Advocating for environmental education

I was excited to get my hands on the July issue of Eingana – the journal of Environment Education Victoria – it was my first issue as copyeditor, and the journal featured a new design to go with the organisation’s new name.

This issue brings together education and advocacy, summed up nicely by EEV Vice President James Tonson, who said that environmental educators ‘both advocate for (environmental) education and educate for advocacy’. And the advocacy ranges from an energy project that won Melbourne Girls’ College a US$100,000 Zayed Future Energy Prize to grassroot environmentalists creating conversations about sustainability in their rural community (with one eye on Paris).

Victorian editors: the August 2015 newsletter is out


All things editing: professional development (Redact registration is now open), accreditation news, reviews (PerfectIt and Nick Hudson’s Modern Australian Usage); debate (the future of Australia’s editing societies), Dear Ed dishes advice on the dreaded three o’clock snooze) and hamsters.
I sent the August Editors Victoria newsletter out today and it’s also online.
But – you won’t find the hamster unless you’re a member, in which case it will be in your inbox. And the PerfectIt discount is also only for members. (It’s a sign)

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

PerfectIt 3 review (or, why you need a PC)

I wrote this review for Editors Victoria’s August 2015 newsletter (not available online).

Much as it galls an editor to let a mistake slip through, the general consensus seems to be that catching 95% of proofreading errors is a pretty good effort. But some editors have a secret weapon that I’m convinced helps them reach greater heights than they would otherwise – a software program called PerfectIt.

Nothing can guarantee perfection, but this program is a great help in ensuring consistency of usage, spelling, punctuation and, to some extent, formatting in your document. I’ve been using PerfectIt Pro (version 2) for a year now, but developer Daniel Heuman of Intelligent Editing kindly supplied me with the recently released version 3 so that I could review it for the Editors Victoria newsletter.

Continue reading “PerfectIt 3 review (or, why you need a PC)”

A feast of editing

I’ve just sent out the May newsletter for Editors Victoria. In it you’ll find:

  • which of the National Literary Awards is of special interest to editors (Editors Victoria Distinguished Editor Susan Keogh has just won it)
  • food for thought for members – should the state and territory societies all come together under the IPEd umbrella? (IPEd is Australia’s Institute of Professional Editors)
  • a month in the life of freelance editor Vanessa Lanaway
  • lots of excitement about write | edit | index, the 2015 Australian Conference for Editors, Indexers and Publishing Professionals.

I’m one of those heading to Canberra for write | edit | index next week. It’ll be my first editors conference, and I’m looking forward to lots of learning and networking (and hoping my new business cards arrive in time!).

You can follow the conference on Twitter @writeeditindex or the hashtag #writeeditindex.

Update: The May 2015 newsletter is no longer available online

FameLab Australia

If you’re a young researcher passionate about science, want to up your presentation and media skills and fancy a trip to the UK’s leading science festival… read on.

Applications for FameLab Australia 2015 are open Tuesday 27 January – Friday 27 February 2015. [Update – old link removed]

Photonics, music, discovery: creativity in science

Just in case you still think that creative people do arts and the sciences are for people who are good at knowing stuff but lack imagination, have a look at this RiAus interview with physicist (and cellist) Tanya Monro.

Apart from being the only person (perhaps apart from Ian Thorpe) who I’ve heard attribute their career to having big feet, Tanya is taking her science (of photonics) into areas that she never expected when she started studying physics.

And it’s the creative aspect of science, and the excitement of discovery, that is keeping her doing research even though she’s recently taken up a position as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) and the University of South Australia.

Watch the interview at: [update – old link removed]

Freelancers thank the bustling times

In the Guardian’s list of “authorisms”:

The top 10 words invented by writers


i) One who sells services to employers without a long-term commitment to any of them.

ii) An uncommitted independent, as in politics or social life.

The word is not recorded before Sir Walter Scott introduced it in Ivanhoe, which (among other things) is often considered the first historical novel in the modern sense. Scott’s freelancers were mercenaries who pledged their loyalty and arms for a fee. This was its first appearance: “I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he refused them – I will lead them to Hull, seize on shipping, and embark for Flanders; thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find employment.”

The complete list is at

Mind you, it makes me wonder how all the other words were invented. Probably in much the same way, just a little earlier in history.

Making molecules crystal clear

Crystallography is one of those mysterious scientific techniques you hear about – and 2014 has been the International Year of Crystallography. But what is it really?

CSIRO have posted a great explanation of how we can bounce X-rays off crystals to see the structure of the component molecules when they are too small to be seen through a light microscope.

It’s at: Making molecules crystal clear. [update – old link removed]

The good and bad of global recycling

Soon I’ll be reviewing Adam Minter’s new book Junkyard Planet for Science Book a Day – just waiting for that parcel in the mail! George Aranda has already posted a synopsis and book trailer – they’re new thing, have you noticed?Continue reading “The good and bad of global recycling”

Decoy nest protects young yellow-rumped thornbills

These little brown birds, seen flitting around woodlands and occasionally my garden, are clever architects whose nest deceives potential predators.

I discovered this after I chose to write a piece on the yellow-rumped thornbill for the Bimblebox 153 Birds Project—a conservation meets art project highlighting the bird species recorded in Bimblebox Nature Refuge in Queensland, which is under threat from a proposed coal mine.Continue reading “Decoy nest protects young yellow-rumped thornbills”

Yellow-rumped thornbill: Bimblebox Art Project

This is the text of my audio piece on the yellow-rumped thornbill for the Bimblebox 153 Birds Art Project, which is touring around Queensland to raise awareness of the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, which is threatened by coal mining. 153 species of birds have been spotted in the reserve.

Yellow-rumped thornbills
Yellow-rumped thornbills

Yellow-rumped thornbills (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa) are endemic to Australia and widespread, particularly across southern Australia.
These lively little little brown birds with the bright yellow rump and spotty forehead have a couple of interesting features—they build a decoy nest and they sometimes breed cooperatively.
After building a dome-shaped nest, where the eggs are laid, they carry on construction—adding a second storey like a classic cup-shaped nest. Being empty, it discourages the attention of potential predators on the eggs and chicks, which are in the real nest below. Experimental studies have shown that the decoy nest does indeed reduce predation.
The trick nest may also help hide the real one from cuckoos. Continue reading “Yellow-rumped thornbill: Bimblebox Art Project”

Book review: ‘At the edge of uncertainty’

My review of Michael Brooks’s book At the edge of uncertainty: 11 discoveries taking science by surprise was posted on Science Book a Day today.

You can find it at

Thanks Science Book a Day George Aranda, it was fun to write.

Read my other review posts.

Ten or more of just about everything science communication

You know how blogs posts/tweets etc entice you in with a number in the heading (ten best …, five tips on …)?

Here’s even better: a compilation of lists and articles on all aspects of science communication from this week [update – old link removed], put together by Kirk Englehardt, Director of Research Communication and Marketing at Georgia Institute of Technology.

So there’s:

Amazingly, Englehardt puts out a compilation like this every week. Following his posts will give you hours of online reading. Which may be just what you need, or not.