James Byrne

Another day, another bucket of questions

Favourite Thing: My favourite thing to do in science now is talk about it. I worked as a microbiologist for 4 years looking at how to stop a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae make people sick. My new job is talking to people about all the great science being done all around the world.



The Heights (Modbury Heights) from 1992-2003


University of Adelaide (undergraduate – 2004-2006, honours – 2007, PhD 2008-2012)

Work History:

Writing Jobs: Founder and Editor – Disease Of The Week – 2009-2010; Writer – Disease Prone @ Field of Science – 2010; Writer – Disease Prone @ Scientific American – 2011-2012; Assorted published writing in the Adelaide Advertiser, Scientific American, COSMOS Magazine, The Naked Scientists and other from 2009 onwards. Actual Jobs: PhD Student – 2008-2012; Associate Lecturer – the University of Adelaide – 2011


Royal Institution of Australia

Current Job:

Programs Co-ordinator

Me and my work

I was a microbiologist working to understand how bacteria make you sick and now I’m a science communicator who talks and writes about science everyday.

The work I do at the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus) is to engage people with science. I do this by putting together live events about science for people who either come to our auditorium or we take our events out into the community.

My Typical Day

I spend a lot of time being creative but am interrupted regularly with lots of emails and phone calls to make my events happen.

Many of my days are spent thinking and planning the events that we run. Putting on a live show takes a lot of planning so I am often found checking on things, designing props, checking the camera shots and plugging in microphones. On the night of an event though I get to mingle with the guests and help them put on a show to entertain and inform the public about science.

What I'd do with the money

Start a website called “Stuff People Should Know”.

In addition to my work at RiAus I have been writing about science since 2009. I have written for newspapers, magazines and lots of different websites including some of my own. Until very recently I wrote for the American science magazine Scientific American about bacteria and disease on a blog called ‘Disease Prone’.

Over that time I found that most people write about what is in the news that day but I’m sick of reading that kind of writing. Instead my website would be for people to write about things people should know because they are interesting or important, not because its the topic of the day. It would all be 🙂

I’ve already started putting it all together but the cash would make it a reality which would be very exciting 🙂

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

work-o-holic, excitable, science-nerd

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Arctic Monkeys

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I went on holiday to Fiji and everything there is fun.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1. My new baby will always be happy and successful 2. I remain able to do the things which make me happy and feel successful 3. To make a difference

What did you want to be after you left school?

I left school certain I was going to be a physicist. I don’t think I knew what that meant but I enjoyed physics more than anything else so I knew I wanted to pursue that.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Very occasionally. I was more of a background guy. I was in an accelerated class so I got bullied more often than I was the bully.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I did an experiment about 18 months ago that told me something that nobody else in the whole world knew. Its very exciting to be in that position.

Tell us a joke.

I really like very silly humour. I wont tell a joke but instead suggest you google “French taunting Monty Python” or “Vic and Bob – Ships Engine”

Sports followed

AFL and Baseball

Favourite team

Adelaide Crows and Adelaide Bite/Boston Red Sox