Hello 2016

As I get down to work in the new year, here’s a reminder of my Christmas and New Year break.

Save the Winton Wetlands sea-eagles in seven days

Sea-eagle at the Winton wetlandsThere are a gazillion conservation causes to donate to, but you don’t often get the chance to save two particular wild animals – let’s call them Seymour and Serena. They are a pair of white-bellied sea-eagles that nest at the Winton wetlands in north-east Victoria (a long way from the sea, despite their name). These wetlands are being restored (the biggest wetland restoration project in the southern hemisphere) after having been flooded for a few decades to form Lake Mokoan – a water source for irrigation.

When I worked in wetland conservation (a long time ago), Lake Mokoan was the sort of place people would roll their eyes about. Although it was a popular recreation lake at times, it was very hard to manage (suffering from regular toxic algal blooms), and the dead tree-scape visible from the Hume highway was an eyesore. It’s great to see what’s been achieved with the decommissioning of Lake Mokoan, and the restoration of the wetlands. There is now a visitor centre and cafe and activities such as canoeing, cycling, walking and stargazing. For birdos, almost 190 species have been recorded.Continue reading “Save the Winton Wetlands sea-eagles in seven days”

Science on your skin


One of the young women who works at one of our local cafés has an equation tattooed on the front of her neck. It’s hard to read, a bit complicated – she said it’s the equation for Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Personally, I’m not willing to go that far in order to communicate science (much to everyone’s relief, no doubt!), but plenty of others are. Take a look at these science-inspired tattoos collated by TechInsider.

Science writer Carl Zimmer even put together a book in 2011, called Science Ink, on scientists with tattoos  that reflect their work.

[Photo credit: Shannon Archuleta via Compfight cc]



David Crystal’s ‘Making a Point’ and a Q&A with editor and teacher Stephanie Holt: newsletter

Punctuation symbolsThis morning I sent out the December newsletter for Editors Victoria. It includes Louise Zedda-Sampson’s review of David Crystal’s new book on punctuation, Making a Point, and Paul Bugeja’s report back from Storyology 2015.

Also, should editors charge like plumbers or panelbeaters? Dear Ed answers that tricky question.

The whole newsletter is here.

Editing at Hepburn Springs, and a life science editing accreditation

Typing handsThe November Editors Victoria newsletter is out!

Two days of editing in Hepburn Springs: what did those lucky editors learn at Redact? Reports on the three streams: manuscript editing with Nadine Davidoff, supercharging your business with Ilona Way and editing digital content with John Ryan.

And the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS) accreditation for editing in the life sciences. Joely Taylor tells us about sitting the exam.

Update: The November 2015 newsletter is no longer available online.

Review: Junkyard Planet

My review of Adam Minter’s Junkyard Planet:  travels in the billion-dollar trash trade is out on Science Book a Day today:Junkyard Planet

Do you recycle? Separate out your paper, cans and labelled plastic from your landfill waste? Take your computer waste to a resource recovery centre? Go you! I do too, and every little bit helps, right?

Well, yes, of course it does. But if you read Junkyard Planet you’ll realise the vast chasm between our ‘recycling’ and the actual, multi-stage and often international process of recycling that turns our discarded plastic or metal into something new.

Read more on Science Book a Day.

Read my other review posts.

Australia’s best science writing 2015

Australia’s best science writing 2015

If you’re in Sydney next Tuesday (27 Oct 2015), you could attend the launch of the Best Australian Science Writing 2015 anthology, edited by science journalist Bianca Nogrady. The winner of the $7000 Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing will also be announced.

More info and link to registration on the UNSW Science website. [Update – old link removed]

Citizen science: Deciphering old specimen notes for the Natural History Museum

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Study skins of Garrulus glandarius in Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s another citizen science project – especially for those who have a good eye for old-fashioned handwriting. The Natural History Museum in London is being helped by online volunteers who are transcribing old hand-written descriptions of the 780,000+ bird specimens in their collection.

Some of the records date back to the 1830s but they were being handwritten up until 1990. Once in digital form, the records will be publicly accessible, so you would be helping out scientists around the world. It takes around 15 minutes per page.

Find out more at Notes for nature.

2015 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science – just announced

The recipients of the 2015 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science were announced by Ian Chubb, Australia’s Chief Scientist, at a press conference today. Congratulations to:

Continue reading “2015 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science – just announced”

Citizen science: measure 3D beak scans to help study bird evolution

Data on bird beaks will help explain the evolution of bird species
Data on bird beaks will help explain the evolution of bird species

From your computer you can help Uni of Sheffield, UK, scientists study the evolution of biological diversity in birds. They are looking at beaks, which say a lot about a bird’s ecological niche (think hummingbird, toucan or pelican).

The help they are after is marking ‘landmarks’ on 3D scans of beaks from birds in museum collections. That will allow them to quantify descriptions of the beaks’ shape, and make their comparisons. And your good work will also help other scientists because the data will be made publicly available.

Go to Mark my bird to get involved.

Science videoblog comp

Got a science story to tell? Make a short video about it and enter RiAus’s Video Blog Competition [update: old link removed]. They are after creative, inventive and entertaining stories.

There’s a ‘how to videoblog’ instruction video on the competition website. Entries close 16 October – then the video entries will be up online for voting (popularity is one of the judging criteria).

It’s open to Australian residents 18 years or older.

Editors Victoria September 2015 newsletter: a peek into textbook editing

I’ve just sent out the Editors Victoria September newsletter to members. And it’s online for all to see.

This month we get a peek into text book editing with Sandra Duncanson, former teacher and now Senior Editor at Insight Publications, who has just released her first text book, English Year 10.

Liz Steele (L) and Lan Wang (R) after the presentation

And we see all the reasons why editing legend Lan Wang has been made an Honorary Life Member of Editors Victoria (newsletters, conferences, publications and professional development are just the start).

Plus a great run-down of activities over the last year.

Update: The September 2015 newsletter is no longer available online.