A life in science can mean living a life on the road! Or on planes, or buses… Travel comes with the territory as there are ongoing lab visits, field trips and conferences, not mention relocating for job opportunities. For some scientists living out of a suitcase can get frustrating, but scientists like Dr Christine Cooper embrace the opportunity to see the world and experience new things.
Christine Cooper from the Curtin University travels across Australia studying the biology of Australian mammals and birds. By visiting different habitats all across the country she can study the physiology behind how animals adapt to different climates and environments.
The media has gone crazy the past week, enamoured by a team of scientists across the globe that put out plasticine caterpillars to see if they get eaten. This episode we talk to a member of this team Dr Nigel Andrew, about how such simple techniques can be used to conduct high impact, fundamental research.
Dr Nigel Andrew heads the Insect Ecology Lab at the University of New England where he studies the responses of insects to climate change. In the interview he talks about the importance of insects such as dung beetles in supporting ecosystems and modern agricultural practices.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.