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.
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!
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.
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!”
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.”
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.’
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.
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.”
13 August 2017:
Over 400 interested members of the public, including prospective students, dropped by the CNBP laboratories as a part of RMIT University’s annual Open Day event, Sunday 13th August, 2017.
The Centre had two optics laboratories open and both were fully staffed by researchers eager to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for science.
In the first laboratory, an Olympus wide field microscope was on display with a live-cell incubation chamber and a daphnia (water flea), with brightfield and fluorescence videos.
In the other, a cryogenic confocal microscope was on show, which is able to look at the optical properties of nanomaterials, down to temperatures of 4K (which is -269 deg C).
According to CNBP node leader at RMIT, A/Prof Brant Gibson, the day was a great success.
“We saw a large, interested and engaged crowd who really wanted to find out more about our research and activity, and were curious as to how nanoscale biophotonics was going to impact society over coming years.”
There was also a large number of prospective students who visited and talked with CNBP team members. They had a wonderfully diverse range of interests ranging across the physics, chemistry, biology, IT and engineering disciplines.”
“It was fantastic to see the next generation of excited young scientist!”
15 June 2017:
Dr Nima Sayyadi, CNBP researcher, has undertaken guest judging duties at the 2017 Sydney Girls High School Science Conference.
Each year students at Sydney Girls High School complete a research project as part of the NSW Science Curriculum. This project provides Year 9 students with an opportunity to design and perform an investigation into an area of their choice. The annual Science Conference then gives the students a forum where they can present their research to an expert panel.
The panel not only provides students with feedback relating to their investigation, but also determines the projects worthy of further recognition. The determination considers both experimental design and the ability of the student to communicate their ideas.
According to Nima, the standard of work on display was of an incredibly high standard.
“The way that the young students designed their research projects – the hypotheses and preparation and understanding of data limitations was generally quite remarkable.”
Projects being showcased included DNA extraction from fruits with limited facilities through to the analysis of the plastic waste found in water on different beaches in Sydney.
“It was a great experience for me to meet the students, teachers, and other judges from different universities at this event,” concluded Nima.
“Hopefully the passion that these students show for science continues through High School and into tertiary education and beyond.”