I’m currently a lowly Physics PhD student with the MacDiarmid Institute, where my day-to-day work is developing nanopore technology, but I also have strong ties to a number of emerging science education groups including (but not limited to):
- Te Ropu Awhina – an on-campus whanau, at Victoria University of Wellington, supporting the growth and development of Maori and Pacific scientists, technologists, architects and engineers
- FutureinTech – an initiative from IPENZ (Institute of Professional Engineers in New Zealand) where scientists and engineers actively visit schools and careers evenings to encourage students to pursue careers in science.
- MESA – the MacDiarmid Institute Emerging Scientists Association, a group devoted to ‘adding value’ to PhDs and Post Doc completed within the MacDiarmid Institute
- Carter Observatory – the Wellington observatory and self-confessed ‘Gateway to Space’ where I occasionally run planetarium shows and operate the various ancient telescopes!
- Chiasma – an Auckland-based company connecting students with industry positions, trying to promote careers other than academia that science students aren’t typically exposed to during their studies. We’re expanding them to Wellington during 2012
- Cafe Scientifique, Lower Hutt – I help wrangle a monthly science seminar where professional researchers come and discuss their work from the general public. Talks are on the last Thursday of each month at Wholly Bagels near Queensgate and start at 6pm. See the linked website for specific speaker details (or just ask me)
- The Kiwispace Foundation – the brand spanking new Kiwi version of NASA. We’re trying to increase the awareness of space science and use it as a tool to inspire the next generation of scientists!
Elf is also involved with writing, recording, editing and producing several science podcasts:
- TOSP, The Official Sciblogs podcast – a weekly general science podcast discussing the most interesting science from across the web each week with fellow Sciblogger, Aimee Whitcroft
- The World Space Week podcast – a monthly podcast about the current goings-on in global space science and technology.
- Physcast – the global physics podcast, a collection of interviews and discussions around the most interesting science of today: Physics.
I love communicating science – from explaining the “wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff” that we’re all made of, to trying to discern what on earth is making those galaxies spin like that. I enjoy the challenge of discussing complex concepts that at first glance appear impenetrable to a layperson, and boiling them down to their simplest forms so they can be understood by all. My work involves plenty of outreach, particularly thanks to Te Ropu Awhina, the MacDiarmid Institute and Carter Observatory, which keeps me on my toes – as I believe strongly that kids ask the simplest, and therefore the most difficult, questions!
Finally I should probably try and explain my name – sadly ‘Elf’ isn’t my real name, it’s a very pervasive nickname I developed in high school and that I identify with a great deal. Think the “Elves and the Shoemaker” and you might have an idea why I’m known as Elf.