Outreach is something that is really close to my heart, and I'm really passionate about it!  Below, you'll find a description of some of my past and present outreach activities.


What I do in 60 seconds (plus some bloopers!)

Here is a short video of me explaining what I do in 60 seconds.  At the end are some bloopers that occurred during filming - mostly just for fun, but also because this science thing is full of advances, learning, and mistakes!  I thank Jess and Christiana for helping me with filming, and I do hope you enjoy it.

Australian Girl’s Day (2019)

This is the biggest career orientation project for girls worldwide.  In partnership with the Goethe Institut, girls from years 7 and 8 get to visit companies and universities to experience STEM. In my role as a STEM ambassador, I spent a morning being interviewed by groups of girls and an afternoon doing some simple lab experiments.

The 2018 Curious Minds group. Picture Ann Rolfe.

The 2018 Curious Minds group. Picture Ann Rolfe.

Curious Minds (2018-2019)

Since 2017, I have been part of the Curious Minds initiative - a program that aims to foster experience and enjoyment in STEM subjects of gifted high school girls with limited opportunities.

In 2018, I was mentor to high school student, Olivia.  Olivia's from Perth, and we worked on a project that ties together:

  1. Invasive species

  2. Antarctica

  3. Mars

  4. Adaptation

How, you ask???

Well, we brainstormed biological invasions in Antarctica, and linked that to the potential for biological invasions to happen on other planets, such as Mars.  We were particularly thinking about whether or not species from Earth could adapt to survive on Mars!  Olivia did a great job presenting the project at the Curious Minds winter camp in Sydney in July 2018.

Curious Minds 2019: What mentoring looks like in lego! Emily and I build a small model of the mentoring relationship as we perceive it - think bridges being climbed, flags being raised, etc!

Curious Minds 2019: What mentoring looks like in lego! Emily and I build a small model of the mentoring relationship as we perceive it - think bridges being climbed, flags being raised, etc!

In the 2019 round of Curious Minds, I’m working with Emily, who is from Ulladulla (NSW). We’re trying to work out how crickets respond to stress. Emily is exposing populations of crickets to various daily treatments (e.g., a cold exposure in the fridge, loneliness, ‘crowdedness’, listening to music) and then measuring life-span. We want to see if lifespan is significantly shorter after exposure to certain treatments. Emily is doing a great job so far; we’ve been chatting regularly and I’m looking forward to seeing her again in person at the Winter camp later this year!

STEM X Academy 2019

In January 2019, through my affiliation with CSIRO, I participated in the STEM X Academy. This initiative involves a five-day residential teacher professional learning program open to Australian teachers across all sectors and levels of experience. My role was to directly meet with teachers and help them to develop hands-on, enquiry-based lessons and activities for use in their classrooms. For our project, my group designed a way to identify Varroa mite early so that it can be quickly dealt with before causing damage to local bee colonies. The group came up with a unique plan involving microscopic cameras (to be placed within bee hives) and machine learning, the aim of which would be to detect abnormalities in bee movement with the appearance of the mite.

As part of this event, I also gave a keynote presentation, where I explained my research to a very enthusiastic group of about 50 high school teachers.

RSB HDR Mentoring

CSIRO Work Placement

As part of the CSIRO Work Experience Program, I hosted Lyneham high school student, Nada, for a week at ANU. 

While here, Nada helped out with a fish experiment, she saw live moths as well as pinned museum specimens, she completed a small population genomics computer project with me, she came to lab meeting, and she met and chatted with lots of interesting researchers to find out what it's like to be a scientist!

At ANU, we have a Higher Degree Research (HDR) Mentoring program in the Research School of Biology

In 2018, I mentored PhD student, Upul, as part of the program, over the course of a ~7 month period.  Upul and I met regularly to discuss his project, his life (including as a very new Dad!), and what it's like to be a PhD student in RSB!

National Science Week 2018

As part of CSIRO's STEM in Schools Program, I visited Forrest Primary School in Canberra as a representative STEM professional on 10th August in the build-up to National Science Week 2018.  I talked to the Y5 students (~ ten year olds) about my adventures with fieldwork in Antarctica, preparing some special slides with gorgeous photos like the one on my home page. The students were so curious and had so many great questions - their enthusiasm was contagious and very rewarding!

Tutoring for Y9 students

In 2018, Telopea Park School in Canberra organised a science challenge for their Y9 students (~15 year olds).  The winners earned a trip to Hobart to visit the French scientific boat, L'Astrolabe.  

To participate, students needed to complete a science project on a subject that is linked with the Astrolabe in some way.  

I worked as a tutor (August to December) with a group of students on their projects, guiding them and facilitating their learning about how the scientific process works in practice.  The students designed an experiment focusing specifically on the Antarctic terrestrial ecosystem, testing the resistance of certain plants (algae, lichen, bryophytes) in cold, near Antarctic conditions.