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STEAM Powered

STEAM Powered

By Michele Ong
Conversations with women in STEAM where we learn a bit about what they do, and who they are.

We're a diverse group of people (in so many ways) with unique personal and professional journeys.

And I want you to meet some of us.
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Science Communication Research with Dr Merryn McKinnon (#25)
Dr Merryn McKinnon's original degree was in marine science where, after the novelty of moving intertidal snails with a paint scraper wore off, she discovered that talking about her research to other people brought her far closer to her conservation goals than her actual project ever could. This led her to the field of science communication where she has stayed ever since, working in a range of roles and countries. Merryn enjoys the diverse issues science communication allows her to explore, applying her innovative thinking and problem-solving skills. Merryn has worked and conducted qualitative and quantitative research nationally and internationally, in both non-academic and academic roles. She regularly contributes to ABC Radio on ABC Sydney's Nightlife and Radio National's Research Filter, talking about interesting science from around the world. Merryn designs and delivers science communication workshops, as well as workshops specifically for women in STEM. Merryn's research contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between science, media and publics. She conducts research which explores why publics react and respond to scientific issues the way they do in a variety of different disciplines including public health and conservation science. She is actively building a research program exploring the influence of equity, inclusion and intersectionality in STEM, especially STEM communication. In our conversation, we talk about science communication research and perceptions of women STEM communicators. Show Notes (link) Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
54:53
May 14, 2021
Public Health Engineering with Dr Dani Barrington (#24)
Dr Dani Barrington uses interactive methods to understand people’s experiences with toilets, menstrual health and hygiene, incontinence and water, with a focus on low-middle income countries. Her participatory research and teaching focuses on ensuring that everyone has access to the services that they want to use, regardless of their income or the country they call home. She's also a Co-founder of the 'Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Failures' initiative, encouraging WASH professionals to be more honest about when things don't work out. Dani is a Lecturer in the School of Population and Global Health at The University of Western Australia and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is also a Visiting Lecturer in Water, Sanitation and Health within the School of Civil Engineering at The University of Leeds and an Honorary Fellow within the School of Public Health at The University of Queensland. In our conversation, we talk about water and sanitation systems, WASH Failures, and pantomime. Show Notes (link) Connect with STEAM Powered: Website
01:14:31
April 30, 2021
Chimpanzees and Habitat Fragmentation with Natasha Coutts (#23)
Natasha Coutts is a doctoral candidate with the School of Human Sciences at The University of Western Australia (UWA), a postgraduate fellow with UWA's Africa Research & Engagement Centre, and a research affiliate of the Center of Excellence in Biology and Natural Resource Management at the University of Rwanda. Her research takes a multidisciplinary approach to understanding how habitat fragmentation can affect the gut microbiome of eastern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) throughout Rwanda by drawing on methods and knowledge from fields such as socioecology, conservation biology, microbiology, population genetics, and bioinformatics. Her project includes two habituated and one semi-habituated chimpanzee communities:  one in an undisturbed, continuous habitat and two in small, degraded forest fragments. These field sites represent all locations in Rwanda where chimpanzees currently remain, thereby providing a country-wide perspective on the processes under investigation. From 2018 - 2019 Natasha  was in the field collecting dietary and social data in conjunction with faecal samples and habitat surveys to allow her to identify not only the composition of the chimpanzee’s gut microbial communities, but also the potential mechanisms by which habitat fragmentation can act upon it. With more and more evidence linking the gut microbiome to health, this research is an important piece of the puzzle in understanding how changes in habitat can influence the long-term health and viability of endangered chimp populations. Ultimately she hopes her work will make a meaningful contribution to the conservation of chimpanzees by informing management decisions that promote preserving intact habitats and reconnecting isolated fragments. Natasha holds a Bachelor of Biological Science (Advanced) from La Trobe University and a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Anatomy & Human Biology from UWA. In addition to her PhD research, Natasha is also the Africa Programs & Conservation Campaigns Manager with the Jane Goodall Institute Australia. In this role she oversees the administration and implementation of the projects JGIA supports including The Girls Empowerment Project in Uganda, Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, and Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in Republic of Congo. In our conversation, we talk about habitat fragmentation, developing a chimpanzee superhighway, and how empowering girls can lead to better economic, social, and ecological outcomes. Show Notes (link) Connect with STEAM Powered: Website
50:20
April 16, 2021
Computational Astrophysics and Kilonovae with Dr Heloise F. Stevance (#22)
Originally born and raised in France, Dr Heloise F. Stevance moved to the UK to study Physics and Astronomy at the University of Sheffield. After working as a support astronomer at the Isaac Newton Group in La Palma for a year, she obtained her Masters of Physics in 2015. Heloise subsequently started a PhD studying the 3D shape of Core Collapse Supernovae, and earned her title in Spring 2019. In July of that year, Heloise joined the University of Auckland as a  Research Fellow to research the evolution of massive stars to better understand how they die and produce Supernovae and Kilonovae.  Heloise also started her public outreach work during her doctorate studies, in early 2016, and has not stopped since. In our conversation, we talk about stellar evolution, kilonovae, and roller derby. Show Notes (link) Connect with STEAM Powered: Website YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
01:13:36
April 2, 2021
Technical Program Management with Megan Knox (#21)
Megan Knox is an early-in-career technical program manager at Microsoft and recent graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in Computer Science and Engineering. As a PM, she does long-term planning for her software engineering team and drives success of large scale technical projects through communication and documentation. Prior to her start at Microsoft, she had two internships there to gain experience in a corporate setting. During her time at Ohio State, she founded and presided over student organisation Code 4 Community (C4C) for three years. C4C is designed to demonstrate and implement the benefits of computer science in a humanitarian way, including a long-term project of building a website to help adolescents struggling with mental health and outreach to local grade schools to generate interest in computer science. She is passionate about sharing STEM with underrepresented communities, including women, minorities, and rural areas. Outside of work, she enjoys reading and creative fiction writing, fitness, and taking care of houseplants. In our conversation, we talk about technical program management and Code 4 Community. Show Notes (link) Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
36:55
March 21, 2021
Data visualisation with Annette Hester (#20)
Annette Hester heads TheHesterView Inc. and focuses on a new approach to working with data. Her projects show innovation in action. She is best known for bringing together leading experts in their field to form teams that work in unison to deliver excellence in data structuring and in data visualisation. Her work is distinguishable for the quality of the design. She brings decades of experience to her advisory and strategic policy services. Ms. Hester is a member of the Canadian Statistics Advisory Council. She served as a senior advisor to the Deputy Minister of the Government of Alberta, Canada and as a policy team member of Alberta’s Premier Alison Redford Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta leadership campaign. She was the founding director of the Latin American Research Centre at the University of Calgary, and a faculty member of the University of Calgary Haskayne Global Energy EMBA. Ms. Hester has extensive experience as a data and energy sector consultant for leading companies, governments, and multilateral institutions in several countries of the Americas. Ms. Hester has a master’s degree in economics and has written for a variety of multilateral institutions, academic publications and think-tanks. She was a frequent contributor to Oxford Analytica and has authored numerous articles in policy and energy journals. In our conversation, we talk about data visualisation and Annette's unique journey to data sciences. Show Notes (link) Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
01:18:42
March 8, 2021
Entrepreneurship and Mentoring with Emily Ross (#19)
Emily Ross is a business strategist, advisor, and startup mentor. She is founder of Inkvine, an international growth partner for award-winning technology firms across AI, IoT, Cybersecurity and ecommerce. She writes, lectures and speaks on communications in a digital age. She co-founded SportsTech Ireland in 2017 to help position Ireland as a leading destination for sports innovation and investment. She holds multiple qualifications in Marketing, PR and Analytics, and is an advisory board member for SXSW Pitch, Sure Valley Ventures and GoGreen Routes, a H2020 funded, pan-European research project on urban sustainability and health. In our conversation, we talk about entrepreneurship, mentoring, and diversity. Show Notes (link) [01:08] Emily's interest in science and technology. [06:25] Growing a business internationally. [07:48] Kenichi Ohmae's 3Cs model. [09:12] Case Example: Volograms volumetric holograms. [11:44] Getting involved with SXSW Pitch. [12:06] Founding SportsTech Ireland. [13:40] What being on a VC/investor advisory board entails. [14:36] Giving back through mentoring. [15:22] On mentoring relationships. [19:26] "What We Can Learn from Lobster About Stress" - Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski [20:31] Rowing, and learning resilience. [21:18] On the qualities of a mentee. [24:09] "No Assholes, Money Doesn't Actually Matter". [24:47] Filtering the wheat from the chaff in pitches. [25:55] The human element of success in business. [26:53] The importance of diversity in teams. [27:44] Teams and Problem Solving: Key logs and logjams. [31:02] Goals for this year. [31:58] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [33:14] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [34:34] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? [36:11] The importance of diverse skillsets in the future. Connect with STEAM Powered: Website
39:51
January 29, 2021
Environmental Education & Tree Hollows for Wildlife with Abbie Mitchell (#18)
As an environmental educator Abbie Mitchell has led programs for NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and EcoXplore. Founding Kids Connecting Nature in 2015 she delivers curriculum-aligned hands-on environmental programs for schools, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, council and community groups, including the ‘Super Pollinators’ about native Australian bees, and ‘Hollow Heroes’, fostering hollow using animals. Kids Connecting Nature is balanced with her other role, as the General Manager of Roots and Shoots (The Jane Goodall Institute Australia), a program designed to inspire youth to identify local proactive solutions to the issues impacting biodiversity and humanity worldwide. Abbie’s book ‘A Hollow is a Home’ (CSIRO) explains complex conservation issues and scientific concepts by introducing young readers to the fascinating lives of over 340 Australian animals - united in their need for a tree hollow. The primary aim of the book is to provide that ‘penny drop moment’ about animal behaviour, their needs, interconnectedness, and the vital need to foster a sustainable environment. It was shortlisted for the Environmental Book of the Year 2020 (Wilderness Society), and the Children’s Book of the Year, Eve Pownall Award 2020 (Children’s Book Council Australia). Abbie’s passion as an educator is deeply influenced by her bushland upbringing and she strives to empower people to understand, celebrate and foster biodiversity. In our conversation, we talk about environmental education and tree hollows for wildlife. Show Notes (link) [01:12] Coming from film and television to science. [03:51] Attunement with the bush driving the passion for environmental education. [06:13] The focus on tree hollows for 'A Hollow is a Home'. [06:44] The diverse range of animals that depend on tree hollows. [08:32] Developing the themes for the book around the needs of the animals. [10:40] The reason for a lot of tree hollow research based in Australia. [13:50] How we mitigate the loss of tree hollows habitats. [15:31] Conveying the ideas of preservation to the younger generation. [18:02] The Jane Goodall Institute Roots & Shoots Program. [19:40] Community Project: Welcoming wombats at school. [21:27] Service to the  community. [22:08] How the ideas for Roots & Shoots projects come about. [23:46] The National Youth Leadership Council. [27:06] Eco-anxiety and how to combat it. [31:19] Thinking about our impact. [33:39] The need to know the negatives as well as what is being done to change them. [35:10] The opportunities to incorporate environmental sustainability in the school curriculum. [35:47] Small changes with a greater effect. [37:31] The joy of introducing nature to kids. [39:49] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [39:55] Painting landscapes and nature. [40:08] Hand-raising a magpie. [44:22] Making models. [47:34] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [49:32] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? [54:24] Reaching out to Abbie. Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
57:07
January 8, 2021
Sharks and Science Communication with Dr Blake Chapman (#17)
Blake Chapman is a science communicator who finds inspiration in the big, broad world around her. She is a stickler for factual information, but loves to find fun ways to communicate those facts. Blake has a major focus on taking the time to understand an audience: what drives them and what they find interesting and important, then developing clever and creative ways to engage with and educate those audiences on relevant scientific topics. Blake operates her own science communication business, which focuses predominantly on grant and report writing, but she also has a passion for sharks, and for promoting better education and understanding of these animals. She has published two books Shark Attacks: Myths, Misunderstandings and Human Fear; Ocean Animals: The Weirdest, Smartest and Sneakiest Sea Creatures and a wide variety of other publications, and is an experienced public speaker. She loves developing education packages for kids, in particular, and endeavours to help create a world where sharks are respected more than feared. In our conversation, we talk about sharks, shark attacks, and Blake's enthusiasm for science communication. Show Notes (link) [00:58] The attraction of marine biology. [02:51] Where Blake saw herself after getting her qualifications. [05:33] The decision to pursue shark neuroscience and shark vision. [09:07] Shark camouflage wetsuits. [13:12] The current state of research in the area. [15:07] The complexities of oceanic research. [15:58] Working as an independent researcher and communicator. [18:18] On writing 'Shark Attacks'. [20:59] Wanting to understand the fear. [25:12] The impact of communicating with victims of shark attack. [27:02] How we shift from a position of fear. [31:10] Approaching education for adults. [34:02] Traditional and new approaches to regional management of sharks. [35:13] SMART drum lines and Reunion Island's management strategies. [36:57] Drones. [41:29] Getting KISS to play for sharks. [47:51] On writing 'Ocean Animals'. [50:52] Deciding on which animals to include. [52:26] The process of writing for children and for adults. [56:03] Blake's work assisting others with their science communication. [59:28] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [03:01] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [05:04] Bonus Question 3: What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what should they ignore? [10:07] Reaching out to Blake. Connect with STEAM Powered: Website
01:12:28
December 28, 2020
Alzheimer's and Science Communication with Dr Sabine Bird (#16)
Dr Sabine Bird's background has taken her from a science degree at the University of Cologne in Germany, and extensive work experience at a biotech company for nearly 3 years, to medical research laboratories in Ireland and Australia. Sabine ended up in a clinical setting within the Neurosciences Research team at Edith Cowan University in Perth. While working there, she gained extensive experience in neuropsychological testing of clinical study participants in addition to continuing some laboratory work alongside. Sabine ultimately completed her PhD in Neurosciences within the same research group through the University of Western Australia in Perth. Sabine has a true passion for learning about scientific matters, which includes reading and learning about a broad spectrum of fields, and does not reject an opportunity that helps her expand her horizons, provides a challenge, or gives new thinking tools to apply to all situations in life. In our conversation, we talk about STEM education and communication, Alzheimer's research, and endurance cycling. Show Notes (link) [00:50] Sabine's journey from biology to neuroscience. [01:37] The European practice of working in your field of study while you complete your studies. [02:02] Completing her studies in Ireland. [04:02] Taking a 'gap year' to... study more. [05:11] The factors that contribute to Europe having better access to applicable part-time jobs while studying. [05:43] The ABC region. [07:25] Observations on the density and support of similar industries in Perth and Australia. [08:16] Diversity of experience and backgrounds expands our thinking and leads to more advances. [10:52] Cultivating educational support for the young. [13:06] Counter the geographic isolation of Australia with more opportunities for international exchange. [14:07] Sabine's experiences with science communication at schools. [14:32] Observations about home economics as a subject at school. [16:07] Speculating on curriculum changes. [17:47] What is science anyway? [20:14] The breadth of scope of science and opening your mind to possibilities. [22:49] From biological sciences to Alzheimer's research. [25:46] Science is a team sport. [29:48] Sabine's PhD topic. [31:38] The relationship between Sabine's endurance cycling and her research. [34:50] The kinds of experiences and opportunities a background in science can lead to. [39:27] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [41:11] How Sabine found her way to endurance cycling. [42:28] Sabine's achievements in endurance cycling. [44:47] The effects of sleep deprivation. [46:17] Training for an event like the Race Across America. [48:39] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [51:49] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? [56:46] Reaching out to Sabine. Connect with STEAM Powered: Website
58:41
December 11, 2020
Probiotic Durian Beer and Bubble Tea with Kriza Calumba (#15)
Kriza Calumba is an assistant professor of the Department of Food Science and Chemistry at the University of the Philippines Mindanao. She previously received a Fulbright-CHED scholarship, which allowed her to pursue Master’s studies at Louisiana State University, USA. Her Master’s research was on beer with probiotic bacteria immobilised in durian rind powder. With her interest in probiotics, she also recently opened a probiotic bubble tea business in Davao City, Philippines. She is looking forward to communicating food science to more people as well as providing more health-promoting food options to the general public. In our conversation, we talk about probiotic durian beer, food science, and bubble tea. Show Notes (link) [01:00] Kriza's interest in Food and Nutrition Sciences. [01:53] Pursuing a career in academia. [02:18] Kriza's focus on probiotics and her Masters research. [03:06] The untapped potential of probiotics. [03:42] Exploration of non-dairy probiotic options. [04:35] Kriza's research using durian rind to develop probiotic beer. [05:55] Trying her hand at homebrew. [07:13] Learning that durian rind had a preservative effect on bacteria. [08:28] The wives' tale about consumption of durian with alcohol. [09:18] The unexpected popularity of her research. [10:24] Kriza's new probiotic bubble tea venture. [12:08] How probiotics can reduce sugar levels in bubble tea. [12:53] Juggling an academic career with a startup. [14:39] Marker 25 [14:58] Starting a new business during a pandemic. [16:28] Kriza's research into indigenous vegetable consumption. [18:54] The importance of local food industry related research. [20:29] The affects of globalisation on local diets. [21:33] Other regional academic efforts in this area. [21:53] Supporting local through her own business. [23:02] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [25:02] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [25:18] "The Purpose Driven Life". [26:23] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? [27:41] Reaching out to Kriza. Connect with STEAM Powered: Website
29:54
November 27, 2020
Mars Rovers with Keri Bean (#14)
Keri Bean is a systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. She is the deputy lead Rover Planner (aka Mars rover driver) on the Curiosity Mars rover and is a Helicopter Integration Engineer for the Mars 2020 mission. She got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas A&M University in meteorology, with her focus on studying the weather on Mars. Her hobbies mostly center around Star Wars, as she is an active member of the R2-D2 Builder’s Club with her very own Astromech and cosplays with the Rebel Legion. In our conversation, we talk about Mars Rovers, Star Wars, and cake decorating. Show Notes (link) [00:37] Keri's pursuit of meteorology. [01:50] Astronomy as a potential path. [02:12] Possible career paths in space. [02:44] Her introduction to Space Weather [03:35] Keri's first experiences with the rover missions. [03:54] Spirit and Opportunity Rovers. [04:51] Phoenix Mars Lander. [05:54] Applying her meteorology studies to her rover mission experiences. [06:33] Curiosity Rover. [06:50] Keri's path to JPL. [08:58] Dawn Mission. [09:55] Filling the gaps in knowledge between her meteorology background and her work. [10:36] Test beds. [11:44] Building her own R2-D2. [14:28] On becoming a Rover Planner. [16:03] The process for certifying to be a Rover Planner. [18:42] Certifying for individual Rovers. [19:10] Her role as a Helicopter Integration Engineer on the Perseverance Rover drone, Ingenuity. [20:11] Earth-side duplicate and testing of the drone. [21:39] A day in the life of Keri. [22:56] Working remotely. [26:22] Coming up next for Curiosity and Perseverance. [26:34] Curiosity: Wet Chemistry Experiment. [27:28] Perseverance: Landing Day. [27:59] Preparations for Landing Day. [29:03] Flight software transitions. [30:54] Handling the unexpected. [32:14] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [34:07] Keri's cosplay. [36:46] Porgs and PORGs. [40:27] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [42:04] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? [43:03] Exploring other topics if they are of interest. [43:21] Gaining astronomy experience with the HUBBLE [45:38] Reaching out to Keri. Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
47:12
November 13, 2020
The Square Kilometre Array with Rebecca Wheadon (#13)
Rebecca Wheadon is an experienced manager with a background in project management and Mario Kart. She lives for riding her bike in circles over short distances and also happens to manage the CSIRO Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in the Mid West region of WA. She is a world champion in track cycling and probably also Mario Kart - the latter of which is not necessarily evidenced by proof. Rebecca has joined CSIRO after working in engineering consulting for the last 12 years, where she was first introduced to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). In our conversation, we talk about the SKA, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), and her love of cycling. Show Notes (link) [01:08] Rebecca's journey to the SKA. [03:39] What drew Rebecca to the SKA Telescope project. [06:47] Project management is a transferrable skill. [07:25] Western Australia's Radio Quiet Zone. [08:22] The current state of the infrastructure. [09:23] The applications of the SKA. [11:01] The state of technology for this scale. [12:02] Moore's Law. [13:05] Rebecca's role as Site Entity Leader. [15:09] Managing the radio quiet zone. [16:54] Coordinating participation between 15 countries. [17:59] The structure of the SKA Organisation. [19:39] Design and infrastructure considerations. [22:31] Taking a unit in astrophysics. [24:49] Rebecca and her Amstrad. [27:45] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [28:32] Getting into track cycling. [30:26] Rebecca's interest in the competitive side of cycling. [32:32] Juggling work and the training required for competition. [34:47] At Rebecca's competitive level, where to from here? [37:11] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [38:42] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? [41:20] Reaching out to Rebecca and the SKA. Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
43:39
October 30, 2020
Publishing and Science Communication with Jasmine Fellows (#12)
Jasmine Fellows (tw: @jasfellows) has a passion for combining science and the arts, from hands-on experiments to hula hooping. She is the Editor of Double Helix, CSIRO’s magazine for young readers. She is also one of the Editors of the new book, More Hands-On Science. She loves to study and accidentally ended up with a Bachelor of Arts as well as the intended Bachelor of Science. She couldn’t help but go on to postgraduate study in writing and marketing. This blend of different interests and skills have all been channelled into her work at CSIRO, in various roles, over the past 15 years. Jasmine loves to sing and plays ukulele, cello and piano (and anything else she can get her hands on). She has recently begun performing her own original songs. In our conversation, we talk about Double Helix, music, and CSIRO Publishing’s new book, More Hands-On Science. Show Notes (link) [01:01] Jasmine's academic explorations [01:22] The importance of a balance between science and the arts. [02:03] Wanting to understand her relationship with the world around her. [02:33] Adding the Arts to her coursework. [03:23] Choosing to study the Philosophy of Science for her Honours. [04:12] Where Jasmine envisaged her path would lie. [07:12] How she found her way to becoming Editor of Double Helix. [07:55] On presenting hands-on science shows in the Northern Territory. [08:10] What editorial work at Double Helix involves. [09:17] The focus group of children consulted for the magazine. [09:37] The Double Helix Magazine. [10:32] The production process for an issue. [12:02] Communicating concepts for a wide age range. [14:06] A typical day. [16:02] Tying in the online content. [17:59] Hooping for Helix. [19:13] Early Helixes and how times have changed. [22:12] How Jasmine's role and the work her team does changed over the years. [23:16] Starting to encourage critical thinking early through science-fiction. [25:03] Creating a framework for children to ask more questions. [26:49] Science communication at different levels. [29:24] "More Hands-On Science" [30:07] Developing the activities for the book. [32:02] The target audience for the book. [33:05] The safety and environmental considerations of the activities. [34:43] Gauging content for inclusion and inclusiveness in the publication. [36:09] Diversity in publications. [37:55] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [38:01] Music for connection, community, and relaxation. [43:39] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [44:34] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? [46:22] Working on the roadshows. [47:53] Reflections on her path. [48:29] Reaching out to Jasmine. Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
50:15
October 18, 2020
Computer Science and Writing About Epidemics with Amanda Hickie (#11)
Amanda Hickie has always been interested in ethical questions - at the age of ten annoying her scripture teacher by asking if it was immoral to lie to a murderer. Despite a passion for writing, she studied Computer Science (but quickly recovered) and Cognitive Science. A change of lifestyle when she and her family moved to Canada resulted in her first novel, AfterZoe. Living down the road from the SARS outbreak also provided the seed for her next novel, An Ordinary Epidemic, released by MidnightSun Publishing in May 2015. The novel was released in the US and UK under the title Before This Is Over. Amanda lives a pleasant stroll from Coogee Beach in Sydney with her two computer oriented sons and husband and two non-computer oriented cats. In our conversation, we talk about her novel Before This Is Over/An Ordinary Epidemic, volunteering with FIRST Robotics Australia, and bookbinding. Show Notes (link) [00:53] Amanda's beginnings in computer science. [01:31] What initially sparked Amanda's interest in the field. [02:16] What it was like studying computer science in the 80s. [03:03] Amanda's thoughts on the gender distribution and completion rate of women in the program. [04:21] Thinking about the shape of your life. [05:47] The more things change the more things stay the same. [06:34] Where Amanda saw herself after completing computer science. [07:20] Coming to the realisation the field as it was then was not for her. [08:01] Getting into technical writing. [09:08] The desire to be a writer. [09:40] The transition to writing as a profession. [10:25] How one becomes a writer. [11:00] Getting published. [11:51] The re-release of Amanda's novel Before This Is Over. [12:31] Releasing a book under different titles. [13:52] Basing the novel on her experiences during the SARS outbreak in Canada. [15:54] Reflecting on her writing in light of the current epidemic. [18:47] Musing on the reviews the novel received on GoodReads. [19:36] Volunteering with FIRST Robotics. [20:41] What the volunteer work entails. [21:50] "Coopetition" [24:09] Being able to watch the kids develop with their teams. [25:39] The value of role-models. [26:30] Women in FIRST. [28:15] The difference in technological and information accessibility then and now. [30:02] Amanda's coding experiences since. [31:50] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [32:49] What drew Amanda's interest into bookbinding. [34:05] We start waxing lyrical and romanticising books. [36:03] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [38:32] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? [41:19] How to be motivated to persevere. [45:41] Reaching out to Amanda Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
47:13
October 2, 2020
Beauty Science with Dr Michelle Wong (#10)
Dr Michelle Wong is a science educator and content creator at Lab Muffin Beauty Science. Drawing on her chemistry PhD and extensive experience in education, she busts beauty myths and explains the science behind popular beauty products in an easy-to-understand way through her blog, YouTube channel and Instagram. In our conversation, we talk about beauty science, pole dancing, and Asian representation in media. Show Notes (link) [00:35] Michelle's beginnings in chemistry. [01:37] The rebellious act of studying law. [02:26] Deciding to do the Honours degree that would lead her into higher chemistry. [03:21] Project Topic: Making cyclic peptides. [04:25] Where Michelle saw her degree taking her. [04:31] Deciding academia wasn't for her. [05:03] Potentially combining her legal and science backgrounds. [05:51] Taking up blogging about beauty science during her PhD. [06:04] Michelle's interest in beauty products and curiosity over their claims. [07:12] Developing foundations in science communication. [08:15] The applications of cyclic peptides. [09:04] What is supramolecular chemistry? [09:31] Amine receptor binding. [10:11] Making an enzyme mimic. [10:45] The applications of the mimic. [11:33] Keeping up with the new science for Lab Muffin. [12:45] How much debunking still needs to be done? [13:02] The "blue light" protection trend. [13:50] The issues behind consumer lead product development. [14:33] Helping the scientists with their cognitive dissonance. [14:58] The concept of "clean beauty" as a marketing tool. [16:35] Discerning how much concern is warranted in the context of cosmetic exposure. [17:28] Empathy in science communication. [18:00] Michelle's work as a science educator. [18:47] The satisfaction of making an impact as a science communicator. [20:12] Joining a tutoring company after completing her PhD. [20:51] Matching her communication to the scientific literacy of the general population. [21:15] The Panadol analogy for poison dosage. [21:53] Juggling a day job and Lab Muffin. [21:57] Michelle's disciplined work routine. [26:02] The most interesting thing Michelle has learned in the course of her work with Lab Muffin. [27:29] The state of science communication and Asian representation in Australia. [30:01] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [33:25] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [34:27] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to study chemistry, or do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? [37:18] Reaching out to Michelle. Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
39:12
September 18, 2020
Spatial Point Modelling with Prof Janine Illian (#9)
Professor Janine Illian joined the University of Glasgow as Chair in Statistical Sciences in 2019. Prior to this, she was a senior lecturer in statistics and Head of Statistics, within the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St Andrews. She held a Professor II position at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, 2013-2016. Her work focuses on spatial point process methodology and she is the author of “Statistical Analysis and Modelling of Spatial Point Patterns” (Wiley, 2008), which has become a standard work on point process modelling since its publication. Her research profile focuses on the development of modern, realistically complex, spatial statistical methodology that is both computationally feasible and relevant to end-users. She has taken spatial point processes from the theoretical literature into the real world and encouraging statistical development by fostering strong relationships with the user community. Her research has impacted on spatial modelling and biodiversity research in the context of ecology, and she has diversified to applications in crime modelling, earthquake forecasting, environmental modelling and terrorism studies. In our conversation, we talk about spatial point modelling and its applications in the areas of ecology, orangutan populations, and COVID. Show Notes (link) Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
46:50
September 4, 2020
Surgery & Operating With Respect with Assoc Prof Rhea Liang (#8)
Associate Professor Rhea Liang (tw: @LiangRhea) is a general and breast surgeon on the Gold Coast. She is a surgical educationalist, Surgical Discipline Lead at Bond University, and Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ (RACS) Operating With Respect Education Committee. She also researches and advocates in diversity and equity issues. On multiple occasions (including recently!) she has been told she is unsuited for surgery for a whole range of reasons including being small, being a woman, being too feminine, being not feminine enough, having kids, being an academic, disliking early starts, getting hungry easily, being too outspoken about bullying in surgery, and being not outspoken enough about bullying in surgery. But here she is. In our conversation, we talk about surgery, Operating With Respect, and manual crafts. Show Notes (link) Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
01:04:15
August 21, 2020
Cell Membrane Biophysics & Computational Chemistry with Dr Evelyne Deplazes (#7)
Dr Evelyne Deplazes (tw: @DeplazesEvelyne) is a biophysical and computational chemist who is fascinated by the molecular world. Her research is driven by her passion for science and her innate curiosity to 'solve puzzles'. Evelyne is a Chancellor’s Research Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney and together with other researchers, runs the UTS Membrane biophysics group. In her research, Evelyne uses Australia’s largest supercomputers as well as lab-based experiments to understand how small molecules interact with the surface of cells. This includes studying how chemical compounds found in venomous animals, plants, or honey interacts with cell membranes. The knowledge from her research helps other scientists to develop new pharmaceuticals or understand how drugs enter cells. Apart from her research, she is passionate about supporting diversity and equity in STEM and teaching the next generation of scientists to be 'critical thinkers'. She also tries to integrate her yoga practice of kindness and gratitude into how she leads her research team. In our conversation, we talk about her journey to computational chemistry, her research on honey and spider venoms in membrane biophysics, academic career development, and yoga. Show Notes (link) Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
58:14
August 7, 2020
Game Ethics and Accessibility in Boardgames with Pauline Belford (#6)
Pauline Belford is an experienced educator who has spent nearly two decades teaching in post-16 education at both Further Education and Higher Education institutions. She was involved in the development of the first Scottish Higher National Diploma in Computer Games Development – a national qualification delivered across Scotland’s Further Education Colleges. She is also an active researcher in the fields of computer ethics and accessibility in games, and has co-authored several papers on topics such as game design, game ethics, and sexism in gaming. She is currently working part-time as a freelance educational consultant and accessibility researcher, whilst co-authoring a book on computer ethics, and learning Swedish. In our conversation, we talk about morality in games, board game accessibility, and parkrun. Show Notes (link) [00:40] What drew Pauline to game design, computer ethics, and accessibility [01:06] Pauline's background and exposure to computers [01:42] From biology and sociology to computer science [02:49] Developing the HNC and HND Computer Games Development qualification [04:14] Where that qualification can lead [04:40] Setting up teams and incubators during the program [06:38] Pauline's interest in computer ethics [07:21] Teaching ethics through the case study "Scandal in Academia" [08:47] Student reception to learning ethics in computing [09:35] The lessons behind the lesson [10:38] Also, PhDs: Beware of what you're getting into [11:18] The potential for exploitation in academia [13:25] On independent research and publishing [14:24] Teaching ethics to both computing students and police officers [15:13] How to assess an ethics unit [16:25] Morality in games [17:40] Morality systems in the "Fallout" (VG) series [19:14] The "Magic Circle” concept [20:29] Empathy as a mechanic in "Life is Strange" (VG) [22:02] The politics of story crafting in games [22:24] The analogy to slavery in "Detroit: Become Human" (VG) [22:56] Ethics and morality as a mechanic in games [23:40] "Papers, Please" (VG) [26:47] How they found a niche in board game accessibility [27:35] Social benefits of board games [29:01] Board game community feedback to their accessibility work [30:50] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [31:19] parkrun [33:52] Starting her own local chapter [36:22] The Swedish parkrun community [38:07] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [39:49] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? [39:56] On knowing your worth [40:39] On applying for jobs [41:19] On networking [41:36] Mark Granovetter’s "The Strength of Weak Ties" [41:57] On maintaining connections [43:49] On impostor syndrome [44:52] On "fake it 'til you make it" [45:28] On shaping your work [47:56] Anders Ericsson's "Deliberate Practice" [49:39] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's "Flow" Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
52:38
July 26, 2020
Geochemistry and Geochronology with Stephanie E. Suarez (#5)
Stephanie Suarez (tw: @geologiststephy) is a PhD student specialising in geochemistry and geochronology. Her research interests include chronology of both terrestrial and extraterrestrial materials. She earned her Bachelor of Science in General Geosciences from the University of Texas at Austin in 2017. As an undergraduate researcher, she determined ages of early land biotas to further understand the rate of land colonisation. She earned her Master of Science in Geology from the University of Houston in 2019, where she determined the crystallisation age of Tissint, the fifth witnessed Martian meteorite fall. She is continuing her studies at the University of Houston as a PhD student in Geology and NSF GRFP fellow. Currently, she conducts isotopic and petrologic analyses on Martian meteorites to better understand the nature and timing of magmatism on Mars. As an undergrad, Stephanie developed improvements to geological dating techniques which lead to the discovery of the age of the oldest land breathing animal. In our conversation, we talk about being a first-generation college student, make-up, geological dating techniques, and Mars volcanism. Show Notes (link) [00:48] What is geochronology? [02:34] The questions that geochronology can answer. [04:04] The accuracy and precision of dating materials. [07:00] Getting retweeted by Chris Hadfield [07:39] What drew Stephanie to the field of geology. [10:39] How minerology connects back to Stephanie's experience with chemistry [10:52] On developing the technique that helped to identify age of the 425-million-year-old millipede fossil from the Scottish island of Kerrera [13:49] On being a first-generation college student. [16:09] How Stephanie stayed focussed and motivated during tough times. [17:36] Finding support at college. [21:04] What learning about Mars volcanism teaches us. [23:44] Stephanie's PhD Mars research [26:12] The volcanic plumbing of Mars [27:32] The techniques used for dating materials from Mars [29:54] On choosing to do a Masters before embarking on a PhD [31:04] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [33:31] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [34:59] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? [37:11] Finding the 'good people' on your journey [38:44] Reach out to Stephanie Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
40:22
July 9, 2020
Water Policy and Research with Dr Kat Taylor (#4)
Dr Kat Taylor (tw: @Katselenataylor), is a researcher at the ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy. Through her work in Perth and regional Australia, she has experience in water policy, wastewater irrigation, household water efficiency and drinking water risk management. Kat is the Managing Editor of Global Water Forum. In our conversation, we talk about dance fitness, water governance, and the Global Water Forum. Show Notes (link) [00:49] Why environmental science [01:46] Working towards a focus on water and water policy [02:47] The importance of water [04:24] The scope of water governance [05:14] The scope and context of water issues globally vs locally [06:18] Australian specific water issues [07:42] The Global Water Forum [09:09] Who the Global Water Forum is for [11:22] The need to draw public attention to a broader range of topics and innovations surrounding water governance [12:15] Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council [14:00] What being managing editor at the Global Water Forum involves [15:08] About the GWF podcast [15:47] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [16:55] About Funk n Fit [18:53] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [20:15] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? [25:19] The importance of mentors in career development Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter Patreon Ko-Fi
26:13
June 26, 2020
Renewable Energy in Agriculture with Karin Stark (#3)
Karin Stark's (tw: @karinstark79) international and professional history combines 18 years of engagement with communities around contemporary environmental issues. She founded the National Renewables in Agriculture Conference in 2019 and is Director of Farm Renewables Consulting. She's a mum, and also works part-time for ReAqua, with previous roles within the NSW State Government and in Landcare. In our conversation, we talk about her interest in art, the London Cycle Hire Scheme, and renewable energy in agriculture. Show Notes (link) [00:47] Studying Environmental Science and Sustainable Development [01:53] Working in sustainable transport [02:53] The London Cycle Hire Scheme [04:27] What coordinating the program entails [06:19] The effect of bike helmet laws on cycle hire programs [08:42] Transitioning to renewables in agriculture [09:36] Introduction to solar in irrigation [11:03] About their Narromine cotton farm [11:42] The controversy around cotton [13:09] Operating costs of diesel pumps [13:28] Installation of the largest hybrid solar / diesel pump system in Australia [14:26] Reduction of carbon emissions [15:10] Other farms setting up similar systems [15:43] Founding the National Renewables in Agriculture Conference [17:24] Interstate participants [18:00] Leasing energy as a secondary income [19:00] The controversy behind the use of ag land [20:07] Agrivoltaics [21:02] Other agriculture businesses taking up renewables [22:07] What is involved in leasing land for energy production [23:11] About Reaqua and solar irrigation [25:15] What's next for the conference [25:39] Sample of the speakers for the next event [26:48] Sharing of new developments in alternative energy solutions [28:11] Support for agricultural renewables in other Australian states [29:03] AgZero2030 [29:29] The impracticality of remote conferences for regional areas [30:10] Moving towards a renewables led recovery [30:55] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [32:32] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [34:36] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter
39:26
June 14, 2020
Restoration Seed Ecology with Dr Lucy Commander (#2)
Dr Lucy Commander (tw: @lucy_commander) is a restoration seed ecologist who has spent over a decade undertaking scientific research with the mining industry to improve mine restoration. Lucy was also the lead editor of the Australian Network for Plant Conservation's Guidelines for the Translocation of Threatened Plants, published in 2018, and is currently Project Manager for the update of the Florabank Guidelines for best practice native seed collection and use, with Australian Network for Plant Conservation and partners. In our conversation, we talk about her interest in singing and gardening, restoration seed ecology, and her work as an editor on the Florabank Guidelines for best practice native seed collection and use. Show Notes (link) [01:12] Love of singing [02:59] Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir [04:59] Journey to becoming a restoration seed ecologist [07:04] The diversity of West Australian flora [08:14] Translocation of threatened species [10:41] Surveying for threatened species in developments [11:44] The people involved in threatened species translocation [13:06] The Florabank Guidelines for seed collection and use [15:55] Who is behind the guidelines? [16:37] Seed banks and storage [17:55] Flora vs food crops [18:34] Intervention of bushfire affected areas for restoration [21:48] Management of areas under regular fire threat [22:47] Sourcing seeds for restoration [25:12] Applicability of local guidelines domestically and globally [27:02] The diversity of Australian flora adding complexity to the task [28:04] Florabank Guidelines publication timeline [29:57] The collaborative nature of developing the guidelines [31:03] Case and field work contributions from the community [32:51] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [35:58] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [39:09] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? [42:31] Eden Project Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter
46:19
May 31, 2020
Stem Cell Biology with Rebecca Lim (#1)
Rebecca Lim (tw: @BiotechBec) is a scientist working on the clinical translation of cells from the human amniotic sac. She is scientific director for the cell therapies platform at the Monash Health Translation Precinct, and leads the amnion cell biology lab at The Ritchie Centre. Rebecca is also Associate Professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Monash University, and a career development fellow with the National Health and Medical Research Council. In our conversation, we talk about weightlifting, work/life balance, Rebecca's love of dogs, and her journey to a career in regenerative medicine and stem cell therapies. Content Warning: References to animal-based research at [35:10], non-graphic and safe for public consumption, but skip to [36:09] if needed. Show Notes (link) [04:15] Rebecca’s journey to weightlifting [05:51] Olympic lifting as an inclusive community [09:50] How weightlifting has improved Rebecca’s work/life balance and made her a better teacher [12:45] Rebecca’s journey to stem cell research [15:42] Stem cell classification criteria [17:48] Applications of liver stem cells [18:58] 3D printing of organs [20:50] How investigations into stem cells lead to regenerative medicine [25:45] The beginnings of investigating how to more accurately determine who has good stem cells [27:54] Grading stem cells for quality control [29:23] The question of what makes stem cells more or less potent [30:31] What grant writing involves [32:20] Collaboration for obtaining research data [33:22] A day in the lab [35:10] The animal house (discusses animal-based research, no graphic detail) [36:09] The diseases of focus in Rebecca’s research [40:04] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work? [41:20] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you? [42:41] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore? Connect with STEAM Powered: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter
47:04
May 16, 2020