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The World Science Festival descended for its second year on our gorgeous sub-tropcial city. Day One of my volunteering at the Festival included – 

  • A stint at the Translational Research Institute (TRI) for the Cancer Crusaders Apprentice Program where high school kids, in an educational lab, observed cancer cells through a microscope &  the effect of chemotherapy drugs on these cells. We watched time lapse videos where non-cancerous and cancerous cells containing the green fluorescent protein went through stages of cell division (mitosis). We could see the chromosomes aligned in the centre of the cells & then pulled towards the edges as the cell prepared to split in two. Amazing!! 
  • Helping out at the Queensland Museum on an interactive display for kids on the three major factors effecting the health of the Great Barrier Reef – increase temperature, land clearing and increased rainfall. Using wii technology kids moved their hands clockwise and anti-clockwise to  change these factors and got to see first hand on a big screen the effect on a coral reef and its animal inhabitants 

Between my shifts I spent sometime at the Museum checking out various exhibitions, including the Hatchery, an exhibition of some of the Museum’s most prized collections, and a multitude of natural history displays. The Hatchery is a display where the public can view Loggerhead turtles emerge from eggs and newly emerged loggerhead and flatback hatchlings swimming in aquariums.  And this year they had Moon jellyfish (baby turtle food) on display in illuminated aquarium – so beautiful! I was in awe. Then I ventured on to look at the prized collections, which included an extinct gastric brooding frog (wow!!!), an exhibit of fossils unearthed from Geebung (north Brisbane) a few years ago (I blogged about it here)(very cool to see fossils of animals that lived in the area 50 million years ago), then on to displays of insects, birds, mammals, live green snakes, rainforest geckos, giant burrowing cockroaches and giant stick insects. 

Phew! A fun and educational day! 

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The weather in Brisbane has been hot, humid and rainy for the last few days – ideal weather for fungi and for fungi spotting. 

Last Friday, 24th March, my eyes were pealed on my walk to work and during my lunch break for any and every kind of fungi. Mushrooms galore, chanterelles, mycena, bird nest fungi, plate fungi and slime mould, but no stinkhorns. 

 

As I took our dog for his morning walk  I was rather chuffed to see a myriad of mushrooms and even a fairy ring in a local park. I have not observed a fairy ring in this park before. Pretty cool, I thought!



I blogged about my first day of volunteering at the World Science Festival Brisbane here. Now for a rundown on Day Two of volunteering. 

My one and only shift for the day was with the Microbiologist Apprentice program at QIMR Berghoffer where high school kids and their parents looked at the anti-microbial properties of plants, and used a fluorescent product to detect if the bacterial cells were alive or dead. The attendees even got to do a sixteen streak inoculation of an agar plate with the sample bacterial culture. 

I helped seal their plates and clean up the lab afterwards. It was very cool to be back in a micro lab. It all came rushing back. And I got to catch a glimpse of some small agarose gel tanks and PCR machines. It takes me back! It’s been eleven years since I was in a lab!

Then it was on to Southbank to catch up with a good friend and some Street Science. We saw some fluorescent coral, some starfish, hermit crabs, a 3D printer and all kinds of cool science and engineering stuff. I would have loved this stuff when I was a kid and a teenage science nerd! No wonder the kids love Street Science! 

Can’t wait to be involved in the Festival next year!

I spotted the fungus – one of the most spectacular of all fungi – the lattice stinkhorn (Colus pusillus) in a damp native flower bed beside the footpath. My morning, filled with sad goodbyes to my partner and dog, had suddenly got brighter! Nature never ceases to amazing me and uplift my spirits. 


Lattice stinkhorn (Colus pusillus) spotted at Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Check out this great document from the Queensland Mycological Society on Colus pusillus here.

Read my short story ‘A Queer Girl’s Dream Come True’ here on Wattpad.

Two years ago I blogged about my experience of attending the university-wide final of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT). You can check out that post here. Well I was once again privileged to attend the UQ 3MT Final, held at the stunning heritage building, Customs House. You can read about Customs House here

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ) and involves postgraduate research students presenting their research in 3 short minutes in a language that everyone can understand.
It is a fantastic example of science communication – taking a complex scientific topic and transforming it into an engaging, accessible and lay audience appropriate story. Students from the eight faculties and institutes vied to win. 

Anna-Liisa Sutt from the Faculty of Medicine won the Final and also won the People’s Choice, as voted by the audience. You can read about Anna-Liisa’s win and research here.

This year I had an amazing professional science communication opportunity. I was asked to tweet on behalf of UQ Health! I live tweeted throughout the Final. I received some good feedback from our marketing and communications team and hope I’ll have a few more opportunities in the months and years to come. You can check out UQ Health on Twitter here and on Facebook here