Science Communicators ‘Speed Date’ in Brisbane

Kate: This week Bridge8 was honoured to be included in a get together of Science Communicators working in Queensland convened by the Science Partnerships and Engagement Division (SP&E) of the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation. The SP&E group are tasked with building science partnerships and fostering a culture that values science and innovation in Queensland.

Communicators were encouraged to network at this weeks get together via a version of speed dating where details were swapped with partners in timed 2 minute sessions. Although I found it a rather exhausting exercise (speed dating is hard work!) by the end I had gained an insight into many of the interesting science communications initiatives currently occurring in Queensland. Here is an overview of some of the initiatives discussed:

Government Initiatives

  • The Science Partnerships & Engagement group are developing some exciting programs towards their goal of fostering a culture of science in the ‘Smart State’ including:
    • innovative outreach projects like a ‘talking scientist’ program where scientists visit community groups and a project that will promote the value of science to non-science students.
    • investigating opportunities for establishment of a new State Science Centre in Brisbane
    • establishing a Queensland Science and Technology Web-site to be launched officially in September.
  • The Office of the Chief Scientist (a role established in 2005 and currently filled by Professr Peter Andrew) is developing strategies to ensure Queensland’s investment in research and development: Make’s “smart industries bigger” and “big industries smarter” ; Secures “the very best of health for .. people and communities” and Ensures  an “environmental future”.   One key strategy is to build on Queensland’s strengths by promoting a tropical research capability to service needs of the world’s tropical economies. The Chief Scientist is however reluctant to take up blogging as a means of science communication. Let’s hope he changes his mind.
  • Queensland Health is home to a marketing and communications team promoting health and medical research across the Queensland government and research sector.

Universities and Research Institutes

  • CSIRO continues to provide valuable science outreach programs for students.
  • The Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) encourages community engagement with science through a program of tours and public speeches.
  • The CAST CRC employs science communicators who promote its industry driven research in metals technology. Researchers were recently challenged to entertain a conference audience with 2.5 minute ‘technology on tap presentations.
  • The University of Queensland (UQ), Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and James Cook University (JCU) employ marketing and communications experts in science, engineering and health faculties who are promoting their university’s science through media publications, fellowship programs promoting collaboration and outreach programs for school students . The UQ Science Faculty has had particular success by employing a full time science journalist to develop media relations and profile the relevance and impacts of its  research.


  • The Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS) established a Queensland Division last month, that will be working to further the ANZAAS objectives of promoting communication and interaction between scientists and fostering public interest in science. The Youth ANZAAS 2011 will be held in Queensland for the first time since 1992.

Something I found puzzling was the absence of media science journalists. Engagement of print, radio and television reporters with an interest in Queensland Science through the Science Communicators Network will hopefully be something that occurs in the future.


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