F5E8B1B0-ECCD-4498-B407-399C94B91EBB Created with sketchtool. Science at the Shine Dome Field Reports – Michael

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  Last updated June 8, 2017 at 1:57 pm

We asked a bunch of young scientists who received the Lindau Nobel Laureate Fellowship to be our field reporters at the annual Science at the Shine Dome conference. In this report, Michael, a physicist from Brisbane, writes about the conference.

This week I joined the Australian delegation to the Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting for our first group activity – attending the Science at the Shine Dome conference in Canberra.

I was not sure how much I would enjoy the talks at Science at the Shine Dome. The conference is the meeting the Australian Academy of Science, who are basically Australia’s most elite and senior scientists. I have been to quite a few conferences already, and I know from experience that talks usually go into technical details that can be almost unintelligible if I don’t already know the topic. Here the theme is simply “science”, with topics ranging from abstract math to clinical practice. That provides them a lot of opportunities to lose me in details. Actually, the speakers were great, keeping things both simple and inspiring. One speaker mentioned that he was using the talk he usually uses at high schools. I thoroughly approve of that approach, though I don’t think I would have the nerve to tell Australia’s most distinguished scientists that I was giving them a talk designed for school kids.

Part of Science at the Shine Dome was a formal dinner. I was quite impressed how well scientists can clean up. I don’t usually associate scientists with dressing sharp; I suspect that less than half of my colleagues own a suit, and there are several that I don’t think I have ever seen wearing shoes. The crowd here, by contrast, had really mastered the refined look.

The centerpiece of each table was a 3D printed model animal with a light inside. They looked quite cool. We were already familiar with the 3D printer used to build them, since they had set it up at the venue so we could watch it create models during the conference breaks.

Looking over the week, I am glad that I had the chance to come here. I met a lot of interesting people and made some contacts that could be very valuable. I leaned all sorts of things, including why seawater can foam and freshwater cannot, the unusual way that Australia’s Eastern mountains grew, the fact that 90-95% of native predators die on first contact with invading cane toads, and that most of the bacteria living in our gut are not known or named. Overall I had a good time. I hope to come back to Science at the Shine Dome again.

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About the Author

Michael Taylor
Michael Taylor works at the University of Queensland where he builds advanced microscopes to image the activity of fish brains as they process information. He originally studied experimental physics because he loves to invent and build things, and now translates this into neuroscience research. Michael spends most of his spare time with his three small children. He was sponsored to attend the 2017 Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting by the Human Frontier Science Program, and with further support from a Science and Industry Endowment Fund – Australian Academy of Science Fellowship.


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