In Situ Science
Ep 90. Beards, phobias and implicit biases with Belinda Craig

Ep 90. Beards, phobias and implicit biases with Belinda Craig

December 8, 2019

SPECIAL GUEST: Belinda Craig (UNE) 

How well can we read other people’s faces? And how good are we at faking our own emotional responses? Turns out not to great. In the absence of other contextual cues people are not very good at reading peoples facial expressions. Add to that the fact that cultural differences can have a huge impact on what emotions are expressed and how. As humans we are inherently biased towards favourably reading the expressions of people within our own groups. Even things like facial hair can affect how emotions are perceived.

Belinda Craig is ‘not that kind of psychologist’ from the University of New England. She studies how the social groups we belong to affect how we perceive emotions. In this chat with In Situ Science we chat to Belinda about fluctuating fashion trends in the world of beards, spider phobias and why we have them, and why you shouldn’t fall asleep in an FMRI machine. 

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper - www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 89. Tiny gardeners and environmental educators with Matthew McKenzie

Ep 89. Tiny gardeners and environmental educators with Matthew McKenzie

November 25, 2019

SPECIAL GUEST: Matthew McKenzie (Thalgarrah EEC)

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Matthew McKenzie is the principal and head teacher of a public school with a difference. Thalgarrah Environmental Education Centre is located in the woodlands outside of Armidale in regional NSW. It is part of a network of environmental and zoo education centres across NSW that provide other schools with a base for excursions, camps and experiences focussed on using nature as a learning and teaching resource.

In this interview with In Situ Science Matt talks about the importance of connecting with nature in the classroom and how school students have the opportunity to not just learn about science, but be scientists by taking part in real-world science experiments. We chat about the Tiny Gardeners Project, an upcoming citizen science project where school groups across Australia can participate and learn about how ants are Australia’s ‘tiny gardeners’ planting tree seeds across our vast country.

Find out more about the Tiny Gardeners Project here, and about the Thalgarrah Environmental Education Centre here.

 

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper - www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 88. Video games, dentistry and ageing basketballers with Michael Kasumovic

Ep 88. Video games, dentistry and ageing basketballers with Michael Kasumovic

November 10, 2019

SPECIAL GUEST: Michael Kasumovic (UNSW)

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After a brief stint trying to become a dentist, Michael Kasumovic found his true calling studying the ecology and evolution of spiders. That was until he found another calling studying everything else from performance in professional athletes, how income can affect facial preferences, and how sex and social status can influence people’s behaviour in online videogames. Not content with simply being a prolific research scientist Mike decided to start his own educational company developing apps that can be used to teach scientific concepts and principles in the classroom.

Arludo was developed to provide school teachers with tools to engage students with active and exploratory challenges that helps them develop problem solving and collaboration skills. Teachers can join in on YouTube live sessions to see Arludo in action or try out there freely available apps.

Follow Michael on Twitter @mkasumovic, visit his website, or check out the Arludo website to find out more about their educational apps for the classroom

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper - www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 87. Communication, education and science speed dating with Isabelle Kingsley

Ep 87. Communication, education and science speed dating with Isabelle Kingsley

October 27, 2019

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SPECIAL GUEST: Isabelle Kingsley (UNSW)

From school teacher, to science communicator, to events producer, and now researcher, Isabelle Kingsley has spent her career spanning widely different areas of science education and outreach. She founded the Sydney Science Festival in 2015 which has grown into an annual festival attended by over 80,000 people. While she was running the Sydney Science Festival she began to wonder what sort of educational impact public science events actually have.

This inspired her to undertake her PhD at the University of New South Wales where she is developing methods to quantify what people actually learn from public science events. Despite the proliferation of science communication and outreach across the world we actually don’t know how effective these initiatives are at increasing science literacy and comprehension. Isabelle’s work will help improve the efforts of science communicators and educators and help make science engagement more effective into the future.

Visit Isabelle’s website to find out more or follow her research and outreach journey on Twitter and Instagram @isabellekingsley

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper - www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 86. Science puns and stand-up comedy with Benji Kessler

Ep 86. Science puns and stand-up comedy with Benji Kessler

October 13, 2019

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SPECIAL GUEST: Benji Kessler (UC)

Benji Kessler is a man of many talents, he studies the behaviour of spiders, teaches mathematics to school kids, does stand-up comedy and looks great in a Spider-Man costume. Benji is currently visiting Australia from the USA where he is doing his PhD at the University of California. He was nice enough to sit down for a chat to talk about how a severe arachnophobe managed to forge a career in science studying the visual and vibratory signalling behaviours of spiders.

In this interview we talk about how a life spent doing both science and comedy can interact and how sometimes you’re not sure which one you are doing. We discuss whether you can be a stupid scientist, whether you HAVE to be stupid to be a scientist, and how far can you push the limits with putting puns in your research paper titles. At In Situ Science we strongly believe that great discoveries come from the amazing and unique individuals that do research, and Benji Kessler is the perfect example. His sheer passion and joy for what he does makes him a great scientist and one hell of a podcast guest.

Search for Benji Kessler on YouTube to see some of his stand-up comedy or follow him on twitter @BenjiKessler

 

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper - www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 85. Theory vs reality, and dancing in the middle with Alva Curtsdotter

Ep 85. Theory vs reality, and dancing in the middle with Alva Curtsdotter

September 29, 2019

SPECIAL GUEST: Alva Curtsdotter (UNE)

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Some scientists go out in to the field, collect data and conduct experiments to test their hypotheses. Other scientists conduct their experiments inside a computer. Alva Curtsdotter is a theoretical ecologist that studies the behaviour of animal populations across natural landscapes,  but instead of spending her time surveying and measuring real world populations she runs computer simulations to see how animal populations may respond in the future to things like climate change and environmental disturbance.

In this interview we discuss how empirical and theoretical approaches to science are both necessary to gain a thorough understanding of the world around us, but to make that work we need scientists who are able to understand both so that empirical and theoretical scientists can communicate effectively. As always we discover that everything in science can be likened to some kind of pop culture reference and, when pressed for relevance, sports references can always do the trick.

 

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper - www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 84. Barns, broilers and big things with Natalie Morgan

Ep 84. Barns, broilers and big things with Natalie Morgan

September 16, 2019

SPECIAL GUEST: Natalie Morgan (UNE)

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Chicken is big business and the science behind poultry nutrition is an incredibly precise mix of chemistry and biology. As the market for poultry continues to increase worldwide there is ongoing need to industry to improve the efficiency and sustainability of chicken feed. Natalie Morgan is a poultry nutrition expert who works to understand how the diets fed to livestock can be modified to improve overall animal health and yield.

In this interview we talk about the connection that people have to their food in a society where most people are getting their food from supermarkets rather than farmers and growers. We also talk about the difference between caged, barn reared and free-range chickens, and pitch ideas for new ‘big thing’ tourist attractions.

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper - www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 83. Life Vs Science 2019

Ep 83. Life Vs Science 2019

September 2, 2019

Live from the Django Bar         

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In Situ Science returned to the Django Bar to celebrate National Science Week and the Sydney Science Festival. This year we we’re joined by Cameron Webb (USyd and NSW Health), Katherina Petrou (UTS), Fonti Kar (UNSW) and Samuel Bannister (USyd) who shared stories about everything from studying marine algae in Antarctic sea ice, to fishing for komodo dragons with giant genetically engineered mosquitos.

We asked our panel important questions about careers in science such as ‘do you have a plan B’ and ‘whats the weirdest thing you have been bitten by?’ We discovered a range of new scientific terms including ‘bum snorkels’ and ‘Devil’s lettuce’ and once again we tested the wits and wisdom of our panel with a ‘guess that ology’ quiz. Katherina Petrou was named smartest scientist of the night and took home one of our much sought after In Situ Science trophies.

Thanks to the Django Bar for having us back once again and to our amazing Sydney Science Festival Volunteers.

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper - www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 82. Emu farming, pregnancy tips and Bill Nye the Science Guy with Andrew Katsis

Ep 82. Emu farming, pregnancy tips and Bill Nye the Science Guy with Andrew Katsis

August 19, 2019

SPECIAL GUEST: Andrew Katsis (Deakin)

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A single tweet can make all the difference, or at least it did for Andrew Katsis, who decided to get involved in the #billmeetsciencetwitter trend. Little did he know that his tweet would be seen by American television producers, who decided to fly Andrew over to LA to talk about this research on the Netflix show ‘Bill Nye Saves the World’. Andrew’s research looks at how bird calls can affect the development of chicks while they still inside their eggs.

Andrew’s life in ornithology had a bumpy start as he grew up on his family’s emu farm and was terrorised by the giant birds roaming their property. The birds he studies now are much smaller and more manageable, but no less fascinating. Andrew is also a co-founder of Lateral Magazine, a freely available popular science magazine driven by early career scientists.

Check out Lateral Magazine here, follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_katsis, and check out his research website here.

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper - www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 81. Harry potter, taxonomy and academic publishing with Tom Saunders

Ep 81. Harry potter, taxonomy and academic publishing with Tom Saunders

August 4, 2019

SPECIAL GUEST: Tom Saunders (U of Auckland)

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Tom Saunders experienced a burst of scientific fame after naming a newfound species of wasp Lusius malfoyi, after the beloved and maligned Harry Potter character Lucius Malfoy. Naming new species after pop culture figures has become a useful tool for enhancing public awareness taxonomy and biodiversity research. Taking this strategy though has to be handled delicately as paying homage to beloved fictional characters can upset both traditional taxonomists and hardcore pop-culture fans.

 

Tom Saunders studies the biology of agricultural pests and biocontrol agents at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. In this interview we talk about the importance of fundamental biological research for enhancing applied agricultural research. We also chat about the strange beast that is the academic publishing system and how it needs to be improved into the future.

Follow Tom on Twitter @TomSaundersNZ and visit his research website here.

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper - www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com