Question: Does your work help others in a significant way?

  1. I’m going to answer this in two parts, my science work and my science communication work.
    My scientific research was all about working out how the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae makes a slime layer. With that slime layer intact it can hide from your immune system while it gives you pneumonia (severe lung infection) or much much worse. The more we understand about this layer and how its made the better chance we have of breaking it and so without the slime it cannot make you sick. This is really important as this bacteria kills millions of people every year including a million children under 5 years old in the developing world every year. This work very obviously helps other people in the long run.

    As for my science communication work, it to has the potential to help many people. The best case scenario is that if I make you excited enough in science that you become a scientist who saves a life then I have also helped that person. Because I don’t just talk to you though I have the potential to help 1000’s of kids become excited by science and if they all save lives then that’s pretty amazing! I don’t expect that happens very often but is more likely is that I help someone understand something that they didn’t before. When that happens people are less likely to be afraid of science and become more interested in the world around them. My mum doesn’t know a lot of science and often feels like its too hard and not worth it but without her realising it I have been making her more and more comfortable with science and now she can explain evolution and a bunch of other things as well all because I could talk to her and make her interested in something she couldn’t understand.

    Hope that helps 🙂


  2. Hi there,

    I would like to think so.

    I recently had a lady come up to me and tell me i inspired her to pursue research in teh animal fields. that was certainly great to hear



  1. Hi Braedon101,
    I have a similar answer to James when it comes to science communication. But to give you an example of how different areas of science help people in different ways.

    Some of my work has helped land managers to identify and target their work to make sure that invasive animals are not causing impacts. Invasive animals cost Australia billions of dollars per year, money that could be going to other things. So by reducing this it frees money up for other goals.


  2. I like to think so. One way is just in bringing general awareness to the community about our Universe and our place in it. Another way is in the process of building new and better telescopes and pushing back the frontier of technology, there is a chance that we discover some new technology that has applications far beyond astronomy. A case in point – did you know that radio astronomers looking for exploding black holes invented WiFi? True. CSIRO own the patent on the 802.11 wireless protocol. Everyone who uses a mobile phone, iPod, laptop etc etc has benefited from astronomers asking fundamental questions about the Universe. When we finally figure out what dark matter and dark energy are and revise the fundamental laws of physics, who knows what great technologies that will translate in to 50 or 100 years down the track.