Fast and safe vaccines, fire-proofing forests, searching for owls, re-designing super foods, virtual space travel and more

Exclude from Home Page, National Science Week

Great National Science Week stories up for grabs now around Australia. Highlights from Victoria:

  • How were the COVID vaccines developed so quickly?
  • Explore the Universe through virtual reality
  • A First Nation approach to saving the planet
  • The science challenging our vets
  • Mega mung beans and ultimate superfruits
  • Finding a bush tucker smorgasbord
  • How foods affect our brains
  • Finding the funny in science
  • Tiny humans and huge dinosaurs in Bendigo
  • Help find Aussie owls with your ears

These are just a few of the events happening during this year’s National Science Week (August 14 to 22).

If you’re after more ideas for stories, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

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

▪ Tanya Ha: or 0404 083 863
▪ Niall Byrne: or 0417 131 977 or 03 9398 1416.

Individual event details and media contacts:

ACCLIMATISE: Who is future-ready? – Melbourne, VIC

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How do we fire-proof our forests? How do we save endangered species?  What can you do to help?

First Nations food and agriculture, the future of fungi, saving frogs and new music inspired by climate change – these are just some of the subjects tackled in ACCLIMATISE, a series of 16 live audience and broadcast events.

The festival focusses on future environmental adaptation to global warming, by exploring the issue through diverse lenses: First Nations impacts, sustainability, geology, music and the power of storytelling.

Highlights include:

  • You’ve heard of dark matter, but what about dark fungi? Find out more at the Royal Botanical Gardens.
  • New musical works by Australian composers performed in the Royal Botanical Gardens
  • Our Treasured Earth, a panel discussion at Museums Victoria exploring science, climate change, and caring for our home planet from First Peoples’ and researchers’ perspectives.

Saturday 14 to Sunday 22 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Rena Singh, or 0448287235.

Multiple experts available for media interviews.

Explore the Universe through VR on your phone –online and multiple locations

See the stars, fly by Jupiter’s red spot, and delve into the latest gravitational wave research — all without leaving town. Astrophysicists Professor Alan Duffy and Dr Rebecca Allen return to share the latest wonders of Australian-led astronomy research through SciVR, an immersive astronomy experience enabled by a virtual reality (VR) smartphone app. Guided by Alan and Rebecca, 75 regional science centres, observatories and libraries will transform into virtual exploriums.

Mini VR headsets are given to participants to enhance their experience and allow them to continue exploring after the event. With two live streams, one adapted especially for younger audiences, and social media Q&A, audiences can interact with the presenters and learn about the most explosive events in our Universe.

Multiple event dates and locations.

Saturday 21 August. Online livestream:

Media enquiries: Rebecca Allen, or 03 9214 5846       

Alan and Rebecca are available for media interviews.

New ways to feed ten billion people – Bundoora

Researchers are re-designing plants to help feed the world.

Future foods could include the mega mungbean, an outstanding oat or the ultimate superfruit.

La Trobe University plant science researcher Dr Kim Johnson is available for interview

Sunday 15 August. Event details:

Kim Johnson is available for media interviews, 0418 858 465.

Making fast and safe vaccines – online, VIC talent

Vaccines save lives, having eradicated once-common illnesses such as polio and smallpox.

The global COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the speedy development of a new set of vaccines.

How were they made so swiftly? And are they safe?

Dr Jennifer Juno from The Doherty Institute is available for interview.

Friday 20 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Daryl Holland, or 0434 952 009.

How vets need to adapt – Parkville, VIC

Vets face a plethora of challenges in the modern world.

They must adapt and embrace scientific advances.

Professor Colin Wilks is available for interview on what vets must do to keep up with the times.

Thursday 19 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Caris Lockhart,, 03 9035 4921

Who is Australia’s funniest scientist? – online & Parkville, VIC

What’s funnier: molecules or maths?

The National Science Quiz aims to find out.

Hosted by ABC TV’s Charlie Pickering, this free online event brings together six boffins in a quest to find the funniest elements of astronomy, public health, immunology, molecular evolution and the windier shores of mathematics.

Over a fact-packed hour, Pickering will pick the brains of astronomer Alan Duffy, comedian and public health expert Alanta Colley, immunologist Catriona Nguyen-Robertson, 3RRR science broadcaster Jen Martin, Professor of Molecular Evolution Michael Gillings and mathematician Norman Do.

Thursday 19 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Tim Macuga, or 0478 571 226; or Rosanna Verde, or 0466 169 633

Some panellists are available for media interviews.

A legally blind artist making sensory science ‘books’ you can read with your eyes closed – Clayton, VIC

Dr Erica Tandori creates tactile displays and multi-sensory, multimodal artworks. She has vision loss due to an inherited eye disease, and is artist in residence at Monash University’s Rossjohn Laboratory. 

‘My Goodness’ is an exhibition of 10 interactive multisensory science ‘books’ designed for low-vision, blind, hearing-impaired, and deaf audiences, using large print text, braille, tactile artworks, haptic and 3D audio, visual tracking and tactile sensor interaction technologies.

The books explore the relationship between infection, immunity, food, and nutrition. They make science accessible to more people by using large print text, braille, tactile artworks, haptic and 3DAudio, visual tracking and tactile sensor interaction technologies.

Friday 20 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Wendy Smith, or 03 9905 2050.

Erica Tandori is available for media interviews.

Bush tucker 101: what you need to know about Indigenous food and agriculture – online

Native foods have unique and distinctive properties and tastes. But what’s the nutritional value of bush tucker? And what’s safe to eat?

Ask the experts about Indigenous food and agriculture:

They’re sharing their knowledge in an online panel event presentation by the ACT National Science Week Coordinating Committee and the Royal Society of Victoria, hosted by Gamilaraay astrophysicist Karlie Noon.

Friday 13 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Brittany Carter, or 0401 332 137

Mind altering foods? – Ballarat, VIC

Does what we eat affect our minds, as well as our body?

Four food experts are available to discuss our relationship with food.

Topics include how packaging/presentation impacts taste, the impact of gut microbes on our wellbeing, food additives and food chemistry/preparation.

Friday 20 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Stephanie Davison,, 0437 071 317

Stephanie Davison and other FedUni panellists available for media interviews.

Dinosaurs descend on Bendigo

Small humans aged six years and under come face-to-face with big beasts for ‘Discovery’s Dinosaur Hullaballoo’. What little one can resist dressing up as a dinosaur, especially when they have the Discovery Science & Technology Centre all to themselves (and their carers) for a day of science activities, including a dino costume competition, meet and greet with a ‘real dinosaur’, a 40-minute live interactive show, a planetarium show, story-time, a fossil hunt, and more.

Wednesday 18 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Angela Holdaway, or 03 5444 4400

Can you find the owls in the night? Researchers recruiting Hoot Detectives – online

Hark, is that an owl hooting?

Researchers are after volunteers to help map five native Australian owl species, by listening to short recordings made in the bush. 

The idea is to hunt for Powerful, Barking, Boobook, Barn, and Masked owls.

The results will provide important information about the range and numbers of these beloved birds of prey. They will also help researchers develop artificial intelligence (AI) systems to use in a new field of science, known as “eco-acoustics”.

This nationwide project is called Hoot Detective, and is produced by ABC Science in collaboration with the Australian Acoustic Observatory for National Science Week.

Tuesday 10 August – Tuesday 31 August. Visit:

Media enquiries: Ben Keirnan, or 0408 184 858.

About National Science Week

National Science Week is one of Australia’s largest festivals, first held in 1997.

Last year about 1.1 million people participated in more than 1200 events, despite a global pandemic.

It is proudly supported by the Australian Government; and partners CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association and the ABC. More information: National Science Week 2021 runs from 14 to 22 August. Media kit at Or visit the National Science Week website for more events and activities: