Sarah: Last night Kristin and I attended the February meeting of the SA branch of the Australian Science Communicators (ASCSA) at the RiAus. We were admittedly a little sweaty-palmed and dry-mouthed, given the theme of the evening: speed networking. Heavens to Betsy, might we have to actually talk to people we didn’t already know? Fortunately Lisa Baily (ASCSA Vice Pres, and Senior Programs Coordinator at RiAus) prepared us well with some pre-event email tips, including advice to have rehearsed an ‘elevator pitch’, or 60-second verbal statement of our current work/study/passion around science communication. So-armed, we collected our name tags, sat at rectangular tables arranged in grids and followed the simple instructions: all those with a yellow sticker on your name tag will move one seat to the left every 5 minutes. Ready, set, network!
And guess what – it was great. Really great. Because we were all there for the same purpose, and no doubt all harbouring similar trepidations, it worked. The 5 minutes seemed to simply fly by on every occasion, with most conversations cut short by Lisa’s “time to move on!” instructions. Here is a list of the 7 very interesting people I chatted to, and otherwise may never have exchanged ideas with:
Sharmin Patard, Communications Officer at the CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment. Sharmin told me about the programs the CRC runs, and we discussed common interests in creating scientific content for use in schools.
Darren Ray, Senior Meteorologist at the South Australian Climate Section of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Darren and I discussed the importance of meteorology in futures thinking and policy making, particularly in light of climate and environmental change. I believe Kristin and Darren took this conversation even further when Darren shuffled into the seat opposite Kristin a little later.
Alex Gaut, Biodiversity Program Coordinator at Conservation Council of South Australia. After admiring Alex’s earrings (slices of fossilised nautilus-like shells encased in silver – fabulous), I discovered her current passion is spreading the word about the proven scientific benefits of establishing marine parks, and her hopes that their potential value to South Australia will be recognised and acted upon.
Lucy Simmonds, Get Into Genes Education Officer, ACFPG. I was interested to hear about Lucy’s recent completion of a Graduate Diploma in Science Communication at the ANU, and her return to Adelaide to with the Get Into Genes program. Interestingly, two Bridge8-ers (Alexandra Smart and Jenna Malone) have also worked with this program in the past. Lucy and I also discussed my early escape from medical school (phew!) to pursue my current career in science research and communication.
Rogan Tinsley, also known as Dr Adenozine: see @DrAdenozine if you use twitter, or check out www.adenozine.tumblr.com. Once a slave to laboratory work around protein characterisation, Rogan described how he was enjoying the sense of relative freedom he has now in reading, blogging and drawing about science in general and studying to become a high school science teacher.
Angela Lush, who runs her own science communication business Lush Logic. Angela and I had a few laughs as we shared information relating to how we had ended up in our current roles as science communicators: serendipity is a wonderful thing.
Judy Ford, Research Education Officer, Learning and Teaching Unit, UniSA. After establishing some common ground in past lives as research scientists (me very junior, Judy very impressive and senior at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital), Judy and I had a great chat about ovulation and body fat, funnily enough!
So now I feel completely invigorated about science communication in South Australia, I have 7 new friends I can exchange ideas with and scrounge drinks off at future ASCSA meetings, and I have some new networking skills which will help me in many situations, both scientific and otherwise.
Many thanks to Lisa, Rob, Rona and other ASCSA committee members for putting on a great night.
Other ASCSA members: please feel free to use the comments box below to add your impressions of the ASCSA event last night. General comments welcome from everyone as always.