ACT: Battling COVID-19, satellite selfies and science in court

National Science Week

Great National Science Week stories and talent up for grabs in the Australian Capital Territory, including:

  • The scientists driving Australian coronavirus research
  • In court, is scientific evidence the same as legal proof?
  • Your selfie from space
  • How to make a reef from music and glass
  • What can we learn from last summer’s fires to prepare for the next?
  • Discover new species, map wildlife, track the effects of climate change
  • Science experiments and games for people with disabilities
  • Become a Carbon Counter and join the challenge cut our contribution to climate change.

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

Scientists, artists, performers and event organisers are available for interview throughout Science Week.

Individual event details and media contacts

Science Saving Lives—Canberra

Discover the stories behind Australia’s successful COVID-19 response, as told by researchers on the front line. Hear from a panel of experts about how maths and science expertise has helped to save lives, guide strategy, and keep many more Australians safe.

‘Science Saving Lives’ is a livestream featuring Science & Technology Australia CEO Misha Schubert in conversation with:

  • Professor Allen Cheng, Director of the Infection Prevention and Healthcare Epidemiology unit at Alfred Health;
  • Dr Deb Eagles, Deputy Director, Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness at the CSIRO in Geelong;
  • Dr Kudzai Kanhutu, Superstar of STEM, infectious diseases physician, telehealth clinical lead and Deputy Medical Information Officer at the Royal Melbourne Hospital;
  • Professor James McCaw, Professor of Mathematical Biology at the University of Melbourne; and
  • Professor Paul Young, Professor of Virology and Head of School (School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences) at the University of Queensland who heads the team working on one of the leading contenders for a COVID-19 vaccine.

The discussion follows immediately after the official launch of National Science Week, kicking off on YouTube from 11am.

Friday 14 August. Event details

Misha Schubert is available for interview.

The Reception, Quality and Evaluation of Scientific Evidence in Australian Courts—Acton

What is the difference between scientific evidence and legal proof? Every year, scores of people’s lives hang on the distinction.

Explore the issue by joining a panel of experts from scientific and legal fields, chaired by The Hon Justice Virginia Bell AC of the High Court of Australia. Hear from:

  • The Hon Justice Mark Weinberg AO QC, Reserve Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria and formerly a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia
  • Professor David Balding FAA, Professor of Statistical Genetics, The University of Melbourne
  • Tim Game SC, Senior Counsel Forbes Chambers, Principal Practice in Criminal Law
  • Professor Carola Vinuesa FAA, Professor of Immunology Co-Director, Centre for Personalised Immunology, Australian National University

This event is a collaboration between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Law.

Wednesday 19 August Event details

Lessons from the fires: a biodiversity and climate perspective—Canberra

Bringing together biodiversity scientists, climate change experts and policy makers, this webinar will focus on understanding bushfire seasons under a changing climate, preparedness for future bushfires seasons, and ongoing impacts on biodiversity.


  • David Karoly – Leader, Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub
  • John Woinarski – Deputy Chair, Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel and Deputy Director, Threatened Species Recovery Hub


  • Sally Box – Threatened Species Commissioner and Chair of the Australian Government’s Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel
  • Andrew Dowdy – Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub Lead Investigator and Senior Research Scientist, Bureau of Meteorology
  • Dan Rogers – Principal Ecologist, South Australian Department for Environment and Water

The event is part of the Climate, Fire, and Biodiversity webinar series, a collaboration between the NESP Threatened Species Recovery and Earth Systems and Climate Change Hubs.

Tuesday 25 August Event details

Satellite selfies in the Territories

You can be part of a selfie from space. A satellite will fly over Australia’s two mainland territories – the ACT and NT – to capture images of giant artworks created by the locals.

Participating schools, businesses, families and individuals can go to an oval, park or backyard and put together designs, posters or logos that are big enough to be seen from space. The satellite will capture the results and upload them to a website for viewing.

High-altitude photos will be taken over Canberra, Darwin, Katherine, Alice Springs and a dozen other northern towns.

Monday 17 – Friday 21 August. Event details

The Great Aussie BioQuest: help scientists map where the wild things are

Grab your chance to discover a new species by joining in the Great Aussie BioQuest – a gigantic, nationwide citizen science project to discover how climate change is affecting Australia’s wildlife.

Gamers have found animals never seen before, such as the spider Ornodolmedes benrevelli, named after Ben Revell, the gamer who photographed it. Other species of moths, spiders and insects are in the process of being formally described and confirmed.

BioQuest participants log sightings of plants, animals or fungi using the QuestaGame smartphone app. All sightings are expert-verified and given a “remarkability score”.

Information is uploaded to the open-access Atlas of Living Australia to help researchers make decisions about protecting the environment.

Saturday 15 August until Sunday 23 August Event details

QuestaGame image library (please credit photos with the full text of each file name)

Requiem for a Reef

Glass and sound combine to explore the fragility of the Great Barrier Reef in this art and music event.

Requiem for a Reef is presented glass artist Ngaio Fitzpatrick and composer Alexander Hunter.

Fitzpatrick’s glass installations are inspired by coral bleaching and climate change. Hunter’s haunting musical composition, will be perofrmed using conventonal instruments and glass objects. 

The performance will be followed by a Q&A with Ngaio Fitzpatrick and climate change experts.

Thursday 13 August. Event details

Science Alliance

Members of ACT Down Syndrome and education researcher Vanessa de Kauwe will present a live demonstration of science experiments and games.

The event combines hands-on science with disability education to enable the full inclusion of students of all abilities in classrooms and beyond. Science Alliance was developed by people with disabilities, for people with disabilities, aimed at empowering neuro-diverse students.

Thursday 20 August. Event details

Vanessa is available for media opportunities, together with a student (and guardian) with disabilities.

Carbon Counter: cut your contribution to climate change—national

How much carbon will you pledge to save this National Science Week? Put on a jumper when you’re cold, cut your shower time, eat roo or fish instead of beef, cycle instead of driving. These are some of the small changes that you, your household or your school can adopt to reduce your carbon footprint.

Join in at Carbon Counter, a countrywide challenge produced by the ABC. See what savings your lifestyle hacks will make and pledge to make a difference.

The Carbon Counter project invites individuals, households and schools to make small changes to day-to-day energy, food and transport use with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas production.

A running tally of the tonnes of carbon saved shows the collective impact of you and your fellow challengers.


Researchers and science communicators available for interviews.

About National Science Week

National Science Week is one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year 1.5 million people participated in more than 2050 events around the country, in metropolitan, regional and remote locations.

In 2020, the festival is almost entirely virtual, online, DIY and well-spaced. This means most events, large and small, is open to anyone, no matter where they live.

National Science Week 2020 will run from 15 to 23 August. Media kit at, public event listings at