UNSW and ABC RN give science communicators a voice

Are you an early-career STEMM researcher with a flair and passion for communicating your work? Apply for Top 5 under 40, a partnership that gives a voice to a new generation of science thinkers.


The University of New South Wales (UNSW) and ABC RN today opened applications for the Top 5 Under 40, a partnership that gives a voice to a new generation of science thinkers.

The nationwide search is open to early-career researchers with a PhD, who are under the age of 40, working in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical research, and who have a flair and passion for communicating their vital work.

The Top 5 Under 40 winners will undertake a 10-day residency in Sydney at ideas network ABC RN. They will receive training in the craft of radio and TV interviews, get a rare ‘behind-the-scenes’ insight into the ABC and work with some of Australia’s best science journalists.

Science communicators aren’t born, they’re trained. Practise your message, hone your technique and learn from the best.

Following the national call out, the 10 most promising science communicators will be shortlisted for interview. The 2017 judging panel comprises Robyn Williams, presenter of RN's The Science Show, Professor Fiona Stanley, epidemiologist from the University of Western Australia, and Professor Merlin Crossley, UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor and former Dean of Science.

UNSW’s Professor Crossley said: “We’re delighted to once again partner with RN to celebrate the country’s up-and-coming researchers and help them communicate their newest ideas. More than ever before, we need these talented scientists to lead the way by contributing to society through their knowledge and expertise.”

Now in its third successful year, the initiative is supported by Top 5 Under 40 Ambassadors Dr Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Emma Johnston, marine scientist and incoming Dean of Science at UNSW, Natasha Mitchell, science journalist and broadcaster at RN, and Associate Professor Alan Duffy, astrophysicist and Research Fellow at Swinburne University of Technology.

"Science communicators aren’t born, they’re trained,” said Associate Professor Duffy. “Practise your message, hone your technique and learn from the best. RN and UNSW's Top 5 Under 40 gives the next generation the very best training. They learn the art of storytelling – and the science of communication – by doing.

“The support and resources in this incredible initiative compress a lifetime's learning into two weeks. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”

In a timely indication of the program’s success, two of the 2015 Top 5 Under 40 cohort are involved in new ABC podcasts. Astronomer Dr Amanda Bauer is now co-presenter of Cosmic Vertigo, a conversational podcast about the dizzying marvels of space science. Chemist Dr Alice Williamson co-presents Dear Science, a light-hearted show that digs up ‘agony aunt’ letters and tackles them again – with science. Both podcasts are produced by the RN Science Unit and are launching in late March at the World Science Festival, Brisbane.

Apply here for Top 5 Under 40.