13 April: ‘Digging deeper…can Australian soils really feed the world?’

The first BrisScience seminar for 2015 is kicking off in April, brought to you by The University of Queensland.

Join our panel as they celebrate the International Year of Soils with a nitty gritty discussion on: ‘Digging deeper…can Australian soils really feed the world?’

Our four panellists are:

Rob Pekin: founder of Food Connect and a former dairy farmer who has a strong belief in the practice of community-supported agriculture.

Dr Neil McKenzie: former Chief of CSIRO Land and Water who is actively involved in shaping public policy on scientific aspects of land resource management. Neil is a member of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils.

Dr Christine Williams: Assistant Director-General, Science Division of DSITI who is a trained economist and now leads the Science Division which provides scientific and technical advice and services to government agencies.

Philip Mulvey: CEO of Environmental Earth Sciences who has 30 years of experience in soil sciences, hydrogeology, water resource assessment and contamination studies.

Our facilitator is Professor Neal Menzies, Head of the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences at The University of Queensland.

Event details:

When: Monday 13 April
Time: 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Venue: The Edge, State Library of Queensland, South Brisbane
Arrangements: Doors open at 6pm
Refreshments: Light refreshments will be provided following the presentation
RSVP: This is a free event, please register to secure your seat

6-9 November, 2014

Journey Through the Cosmos

QSO12574-WebGraphic_QPAC719x281A four day celebration of music, science and the wonders of the cosmos exclusive to Queensland featuring international rockstar physicist Professor Brian Cox.

Outstanding performances, invigorating talks and unique experiences.

  • Immerse yourself in Holst’s The Planets Suite against a stunning backdrop of cosmic vision.
  • Join Brian Cox, the Australian Voices, legendary violinist Jack Liebeck and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra for an out of this world experience.
  • Hear the world premiere of Dario Marianelli’s Voyager Violin Concerto
  • Be part of the conversation with lectures including Composing for Hollywood with Academy Award winner Dario Marianelli, Einstein’s Universe with particle physicist Professor Brian Foster and The Physics of Time illustrated performance and talk featuring Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time with Professor Brian Cox

Find out more here.

Time: 6-9 November 2014

Venue: QPAC Concert Hall

Cost: Premium packages available as well as individual concert prices.

Tickets: QTIX 136 246

Questions: info@qso.com.au

Monday 3 November, 2014

Temperature: A Brief History of Imaginary Time

A/Prof Tom Stace, School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland

Melting clock 300x300Heat powers your car, makes or breaks your BBQ, and drives the cosmos.  But how did we move from the primordial sensations of hot and cold to the Second Law of Thermodynamics – which many physicists regard as the most foundational law of the universe?

The final BrisScience talk for 2014 will follow the history of temperature, from the big-bang, through the debates between our greatest scientists, and to the ultimate fate of our universe.  On the way we will find the seeds of Quantum theory and General Relativity, and answer the question: “why is Temperature stranger than Time?”.

  • Time: 6:30pm to 7:30pm, Monday 3 November.
  • Venue: The EdgeState Library of Queensland, South Brisbane.
  • Arrangements: Doors open at 6pm. No need to book – just show up!
  • Refreshments: There will be complimentary drinks and nibblies following the talk, where A/Prof Tom Stace will be available to answer any questions.
  • Questions about this event? Contact Andrew.

Tom StaceA/Prof Tom Stace received a Bachelor’s Degree from The University of Western Australia and a PhD on quantum computing from The University of Cambridge. After a postdoctoral position at Cambridge Tom moved to The University of Queensland in 2006, where he is now a key researcher at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems.

Tom’s research has largely focused on applying methods from quantum optics to solid state devices for use in quantum information applications. He also works on high precision measurement in collaboration with experimental colleagues at The University of Adelaide, in a project whose ultimate aim is to contribute to the international definition of Boltzmann’s constant - the physical constant that relates temperature and energy on the atomic scale.

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This BrisScience event was proudly sponsored by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems.
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Monday 27 October, 2014 – Qskeptics

Is near term human extinction inevitable?

Dr GeoOil rigffrey Chia

Sooner or later intelligent life will end in the Universe. The Sun will eventually run out of fuel and expand engulfing the Solar System and we will become part of the mantle of the Sun; unless the clever humans of the time find themselves another planet to live on or built a new one, that’s it.

There are a number of scenarios which might bring about our demise: pandemic disease, asteroid impact, religious events (real or imagined), apocalypse (real wars), nuclear holocaust, volcanic winter, famine or the effects of climate change; all with wildly different levels of probability. It was once thought inconceivable that we could even feed the current population but we have managed, albeit with a billion people who go to bed hungry every night. Maybe population control is the answer and that may be only natural attrition by another name.

The World’s population however is growing apace but a number of nations now have negative growth (under 1% per year) leading to aging populations and a wholly different set of problems. What we are doing is not sustainable, certainly in the developed world, so what are the chances we will survive?

  • Time: Dinner 6pm, meeting 7:30pm.
  • Venue: The Redbrick Hotel, Cnr Annerley and Stephens Rd, Woolloongabba.
  • Arrangements: Doors open at 6pm. No need to book – just show up!
  • Questions? For any further information please contact Bob.


Monday 13 October, 2014

365 14 Days of Science


You’re invited to an evening of science in the style of the great panel shows (think Good News Week and Spicks and Specks!), as BrisScience takes a lighter look at the top science stories of 2014 and the scientists behind them. It’s science as you’ve never seen it before, with this year’s panellists including world leading researchers, gifted comedians, and professional science communicators – all with a flair for the dramatic. Hosted by well-known figure of stage and science, Dr Joel Gilmore, you’ll be guaranteed a night of entertainment, competition and comedy – and perhaps even education!

Following the success of the 2014 The Storytelling of Science, featuring Tim Flannery and other guests, and the inaugural 2013 Science Comedy Debate, this is sure to be another sold out evening, so secure your tickets early!

  • Time: 7:30 – 9pm, Monday 13 October. Doors open at 7pm.
  • Venue: The EdgeState Library of Queensland, South Brisbane.
  • Tickets: SOLD OUT.
  • Questions? For any further information please contact Andrew.

Meet our panelists, competing for scientific glory:

Dan Beeston 200x226Dan Beeston first treaded the boards at the Sit Down Comedy club in 1998. Since then he’s worked as a improvisational performer in comedy clubs all over Brisbane as well as in Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and most recently at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. He works as a character host in everything from tiny seedy bars as well as grand theatres such as the Tivoli theatre and the Powerhouse. Dan is a keen science advocate and is currently a co-host of Smart Enough To Know Better – A Podcast of Science Comedy and Ignorance.

Tamara Davis 200x226

A/Prof Tamara Davis was raised on a Sydney beach, where she learned that the forces of nature powering the waves are often stronger than the swimmers immersed in them, especially when the swimmers were tourists wearing jeans. After watching the space shuttle Challenger explode when she was a small child, she decided she wanted to be an astronaut – which probably reveals more about her personality than you want to know – but discovering that she was deficient in appropriate citizenship for a career in space, she settled for the next best thing and has spent her career studying it.

Melanie McKenzie 200x226Dr Melanie McKenzie led a previous life as a physicist and engineer. She is now a science communication professional and academic who is interested in the features of good and bad science communication. As a freelance science communication consultant, Melanie writes for a variety of science related publications, runs presentation and media skills workshops for scientists, and designs and performs evaluations of science communication activities. Melanie is passionate about exploring, teaching, and supporting better ways for people to engage with science.

Andrew Stephenson 200x226

Dr Andrew Stephenson has been working as Science Communicator at The University of Queensland since 2009. In addition to organising BrisScience Andrew runs the Science Demo Troupe, and each year personally runs hundreds of science demonstration shows and workshops for thousands of students all over Queensland. Through his outreach, Andrew has shared his enthusiasm for science with kids in every corner of the state, and even took liquid nitrogen to the Simpson Desert. Andrew has helped produce several science-based television shows for the ABC, Discovery, and Channel 7.

Greg Wah 200x226 Greg Wah has been performing in comedy shows for over 15 years, in Brisbane and around the world. There is only one thing he enjoys more than hearing the audience be amused and that is an audience having the ‘light bulb’ moment when they ‘get it’. He has been a science communicator in one form or another for many years and is one of the creators and co-hosts of the popular Australian podcast Smart Enough To Know Better. Hilariously, he is bringing a knife to a gunfight by hoping to utilise his still in progress Masters against the PhDs arrayed against him.

Andrew White 200x226Prof Andrew White enjoys communicating the weirdness of quantum mechanics while making sure people know just how much fun science really is. Over the years Andrew has conducted research on various topics including shrimp eyes, nuclear physics, optical vortices, and quantum computers. He likes quantum weirdness for its own sake, but his current research aims to explore and exploit the full range of quantum behaviours—notably entanglement—with an eye to engineering new technologies and scientific applications. Andrew is a lead researcher in not one, but two ARC Centres of Excellence.

And introducing our host for the evening:

Joel Gilmore 200x226Dr Joel Gilmore is a physicist, engineer, science communicator and entertainer – sometimes all at once. By day, he leads the Climate Policy team at ROAM Consulting and helps to transition Australia to a low emissions future. By night, he is involved in diverse events, ranging from public lectures on food science to stand-up comedy and theatre sports to television appearances, including on Catalyst and former kids’ show, The Shak. Well known for his enthusiastic approach to sharing his love of science, tonight he will be drawing together his many passions for an entertaining evening!

Monday 29 September, 2014 – Qskeptics

Evidence Based Medicine

Dr David King, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland

David KingMedicine has quite a chequered history. In days of yore Medicine had more conjectures than facts. It was considered more of an ‘art’ than a ‘science’. Some treatments thought to be useful were just untested folk remedies and were mysterious, problematical and sometimes deadly. Maybe they worked; maybe patients got better in spite of them, some myths are still around today.

Modern medicine is based on the scientific method, but research design suitable to test interventions in populations of patients came of age with the first randomised controlled trial (RCT) in 1948 and the subsequent development of Evidence-based medicine. RCTs overcome the problems of the placebo effect, confounding factors causing the apparent improvement, and the underlying natural history of the disease. However, there are many situations when RCTs are inappropriate or unethical and we need to build a case of evidence using trial design lower in the evidence hierarchy.

Pharmaceutical companies and policy makers have embraced EBM to legitimise their actions, but the process is open to abuse and ‘harder to detect’ biases. There is a need to understand the strengths and limitations of EBM and to develop ethical standards for the conduct and reporting of medical research.

  • Time: Dinner 6pm, meeting 7:30pm.
  • Venue: The Redbrick Hotel, Cnr Annerley and Stephens Rd, Woolloongabba.
  • Arrangements: Doors open at 6pm. No need to book – just show up!
  • Questions? For any further information please contact Bob.

Monday 15 September, 2014 – UQ Research Week

In September BrisScience will once again present The University of Queensland’s annual Research Week Public Lectures. This year’s talks are:

Why Groups are the Cornerstone of Mental Health

Prof Alex Haslam, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland

Mental health 300x198Joining just one social group today you will cut your risk of being diagnosed with depression in the next two years by 24%. Such statistics point to the fact that groups are as important for health as diet, exercise, and genetics. Yet their importance is rarely discussed, and far less explained.

This lecture, by Prof Alex Haslam, will discuss how social groups — and the identities they give us — are central to our psychology.  Not only are they a source of social support but they also imbue us with a sense of meaning, belonging, purpose, and agency. In this way, the talk makes the case for a radical change in public discourse about health and well-being and in the policies that service this.

Alex Haslam 1 201x250Alex Haslam is Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology and Australian Laureate Fellow at The University of Queensland. His research focuses on the study of group and identity processes in organizational, social, and clinical contexts.

Together with colleagues, Alex has written and edited 11 books. His most recent books are Social Psychology: Revisiting the Classic Studies (2012) and The New Psychology of Leadership: Identity, Influence and Power (2011).

His work with Michelle Ryan on the Glass Cliff was identified by the New York Times as one of the ‘Best 100 Ideas’ of 2008. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and for the Association for Psychological Science, and on the editorial board of 10 international journals including Scientific American Mind for which he writes regularly.

Treating Arthritis and Diabetes in the Digital Age: A Personalised Approach

Prof Ranjeny Thomas, Diamantina Institute, The University of Queensland

The digital age has brought technologies streaming personalised information right into our hands, onto our wrists, into our wallets and our clothes. What if we could take an individual’s genetic and cellular information and use it to customise personalised smart therapies for crippling and expensive diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diabetes?

In this talk, Professor Ranjeny Thomas from the Translational Research Institute will demonstrate how she and her team have developed smart personalised therapies for rheumatoid arthritis, designed based on an individual’s genetic, antibody and cellular information, and their work towards similar personalised approaches in type 1 diabetes.

Ranjeny Thomas 1 200x250Prof Ranjeny Thomas is clinical Rheumatologist at Princess Alexandra Hospital and head of the Immunology programme at The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute. Her research is focussed on the study of autoimmune disease and restoration of tolerance. Through this work, she developed and tested the first rheumatoid arthritis vaccine.

Ranjeny has also contributed major insights into the pathogenesis of spondyloarthropathies and autoimmune diabetes, leading to the development of disease biomarkers and therapeutic strategies. Ranjeny is founder and a director of the spin-off company, Dendright, which is developing vaccines to suppress autoimmune diseases.

  • Time: 6:30pm to 8:00pm, Monday 15 September.
  • Venue: The EdgeState Library of Queensland, South Brisbane.
  • Arrangements: Doors open at 6pm. No need to book – just show up!
  • Refreshments: There will be complimentary drinks and nibblies following the talk, where Prof Alex Haslam and Prof Ranjeny Thomas will be available to answer any questions.
  • Questions about this event? Contact Andrew.

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This BrisScience event was proudly sponsored by  The University of Queensland.
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