Last night I attended the latest BrisScience public lecture at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts in Brisbane, as a guest of the convenor of the series, Jennifer Dodd. Speaker, John Drenann spoke about the value of electron microscopy in this country and the growth of the research network as a means of better understanding metallurgical, materials, biological, chemical structures at the atomic level. He demonstrated the live, internet-mediated Nanoworld microscope at the University of Queensland, and noted how important the research arising from this level of investigation can be for all matter of fields from architecture and construction, to microbiology, genetic engineering and environmental research. This is great work, though expensive, and it’s clear that we need to raise the profile of this kind of research in order to cover the costs of running the equipment and facilities – in excess of A$2 million a year for the microscopes at UQ.
I’m convinced there are ways that we can maximise the use of these services more efficiently, but once again, it comes down to communicating the value of the research findings in terms of cost reduction and knowledge sharing to convince the commercial sector to invest in these services.
This series is an extremely valuable means of educating the public about science research being conducted around the country, and to raise awareness of the value and difficulties inherent in those research programs. I applaud BrisScience for their efforts in developing this public lecture series and I encourage all locals to go along to the next event at the end of May (on the end of the Universe!). These are free public seminars lasting an hour, and all attendees are entitled to a free beer, wine or softdrink at the end of the seminar. Signage rights are available for organisations who wish to sponsor the drinks component of the event (cheap and valuable advertising IMHO), and the series is sponsored for the year by the University of Queensland. Last night, around 150 people were in attendance, so it’s another example of the fact that there really is an interested community of people who want to learn about the issues and achievements of our researchers, and to engage in public debate about the issues arising from findings.
I’d like to take this oportunity to thank Jennifer Dodd and the BrisScience crew for inviting me to come along to the event and to join them for drinks after the seminar. I’m happy to be an ambassador and advocate for the BrisScience program.