Our keynote speakers will be Prof. Aidan Byrne, CEO of the Australian Research Council, and Dr. Amber Beavis, a science communicator, researcher and storyteller.


Professor Aidan Byrne

Professor Aidan Byrne Website photo.jpgProfessor Aidan Byrne is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Australian Research Council. He was appointed in July 2012. Professor Byrne is a welcomed force at the ARC to help deliver its key priorities and deliverables.

Previously the Dean of Science and the Director of the Australian National University (ANU) College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Professor Byrne brings with him a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise particularly in the Physical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering.

Professor Byrne completed a BSc and MSc degrees at the University of Auckland before commencing a PhD degree at the ANU in 1981. Following the completion of his degree at the Department of Nuclear Physics he held positions with the University of Melbourne and spent over two years in Bonn, Germany as a von Humboldt fellow. He returned to the ANU in 1989 as a Research Fellow and in 1991 commenced a joint appointment between the Department of Physics, in the Faculty of Science and the Department of Nuclear Physics, Research School of Physical Sciences and Engineering. He was Head of the Department of Physics from 2003 to 2007.

His research interests involve the use of gamma-rays as probes to determine the structure of heavy nuclei and the examination of the atomic level structure of materials (especially semiconductors). He has published over 200 papers.


Dr. Amber Beavis

AmberBeavis_SpiderDr Amber Beavis is a science communicator, researcher and storyteller. Originally an arachnologist (aka a spider scientist) and museum researcher, she has over two decades of experience in scientific education, research science, museum studies and community outreach, particularly in regional and remote areas of Australia and the Pacific. Currently working as a not-for-profit researcher, Dr Beavis will shortly commence a new role as Senior Researcher in the Office of Australia’s Chief Scientist.

Dr Beavis’ work on spiders has taken her on a diverse career path. Having completed a PhD on the Australian funnel web spider at ANU she went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California Berkeley; an Endeavour Research Fellowship in Samoa and Tokelau; and a Churchill Fellowship based at iconic museums in London, New York, San Francisco and Hawaii.

In 2012 Dr Beavis joined the Western Australian Museum as a research scientist. While undertaking taxonomic research on WA arachnids, she also worked as the museum’s de facto science communicator, using storytelling techniques to convey complex scientific concepts. In 2014 she developed and hosted the science show, In Layman’s, for Perth community radio. In 2015 she was named as one of the ABC Radio National-UNSW Top 5 Under 40 Scientists in Residence. During her residency Dr Beavis co-produced an episode of Off Track on ABC RN for National Science Week that put a spotlight on the science of taxonomy.

Dr Beavis is currently working on a diverse range of science communication and museum advocacy projects, as well as agitating for gender equity in the sciences. Overall she is passionate about using storytelling to engage diverse audiences in life-long scientific learning.