Let's Talk SciComm

Unimelb SciComm

Hosted by Associate Professor Jen Martin and Dr Michael Wheeler, Let’s Talk SciComm is a podcast from the University of Melbourne’s Science Communication Teaching Program. Listen for advice, tips and interviews about how to communicate science in effective and engaging ways. Show notes, transcripts and more info: https://go.unimelb.edu.au/ty8e read less
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Episodes

70. Interview with Dr Samantha Grover
Nov 27 2023
70. Interview with Dr Samantha Grover
To finish Season 9 of Let’s Talk SciComm, we had a truly wonderful conversation with Dr Samantha Grover, who leads the Soil-Atmosphere-Anthroposphere Lab at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Sam’s team explores the interconnections between food, climate change and people. They collaborate with farmers, NGOs, industry, government and other researchers around the world to more sustainably manage landscapes. They focus on high carbon systems such as peatlands, regenerative agriculture and composting. As a soil scientist, Sam applies techniques from soil physics, soil chemistry and soil microbiology with micrometeorology to explore the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. She collaborates with economists, social scientists, policy analysist as well as other biological and physical scientists to generate whole-of-system knowledge. Through her teaching of Bachelors and Masters of Environmental Science, as well as her public engagement as a Superstar of STEM, President of Soil Science Australia, VIC, various Board and Committee roles and growing media profile, she communicates her research to create impact. We talked with Sam about the many different types of science communication she’s involved with, including giving a TED talk and writing a children’s book. Sam has a wealth of scicomm experience and knowledge to share and we’re sure you’ll enjoy the conversation! You can follow Sam and learn more about her work here: https://www.rmit.edu.au/contact/staff-contacts/academic-staff/g/grover-dr-samantha https://www.linkedin.com/in/samantha-grover-169017186/ https://twitter.com/drsoilsam https://scienceandtechnologyaustralia.org.au/profile/dr-samantha-grover/ https://theleadershipfilm.org/samantha-grover/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wKA6JQQBSE (Sam’s TED talk) https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7464/ (Sam’s book Exploring Soils). https://www.twma.com.au/channel/sharing-transdisciplinary-soil-stories-by-dr-samantha-grover/
69. How to be strategic when communicating science
Nov 20 2023
69. How to be strategic when communicating science
This week Jen and Michael had a wonderful conversation with Professor John Besley about strategic science communication. John studies public opinion about science and scientists’ opinions about the public. His goal is to help science communicators be more effective by helping them consider evidence-based and strategic communication choices. He also does research aimed at understanding how peoples’ views about decision-makers and decision processes (i.e., trustworthiness and fairness beliefs) affect their overall perceptions of science and technology (S&T). John has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. This work has appeared in high-ranking journals including Risk Analysis, Science Communication, Public Understanding of Science, and the Journal of Risk Research as well as a range of edited volumes. He has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, and a range of foundations. He is the associate editor for risk communication for Risk Analysis. In addition to his regular research, John was the lead author for the 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 National Science Board chapters on public attitudes and knowledge about science and technology. Michigan State University awarded John its William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award in 2021 and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) honored him as a fellow in 2018. In 2013, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication awarded him the Hillier-Krieghbaum Under 40 Award. You can follow John and learn more about his work here: https://comartsci.msu.edu/our-people/john-c-besley https://www.instagram.com/johnbesley/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-c-besley-880a468/ http://strategicsciencecommunication.com/ (John and Anthony’s book) https://www.press.jhu.edu/books/title/12411/strategic-science-communication
65. How to get started in scicomm
Nov 5 2023
65. How to get started in scicomm
We know many of our listeners are keen to get more experience in science communication but don’t know where to begin. Have we got the episode for you! This week we had a fantastic chat with Dr Donovan Garcia-Ceron about how he got started in science communication and the things he’s doing to build his scicomm profile. As you’ll hear, Donovan is kind and curious. He works in research to protect crops from pests, with the aim of increasing food security and enabling healthier communities. He has worked in the creation of eco-friendly insecticides, and investigated how fungi “sneeze” to cause stronger infections in plants. As a research officer, Donovan now develops next-generation fungicides that can “switch off” the genes that fungi use to cause diseases, without being harmful to the environment. During his PhD, Donovan developed an interest in science communication. He won prizes for the 3-minute Thesis and Visualise Your Thesis competitions in several years, and has been invited to write for blogs and to participate in philanthropic events to pitch science projects. He is passionate about making scientific knowledge accessible and open to anyone, and is interested in connecting with other science communicators. In his spare time, Donovan does Brazilian drumming and builds furniture using reclaimed wood (IG: @slothfurniture). You can follow Donovan and learn more about him and his work here: https://twitter.com/DonovanGarciaC https://www.linkedin.com/in/donovan-garcia-ceron/ https://scholars.latrobe.edu.au/dgarciaceron https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP-DIKYgFCo (Donovan’s Visualise Your Thesis entry) https://www.instagram.com/slothfurniture/ Transcript: https://go.unimelb.edu.au/i79s
66. Interview with Professor Jo Salmon
Oct 30 2023
66. Interview with Professor Jo Salmon
This week we had the great pleasure of speaking with Alfred Deakin Professor, Jo Salmon about the importance of effective science communication in research, especially when it comes to co-designed research. Jo is the Director of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University and currently holds a NHMRC Level 2 Investigator Grant. She has spent the last 20 years conducting research on the development of effective programs to promote children’s physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour. Jo has been a Chief Investigator on over 30 nationally funded research projects and 14 international projects worth more than $28.8 million and has supervised 26 PhD students to completion and 14 postdoctoral fellows. She has published her research extensively with over 450 peer reviewed papers and book chapters, and for the past 7 years has been named a Clarivate Highly Cited researcher, which ranks her in the 1% most cited authors in the world for her subject field. Jo is the past President and a Fellow of the International Society for Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, and the founding current President of the Asia Pacific Society for Physical Activity (ASPA). She also played a key role in development of movement guidelines for youth in Australia (2004; 2008; 2014). You can follow Jo and learn more about her work here: https://www.deakin.edu.au/about-deakin/people/jo-salmon https://twitter.com/profjsalmon https://aspactivity.org/news/iwd-2023-profjosalmon/ https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/news-centre/improving-health-and-wellbeing-children-making-it-easy-be-active-throughout-day
63. How to ask good questions with Dr Shane Huntington OAM
Oct 23 2023
63. How to ask good questions with Dr Shane Huntington OAM
Welcome to Season Nine of Let’s Talk SciComm! We’re thrilled to be back with another season, chatting each week about our very favourite topic – how we can all be more effective when it comes to communicating about science. We’re kicking off the season talking with our good friend Dr Shane Huntington OAM (@DrShaneRRR) – in case you haven’t listened yet, you can get to know Shane on episode 9 of Let’s Talk SciComm! Shane is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Little Big Steps; a charity helping kids with cancer.   Shane is also a speaker, trainer and facilitator. He has been providing consulting services in communication and strategy for over 25 years and is the host and producer of 3RRR’s science radio program Einstein A Go Go. In 2020 he was awarded an Order of Australia in recognition of his science communication work. In this episode we asked Shane to share his advice on how to ask good questions. Whether you’re going to a conference or interviewing someone about their work, being able to ask interesting, thoughtful questions is an important skill. And given Shane has interviewed thousands of scientists over the past 30 years on radio, he’s a great person to get advice from! Shane is also a prolific writer with articles on Medium.com read more than 100,000 times. He is the Founder and Director of the Innovation Group Pty Ltd, a scientific equipment supplier in Australia and New Zealand since 1999 and is a Senior Associate with consulting firm Outside Opinion.   Until January 2019 he was Deputy Director of the Melbourne Academic Centre for Health (MACH) which he established in 2011. Prior to his work in the Faculty of Medicine, he was Principal Strategy Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor of The University of Melbourne, Prof. Glyn Davis.   From 2005 to 2008 he was the CEO and Founder of Quantum Communications Victoria within the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne. Quantum Communications Victoria was a $9.3Million Government funded centre which developed telecommunications security based on Quantum Physics and exported Australia’s first quantum product.  Shane’s specialty was in Photonics and Imaging and he has published more than 75 refereed journal papers during his 10 years in research.   Shane was the Founder of the Telescopes in Schools Program, a Victorian based initiative designed to bring the wonders of Astronomy and education to low SES schools in Melbourne’s Northern and Western suburbs and rural districts through the prevision of research grade telescopes and support.   He holds an honorary appointment at the University of Melbourne in the School of Engineering and is an Ambassador for the Lost Dogs Home.  You can follow Shane and learn more about his work here: https://shanehuntington.com/ https://twitter.com/DrShaneRRR https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-shane-huntington-oam-684894/ https://littlebigsteps.org.au/about-2/our-who/our-team/ https://www.outsideopinion.com.au/team/shane-huntington Transcript: https://go.unimelb.edu.au/gi9s
60. How to write an excellent CV and job application
Aug 14 2023
60. How to write an excellent CV and job application
This week we were thrilled Executive Recruiter and Scientist Marilyn Jones was able to make time to chat with us. Marilyn has over 25 years’ experience in resourcing staff for companies and assisting individuals with their career aspirations and we learned so much from her about how to get your dream job. Marilyn undertook research in cancer and immunology, leading to managing an R&D project for the commercialisation of the purified components of snake venom for human therapeutic purposes. Combined with additional commercialisation projects in wheat identification and infectious diseases, she gained a comprehensive understanding of the diagnostics and drug development sectors. After a period of selling complex scientific instrumentation systems into the Pharmaceutical, Research, Pathology, Analytical and Manufacturing sectors, she made the fortuitous move into Recruitment. Working for both boutique and multinational recruitment organisations, Marilyn has worked across many industry and business sectors. She particularly enjoys the challenge of ‘The Search’ for hard-to-fill senior roles. Marilyn’s focus in starting her company in 2011 was to look after the individual. This has developed into an extensive program – mexec jobstrategy™ working with candidates in many industries to assist them on one on one in their career aspirations and job search strategy. mexec Executive Search Recruitment division assists start-ups to multinational companies with their HR and recruitment requirements from graduate to Board level. You can follow Marilyn and learn more about her work here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marilynmexec/ https://www.mexec.com/about-us/ https://www.mexec.com/13-day-jobs-of-marilyn/ https://www.stemwomen.org.au/profile/marilyn-jones https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2019/08/call-me-why-recruiters-want-you-to-pick-up-the-phone/ Transcript: https://go.unimelb.edu.au/q9ys
59. How to present science concisely
Aug 7 2023
59. How to present science concisely
This week we had a wonderful conversation with Dr. Bruce Kirchoff who is a scientist, improviser, and storyteller. He teaches young scientists to speak clearly and intelligibly about their research. His book Presenting Science Concisely (https://presentingscienceconcisely.com/book) draws on the relation between the scientific process and story structure to present science with impact.   Bruce is also Emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he taught courses in plant diversity, flowering plant identification, and evolution. His research combined insights from biology and cognitive psychology to improve the reliability of plant description and classification. As a software designer he developed visual, active learning software to rapidly teach plant identification, and chemical structures. He has won the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Charles Edwin Bessey Teaching Award from the Botanical Society of America, and the Innovations in Plant Systematics Education Prize from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists. He has studied scientific communication at the Alan Alda Center for Scientific Communication and teaches it through the UNC Greensboro Speaking Center, where he is a Faculty Fellow. He also teaches workshops in storytelling and improv and, before his retirement, was the faculty advisor for the UNCG student improv club. You can follow Bruce and learn more about his work here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brucekirchoff/ https://twitter.com/1andOnlyBruce https://www.youtube.com/@sci-comm (Bruce’s YouTube channel) Transcript: https://go.unimelb.edu.au/s8ys
58. How to find a fantastic research supervisor (and work well with them)
Jul 31 2023
58. How to find a fantastic research supervisor (and work well with them)
This week we were so lucky to have the opportunity to chat with Professor David Dunstan about being a research supervisor. David holds a joint appointment at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia with the positions of: Head – Baker/Deakin Department of Lifestyle and Diabetes and Chair, Lifestyle and Diabetes (Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin); and Deputy Director/Physical Activity Laboratory Head (Baker). His research focuses on understanding the adverse health consequences of too much sitting and the potential health benefits resulting from frequently breaking up sitting time. In particular, he has developed effective strategies to reduce and break up sitting time in adults with or at risk of developing chronic diseases and to support office workers to reduce sedentary behaviour in workplace settings. His current focus is directed at understanding how best to implement efficacious ‘sit less and move more’ interventions at scale within the healthcare setting for those living with chronic diseases and elucidating the effects of sedentary behaviour on brain health. Relevant to our conversation, David has supervised many, many thriving and successful research students and has lots of excellent advice to share. You can follow David and learn more about his work here: https://baker.edu.au/research/staff/david-dunstan https://www.deakin.edu.au/about-deakin/people/david-dunstan https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-dunstan-07777a3/ https://twitter.com/DavidWDunstan Transcript: https://go.unimelb.edu.au/u24s
54. Top 6 ‘How to’ episodes: How to get your thesis written
Jun 5 2023
54. Top 6 ‘How to’ episodes: How to get your thesis written
It’s the end of another season of Let’s Talk SciComm and it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. It’s the end of our countdown of our most popular how-to episodes and coming in at number one is…… How to get your thesis written. Writing a thesis is hard! It’s probably the longest document you’ve ever had to write, and the experience is often accompanied by a tendency to procrastinate and feelings of overwhelm and imposterism. This episode will help! Jen and Michael briefly talk about their thesis writing experiences and share their top tips. But most of the episode is filled with advice and tips from eight of our UniMelb SciComm alumni who have recently written theses. They’ve been right where you are now and have so much wisdom to share! We’re thrilled that our most popular episode ever is one which comprises mostly of advice from members of our fabulous alumni. If you’re currently writing or are soon to write a thesis (or know someone who is), please listen and share! In this episode you’ll hear from Nancy Rivers Tran, Owen Missen, Samantha Ward, Xavier Busuttil-Crellin, Kade Huckstep, Adam Hagg, Emily McColl-Gausden and Lachlan Tegart. Plus here are a couple of resources to help you: How to write a Better Thesis by David Evans, Justin Zobel and Paul Gruba. Explorations of Style - A brilliant blog about academic writing. Start by checking out their "How to use this blog" page to get an idea of what articles they have to offer. The Thesis Whisperer - Another fantastic blog worth following - full of honest, upfront advice about so many different aspects of being a researcher. Patter - Another great blog about academic writing. DoctoralWriting SIG - Very useful blog covering lots of interesting and relevant topics, with an entire category dedicated to thesis writing. We’re going to take a little break now while Michael has the joy of welcoming a new baby to the family. But we’ll be back with Season 8 in July and have some fabulous episodes coming your way, including interviews with Zoos Victoria CEO Jenny Gray and science communicator extraordinaire Rachel Nowak. We’ll also be talking about how to network effectively (and enjoy it!), how to write online science stories, how to get kids excited about science, how to find a great PHD supervisor and to work well with them, how to write a great CV and job application and how to present science concisely. Thanks so much for listening, Jen and Michael
53. Top 6 ‘Best of’ episodes: How to improve your science writing
May 29 2023
53. Top 6 ‘Best of’ episodes: How to improve your science writing
We’re continuing our countdown of our most listened-to episodes and this week we’ve made it to number two. It came as no surprise to us that science writing is a topic so many of our listeners want to learn more about – being able to write clearly is such an essential skill! In 2014, Steven Pinker published a piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education titled ‘Why academic writing stinks’. While we might take offence at the notion that our writing ‘stinks’, there’s no question that the way many of us have been taught to write as researchers and scientists can be difficult for our readers to make sense of. In this episode, Michael and Jen revisit our conversation about why science writing can be so hard to read. They talk about a number of different approaches to improve the clarity and readability of our writing and chat about the style of writing that is most effective for communicating about science with non-scientific audiences. Listen for our thoughts and advice on how to improve your writing plus tips from two of our UniMelb SciComm students, Randy Mann and Steven Tang. Here are the papers we mentioned in the podcast: Medical Obfuscation: Structure and Function. It’s really worth reading this short but pointed piece by Michael Crichton published back in 1975. Specialized terminology reduces the number of citations of scientific papers. Research to suggest that if we want other scientists to cite our work, we should be avoiding using jargon – especially in the title and abstract. UN climate reports are increasingly unreadable. Jeff Tollefson’s research into the readability of ICC climate reports. The readability of scientific texts is decreasing over time. More research highlighting that science writing is getting harder to read. And this has important implications for research reproducibility. The growth of acronyms in the scientific literature. Research into the staggering increase in the use of acronyms in science papers since 1950. And if you’re looking for some great science to read, some of our favourites are Belinda Smith, Dyani Lewis, Ed Yong and Carl Zimmer.
51. Top 6 ‘Best of’ episodes: How to tackle imposter syndrome
May 15 2023
51. Top 6 ‘Best of’ episodes: How to tackle imposter syndrome
This is Season 7 and we’re excited to be revisiting our 6 most listened-to episodes. Each episode has a new introduction in which Jen and Michael chat about why we think the topic resonated so much with our listeners and what we’ve learned about the topic since it was first published. Coming in at number 4 is ‘How to tackle imposter syndrome’. On the outside you appear confident, composed and on top of your game. But on the inside, you are wracked with self-doubt. You feel like a fraud and as though someone is about to tap you on the shoulder and ask you what you think you’re doing. You’re sure you’re not good enough, experienced enough or smart enough to be doing what you’re doing. This week Jen and Michael chat about the Imposter Experience, better known as the Imposter Syndrome. Listen for our thoughts and advice on how to tackle feeling like an imposter plus tips from two of our UniMelb SciComm students, Stephanie Wong and Charlie Pattinson. Here are a few good reads to help build your understanding of imposter syndrome and how to tackle it: Imposters are us - feeling like you aren't good enough? Guess what! You're not the only one. This is Jen's take on imposter syndrome. If You Struggle With Imposter Syndrome, Scientists Might Have an Odd Solution - an important tip to help you overcome imposter syndrome. ‘I’m not worthy!’ – Imposter Syndrome in Academia - reasons why we feel imposter syndrome in academia, and how to deal with it. How I overcame impostor syndrome after leaving academia - advice on tackling the voices in your head telling you that you aren't good enough so that they don't sabotage your career. Feel like an academic fraud? Tips for shaking off imposter syndrome - some great tips on how to manage the feelings of imposter syndrome. Four tips to ward off imposter syndrome - four straightforward ways to silence your inner critic.