Academics jump on their soapboxes for science

Three Flinders University researchers will take part in Adelaide’s inaugural Soapbox Science event – a novel public outreach platform for promoting women and non-binary scientists and the science they do.

Dr Alyce Martin and Dr Lauren Jones from the College of Medicine and Public Health and PhD Candidate Lauren Common from the College of Science and Engineering will speak at this year’s event, to be held at Science Alive! in Adelaide Showground, Wayville, on August 5.

Originally developed in London, Soapbox Science events transform public areas into an arena for public learning and scientific debate.​ The idea allows everyone the opportunity to enjoy, learn from, heckle, question, probe, interact with and be inspired by leading scientists. There will be no middle man, no PowerPoint slides, no amphitheatre – just remarkable women and non-binary scientists who are there to amaze the audience with their latest discoveries, and to answer the science questions people have been burning to ask.

Local events are predominantly run by academics, with this year’s organising committing led by Flinders University’s Dr Margaret Shanafield from the College of Science and Engineering and featuring Dr Yee Lian Chew from the College of Medicine and Public Health. The Adelaide event is supported by Inspiring South Australia, AIPS Tall Poppy Campaign, the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and Science Alive.

Meet the speakers:

Dr Alyce Martin
Talk Title: ‘It’s a gut thing’ – Insights into how bacteria and gut hormones impact our health.

Dr Alyce Martin

“I have studied and worked at Flinders University since 2008, having completed a Bachelor of Medical Science in 2011 followed by a Bachelor of Science with Honours in 2012. I went on to complete my PhD at the end of 2018 in the lab of Professor Damien Keating, studying how unique serotonin-producing cells in the gut detect and respond to their environment. Following my postdoctoral position in the Keating Lab, studying the role of serotonin in gut motility, I was awarded an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award Fellowship for 2022, and I now lead the Gut Hormones in Health and Disease Laboratory within the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute. Our primary research focus is how different nutrients and bacteria within the gut contribute to hormone release from cells within the gut, and how this is integrated into crucial processes such as energy metabolism, gut function and gut-brain communication.​”

Dr Lauren Jones

Dr Lauren Jones
Talk Title: A gut feeling – serotonin in the second brain.

Lauren is a cell biologist at Flinders University, having just completed her PhD which focused on the role of serotonin in gut motility and the gut-brain axis. Lauren is a specialist in confocal microscopy, having held a position during her PhD at the Flinders University Microscopy Facility. She has recently had her work published in the prestigious journal Gastroenterology. Lauren is currently undertaking her role as a Postdoctoral researcher at the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute, continuing her work on gut serotonin and the gut-brain axis.

Lauren Common, PhD Candidate
Talk Title: On vampires and birds – the invasive blood sucking fly eating Darwin’s finches.

Lauren Common

Lauren is a third-year PhD candidate in the BirdLab at Flinders University. After completing her Bachelor of Science (Honours) in animal behaviour in 2018, she was fascinated by how different species interact with each other. Her project focuses on the new relationship between an invasive parasitic fly and its hosts, the iconic Darwin’s finches in the Galapagos Islands. These flies, known as Avian Vampire Flies, drink the blood of baby birds as they grow in the nest, causing high death rates in vulnerable bird populations. Lauren is investigating the impact of this introduced parasite, selection on parasite populations and how hosts and parasites interact

The Inaugural Soapbox Science Adelaide event will be held at Science Alive! ​on August 5th 2022. Click here for details of how to attend.

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