Ep 20. Global Astronomy Month with Christie McMonigal

April 3, 2017


April is Global Astronomy Month (GAM) and to kick things off In Situ Science had a chat with GAM co-ordinator Christie McMonigal. Christie is a science communicator with a background in astronomy and ancient history. When Christie isn't running outreach events at the University of Technology, Sydney, or raising small children, she works with Astronomers Without Borders bringing astronomy skills and awareness to all corners of the globe. 

In this interview Christie shares how a fascination with ancient greek mythology led her to fully appreciate the night sky above us and how it unites us all across space and time. You can also hear Christie on the STEMpunk podcast where they chat about all things science communication. 

Find out more about Global Astronomy Month at the Astronomers Without Borders website - http://astronomerswithoutborders.org/global-astronomy-month-2016.html

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Ep 19. Program or be programmed with Kelly Tagalan

March 20, 2017



“Program or be programmed”

  • Douglas Rushkoff


Understanding how to read and write code is becoming essential in the rapidly advancing digital world that we live in. By preparing the next generation with the skills to write code we are ensuring that we control technology and not the other way around.  

In an interview with In Situ Science general manager of Code Club Australia Kelly Tagalan tells us why it is so important to make coding education accessible and universal. Code Club Australia is a charity that hopes to get every kid in Australia the opportunity to learn to code. They do this by training school teachers and setting up free coding workshops run by volunteers in schools libraries and community centres. 

To donate, volunteer or find a code club near you visit www.codeclubau.org

Follow Code Club Australia on twitter @CodeClubAus or follow Kelly @kellytagalan

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Ep 18. Space, Startups and Saucepans with Solange Cunin

March 5, 2017


The space industry is more than just astronauts and moon landings. It is essential for maintaining satellites, keeping our telecommunications running and collecting data about earths environments. Australia however doesn’t have its own space industry and has to rely on other countries to monitor our landscapes and and keep our phones lines working. According to many commentators it is time that this changed and Australia should start investing in space programs. 

Entrepreneurs Solange Cunin and Sebastian Chaoui are finding unique ways to get Australia into space with their educational startup Cuberider. Schools can take part in real life space missions by programming data sensors that are sent up to the international space station. Its an amazing world we live in when school kids can become pioneering space explorers and learn about science, space and technology all at the same time. 

In an interview with In Situ Science Solange Cunin tells us about how an early fascination with the stars, inculcated in her by her ‘hippy’ parents, lead to her studying mathematics and starting a career in space exploration and startup development. To find out more and get involved in the Cuberider program visit www.cuberider.com


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Ep 17. Orchid hunting, bird spotting and book writing with Julia Cooke

February 20, 2017


“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living."

- David Attenborough


All you need to do is look and you will find that the natural world holds endless wonders. Scientists that spend their careers studying the natural environment delve into a world beyond the superficial. The grasses and plants around us are not mere scenery, they tell the story of life, of the organisms that they are and the environments that they have formed in. On each leaf, within every stream and under every rock are more creatures, each with a dynamic life story of their own waiting to be be told by natural historians. 


In an interview with In Situ Science Dr Julia Cooke takes us into her ‘little world’. On a walk through Lane Cove National park in search of duck orchids Julia takes us on a journey through the natural history of Australia and her passion for the elusive and beautiful creatures that are hidden all around us. In fact she even wrote a children’s book about it ‘My Little World’, illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall. Her passion for discovery is matched only by her delight in sharing these stories with her family and friends, her students and the public. 


Find out more about Julia and her work at www.juliacooke.net and follow her on twitter @CookeJulia


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Ep 16. Exploration, Entrepreneurs and Abyss Solutions with Dr Nasir Ahsan

February 7, 2017


Scientists can find their skills having enormous impacts beyond the walls of academia. In many cases people with scientific training make wonderful entrepreneurs. Their skills in developing ideas and managing projects, combined with their self motivation and dedication to long term goals has already prepared them for the dynamic challenges of business development and management. 

Dr Nasir Ahsan began his scientific career researching and developing autonomous robots. The tantalising lure of the unknown led him to develop a passion for deep sea exploration and discovery. In this interview with In Situ Science he tells the story of how navigating a remote operated submarine to the unexplored depths of the ocean floor inspired him to start his own company, Abyss Solutions. Nasir and his team are developing underwater ‘drones’ that can navigate autonomously underwater and collect information about the environment around them. Using this technology they can monitor underwater infrastructure such as dam walls, reservoirs and pipelines. Using robots lets them use specialised sensors to explore areas too difficult or dangerous for divers.

For more information visit www.abysssolutions.co, follow them @AbyssSolutions, or visit their YouTube Channel.


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Ep 15. Knödel, computing and tin foil hat stuff with Tim Kahlke

January 28, 2017


In this age of big data even scientists can struggle to keep up with the massive amounts of information available to them. With exponential advances in data storage and computation new fields of science are opening up and new types of scientific professionals are emerging. Bioinformatics is a rapidly growing field using computer programming to organise, analyse and interpret large scale datasets in new an exciting ways. 


In an interview with In Situ Science, bioinformatician and marine ecologist Dr Tim Kahlke introduces us to the power of programming in science, but also talks openly about the responsible use of this power. Tim uses large datasets of bacterial genomes to understand the responses of microbial communities to climate change. He also makes a mean Knödel and is maybe a little bit freaked out about Skynet taking over the planet.


FFollow Tim on twitter @TimKahlke and visit the Climate Change Cluster website.


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Ep 14. Rage lizards, snake probes and turtle tunnels with James Baxter Gilbert

January 11, 2017


If you catch a scientist in action, chances are they will be doing something strange. After all the entire profession involves pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and conducting experiments that have never been done before. In this pursuit scientists find themselves coming up with creative solutions to new problems. 


In this interview James Baxter Gilbert tells tales of his adventures trouble shooting snake probes, protecting threatened species and avoiding bear attacks. His journey as a scientist and herpetologist has taken him from his homeland of Canada to the holy land of reptiles that is Australia. He now spends his days chasing rage lizards in canoes and stealing their babies, best listen to the interview…


Follow James on Twitter @JamesBG_27 or check out www.whitinglab.com

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

Ep 13. Red light spider fights and scientific storytelling with Leilani Walker

December 11, 2016


Scientist, communicator, singer, story teller and card shark Leilani Walker is an upcoming force in New Zealand science and exploration. Along with scientific illustrator Emma Scheltema, Leilani is launching a new initiative to raise awareness of New Zealand’s unique insect fauna by designing an insect themed set of playing cards. Pre-orders for the ‘Insects of New Zealand’ playing cards are online now!

Order your own set of Insects of New Zealand playing cards here

On the podcast Leilani philosophises on the use of language in scientist and how scientists are able to tell stories through their writing. Leilani put this in to practice herself as she shares her passion for science and exploration and how it has lead her to conduct a PhD studying the combative mating systems of sheet-web spiders. 

Check out Leilani’s blog here or follow her on twitter @Lanipai

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Ep 12. Ants, ants and more ants with Ravindra Palavalli Nettimi

November 30, 2016


Doing a PhD can be a life changing experience. For Ravindra Palavalli Nettimi pursuing a PhD has meant travelling across the globe and challenging himself to expand and grow as a person. 

In an interview with in situ Science Ravindra takes us through how the evolution of ant colonies have uncovered some remarkable solutions to some problems humans now face in our large interconnected societies. 

Ravindra also hosts his own podcast 'Just Questions' where he discusses the importance of asking the right questions in science.

Visit Ravindra's website here - http://rvndrpn.wixsite.com/ravindra

Follow Ravindra on twitter here - https://twitter.com/ravindra_pn

Listen to Just Questions here - https://soundcloud.com/user-951555253

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Ep 11. Faecal transplants, biological warfare and phage hunting with Heather Hendrickson

November 14, 2016


Antibiotic resistance is on the rise. The overuse of antibiotics has lead to the evolution of highly dangerous antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Dr Heather Hendrickson is a research scientist and science communicator from Massey University in New Zealand. Her research group is at the front line of understanding how other forms of treatment can be used as alternatives to broad spectrum antibiotics. In an interview with in situ science she takes us through her research into bacteriophage therapy: finding viruses that will target and kill pathogenic bacteria.  

The fun doesn’t stop there though as we continue on to discuss faecal transplants, science communication and how a child growing up in a conservative religious family becomes an influential evolutionary biologist. 

Find out more about Heather’s research here and read her thoughts on the This Microbial Life blog. 

Follow Heather on Twitter @DrHHNZ

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