Life vs Science

Life vs Science: Live Podcast Recording

When: 16th of August 7pm

Where: Camelot Lounge, Railway Parade, Marrickville NSW

Bookings: TBC

It is the searing agony you feel when you find inaccuracies in science fiction movies. It is checking your pedometer hourly, not because you have to, but because you want to. Being a scientist is not just a profession, it is a way of life.

Join us in celebrating the Sydney Science Festival with a live podcast recording.  A panel of Sydney scientists and podcasters will take us on a comedic journey through the passions and pitfalls a life in science. It will cover important topics such as the imminent uprising of introverts, and why you shouldn’t refer to your first born as a ‘pilot study’ in public.

Featuring Shane Hengst (UNSW, STEMpunk), Leigh Nicholson (USyd), Alice Williamson (USyd, Dear Science) and James O’Hanlon (UNE, In Situ Science).

Bookings available soon!

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Ep 23. Sneaky skinks and things that are pink with Julia Riley

Reptiles are not usually considered the friendliest of animals, nor are they generally considered ‘social’ animals in the same way mammals and insects are. But recent research is showing us that we have underestimated our cold-blooded companions, and that lizards can form complex social networks.

Julia Riley from Macquarie University talks about her PhD research on Egernia skinks and the social groups that they live in. We meet her dog Dundee and chat about how a childhood fear of snakes gradually morphed into a fiery passion for all things herpetological! Along the way we get a tour of Julia’s house and garden and find all sorts of shenanigans along the way.

Follow Julia on Twitter @jr4science or visit her website

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper –

Ep 22. Slime moulds, robot swarms and renaissance men with Chris Reid

The living world provides endless inspiration for the development of new technologies. Dr Chris Reid from Macquarie University is a research scientist that is studying how groups of organisms work together to make decisions, solve problems and build structures. He says that this information on ‘collective behaviour’ can inform the development of modular robots and automated systems.

In an interview with In Situ Science Chris describes how a “childish” fascination with ants led him to a career studying the natural world and the complex biology behind social behaviour. We also discuss the intersection of scientific enquiry and creativity, and managing a life and career in science.

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper –

Ep 21. Analytics, Academia and Alternative Careers with Mezo

Its all about data! With advances in technology and computing the amount of data avaiable to scientists is mind boggling. However it is not just scientists that are dealing with data now. Businesses are able to collect masses of data on their products, markets and consumer base. Handling this data then requires the quantitative skills of highly trained scientists.

We talk to Dr Athol Whitten and Simone Stuckey who have started Mezo to help businesses utilise their data. Both Athol and Simone have backgrounds in ecology and throughout their careers transferred these skills to the private sector. We talk openly about some of the career challenges facing scientists and how transitioning to the private sector can be rewarding, exctiting and prolific!

Visit Mezo on their website or follow them on twitter @mezoresearch

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper –

Ep 20. Global Astronomy Month with Christie McMonigal

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

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper –

Ep 19. Program or be Programmed with Kelly Tagalan

“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

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

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What are animal weapons?

In this episode of In Situ Science we travel to New Zealand to spend some time with a research group from the University of Auckland that specialise in studying the behaviour and evolution of insects, spiders and harvestmen. This research group is currently working towards understanding the evolution of animal weapons.

The lab’s leader Dr Greg Holwell introduces us to spiders and harvestmen with enormous and exaggerated that the males use for fighting. We also meet the world’s longest weevil, the New Zealand Giraffe weevil (Lasiorhynchus barbicornis). Male giraffe weevils use their enormous rostrum to fight for access to females, whereas the females use their long rostrum like a drill to dig into tree trunks and make small holes where they can lay their eggs.

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Music: ‘Zest’ by Basematic is used under a creative commons license.