Science

Commmunication: Fresh Science state finalists

Wednesday, 22 May, 2013
Deborah Smith

Five early-stage researchers have taken part in the NSW state finals of the Fresh Science competition, learning how best to communicate their science to journalists, business and the public.

They were chosen for the one-day workshop, held earlier this month in Sydney, on the basis of the quality and newsworthiness of their research.

In July, the top candidates from across Australia will be flown to Melbourne to participate in a four-day long program. They will have more intensive media training before their research findings are released to the Australian and international media.

UNSW Science’s five state finalists were:

Dr Robin Beck (Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences) for his research on fossil marsupials

Dr Angela Crean (Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences) for her research on sea squirts

Dr Alex Donald (Chemistry) for his research on metallic nanowires

Dr Shayne McGregor (Climate Change Research Centre) for his research on El Nino events

Andrew Ong (Physics) for his research on atomic clocks

Two engineering researchers, Ummul Baneen and Chaofan Wu, also participated, giving UNSW a total of seven out of the 14 NSW finalists.

Mr Ong said the mock interviews with reporters from TV, radio and print was an enlightening experience: “Young scientists certainly benefit from being informed about the channels that they can use to get their research out into the public domain.”

Dr Crean added: “It was great to meet reporters from different media outlets and to learn how we can help them get the most out of a story while remaining true to the science.”

Dr Beck said the media training was a great experience, but also very challenging:  “I also really enjoyed hearing about the fantastic research being carried out by the other competitors, both at UNSW and other institutions.”

Hearing the event organisers, Niall Byrne and Sarah Brooker, from Science in Public, provide a concise account of the research was a standout memory for Dr McGregor.

“They listened intently to the often long-winded details of each finalist’s research and responded with a simple, succinct summary,” he said.