Tag Archives: Community

CNBP at ‘Science meets Parliament’

15 February 2018:

Four CNBP’ers attended ‘Science meets Parliament (SmP)’, a high profile political engagement STA event held in Canberra, 13-14th February, 2018.

The event gives science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals the chance to build a profile for their important work in the Parliamentary environment. This includes meeting privately with politicians to discuss areas of research expertise, as well as unique professional development opportunities focused on clarifying competing rationalities of science, politics and public policy.

The four attendees were CNBP Chief Operating Officer Kathy Nicholson, CNBP PhD student Emma Wilson from RMIT University, CNBP researcher Dr Lindsay Parker (representing Macquarie University) and Dr Sanam Mustafa (The University of Adelaide and a Superstar of STEM, Afternoon Chair on Day One of the event).

Feedback from all representatives was extremely positive with all gaining from their SmP experience.

Emma Wilson met with Western Australian Senator Slade Brockman for her Parliamentarian meeting.

“I told him about my work exploring fluorescent nanodiamonds so we can develop them as tiny light beacons to see what is happening inside our cells,” she said.

“I explained that the CNBP has created an environment where I can explore the fundamentals of the material with an application in mind.”

A major highlight for Emma was getting to meet some of her STEM heroes.

“I had a chat with Australian of the Year Professor Michelle Simmons,” she said.

“We discussed gender balance and equity and the importance of having quality mentorship for creating better scientists. We also discussed the inflexibility of institutes when it comes to accommodating people, both men and women, with carer roles.”

CNBP’s Dr Lindsay Parker was enthusiastic about the SmP event too.

“I met with MP Karen Andrews, who has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2010, representing the Division of McPherson in Queensland,” she said.

“Karen is the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills and also a co-chair of The Parliamentary Friends of Science. I explained to her how small the nanoscale is relative to things such as human hair and bacteria. I also mentioned some of the materials we work with in the Centre such as nanodiamonds, how they are fluorescent and why they are excellent nanoprobes for use in neuro-imaging.”

Lindsay continued, “I sat next to MP Craig Kelly at the Gala dinner – he’s in the House of Representatives for Hughes, New South Wales. I spoke to him about my neuroscience research and how hopefully one day we can better engineer anti-inflammatory drugs to target the correct cells with less side effects during chronic pain and Alzheimer’s. I mentioned how CNBP is an excellent multidisciplinary Centre linking biology, chemistry and physics. He asked questions about how the drugs work and when they would be ready for use in humans.”

Lindsay summed up, “All of the politicians, CEOs and organisation heads at SmP clearly recognised the need to continue to promote and improve opportunities for women in STEM industries. Senator Michaelia Cash gave a particularly inspirational and enthusiastic speech about this at the Gala dinner and I was impressed that both she and my matched MP Karen Andrews were genuinely interested in science research and improving STEM promotion as a great career in Australia.”

Below: CNBP’s Dr Lindsay Parker, COO Kathy Nicholson, Emma Wilson and Dr Sanam Mustafa at ‘Science meets Parliament’.

 

 

 

 

Outreach at Fresh Science

8 November 2017:

The world’s smallest fibre-optic probe that can simultaneously see and sense deeply inside the body (Dr Jiawen Li) and an anti-cancer drug that can be switched ‘on’ and ‘off’ inside the body to help reduce chemotherapy side effects (PhD student Kathryn Palasis). These were the research narratives developed by the two CNBP scientists who attended the ‘Fresh Science’ outreach training program on the 7th-8th November in Adelaide, South Australia.

“I had a great time participating in Fresh Science,” said Kathryn Palasis.

“We had a full day of media training which included practise interviews with journalists from TV, radio and print, who taught us how to best explain our science to the general public. We then had the opportunity to present our work to some very eager and inquisitive school students, and later had to summarise our research to a crowd at the pub in the time it took for a sparkler to burn out! It was a great learning experience and a lot of fun – plus I got to meet some really cool local researchers who are all doing exciting work.”

Dr Jiawen Li also enjoyed the experience. “What I got from the program was the ability to promote my science to the media, knowledge on how to be noticed by journalists and the experience of being interviewed, as well as broader presentation skills aimed at communicating complicated science concepts to a general audience. The two days were extremely rewarding!”

Fresh Science (run by Science in Public) is a national competition helping early-career researchers find, and then share, their stories of discovery. The program takes up-and-coming researchers with no media experience and turns them into spokespeople for science, with a day of media training and a public outreach event in their home state.

Below – Fresh Science participants. Kathryn Palasis fourth from left. Dr Jiawen Li fourth from right. Photo credit: Fresh Science/Science in Public.

 

CNBP at AstroLight Festival

23 September 2017:

CNBP scientists joined forces with astronauts, astronomers, scientists, stargazers and artists to present a night starring astronomy and light at the annual AstroLight Festival, held at Scienceworks in Melbourne, Saturday 23 September, 2017.

The public event, which attracted more than 1,500 attendees, saw eleven CNBP team members involved – giving talks, undertaking light-focused science demonstrations and hosting an interactive stall.

Specific talks included:

  • Science Fiction Science Fact – Laser Combat in Movies  from A/Prof Brant Gibson, CNBP node leader at RMIT
  • The Spark of Life – Dr Hannah Brown, CNBP Fellow from the University of Adelaide
  • Fluorescent Proteins – From Nature to the Lab from CNBP PhD student  Emma Wilson

Event feedback from A/Prof Gibson was extremely positive. “There was plenty of interest in our light-based CNBP science and some great questions from the public both young and old. The team really pulled together to make our participation such a success – both on the night and in the lead up activity, and with the development of the displays and demonstrations.”

Below – The CNBP team ready to do outreach!

Children’s University Regional Lecture Series

17 September 2017:

Georgina Sylvia, CNBP researcher, was recently involved in two outreach events organised as part of the Children’s University Regional Lecture Series, which aims to stimulate interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM subjects) for school children in Years 6-9.

At the first event at Renmark, she presented exciting chemistry demonstrations to year 7 and 8 students from the local community at the McCormick Centre for the Environment. The students were engaged in groups of 25 and encouraged to participate in the experiments and to ask and discuss science related queries.

The best quote of the day heard by Georgina – “Chemistry is awesome!”

The second outreach event was held at ‘Riverland Field Days’, 15-16th September, 2017. This community event is held annually “showcasing horticultural, agricultural and general farming products and services along with many general exhibitors.”

Children’s University, as a part of the Regional Lecture Series, set up a stall where Georgina and other researchers demonstrated and engaged kids in activities such as Engineering (building catapults from popsicle sticks), Chemistry (Slime making) and Biology (an aroma-sensory panel activity).

Feedback from Georgina – “The best part of this event was encouraging parents and caregivers to get involved in the activities with their kids, and to learn things together. Another great experience for me was encouraging a little girl to get involved in the catapult-making engineering activity, and seeing her so excited to participate!”

Below – Georgina (second right) at the Field Days event.

CNBP science at the Calyx

12 September 2017:

CNBP researchers Dr Denitza Denkova and Dr Martin Ploschner took their luminescence and fluorescence science expertise to the general public, at a special after-hours event known as ‘Science at the Calyx’ at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney.

Presenting to an audience of approximately sixty people, the CNBP scientists focused on giving members of the public information about the origins of luminescence and examples of it being used – from everyday life to medical applications, and the amazing natural phenomenon of bioluminescence which can be found in plants, animals and fungi.

Following the hour long talk, there were demonstrations including the use of fluorescent bubbles, a ‘magical’ fluorescent screen, the showing of several fluorescent specimens and an examination of fluorescence in money and documents for security purposes. There was also as ample time for attendees to talk to the researchers about their work with fluorescent molecules and nanoparticles.

According to Dr Denkova, the event was highly rewarding.

“There was plenty of opportunity for personal interaction which was embraced by attendees. Many had an interest in the medical applications related to fluorescence, but there were also great questions on practical everyday activities – such as how to paint bikes with fluorescent paint to help improve road safety. Following the talk, people had the chance to walk around the beautiful garden with a UV torch in their hand to discover for themselves which plants are fluorescent. Both Martin and myself enjoyed communicating our science to a wider public!”

School tour of Braggs labs

31 August 2017:

Caritas College students visiting the University of Adelaide for a ‘science day’ were shown around laboratory spaces in the Braggs Building by CNBP PHD students Kathryn Palasis (pictured) and Georgina Sylvia.

The 23 Year 9 school students were given a tour through a synthetic chemistry lab and then spoke with both CNBP researchers about the work being done and their journeys through University. This was followed by a further tour through a fibre-optics laboratory.

According to Kathryn, “The students seemed engaged and interested, particularly with the fibre-optics tour. And feedback from Amy (who organised the day) was that the students enjoyed it and that the teachers were very appreciative. Personally I spoke to a girl who said she was interested in studying science at university which was very pleasing to hear, and hopefully we encouraged others to see it as an appealing career path as well.”

Talking science at UoA Open Day

20 August 2017:

CNBP volunteers at the University of Adelaide Open Day took the opportunity to set-up a stand and to demonstrate Centre related science, Sunday 20th August, 2017.

The Open Day, showcasing programs, facilities, and options for student study at the University, saw many thousands of visitors to Campus and the CNBP team was ready!

CNBP experiments and demonstrations were on offer, ranging from the opportunity to play with lasers, through to checking out spinal-cord cells through a microscope.

And for those visitors to the stand who really wanted to know more about the innovative biophotonics science that the CNBP undertakes, there were giveaway goodies including t-shirts, drink bottles, pens and brochures.

Below: CNBP researcher Vicky Staikopoulos encouraging members of the public to ‘Ask about science.’

CNBP at Macquarie Uni Open Day

19 August 2017:

‘The power of light to measure’ was the phrase commonly expressed by Centre researchers staffing the CNBP stand at this year’s Macquarie University Open Day.

This was in response to potential University students and their family members, who were looking to find out more about nanoscale biophotonics as well as to better understand potential opportunities that might be open to graduates who successfully gain a degree in biology, physics or chemistry.

Many of the visitors left the CNBP stand impressed as to the broad application of biophotonics in the healthcare, food safety and manufacturing sectors. They also learnt more about the current activities of the CNBP, particularly in creating new sensing and imaging technologies to better understand molecular activity taking place within the living body.

The Open Day at Macquarie University saw many thousands of people visit Campus and engage with both staff and current students, in their exploration of courses open for undergraduate study.

Below, CNBP researchers Dr Wei Deng (left) and Dr Lianmei Jiang (right) get ready to talk nanoscale biophotonics as the doors open at the 2017 MQ Uni Open Day.

 

Girls in Physics

15 August 2017:

Emma Wilson, CNBP PhD student has participated in a ‘Girls in Physics’ outreach program run by the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network in Melbourne, August 15, 2017.

The program, a breakfast event whereby female scientists working in physics or related areas, are teamed up with a table of Year 11/12 female students, is an opportunity to encourage young women to take up further studies in STEMM related subjects after high school.

“This year the main speaker presenting was Katie Mack, an Astrophysicist,” says Emma.

“The aim of the breakfast is to inspire young women and to have people such as myself on hand to answer any questions the students might have regarding a career as a scientist.”