The science of politics, pond slime, superbugs, and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Monday 13 August 2018

Highlights from day three of National Science Week

300 events and exhibitions, 19 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, Darwin & Melbourne

  • Are we alone in the Universe? Are there habitable planets outside our solar system? Ask the NASA scientists and planet hunters


  • What turns a normal bug into a ‘superbug’? Ask an antibiotic resistance fighter


  • What makes cancer cells immortal and how will genetics and big data change cancer treatment in the future? Ask Prof Roger Reddel
  • How virtual reality helps biomedical researchers ‘walk’ through the human body

Regional NSW

  • A planetarium, a solar telescope, and a bunch of astronomers hit the road


  • Coding and robotics, VR reefs, and science careers from dinosaurs to drones

Read on for more on these, including event contact details.

Also today:

National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year saw 1.2 million people participate in more than 2,100 events and activities.

In 2018, National Science Week celebrates its 21st birthday, with events held throughout Australia—from Corals in the Outback in Queensland to astronomy in the Apple Isle, and from STEM meets dance in Perth to The Innovation Games at Sydney Olympic Park—with everything from science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert panel discussions, interactive hands-on displays, open days and online activities.

National Science Week 2018 will run from 11 to 19 August. Media kit at Or visit the National Science Week website for the details of events in your area:

For general Science Week media enquiries:

Tanya Ha: or 0404 083 863
Niall Byrne: or 0417 131 977

More about the event highlights

Meet the NASA scientists and planet hunters—Hindmarsh, SA, Darwin, NT & Melbourne, VIC

Pantheon of Planets Similar to Earth Artist Concept (Credit: NASA_Ames_JPL-Caltech)

NASA scientists are headed to Australia, bringing Saturn to Sydney, new planets to Perth, and more.

Adelaide: Meet NASA scientist Andrew Rushby, an astrobiologist, exoplaneteer and Exocast podcaster at The Gov in Hindmarsh, SA.

Melbourne: Aussie astrophysicist Jessie Christiansen, the NASA planet hunter and ‘Tomb Raider of exoplanet research’ is in Melbourne to talk about space research, the search for new planets, and how citizen scientists are helping.

Darwin: Alex Kling studies the atmospheres of planets, from gas giants to the weird weather on Mars. Megan Shabram is an astrophysicist working on the Kepler Mission’s search for worlds outside our solar system. She is researching how exoplanet systems form.

What have we learnt from the hundreds of planets discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope? How will the information beamed back to Earth continue to advance science once Kepler runs out of fuel this year? Will we find more worlds outside our solar system? Are we alone in the Universe?

The planets found by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, around stars other than our sun, are not like the planets in our solar system. With a closer look at the planets from the Kepler mission, we are beginning to put the solar system into context and plan the best opportunities for the future exploration of life in the Universe. NASA’s recently launched Terrestrial Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will discover planets around the nearest and brightest stars, providing new opportunities for discovery.

Hindmarsh, SA Event details RMIT University Melbourne, VIC Event details Spotswood, VIC Event details Palmerston, NT Event detail

Media enquiries: Brad Tucker,, 02 6125 6711 or 0433 905 777

The battle against superbugs: the problem of antibiotic resistance and new therapies on the horizon?—Mt Waverley, VIC

How does antibiotic resistance arise? What turns a normal bug into a ‘superbug’? We will delve into the topic of ‘superbugs’ and what makes them not so super, the issue of antibiotic resistance, and what members of the public can do to help prevent its spread. We’ll also cover new treatments available or that might be on the horizon.

Callum Vidor from Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute will talk about his recent research on ‘superbugs’ at a free talk at the Mount Waverley Library.

Monday 13 August Event details

Media enquiries: Karen Bryan, or 03 9541 3120

The future of cancer: can we find a cure?—Westmead, NSW

How will cellular therapy, immunotherapy, personalised medicine, and the use of big data impact cancer treatments? Join internationally-recognised cancer researcher and Children’s Medical Research Institute Director, Professor Roger Reddel, as he leads a panel of experts in a discussion on the most promising strategies in contemporary cancer research and treatment.

Monday 13 August Event details

Media enquiries: Sydney Ideas, or 02 9351 2943

Practically virtual—Randwick, NSW

Practically Virtual showcases how virtual reality is helping scientists, lecturers and teachers in universities and research organisations—from cell biology to mining engineering and from biomedical research to data visualisation. This week-long expo event also invites the broader public to join in.

Virtual reality allows scientists to ‘walk’ through the landscape of the human body and look up-close at cancer cells or race down the aorta alongside red blood cells towards the site of a stroke.

Virtual reality is assisting the ongoing research from (amongst others) UNSW’s Medicine, Science, Engineering and Art and Design faculties, as well as research organisations such as the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. The main Practically Virtual expo will be at the UNSW Biomedical Precinct on the Kensington Campus in Sydney. Staff from the Museum of Human Disease will also take a mobile version on a regional roadshow during National Science Week and beyond.

Monday 13 to Friday 17 August Event details

Media enquiries: Derek Williamson,, 02 9385 1522

Pocket astronomy in pocket-sized towns—regional NSW

Why do we need a national park in the night sky? And can light be a type of pollution? Ask Macquarie University expert Adam Joyce as he takes astronomy on tour in New South Wales.

A planetarium, a solar telescope, and a bunch of students and staff from the Department of Physics and Astronomy will hit the road, bringing astronomy and broader science to four towns in four days—starting today in Wee Waa, then travelling to Werris Creek, Barraba and Dorrigo.

Locals will have the opportunity to visit the planetarium, try the solar telescope, and hear a talk about Australian astronomy, the value of dark skies and Warrumbungle National Park, Australia’s first ‘Dark Sky Park’. Each town will also receive the gift of a telescope to keep, and training for the locals on how to use it.

Monday 13 to Thursday 16 August Event details

Media enquiries: Adam Joyce,, 02 9850 1061 or 0413 993 090

Coding and robotics, VR reefs, and science careers from dinosaurs to drones— Longreach, QLD

  • a palaeontologist who works with dinosaurs, crocodiles and fish fossils
  • a flying scientist who travels to regional and remote areas to engage communities in science
  • a marine scientist who brings local communities together to gather data for marine research projects
  • an aviator who is training to be a jet fighter pilot.

These are some of the scientists converging at the Qantas Founders Museum for a science and careers panel discussion. Ask them what it’s like to be a scientist that flies aircraft, saves the reef, or digs up our prehistoric past.

On the day, the Qantas Founders Museum will also host a coding and robotics workshop for kids, the opportunity to use virtual reality to explore coral reefs, and a performance of Professor Flint’s Shadows of our prehistoric past. Also on Monday and continuing on Tuesday there will be a STEM pop-up that includes coding and robotics, entrepreneurship and drone training for school kids at locations across Longreach.
Monday 13 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Helen Thompson, or 0419 270 265