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Spin doctors: Astrophysicists find when galaxies rotate, size matters

Sky survey provides clues to how they change over time.

A simulation showing a section of the Universe at its broadest scale. A web of cosmic filaments forms a lattice of matter, enclosing vast voids. Credit: Tiamat simulation, Greg Poole

The direction in which a galaxy spins depends on its mass, researchers have found.

A team of astrophysicists analysed 1418 galaxies and found that small ones are likely to spin on a different axis to large ones. The rotation was measured in relation to each galaxy’s closest “cosmic filament” – the largest structures in the universe.

Filaments are massive thread-like formations, comprising huge amounts of matter – including galaxies, gas and, modelling implies, dark matter. They can be 500 million light years long but just 20 million light years wide. At their largest scale, the filaments divide the universe into a vast gravitationally linked lattice interspersed with enormous dark matter voids.

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Should Australia allow mitochondrial donation?

  • Public events in Sydney 11 Nov, Melbourne 18 Nov and online
  • Case studies/patients also available from the Mito Foundation.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is inviting all Australians to provide their views on the use of a new assisted reproductive technology that might assist in preventing certain rare mitochondrial diseases but which requires careful ethical and social consideration. Consultation is open until Friday 29 November 2019.

Mitochondrial donation might be able to assist in the prevention of mitochondrial DNA disease in an estimated 60 children born each year in Australia.  However, there are social and ethical issues to consider including:

  • using mitochondrial DNA from a donor (using IVF technology) so that the child has DNA from three people
  • the rights of children to know their full genetic heritage
  • the potential risks and benefits of the technology, and
  • the implications for future generations.

Mitochondrial donation is in limited use in the UK and some other countries, but not Australia.

Australian law prohibits the creation of babies using DNA from more than two people and also prohibits making changes to an embryo or egg that can be passed down to future generations. NHMRC is asking the Australian community to consider the social and ethical issues associated with mitochondrial donation. NHMRC will then provide advice to the Australian Government.

“We’re asking the community to tell us what you think. Should Australia change the legislation to allow the use of mitochondrial donation in clinical practice?” says Professor Anne Kelso, CEO of NHMRC.

Read on for a list of experts and comments. All experts are available for interview.

Issues paper available at: www.nhmrc.gov.au/mito
Video with expert comments available at: http://bit.ly/2NeI7gW.
Public forums in Sydney on 11 November and Melbourne on 18 November plus online briefing.
Submissions close 29 November at www.nhmrc/gov.au/mito.

Media contacts:
Niall Byrne    M: 0417 131 977   E: niall@scienceinpublic.com.au   
NHMRC Media Team   M: 0422 008 512   E: media@nhmrc.gov.au

Talk to media, business, government: sessions in Cairns and Townsville this week

We’re holding a series of courses at JCU in Cairns and Townsville.

Meet working journalists from TV, radio and online, learn what they need, and how to keep it accurate – Cairns on Tuesday 17 September, Townsville on 19 September and Monday 23 September.

Find out how to talk to business, government and the community: Cairns on Wednesday 18 September, Townsville on Friday 20 September.

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Riding the nurdle wave to a Eureka

Science In Public’s Michael Lucy wins a Eureka Prize

Michael Lucy, winner Finkel Foundation Eureka Prize for Long- Science Journalism. 2019 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes © Salty Dingo 2019 CRG

Michael won the award – presented at a glittering ceremony at the Australian Museum in Sydney on Wednesday, August 28 – for a feature he wrote on plastic pollution. The story was published in Cosmos magazine.

At the time of publication, Michael was also features editor of the magazine, working alongside editor Andrew Masterson – who is now editor-in-chief at Science In Public.

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Slime moulds, wasp art, your racist brain, and robots on the catwalk

Saturday 18 August 2018

Highlights from day eight of National Science Week’s nine-day ‘week’

166 events and exhibitions, 13 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.

Adelaide

  • The lifecycle of a parasitic wasp as performance art—scientists perform their science

New South Wales

  • Kick the physics out of a footy, science and extreme sport at Sydney Olympic Park
  • Drones, 3D printing, and robots on the catwalk, in Wagga Wagga

Tasmania

  • Tasty science, snotty science, Antarctic secrets and the man headed to Mars, in Hobart
  • Sarah Lloyd says slime moulds are nature’s miniature jewels—ask and see why, in Westbury

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Manufacturing a cell therapy peace-keeping force, and more

20-23 June 2018 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

International Society for Stem Cell Research 2018 Annual Meeting: 2,500+ stem cell scientists from 50 countries will hear from 150+ speakers including:

Lab-grown mini-brains make new connections

Fred ‘Rusty’ Gage (USA) is making mini-brains from human stem cells in the lab. But in order for these new tissues to function, they need to become well-connected.

Fred is pioneering research to explore how transplanted human neural organoids (mini-organs) can mature into tissues with blood vessel and nerve connections. This work could lead to methods of replacing brain tissue lost to stroke or disease, and repairing spinal cords damaged by trauma.

Tracing blood back to its beginnings to tackle leukaemia

Right now, the stem cells in your bone marrow are making one billion new red blood cells per minute. Andrew Elefanty (Australia) is studying both embryonic stem cells and more specialised blood-forming stem cells to reveal how our body makes blood and what leads to leukaemia and other blood diseases. He will reveal his team’s latest insights. [continue reading…]

Case studies; build your profile; comms training; the PM’s Science Prizes and more

Case studies and profile building

We can help you raise the profile of your research and researchers by:

  • writing case studies and stories for you to use with your institution’s communication platforms
  • publishing your stories via social media, media, the web, your stakeholders, flyers and our Stories of Australian Science
  • teaching your researchers how to tell and pitch their own stories.

For example, for $5,000 we can write 10 short case studies; for $10,000 we can write them, share them, and get some attention for your researchers. If you’d like more information give me a call – 0417 131 977.

China and Japan 

If you’ve had any recent success with collaborations in China or Japan, I’d love to hear about it. I’m visiting China and Japan at the end of the month with a City of Melbourne Business Mission. I’ll be tweeting and We-Chatting about great collaborations in research and also drawing on our past lists and case studies: http://stories.scienceinpublic.com.au/japanand http://stories.scienceinpublic.com.au/china

Training

Communication training for researchers is happening around the country over the next few months. If your researchers need some guidance, mentoring or practice in media interviews, social media or pitching, check out the courses in Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne. Details below.

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

$750,000 for science/innovation/teaching—nominations for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science now open

Have you ever nominated someone for a prize? Felt the buzz on anticipation when you hear they are a finalist? Shared the thrill as they win? Then watched the impact it has on their career?

It’s time to put forward your unrecognised leaders and your rising stars for a Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. And if you don’t have time to drive the nomination, pass this email on to someone who does.

And more prizes

Read on for details about the PM’s Prizes and other prizes open right now including the Eureka’s, L’Oréal, Tall Poppies and Academy awards.

Regards,

Niall

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Chicken for 100 million; instant results for every major medical test; and more Stories of Australian Science

Today:

Adding whole grains to chicken food boosts meat production efficiency and could improve global food security. It’s also likely to be good for backyard chickens, says Sydney scientist Amy Moss.

Amy’s research at The University of Sydney’s Poultry Research Foundation showed that replacing some of the ground grain in chickens’ feed with whole grain both improved their digestion and how efficiently they produced meat.

More below.

Amy is available for interview and is presenting her research at the 29th Australian Poultry Science Symposium, which starts in Sydney on Monday 5 February.

She’s the NSW winner of Fresh Science 2017—our national competition helping early-career researchers find, and then share, their stories of discovery.

We’ll be sharing the other winners’ stories via this bulletin in the coming weeks.

On Friday:

Nobel Laureate Steven Chu launches new institute at UTS – 9.30 am Friday 2 February 2018, UTS Great Hall (Building 1).

Instant results at home, at the surgery, and at the bedside for every major medical test. That’s the vision for a new research institute at UTS.

They plan to use quantum dots and other nanotech to make small, inexpensive diagnostics as simple to use as a pregnancy test and as ubiquitous as smartphones.

And with their technology the human eye can now watch a single molecule at work inside a living cell.

More below.

Want more Stories of Australian Science?

Using drones to protect swimmers (and sharks); tracking space junk; detecting toxic algal blooms in Tasmania, China, and France; using silk to repair damaged eardrums; stopping people going into floodwaters; and more.

Each year we pull together a publication with some of the highlights in Australian science from the year. We’ve just published all the stories from 2017 online (along with our previous collections) at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/stories.

You can filter by state, discipline and organisation, as well as search by keyword. If you’d like to speak with any of the scientists, feel free to contact them directly or we can help you make contact.

If you’d like a hard copy of the publication let me know and I can post some to you.

Do your colleagues like science stories too?

Please feel free to share this bulletin with your colleagues, or they can subscribe at: www.scienceinpublic.com.au/category/bulletins/media-bulletin

We send updates like this every couple of weeks with science news and talent from around Australia.

Kind regards,

Niall [continue reading…]

Professor Dali Kaafar to lead research at the Optus Macquarie University Cyber Security Hub

A focus on cyber security and privacy-preserving technologies.

Macquarie University is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Dali Kaafar as Scientific Director of the Optus Macquarie University Cyber Security Hub.

Prof Kaafar will move from CSIRO Data61 on 3 October 2017.

“It is a pleasure to appoint Prof Kaafar who is regarded worldwide as one of the leaders in cyber security, in particular regarding data privacy issues,” says Dr Christophe Doche, Executive Director of the Cyber Security Hub.

“Privacy is a fascinating and important research area as it cuts across fields of information technology, business, law, criminology, psychology, and ethics,” he says. “This research topic is thus very well aligned with the philosophy of the Cyber Security Hub, which is to tackle cyber security issues with an interdisciplinary mindset. Privacy-preserving technologies are key to enable collaboration amongst organisations and to foster private and confidential data-sharing for wider and more powerful cyber security approaches.”

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Dali-Kaafar

Science communicator role: Short term, immediate start

We’re looking for a science communicator to join our team at Science in Public for 3 to 6 months with an immediate start.

We need someone who is organised, loves science and wants to help scientists get their work into the public space. Ideally you’ve got a couple of years professional work experience and can hit the ground running.

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Modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previously thought

New dating of ancient human teeth discovered in a Sumatran cave site suggests modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previously thought.

The international research led by Dr Kira Westaway from Macquarie University and published in Nature, has pushed back the timing of when humans first left Africa, their arrival in Southeast Asia, and the first time they lived in rainforests.

This evidence of humans living in the Sumatra rainforest more than 63,000 years ago, also suggests they could have made the crossing to the Australian continent even earlier than the accepted 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.

Other Australian universities involved in the research included the Australian National University, the University of Queensland, the University of Wollongong, Griffith University and Southern Cross University.

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There will be ‘Blood’; the GMO debate; and more – the first of 1,800+ events for National Science Week

National Science Week officially kicks off 12 August—but there are a few cheeky events sneaking in early (this week).

Below are some highlights we’ve picked out of the 1,800+ events—you can see all our picks here.

From tonight in Melbourne

There will be ‘Blood’

‘BLOOD: Attract & Repel’—the inaugural exhibition of Science Gallery Melbourne—opens today, exploring the significance and fascination of blood in science, medicine, art, and religion.

Science Gallery Melbourne director Rose Hiscock and ‘BLOOD’ creative director Ryan Jeffries are available for interviews.

Media enquiries via Katrina Hall kathall@ozemail.com.

Tomorrow in Melbourne

Is GMO the solution to feeding a growing global population? What does the science say?

A new movie ‘Food Evolution’, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, explores the facts, fictions and feelings swirling around genetically modified crops and the role of biotechnology in food.

One of the experts featured in the doco Dr Alison Van Eenennaam (University of California, Davis) is in Melbourne for a screening and is available for interviews.

Contact her directly via alvaneenennaam@ucdavis.edu, or via Belinda Griffiths on 0400 042 297.

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WANTED: Science Communicator/Project Manager

We’re looking for an experienced science communicator to join our team at Science in Public, someone:

  • who has developed and delivered communication strategies and understands what it takes to make science news
  • who loves science and loves working with scientists to get their work into the public space
  • who knows who’s who and can list at least ten national science agencies. The more knowledge you have of the science world in Australia the better
  • who can hold their own in a discussion about Oxford commas and CMYK numbers.

You must be able to write fluently and accurately, manage a number of projects at once, and work to tight deadlines. A solid grounding in WordPress, Twitter and MailChimp would also be useful.

The position is full-time or near full-time. Pay will be negotiated based on experience and hours can be negotiated to be family-friendly.

If you are interested, please send me a short email summarising:

  • your mix of skills (media, outreach, project management, writing etc.)
  • your experience in science communication and /or media liaison
  • what you want to get out of the role
  • examples of your writing and/or media stories that you have been involved in clearly stating your contribution.

Science in Public is a specialist science communication business based in Spotswood, Melbourne. We have a core team of six plus associates around the country. We work with governments, universities, research institutes and individual scientists to help them present their work in public. You can read more about us and our work at www.scienceinpublic.com.au.

If you have any questions, you can give Sarah Brooker a call on 0413 332 489. Otherwise, email your one-pager addressing the above and a CV to sarah@scienceinpublic.com.au by lunchtime Friday 7 April.

Hello Ben

Sarah and Niall have a new baby boy, Ben, born 1 December 2016. He’s 3.6 kg and in a hurry to grow up.

sarah-anb-ben

Our international science journalists’ dinner

On Sunday 14 February for journalists at the 2016 AAAS, Washington DC

Forty of the world’s leading science journalists will join me for a good dinner, Australian shiraz, and a briefing on some of the best of Australian science on Sunday 14 February 2016 during the AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington DC.

Science in Public’s Australian Dinner has become a minor tradition during the AAAS. It enables Australia to build on the links with international science reporters which were created when Melbourne hosted the World Conference of Science Journalists back in 2007.

Our guests in 2015 included:

  • The science editors of the Economist, BBC TV News, Financial Times, Asahi Shimbun, The Sun, and reporters from the BBC, Daily Mail, the London Times and others.
  • The executive producer of PBS Nova, the ABC’s Robyn Williams and David Fisher.
  • Freelancers filing for dozens of publications and websites including Science, Nature, Discovery, National Geographic.
  • The heads of Research America and Research Sweden, the director of the World Federation of Science Journalists, representatives of the UK and Australian Science Media Centres, of the EuroScience Open Forum, RIKEN, and the IgNobels.
  • Australian scientists speaking at AAAS including representatives of CSIRO and ANU.

Our partners in past dinners have included the Australian Government’s industry department, Australia’s SKA team, Inspiring Australia, COSMOS and the Australian Science Media Centre. We welcome partners who share our interest in sharing the best Australian science achievements with the world.

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