It’s NAIDOC Week, and what better time to reflect on the significance of the world’s oldest continuous cultures and the incredibly complex knowledge systems that have been sustained through the remarkable practice of “orality?” Dr Duane Hamacher and Krystal de Napoli from Monash University have delivered a number of terrific lectures for audiences across Victoria this year for the Inspiring Australia program, and we’ve prepared these highlights from Duane’s presentation to the Royal Society of Victoria in February to share his passion for the science traditionally encoded in story, song, dance, landscape and skyscape by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia.
Applications are sought for the 2018 Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award for the Physical Sciences, given for excellence in scientific research by an early career researcher in the area of astronomy, astrophysics, chemistry, mathematics, physics, all branches of engineering, and related sciences. The Award is available to candidates within seven years (at the deadline for application) of the awarding of their doctorate from a university in the state of Victoria, Australia.
The successful candidate will receive an award certificate and a prize of $3,000, given following an address to the Royal Society of Victoria on the evening of 27th September, 2018.
Dr Duane W. Hamacher’s work seeks to understand how the first Australians developed and embedded scientific information into their knowledge systems. Working closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders, students, and knowledge custodians across Australia, he listens to their stories, songs, and traditions to learn about Indigenous astronomical and geological knowledge, and understand the connections between sky, land, and sea.
The journey of La Trobe University’s Dr Courtney Ennis has been complementary to the journey of Cassini. Using the skills and insight learned throughout his journey, he has been able to use the data sent back to Earth by the Cassini space probe to develop experiments that aid our understanding of the chemistry of Titan. From telescopic observations, spacecraft missions, and experiments on Earth, he can piece together a picture of how life came to be on Earth 3.6 billion years ago.
Review by by Helen Gardiner van de Pol
As science communicators, we are always being asked to evaluate our activities and demonstrate impact. Teachers know this well. How do you know which part of what program helped form the adult you see before you today? That science outreach event you planned for 8-9-year-olds some 20 years ago, did it impact those children as intended? Did it contribute to their later decision to choose a career in science? Did it make them more scientifically literate even though they grew up to do art? If we interviewed them today, would they correctly recall your wonderful program and describe how it changed their life or would it just be part of a fog of memories which included fun trips to the museum with their favourite aunt who was a scientist?