Flying Scientists

In collaboration with the Wonder of Science, we are excited to deliver the program 'Flying Scientists: Engaging Rural Queenslanders in Science'.

The Flying Scientists are early-mid career researchers that accompany Young Science Ambassadors into regional Queensland centres for community Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) awareness events.

The program was developed to address the shortage of science related events convened outside South East Queensland – see survey reports commissioned by the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist which highlights this information.

For more information visit the Flying Scientist page on the Wonder of Science website.

2022-23 visits

This year, Flying Scientists made five trips to regional and remote locations across Queensland where they engaged with more than 1,780 students, teachers and communities members in larger regional centres such as Goondiwindi, Cooktown and Mount Isa as well as a number of smaller towns including Eidsvold, Inglewood and Rossville.

With the Covid restrictions well behind us, the scientists were able to visit 22 schools where they spoke about their amazing research and career paths. These Flying Scientists included:

  • Professor Rachel Allavena from The University of Queensland who talked about treating dogs with cancer and how their treatment can translate to humans
  • Dr Melanie Roberts from Griffith University who explained how mathematical modelling can be used to help protect the Great Barrier Reef
  • Dr Anne Sawyer from The University of Queensland who spoke about developing environmentally friendly vaccines to protect pineapples, avocadoes and native plants from diseases.

Flying Scientists also held an online session for 60 students and teachers from the Charleville School of Distance Education and had display stands at three World Science Festival events in Ipswich, Toowoomba and Townsville where they interacted with more than 5,000 attendees.

2021-22 visits

Fifteen Flying Scientists visited schools and communities in twelve regional locations to talk about their research and careers in 2021-22, inspiring the next generation of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professionals and increasing engagement with scientists for greater scientific literacy.

Locations visited: Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Duaringa, Woorabinda, Rockhampton, Townsville, Gladstone, Biloela, Springsure, Emerald, Longreach and Barcaldine.

Highlight from 2021-22:

  • a virtual panel discussion with five scientists including Professor Hugh Possingham, Queensland Chief Scientist, and Professor Ian Frazer AC for more than 60 very enthusiastic students, teachers and parents from the Cairns School of Distance Education community
  • a visit to Central Queensland by Professor Frazer AC and four other scientists including two researchers from Mater Research - members of the group engaged with more than 400 curious students from five schools.

2021 visits

In March, the Flying Scientists visited Emerald. More than 130 people attended the community event to hear from:

  • Queensland Chief Scientist, Prof Hugh Possingham
  • Snake expert, Dr Christina Zdenek
  • Fossil specialist, Dr Anita Milroy
  • Lead scientist in the Parasites in the Wild citizen science project, Saba Sinai

The scientists spoke about their area of research, their careers and the importance of developing STEM skills. There were interactive displays of fossils from the area as well as the local Science Squad’s work on the citizen science project.

During the visit to Emerald, the Flying Scientists visited Emerald State School and Capella State High School and Prof Possingham lead a bird walk in the botanical gardens.

2020 visits

2020 was an interesting year for the Flying Scientists with social distancing and travel restrictions changing the way they engaged with schools and the community.

Despite these challenges, the Flying Scientists held a range of virtual events with students across the state to talk science.

The topics explored included:

  • fossils and fanged kangaroos
  • earth and space
  • water quality
  • virus science
  • science careers
  • Q&A sessions with scientists.

The Flying Scientists worked directly with a number of regional schools across Queensland and shared their discussions online to enable everyone to learn and enjoy science.

The locations they engaged directly with were:

  • Mt Isa
  • Gympie
  • Cairns
  • Yeppoon
  • and Chinchilla.

For view these sessions online visit the Wonder of Science Queensland YouTube page.

2019 visits

The Flying Scientists program continues to grow with 16 passionate STEM professionals travelling to 11 cities and towns across regional Queensland to speak to local communities about what it is like to work in a STEM field.

Audiences including school students engaged with scientists as they learnt more about educational and entertaining topics such as:

  • volcanoes and eruptions
  • how the human brain makes decisions
  • protecting our precious waterways
  • using microbes to accelerate mine site remediation
  • how bone, tooth, antler, ivory, claw, quill, shell were used to create tools and ornaments by First Australians over the past 65,000 years
  • the 1959 lunar landing 50 years ago.

Flying Scientists’ talks and displays at the World Science Festival's Gladstone (6500 attendees) and Chinchilla (2500 attendees) locations, and the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist’s community event (200 attendees) at its National Science Week Regional STEM Pop-up in Maryborough attracted large numbers of visitors. A total of 10,916 people engaged with a Flying Scientist in 2019.

See below the 11 locations visited and which Flying Scientist attended:

Gladstone – Dr Michelle Langley

Chinchilla – Dr James Kesby

Cairns – Dr Teresa Ubide

Hervey Bay – Dr Honor Hugo, Dr Audra Shadforth

Charleville Cosmos Centre – Dr Jake Clark, Dr Jyotsna Batra, Dr Eric Street

Longreach – Dr Tom Cole-Hunter

Maryborough – Dr Francesca Frentiu

Cooktown – Dr Michael Simmonds

Mackay – Dr Emma Gagen

Airlie Beach – Dr Jenny Allen

Tullawong – Dr Shaneel Chanra, Dr Michela Mitchell, Dr James Kesby

2018 visits

Flying Scientists visited communities in seven regional locations from Weipa in the north to Longreach in the west to talk about their amazing research and careers.

More than 3300 community members and school students attended presentations on topics from how sunscreen works and the important role it plays in reducing the risk of developing melanoma to crocodiles and how they feed, move around wetlands and what this mean for conservation.

Flying Scientists joined the World Science Festival Brisbane as part of its regional tour to Gladstone and Chinchilla again this year. In August, they also attended the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist’s National Science Week Regional STEM Pop-up in Longreach.

Both events and the Flying Scientists program bring scientists and the community together, inspiring young minds and engaging many who would not usually have the opportunity to participate in scientist-based activities.

See below the 7 locations visited and which Flying Scientist attended:

Gladstone – Dr Vince Dalbo

Chinchilla – Dr Jonathon Peake

Taroom – Dr Ken Dutton-Register

Longreach – Dr Ken Dutton-Register

Weipa – Dr Fernanda Adame

Cloncurry – Dr Kaylene Butler

Bundaberg – Dr Sri Srinivasan

2017 visits

In 2017, 8 scientists (Dr Shihu Hu, Dr Soi Law, Dr Alice Hayward, Dr Paul Shaw, Dr Paul Luckman, Dr Makrina Totsika, Dr Dimitrios Vagenas and Dr Janine Hoormann) visited 6 locations across Queensland including Gladstone and Chinchilla as part of World Science Festival as well as Charleville, Mt Isa, Weipa and Calen (near Mackay). These scientists reached almost 6000 people with the Gladstone community event covering almost half of that figure.

2016 visits

Three scientists (Dr Paul Pounds, Dr Cheryl McCarthy and Dr Kate Hutson) visited 5 regions across Queensland (Wandoan, Roma, Charleville, Longreach and Cooktown) reaching over 350 people.