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This week at Science in Public

Hot qubits, made in Sydney offer a path to affordable quantum computing
Press kit here.
For interviews contact niall@scienceinpublic.com.au, +61-417-131-977 or Andrew Masterson, andrew@scienceinpublic.com.au

Science in Public is open for business with a full suite of services including our training, which is available via Zoom, Teams, Skype etc. Our team of six salaried staff are all working from home and we’re working hard to ensure that we can keep everything rolling.

Science honours, early career training, prizes, grants

In this bulletin:
Our Australia Day Honours highlights: scientists and science communicators; Kylie Walker takes the helm at ATSE and Misha Schubert steps into STA. More here. 

Grants and awards including:

  • National ‘Maker’ community grants
  • Search for sharks, rays and sawfish
  • Women in Leadership award
  • Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science
  • ARC announces a suite of linkage grants

Events including:

  • Sonya Pemberton speaking at science communicators conference (see below for registration discount offer)
  • Catalysing Gender Equity
  • AFR Future briefings

More about the short forums we offer for early-career researchers, and our other training courses coming up in MelbourneSydney,  PerthCanberraTownsville, and Adelaide

And take a look at our recent stories:

Australia Day Honours

My personal highlights include:

Robyn Williams (an honourary AO, it’s also his birthday this week) and three science communicators: Dr Gael Jennings AM (scientist, reporter, author);  Anne Westmore AM  (whose latest book reveals how Nancy Millis started her science career when ‘it wasn’t what young women did’); and Shane Huntington OAM (Einstein A Go Go)

Bruce Robinson AC: using genomics to fight thyroid and other endocrine cancers; chairing the NHMRC and the review of Medicare rebates; and he still has time to see patients!

Rachael Webster AO: researching black holes and the first stars.

Genevieve Bell: the human experience of IT, AI – listen to her Boyer lectures.

Anthony Thomas AC: the subatomic universe.

Maria Parappilly OAM: theoretical physicist and pioneering physics educator. 

More in my Twitter stream: https://twitter.com/scienceinpublic

Campus Morning Mail has pulled together lists of people presently working in/affiliated with higher education and research:
AC and AOAM – A to KAM – L to YOAM – A to LOAM – M to W

And my list of honours mentioning science, research and other key words is at www.scienceinpublic.com.au

Change in guard at Academy and STA

Kylie Walker starts her new role as CEO of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) this month. The Academy “applies science, technology and engineering expertise to solve the big issues.” Kylie was previously CEO of Science & Technology Australia (STA).

And taking on the role of CEO at Science Technology Australia is Misha Schubert, former journalist and strategic communication advisor with Universities Australia. STA is “the peak body in science and technology – a respected and influential contributor to debate on public policy.”

Grants, awards, prizes and opportunities

Maker Project community grants

Community STEM Engagement grants 2020 offer $20,000 to $100,000 for up to two years to deliver STEM-related activities and events to Australians under 18.

The grants aim to foster creativity, inquiry-based learning, and to support the development of STEM skills in students and youth through hands-on learning in design, engineering, and programming.

Applications close 19 February 2020. More information.

Join a sharks, rays and sawfish expedition
Work with some of the most endangered species of sharks, rays and sawfish on the planet.

Sharks and Rays Australia (SARA) are looking for field assistants for research expeditions in remote regions of North Queensland, the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York. 

SARA runs around eight expeditions per year. Most expeditions leave from Cairns and last for 11 to 14 days. 

More information.

BioMelbourne Network’s Women in Leadership Award 2020 
Nominations close 11 February. More information.

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science 
Nominations for 2020 will open 6 February and close 12 March. More information.

Science events

AFR Future Briefings: Harnessing AI
12 February in Sydney. More information.

Australian Science Communicators conference 

Plenaries include: 

  • Can we save our grandchildren? Inspiring change in an age of denial and despair. Speakers include David Karoly, Sonya Pemberton, Alvin Stone (Media & Comms Manager for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes), Lee Constable and Cameron Muir.
  • Broadcasting for Impact with Stephen Oliver from the ABC.
  • Effective engagement with Policy Makers with Subho Banerjee from the Australia & New Zealand School of Government

16 to 19 February in Melbourne.

15% off full conference if you use the code ‘ScienceInPublic‘ at checkout. Book here.  

Catalysing Gender Equity conference 
20/21 February 2020 in Adelaide. More information.

Universities Australia 2020 conference 
Topic is Education Changing Lives. 26/27 February in Canberra. More information

ARC funding announcements

The Minister for Education Dan Tehan recently announced several new ARC grants.
Job creation is a notable outcome of 18 new projects totalling $7.5 million, including: 

  • Developing a new method of producing, storing, and exporting green hydrogen using Australian resources – Curtin University
  • Producing more durable and powerful energy storage devices by developing high voltage cathode coated with nano-ionic thin layers – UNSW
  • Developing technology to accurately assess the performance of aluminium cladding, glass facades and skylights under severe hailstorm events – University of Melbourne
  • Read the media release.

New equipment and facilities are central to 47 projects comprising $30.7 million, including:

  • a “whopping” Volta graphical processing unit cluster that will transform computer-intensive artificial intelligence research in Australia – Sydney University
  • a facility to engineer quantum-grade diamond for precision sensing, secure communications and desktop quantum computing applications – University of Melbourne
  • an Antarctic-based set of seismic instruments and a mobile facility to measure and predict changes in ice sheets and load – University of Tasmania.
  • Read the media release.

And the national interest is a key component of 20 projects awarded a share of $9.5 million in Linkage Project funding, including:

  • an early warning system for bushfires, using a new model to reliably forecast the moisture content of live forest fuels – Western Sydney University
  • a means to establish a geographical indication of wine, as used in trade agreements and legal disputes – Monash University
  • an online tool to identify and share best practice for children in a digital society – Australian Catholic University

Training, forums, workshops on getting science into the media

Introduce your early-career researchers to the media, build the profile of your up and coming researchers or upskill your key experts on talking to the media.

Short forums

For early-career researchers, book a forum where we bring your audience to you and moderate a 90-minute Q&A with leaders in business, government, the media and key audiences from farmers to patients.

Or learn what makes a good pitch, write one, present it and get feedback in a dedicated session.

Topics include:

  • Meet the press
  • Meet your audience: Talking science with business/government
  • Make your pitch
  • Build your personal profile.

The forums suit 10 to 200 participants and cost $2,000 including travel to capital cities.

Full-day workshops

If you have lead researchers or up and coming stars who need more training, we run full-day media and communication training workshops around the country.

Your researchers will:

  • Meet journalists from television, radio and newspaper.
  • Build their confidence by doing practice interviews.
  • Work one-on-one with two science communication professionals on their key points, planning, how to build their profile and how to minimise the risk of it going wrong.

Workshops coming up in:

Cost is $800+GST per person including catering.

Research communication, media and science writing

We are passionate about helping scientists get their work into the public space. Whether it is reaching decision-makers, potential commercial partners, farmers, patients or mums and dads at home; we can help you explain your science in a way that is accurate and has impact.

If you’ve got a paper coming up, a collaboration to announce, a conference you’re bringing to town, we can help you tell your story to the world.

Contact us to find out more about our services to train, mentor, plan and deliver media and communication strategies for science, scientists and science organisations. We offer:
Communication plans, mentoring and training
We can review your stakeholders, messages and tools and help you and your communication team refine your plans. 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 that captures the essence of your story and purpose.

Australia Day Honours


Margaret Elaine GARDNER


For eminent service to tertiary education through leadership and innovation in teaching and learning, research and financial sustainability.

Bruce Gregory ROBINSON


For eminent service to medical research, and to national healthcare, through policy development and reform, and to tertiary education.

Anthony William THOMAS


For eminent service to scientific education and research, particularly in the field of nuclear and particle physics, through academic leadership roles




For distinguished service to Indigenous education and research, to the law, and to the visual and performing arts.

Shaun Patrick BRENNECKE


For distinguished service to medical education and research in the fields of obstetrics and gynaecology, and to professional societies.



For distinguished service to medical education and research, particularly to ageing and age-related diseases.

Charles Roderick CURWEN


For distinguished service to the Crown, and to public administration in Victoria, to medical research, and to Australia-China business relations.



For distinguished service to medical education in the fields of epidemiology and rheumatology, and to professional associations.

John Kinley DEWAR


For distinguished service to education through leadership roles in the universities sector, and to professional organisations.

Gillian Margaret GROOM


For distinguished service to the community through healthcare, medical research, and social welfare organisations, and to the law.

Jules Mitchell GUSS


For distinguished service to education and scientific research in the field of molecular bioscience, and to professional organisations.

John Reginald PIGGOTT


For distinguished service to education, to population ageing research, and to public finance policy development.

Alison Joan RITTER


For distinguished service to education, to drug and alcohol research and social policy, and to professional medical societies.



For distinguished service to medical education and research in the field of microbiology and immunology, and to professional groups.

Matthew Roy SANDERS


For distinguished service to education and research in clinical psychology, and to child, parent and family wellbeing.

Robert (John) SIMES


For distinguished service to education, and to medicine, in the field of cancer research and clinical trials.

Raymond Louis SPECHT


For distinguished service to science, and to education, in the fields of botany, plant ecology and conservation.

Geoffrey Wayne STEVENS


For distinguished service to education, to chemical engineering and environmental remediation, and as a mentor.

Brian Harrison WALKER


For distinguished service to science, particularly to ecosystem ecology and research, and to professional scientific bodies.

Rachel Lindsey WEBSTER


For distinguished service to education in the field of astrophysics, to astronomical research, and to young women scientists.

Jeffrey David ZAJAC


For distinguished service to medical research and education, particularly in the field of endocrinology, and to professional societies.



For distinguished service to science as a journalist, radio presenter and author, and to education


Bruce Richard BROWN


For significant service to the pearling industry, and to marine research.

Lyndon Mayfield BROWN


For significant service to the pearling industry, and to marine research.

Geoffrey Michael CURRIE


For significant service to nuclear medicine and medical radiation science.

Stephen Vincent COLES


For significant service to veterinary science, and to professional bodies.

Christopher John CLEMENTS


For significant service to international public health through immunisation programs.

Karen Patricia DAY


For significant service to science education, and to global public health.

Robert John EDGAR


For significant service to the banking and finance sectors, and to medical research organisations.

Graham John FAICHNEY


For significant service to science in the fields of animal nutrition and physiology.

Peter Charles FLINN


For significant service to agricultural research through the promotion of near-infrared spectroscopy.

Anthony John GUTTMANN


For significant service to the mathematical sciences, and to education

Janice Leona HILLS


For significant service to veterinary science, and to the community.

Geoffrey Ian HUSTON


For significant service to science, and through pioneering roles with the internet.



For significant service to science, and to the broadcast media.

Peter James PLUMMER


For significant service to higher education, to health research, and to public administration.

Steven Russell RAINE


For significant service to soil science and agriculture, and to education.

Peter William RIDDLES


For significant service to science, to biotechnology, and to innovation.

Robert Keith SHEPHERD


For significant service to biomedical research, and to education.

Richard Ashton WARNER


For significant service to agricultural research and development.

Roderick Tucker WELLS


For significant service to education, and to the biological sciences.

Ann Felicity WESTMORE


For significant service to medical history, and to science communication.

Justin John YERBURY


For significant service to education and research in the field of biological sciences.

Alyson Marie AULIFF


For exceptional service to the Australian Defence Force in malaria research




For service to science as a communicator



For service to science education, and to women.



For service to medical research, particularly to population health.

Christopher John QUINN


For service to research science in the field of plant systemics.

Michael John WILSON


For service to community health, particularly to diabetes research.

Public Service Medal (PSM)

Nguyen Thi Thanh AN

For outstanding public service in fostering the Australia-Vietnam bilateral relationship in agricultural research.

Stephen Moile CORDNER


For outstanding public service to forensic medical and scientific services, training and research in Victoria.

Robert John EDGAR


For significant service to the banking and finance sectors, and to medical research organisations.

Victor Hutton ODDY


For outstanding public service to the primary industry sector, and to science, in New South Wales.

James Richard PEARSON


For outstanding public service to forensic science, particularly to chemistry, in Victoria

Science prizes, awards, events and forums; plus media training around the country

Welcome to 2020 and our first bulletin of news and opportunities for the science world including our training courses kicking off in Sydney next week.

Forums and events

  • The Australian Financial Review is partnering with Science & Technology Australia to host a number of briefings. First one is on AI in Sydney.
  • The Universities Australia conference is coming up in Canberra. 
  • The Australian Science Communicators are meeting in Melbourne.
  • Our preposterous universe with Sean Carroll in February; and an evening with Peter Singer in June.
  • Catalysing Gender Equity 2020 is in Adelaide 20-21 February.

Awards, prizes and opportunities open

  • BridgeTech is offering personal development for medical technology commercialisation.
  • Science communicators are looking for this year’s unsung hero.
  • Women in STEM prize nominations are open in Queensland with three $5,000 bursaries.
  • Queensland also has three $5,000 TAFE Indigenous Pathways scholarships on offer.
  • The BioMelbourne Network is looking for 2020 women in leadership nominations.
  • Nominations for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science will open on 6 February and close 12 March.

Sydney next week, then around the country: media and communication training
Find out how to get your science reported widely and accurately at our first media training workshop for the year in Sydney on January 22.

Then in: Melbourne (5 Feb, 29 April, 26 June), Perth (3 March, 2 June), Canberra (19 March), Adelaide (13 May) and Townsville (1 April).

Last year we ran more than 23 courses across the nation for hundreds of researchers. Our full-day workshops guide scientists on how to talk to the media and include practice interviews with working journalists. We also run forums on presenting, pitching, social media, and talking to business and government.

Boosting your research communication
Can we help you reach a wider audience? Last year we helped with more than 100 media releases, including several that put our client’s names in the New York Times, The Guardian, CNN and Seven News.

Highlights included: the warped and twisted Milky Way, grannies diving for venomous seasnakes, equity in astronomy, and announcements for the NHMRC on ‘mitochondrial donations’ and new alcohol guidelines that garnered comprehensive media coverage in Australia.

Talk to us about how to maximise the visibility of your research.

Fresh Science
Universities around the country are issuing releases on the 2019 Fresh Scientists. Highlights include international media and industry discussion of new lithium sulfur batteries that offer four times the storage; and stories on a shortage of homes for NT tree-rats, tracking bird flocks with weather radar, and the mechanism of peanut allergy.  

Thank you to the 19 universities who supported Fresh Science in 2019. We’ll be in touch soon about 2020.

Forums and events

AFR Future Briefings: Harnessing AI – 12 February in Sydney
2020 sees a new series of breakfast events from the Australian Financial Review – the AFR Future Briefings, supported by NBN Co and Science & Technology Australia (STA). These events will build on STA’s experience in bringing researchers and industry people together through its program, Science meets Business.

The first event – Harnessing AI, a breakfast in Sydney on Wednesday 12 February – is open for registration now. Future briefings will cover Health & Longevity (May; Melbourne), Connected Consumers (September; Sydney), and Security & Privacy (November; Melbourne).

More information here.

Australian Science Communicators conference –  16 – 19 Feb in Melbourne The trust crisis, bushfire safety, using animations for science communication, speed mentoring and a snapshot of creativity in science communication from 23 of the world’s leading science organisations.

Join science and technology communicators from around Australia at the annual conference in Melbourne. 15% off full conference if you use the code ScienceInPublic at checkout.

Book here: http://asc2020.asc.asn.au/ 
Universities Australia 2020 conference: Education Changing Lives – 26–27 February in Canberra
More than 65 speakers, 1,000 delegates and 40 partners and exhibitors are expected to attend this event to hear from visiting experts and discuss the challenges and future of the university sector.

This event is open for registration now. Discounted early bird rates are available until 27 January.

More information here.

An evening with Peter Singer
Have you ever wondered whether you’re actually a ‘good’ person? Join Peter Singer, once labelled “the most dangerous man in the world”, for an evening in Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland or Melbourne.
Book online: https://thinkinc.org.au/events/singer/

Our preposterous universe with Sean Carroll
We shouldn’t be here. Not really. It was never likely that one day trillions upon trillions of atoms would all come together and make a sentient little sack of anxiety to wander around the Earth for a few decades.
Bending time and space to his will, Sean Carroll is a physicist crossed with a philosopher.

You can hear him in Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Brought to you by Think Inc.

Gender equity conference 20–21 February 2020
Guided by the Women in STEM Decadal Plan and organised by the Academy of Science/SAGE.
Delegates will participate in a variety of workshops, seminars, gallery submissions and panels, each focused on progressing and implementing strategic recommendations and opportunities in the decadal plan.
More information here.

Awards, prizes and opportunities currently open

Queensland University of Technology’s BridgeTech Program 2020 applications open
The BridgeTech Program is a national professional development strategy that trains researchers and entrepreneurs on how to effectively navigate the med-tech commercialisation pathway.

Convened and administered by QUT, the program involves a consortium of partners, including companies, universities and industry associations.

The BridgeTech Program is a national professional development strategy that trains researchers and entrepreneurs on how to effectively navigate the med-tech commercialisation pathway.

Convened and administered by QUT, the program involves a consortium of partners, including companies, universities and industry associations.

Applications for the 2020 are now open and will close on 31 January
Find more here. 
ASC Unsung Hero Award of Australian Science Communication
Nominations are now open for the 2019 Unsung Hero Award of Australian Science Communication. They close at 5pm on Friday 31 January. The award will be announced at the ASC Conference in Melbourne in February.
More information here.
2020 Queensland Women in STEM Prize – three $5,000 prizes
2020 Queensland Women in STEM Prize is open for submissions until 4 February. This state-wide competition is open to early to mid-career women working in STEM.

Three professional development bursaries of $5,000 will be granted to the winners of the Jury Award, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Jury Award, and the People’s Choice Award.

The winners will be honoured at a special event at the World Science Festival Brisbane in March.
More information here.
BioMelbourne Network’s Women in Leadership Award 2020 Nominations 
These awards recognise and champion women who work in, or support, the health industry – including biotechnology, medical technology, pharmaceuticals and digital healthcare – whether as executives, management, R&D practitioners, suppliers, service providers or in other roles engaged with the sector. Nominations close 11 February.
Advance Queensland – TAFE Queensland Indigenous Pathways Scholarships – $5,000 each
These are open for application now. This initiative focuses on supporting Indigenous students to gain qualifications to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths sectors.

More information here.  

On the horizon: 2020 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science – $750,000 total prize pool
Heads up: nominations for Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science will open on 6 February and close on 12 March.
More information here.

Media and communication training workshops

Find out how to get your science reported widely and accurately: book now for Sydney 22 January. More dates and locations here

Meet journalists from television, radio and newspapers. Talk to them about how they report science and what they look for in a story.

Build your confidence by doing some practice interviews on camera and on tape.

Work with two science communication professionals to finesse the key points for telling your science story.

Understand how the media works and how you can minimise the risk of it going wrong.

Book into one of our full-day media and communication training workshops.

  • Sydney
    • Wednesday, 22 January
    • Tuesday, 21 April
  • Melbourne
    • Wednesday, 5 February 
    • Thursday, 29 April 
    • Friday, 26 June 
  • Perth
    • Tuesday, 3 March 
    • Tuesday, 2 June 
  • Canberra
    • Thursday 19 March 
  • Townsville
    • Wednesday 1 April
  • Adelaide
    • Wednesday 13 May

Cost is $800+GST per person, which includes full catering for the day.

Alternatively, book an in-house or custom session. Introduce 20 to 200 researchers to the media with our “Meet the Media” 90-minute panel discussion, featuring three journalists.

Learn what makes a good pitch, write one, present it and get feedback in a dedicated session.

One-on-one support for special pitches or presentations is also available.

Fresh Science

This year’s Fresh Science stories are rolling out from research institutes around the country.

Monash University’s story about engineer Mahdokht Shaibani has run around the world. She has created a lithium battery that only needs recharging every five days.

Her work has clocked up well over 100 stories in Australia, the US, England, China, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Germany, Italy, France and elsewhere. Highlights include the Sydney Morning Herald, New Scientist, PC Mag, and La Repubblica, among many others.  She’s also received calls from industry.

Macquarie University’s release about the work of electric vehicle researcher Foad Taghizadeh has led to a couple of phone calls from potential commercial interests and coverage in specialist publications including PV Magazine Australia and The Driven.

Read the latest stories at www.freshscience.org.au.

Thank you to:

  • University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Murdoch University, the University of Notre Dame Australia, and the Western Australian Museum
  • The University of Melbourne, Monash University, La Trobe University, RMIT and the Royal Society of Victoria
  • The University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University, and Econnect Communication
  • The University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, Western Sydney University, and the Australian National Maritime Museum

Flinders University, the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia, and the South Australian Museum

Curing the “hidden” malaria

Dr Kamala Thriemer, Darwin

Dr Kamala Thriemer will use her $1.25 million CSL Centenary Fellowship to develop and optimise treatment programs against vivax malaria in SE Asia and the Horn of Africa.

Photo credit: Stepping Stone Films

Vivax malaria is the second largest cause of malaria deaths and is hard to treat as the parasite can hide in the liver and re-emerge months later. Her studies have shown that as few as one in ten patients successfully complete the long course of treatment.

Kamala is a public health researcher at the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin.

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A path to personalised treatment for most cancers

Associate Professor Daniel Thomas, Adelaide

Dan Thomas has developed new ways to identify a cancer’s weakness and target it with personalised treatment. He’s already treating acute myeloid leukaemia patients in Adelaide.

Photo credit: Stepping Stone Films

His $1.25 million CSL Centenary Fellowship will facilitate his return from Stanford University to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and The University of Adelaide.

Daniel began his academic career with a PhD in haematology from the University of Adelaide.

[continue reading…]