story, science, technology and creativity

Writing science: Avian AIDS, French beetles, ocean modelling and parasite genetics

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When I’m not writing children’s fiction, I’m writing popular science, and right now I’m thrilled to be working with SciTech as a consultant editor, collaborating with the ScienceNetwork WA news team and content editor to increase our readership and spread the word of Western Australian science.

This is a mission I’m close to: to paraphrase Todd Sampson, saying you’re not interested in science is like saying you’re not interested in life.

And to borrow the words of Australia’s Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb, science ‘is not something that can be turned on or off when we feel like it’. It needs long-term commitment and funding.

So we need to be celebrating and supporting our scientific achievements, and writing them into the spotlight is part of this. I don’t think science can fix all the world’s ills, but it’s certainly worth our best shot.

Before I took on this role, I wrote four incredibly diverse stories for SNWA, showcasing just a slice of what makes WA science so great. I’ve posted links and summaries below. If you’d like to read more great WA science, check out the SNWA website or subscribe to our weekly news update. See you there!

Ouvea parrot

‘Avian AIDS’ virus poses threat to endangered New Caledonian parrots

Summary: The local people of New Caledonia have worked hard to protect their native Ouvea parrot, improving its status from critically endangered to threatened. Now a young Aussie researcher has found that rainbow lorikeets introduced to the parrots’ island are infected with avian circovirus, an incurable parrot disease that could crossover into the Ouvea parrot population. Read the article…

Dung_beetle_CSIRO_DAFWAFrench beetles tackle Great Southern cattle dung

Summary: There’s a new player in the battle of the bushflies vs dung beetles, and it’s French and rather horny. In this article I look at Onthophagus vacca, an imported species of beetle introduced to a Kojonup cattle farm as part of National Science Week. Read the article…

climatology_WestPacificWarmPool_CNASAEarthObservatorySkipjack tuna fare better under high-res model

Summary: For years our scientists have done the best job they can with the tools available. Now, using meatier supercomputers and higher-resolution ocean models, forecasts indicate climate in the 2060s may not be as devastating to tuna populations as lower-res models previously indicated. Read the article…

cryptosporidium_oocystsGene sequencing refines threatening parasite list

Summary: How do you tell the difference between a tiny, shiny ball that could infect our entire tap-water-drinking population, and a tiny, shiny ball that can’t infect humans at all? The oocysts of parasite Cryptosporidium may look the same under the microscope, but now a Murdoch University professor is using genetic sequencing to tell them apart. Read the article…



Author: cristyburne


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