas from Feb 2-5 at the Australian Science Communicators conference – the biennial get-together of science writers, journalists and science communicators of all stripes.

If you’re a communicator, or if you want to understand science communication, you should go.

If you employ communicators, you should send them along.

It’s not all big ideas – there are opportunities to build skills, with a professional development program including:

  • evaluating the success of communication and outreach programs
  • working with scientists in developing countries to communicate science
  • telling stories with images using smartphones and tablets
  • and a bit of speed networking

More details about the program at:

Infiltrate Canberra: Science Meets Parliament 2014

Science needs more friends in Canberra. Meet the pollies and learn how politics, policymaking and the media work at a two-day summit in Canberra organised by Science and Technology Australia.

In March, Science Meets Parliament will bring together about 200 of Australia’s scientists – including early-career researchers – and put them face to face with decision makers in Canberra.

On day one: get tips on engaging politicians and get a feel for government policy-making. Lobbyists, parliamentary staffers, politicians and journalists will stop by to share insights into the machinations of Canberra.

On day two: take part in formal meetings between small groups of scientists and individual parliamentarians, and share with them the big issues in science.

The 14th annual Science meets Parliament will be held on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 March 2014.

Registrations are now open. Only STA members are eligible to attend.

More details and registrations online at:

Taking Australian science to the world: AAAS 2014 in Chicago

We’ll be braving the polar vortex to join thousands of scientists, policymakers, and journalists at this year’s meeting of the AAAS.

If you or your colleagues are going, we’d love to hear from you.

On the Sunday night (16 Feb), we’ll be hosting a dinner for international journos, with the support of Inspiring Australia.

Our guests will include science editors and journalists from The Economist, Asahi Shimbun, BBC TV News, The Guardian, PBS Nova,  Science, Nature. Also joining us will be communication directors from CERN, EMBL and other international organisations.

And if you won’t be there, you can still place a couple of stories in the magazine that we’ll send to all our guests. More details on that below.

Stories of Australian Science: put your story in front of journalists, politicians and science leaders

There’s still time to add your story to our annual showcase of Australian science, Stories of Australian Science 2014, for publication in March.

We welcome submissions of the best of Australian science. It will reach all federal MPs, journalists in Australia and around the world, research leaders, and many others.

Each story is roughly 250 words long, and is accompanied by an image. See last year’s Stories, and our other similar publications at You can search the storybooks by state, organisation or field of science, and we can also feed stories to your website.

We write the stories for you: all you need to do is tell us what you’d like to include in the publication, and give us the scientist’s contact details.

We’ll only publish text you (and/or your scientist) has approved, and we’ll either use an image you supply (with credit) or an appropriate stock photo.

Each story includes the scientist’s or representative’s contact details to enable interested people to follow up with your organisation.

Taking part

There are a range of options available from $1,200 + GST for a single story through to $950 +GST per story for five or more stories (with a feature page).

Please email me on or give me a call on 03 9398 1416 if you’d like to include your best science of 2013 in this year’s storybook.

The deadline is 7 February and the collection will be distributed in March.

More details at

Media training for scientists – 2014 dates across Australia

Complex science can be hard to get across in the media. Journalists are looking for a 10-second grab while you’re trying explain years of research.

In our one-day media training course, we help participants distil the essence of their science.

We’re now taking bookings for courses in the first half of 2014:

  • Melbourne: Thu 6 Feb, Wed 30 Apr, Wed 2 Jul
  • Darwin: early March (TBC)
  • Canberra: Wed 19 Mar
  • Sydney: Tue 6 May
  • Adelaide: Fri 23 May
  • Perth: Mon 14 July

More information about the course and bookings at

We can also hold media training courses in other places if there’s sufficient demand, and welcome expressions of interest for possible future courses.

Contact Margie on to chat about the options.

Science in Public – planning, mentoring, communicating

Communication audits, mentoring and training:

We can review your stakeholders, messages and tools and help you and your communication team refine your plans for 2014. We offer this service for individual announcements or for a whole program or institute

Media releases, launches, and campaigns:

We can help you develop an outreach program, from a simple media release through to a launch, a summit, a conference, or a film.

Publications and copy-writing:

From a tweet to a newsletter; from a brochure to a Nature supplement, we can write compelling and accurate science-driven copy which captures the essence of your story and purpose.