This is quite a bumper digital issue
Next month will be Fascination of Plants Day May Monday 18th 2020. This year because of coronavirus, the event will not be coordinated by the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO) out of Brussels and they are asking us to broaden our social media portfolio. Please respect your national regulation and restriction regarding the coronavirus and share your online/digital events on Twitter @PlantDay18May with the hashtags #FoPD and #plantday
For example, post photos of your house plants……
or digital courses such as…..
During this time, many teachers and tutors are moving to online courses. Please make use of Plants in Action to prepare your teaching 🙂
World Earth Day Wednesday 22nd April 2020 – goes digital!
SCIENCE MEETS PARLIAMENT 2019
At the end of November 2019, I represented the ASPS at Science meets Parliament. It was a full-on, intense but very enjoyable couple of days. There were excellent seminars, incredibly constructive workshops, useful and interesting networking opportunities and a chance to talk to people who did science things that I wasn’t aware of or had a clue about.
The first day started with a breakfast meeting with other with “ecosystem science” societies – a chance to meet and chat to life science people outside my research area.
Afterwards and dressed nicely (clear instructions were provided with what to wear), we started the first day.
Presentations, seminars and workshops was the order of the day. The importance of communicating with MPs, the responsibility of all scientist to share their expertise and that we needed to work together with politician was emphasised. Winthrop Professor Fiona Wood gave an inspiring presentation. And the workshops and seminars of how to communicate and pitch your science were enlightening and a bit of an education.
The Gala Dinner was the social highlight of the event. Good food, excellent seminars and wonderful table companions. I sat next to a guy who is improving maths education in Indigenous communities, and it was fascinating to hear about his work.
I also met Brian Mitchell, Federal Member of Lyons, Tasmania, to whom I was assigned. He happened to be born 20 km from where I was in the UK, so that was a good start. I invited him to come and visit the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, which he did in January this year. An excellent birthday evening for me!
More seminars and workshops on the second day, plus a chance to more formally meet Mr Brian Mitchell. I didn’t get much chance to talk to him – he was called away for a “division”. But I did get him to agree to put himself forward for the STEM Ambassador Programme, which he did. I am now an Ambassador, representing the ASPS, with him as my partner MP.
The absolute best bit of the whole event though was Question Time. It was the time of the Angus Taylor affair, so it was particularly entertaining – and loud! Much more boisterous than the UK equivalent.
So, a brilliant couple of days and I would advise anyone who gets the chance, go to this event.
Ricky Milne – CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Black Mountain, Canberra
I was fortunate to be one of this year’s ASPS representatives at Science meets Parliament, held in November 2019. Science meets Parliament is a two-day meeting held annually in Canberra, where STEM professionals learn how science fits in to the workings of parliament and the policy making process, network with others from broad scientific backgrounds and have the opportunity to meet with a parliamentarian to give them a snapshot of their science. Given I don’t closely follow politics, this meeting was extremely useful and informative.
The bar was set high on the first morning, with the opening address given by renowned burns specialist, Winthrop Professor Fiona Wood. She shared her experiences of science and innovation in her career, and the importance of communicating our research findings. We also heard from Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel and NZ’s Chief Science Advisor Prof. Gary Evans, who discussed prospects for the future and how to talk science to government. A major focus of this meeting was on developing skills and practicing how to pitch our research in a brief, accessible format, working towards putting this training into practice whilst meeting with a parliamentarian on the second day. Part of this was learning how to capture the audience’s interest in shorter and shorter time periods, until we could do so convincingly in twenty seconds. I was fortunate to practice my pitch with Prof. Fiona Wood, who was extremely down-to-earth and unsurprisingly gave me some great tips. After a packed schedule of networking, skill building and panel discussions, the day concluded at the gala dinner held in the Great Hall at Parliament House.
On day two, we ventured to Parliament House and saw what that goes on during a sitting day – constant bells ringing, parliamentarians scurrying around to vote in time, last minute schedule changes and Prime Minister getting grilled during question time about his phone call to the NSW police chief. After learning how to pitch our science on day one, we were ready to put that into practice when meeting with a parliamentarian on day two. Meetings weren’t scheduled until late and changed up until the last minute. After attending question time, our group was due to meet with Dr John McVeigh, member for Groom, but were rescheduled to meet with Meryl Swanson, member for Paterson, who had other matters to attend but we had a good discussion with her chief of staff. This exemplified the nature of how things unfold at Parliament House.
Science meets Parliament isn’t the typical meeting and I did not know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. I would highly recommend it to anyone considering attending. However, after two days of wearing a suit and uncomfortable shoes, I learned that I definitely prefer casual clothes and a lab coat!
This year ComBio 2020 in Melbourne has been delayed until 2022.
In coming months, stay tuned and watch this space for ASPS society 2020 award webinars.
Last months Phytogen
Last months Phytogen had an article about the Canadian company Medicago researching to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Australians are also researching to develop a vaccine from Australian Native Plants