From Antarctica to ocean plastics, and fighting MS to the science of whisky…Tassie science on show

Media releases, National Science Week

Dozens of stories and interesting people at 150+ Science Week events in Tasmania

  • The barista scientist, the insect lover, and other Young Tassie Scientists tour the state.
  • What did a voyage to Antarctica tell us about women in science? Meet the scientist studying the scientists.
  • What do rabbits and sea urchins taste like? Fighting invasive species by making them gourmet—Launceston.
  • Behind the scenes—how do you make an Attenborough documentary?
  • From the ocean’s food chain to the good oil, why krill is crucial, and why Hobart is the krill capital.
  • Whisky Academy: the science behind Tassie’s whisky boom—Strahan.
  • Multiple Sclerosis: meet the Tassie scientists looking for solutions for the 23,000 Australians affected.
  • Fluorescence—from forensic science to highlighter pens and spinach. Sydney chemist Elizabeth New reveals all.
  • Tasmanian climate science experts on the big changes that are happening in our oceans and ice—local differences in global warming, sea level rise, acidification and reefs—Sandy Bay and Launceston.
  • Trash in the tummies of seabirds, microplastics, and a surfboard fin made from recycled plastic waste: the problems and solutions of ocean plastic pollution.
  • Do you have a healthy relationship with your smartphone? Researchers want to know.

More on these highlights below, and others at, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

Scientists and event organisers are available for interview throughout Science Week. Read on for contact details for each event, or call:

About National Science Week

National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year saw a staggering 1.3 million people participate in more than 1,800 events and activities.

In 2017, National Science Week celebrates its 20th birthday, with events held throughout Australia— from insect Olympics in Darwin to ‘Blood’ at Melbourne’s new Science Gallery, to Antarctic science in the Apple Isle—with everything from science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert panel discussions, interactive hands-on displays, open days and online activities.

The festival is proudly supported by the Australian Government; partners CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association and the ABC; and sponsors Cosmos, Discovery Science, New Scientist and Popular Science.

National Science Week 2017 will run from 12 – 20 August. Find an event at

More about the event highlights

The barista scientist, insect lover and other Young Tassie Scientists head to Hobart, Huonville, New Norfolk, and beyond

Jeremy Just is a ‘barista scientist’—using a coffee machine packed with plant specimens to extract organic natural products for chemical analysis.

Shasta Henry never grew out of her childhood ‘bug phase’; she’s turning her love of insects into a research career.

Nicole Hellessey wanted to be a polar explorer or dolphin trainer. There was a natural progression from dolphins to whales to krill. She now studies how environmental and climate change might affect Antarctic krill.

Tom Ottavi is a budding medical researcher who wants to know what we can do to protect the brain when part of it suddenly loses its blood supply.

These are just a few of the 26 Young Tassie Scientists, the state’s ambassadors for National Science Week. They are sharing their science stories at schools and events around Tasmania, from Hobart to Huonville to Derwent Valley to Strahan.

Multiple dates and locations

Media enquiries: Adele Wilson,, 03 6226 2287 or 0449 013 689.

What did a voyage to Antarctica tell us about women in science? Meet the scientist studying the scientists—Hobart

In 2016, 76 women with science backgrounds from around the world travelled to the Antarctic as part of the three-week Homeward Bound leadership program, designed to support female experts to contribute to climate change collaboration and policy development.

Social scientist Dr Meredith Nash from the University of Tasmania was one of them. At this Science Week event, she will discuss her research drawing on the experiences of 25 women who were fellow participants.

Thursday 17 August Event details

Meredith Nash is available for interviews.

Media enquiries: Sally Glaetzer, or 03 6226 1832, 0439 862 420

Eat invasive species; talk to astronauts; meet real scientists and more at QVMAG—Launceston

  • ‘Future Launceston’: how will the changing climate change the way we live and what’s being done about it?
  • Talk live with an astronaut on the International Space Station.
  • Meet Josh Richards, Mars One finalist and man determined to visit Mars.
  • What does sea urchin taste like? Have you ever eaten rabbit? Taste-test our invasive species menu and wild food, and hear from the producers and scientists about the ingredients, and how climate change will change food production.
  • The ‘Crazy Scientist’ show for kids.

A week of science talks and activities at Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery.

Saturday 12 – Friday 18 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Claire Todd, 03 6323 3702 or 0438 691 066.

Jellyfish beauty and beast; Costa talks dirty; and inside an Attenborough doco: science over drinks at BeakerStreet@TMAG—Hobart

  • Gardening Australia host Costa Georgiadis talks sex and sensuality in the garden.
  • What’s really involved in filming an Attenborough nature documentary?
  • Jellyfish—beauty and the beast in one animal.

BeakerStreet@TMAG is a pop-up science bar at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, featuring hands-on workshops, engaging talks, SCINEMA short films, live music, science storytelling, delicious booze and food, and plenty of prominent local and visiting scientists to chat with over a drink.

See full line-up for each night online

Friday 18 August. Event details

Saturday 19 August. Event details

Sunday 20 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Margo Adler, or 0468 789 933.

Krill connections: why is Hobart the krill capital of the world?

What do krill have to offer your health? Why are they important in ocean ecosystems?

And why is Hobart the global centre of krill science and krill fishery management?

Find out from krill experts, including:

Dr So Kawaguchi from the Australian Antarctic Division will talk about his research on krill biology and ecology, and Dr Laura Laslett from the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research will discuss her research on the medicinal value of krill oil.

Science Manager for the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, Dr Keith Reid, will outline how fishing for krill is regulated internationally and how fishing limits are informed by the best available scientific studies on krill and their ecosystems.

This public seminar will explore the importance of these little crustaceans.

Wednesday 16 August. Event details

Antarctic scenery and krill vision available upon request.

Media enquiries: Warrick Glynn,, 0423 846 513 or 03 6210 1111.

Multiple Sclerosis: The Way Ahead—Hobart

MS affects more than 23,000 people in Australia and more than two million people diagnosed worldwide. The incidence of the disease is rising and at this stage there is no cure.

Menzies researchers and advocates will speak about the research underway and what is likely in the next 10 years. Speakers include:

  • Professor Bruce Taylor—Professor of Neurological Research at Menzies and neurologist, Royal Hobart Hospital.
  • Associate Professor Ingrid van der Mei—Menzies MS epidemiologist.
  • Dr Kaylene Young—Menzies neuroscientist.
  • Mr Andrew Potter—Coordinator of the MS Australia National Advocates Program.

Wednesday 16 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Miranda Harman, or 03 6226 7751, 0427 199562

Seeing the Invisible with Dr Elizabeth New—Sandy Bay

Dr Elizabeth New from The University of Sydney will explain the fluorescence of everyday objects—from highlighters to spinach—and the many applications of fluorescence, including to forensic science and medicine.

Dr New will also be travelling to schools around Tasmania as the Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s Tasmanian Branch Youth Lecturer.

Thursday 17 August. Event details

Dr Elizabeth New is available for interview.

Media and event enquiries: Nathan Kilah,, 03 6226 2183 or 0429 206 737.

The science behind Tassie’s whisky boom—Strahan

Sullivans Cove Distiller, Heather Swart, and Director of the Tasmanian Whisky Academy, Anne Gigney explore the science behind Tassie’s whisky success.

Heather will talk about what makes great whisky, and as a self-confessed whisky geek, share some of the secrets of what makes Sullivan’s liquid gold some of the best in the world. She also talks about the role of raw ingredients—the barley, the water, the climate, the wood—and how distillers make decisions.

Anne will share a few insights about the industry and her own experience helping people who want to learn the art or start their own distillery.

Friday 18 August. Event details

Media and event enquiries: Anne Gigney, or 0419 431 280,

Big Changes in Big Places: Oceans and Ice—Sandy Bay and Launceston

The oceans and ice play a major role in the past, current and future of the Earth’s climate. How is this changing? Hear from:

  • Dr Stephanie Downes, physical oceanographer, will detail how and why the big climate changes we see and hear about (increasing carbon dioxide, air pollution, global warming, sea level rise) are not uniformly spread around the global ocean and continents.
  • Dr Felicity Graham, an ice sheet specialist, will talk about the stability of ice sheets, and what the major sea level changes could be if everything melted.
  • Dr Mathieu Mongin, a biogeochemical modeler will highlight the major role that Tasmanian researchers play in modelling and tackling the decimation of reefs, and detail the impacts of ocean acidification.

After three short talks, the Master of Ceremonies, Dr Tas van Ommen from the Australian Antarctic Division, will lead a Q&A session.

Tuesday 15 August. Hobart Event details

Wednesday 16 August. Launceston Event details

Media enquiries: David Reilly, ACE CRC Public Affairs Manager, 03 6226 2380 or 0428 510 641; or Craig Macaulay, AMOS-Tasmanian Regional Centre Public Affairs Manager, 0488 005 752.

Plastic pollution in the oceans: problems and solutions—Battery Point

Three speakers will provide a range of perspectives about the challenges of plastic and what we can do in our everyday to help.

Dr Heidi Auman has worked as a biologist for most of the past 25 years, focusing mainly on seabird biology. Her research is global in nature with a preference for isolated islands, including those of the US Great Lakes, sub-tropical Midway Atoll, sub-Antarctic Heard Island, and Tasmania.  Her specialisations focus upon human impacts on seabirds, including plastic debris ingestion, toxicology, human disturbance, physiology, urbanisation, and diet.

Dr Scott Ling has spent two decades working in and out of the water and his research spans a broad range of temperate marine ecological challenges. He is also an award winning science educator and communicator. Scott will present his work on plastic microbeads and their impact on the environment.

Luise Grossman, environmental campaigner, one of the founders of the Five Oceans initiative that aims to establish productive recycling infrastructure, will discuss the development of the ecoFIn, the world’s first surfboard fin made from recycled plastic waste from some of the world’s most polluted beaches in Indonesia and show a short video.

Tuesday 15 August. Event details

Luise Grossman, Dr Heidi Auman, Dr Scott Ling are all available for media interviews.

Media enquiries: Anita Gowers, or 03 6226 2521.

Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey—national

Are you a slave to your smartphone? Or have you mastered your mobile? Researchers want your help to build a deeper understanding of our relationship with our smartphones.

Take part in Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey—the online project for National Science Week.

How has having a smartphone changed your life? Has it made your life easier? Or harder? How much time do you spend on it? Does it help you connect (or disconnect) with people? And could you live without it?

The survey will run on the ABC website for two weeks from Friday 11 August. Join in by heading to the Smartphone Survey website at

Several researchers and science communicators are available for interviews.

Media enquiries: Suzannah Lyons; 03 9398 1416 or 0409 689 543.