Kimberley Collins

Kimberley is a science communicator with a background in ecology and conservation. Her lifelong passion for wildlife has taken her around New Zealand, to Antarctica, the SubAntarctic Islands and other offshore sanctuaries. Her original career in conservation biology was diverted when a stint working in public programmes at Waikato Museum persuaded Kimberley that communicating science was what she wanted to do. She completed a Masters in Science Communication at Otago University, researching how scientists use social media to communicate. Since completing her studies, Kimberley has worked with a range of conservation organisations as a communicator. She spent a year working at ZEALANDIA in Wellington and most recently at Forest & Bird as their online communications coordinator. In her spare time, Kimberley runs an outreach programme called Pop Up Science, which takes science beyond the walls of institutions by popping up with exhibits for children to engage with.

The world is going crazy for #ScientistsWhoSelfie - Up and Atom

Aug 17, 2017

A new trend is taking social media by storm. #ScientistsWhoSelfie calls on scientists around the world to share photos of themselves doing scientific research. The project aims to challenge the perceptions of scientists by humanising researchers and making them more relatable to people on an emotional level. #ScientistsWhoSelfie (L-R), @friendly_bacteria, @danniwashington, and @aquamunk14. Research shows that scientists are perceived as being highly competent but not very warm. We often hear about scientists being in their “ivory tower”, a term relating to the elitism that is associated with science and academia. By sharing the smiling faces of scientists, this project gives them personality, stories, and faces. It makes scientists more relatable, meaning people are more likely to pay attention to what they’re saying and even trust the information they’re hearing. Could scientists improve … Read More

The Story Collider is Coming - Up and Atom

Aug 01, 2017

The Science Communicators Association of New Zealand (SCANZ) wants to hear your story during a special live show with The Story Collider. Everyone loves a good story and our brains are hardwired to understand them. It’s something we all do naturally. From a young age, we start telling stories. They could based on reality based, like what happened to us on the playground. Or elaborate tales, like what adventures our imaginary friend has been on. The Story Collider believe science and technology shapes all of our lives, meaning everyone has stories to tell about STEM. They are searching for five people to share their true, personal experiences. The Story Collider was founded in 2010 by Ben Lillie and Brian Wecht, two physicists who met at a storytelling show in Queens and quickly realized that they could do that too. Since then, … Read More

The Science of Coffee Naps (And Why You Should Take Them) - Up and Atom

Sep 04, 2016

Do you find yourself struggling to stay awake in the middle of the afternoon? Research shows having a coffee nap, where you drink cup of coffee and taking a 20 minute nap, is the most effective way to restore your energy.  Many of us know this feeling… (Photo by Wikimedia Commons) The “coffee nap” strategy is a great way to maximise the effect of caffeine from a cup of coffee as well as the refreshed feeling you get after a 20 minute nap. In one study, scientists found people who were asked to use a driving simulator after taking a coffee nap made fewer mistakes than those who were just given coffee or took a nap on its own. Meanwhile, another study showed taking a coffee nap can improve memory as people who combined coffee with a nap performed significantly better in memory tests … Read More

An Inventory of Citizen Science - Up and Atom

Aug 22, 2016

The New Zealand Landcare Trust has launched ‘An Inventory of Citizen Science in New Zealand‘ to understand what’s happening in the citizen science space. An Inventory of Citizen Science, which was published earlier this month. The inventory, written by Dr. Monica Peters, includes a range of projects studying everything from children monitoring long-tailed bats, to patrolling beaches for dead seabirds and monitoring local streams. “We wanted to create an inventory to get an overview of what’s happening and bring everything together” says Monica. “There’s a lot going on in the citizen science space but at the moment it’s not well coordinated. “If we can identify the gaps, it helps us understand what policy is needed, for example, to support the development of large scale, long term projects where community members collect scientific data.” The inventory focuses on citizen science projects that monitor environmental restoration projects and shows … Read More

Why coral reefs wouldn’t be the same without big fish (and their pee) - Up and Atom

Aug 18, 2016

Scientists have known for decades that fish urine is important for coral reefs. Now, a new study has found urine excreted by large fish is critical to the survival and growth of these fragile ecosystems.  Like most living things, coral reefs need nutrients to grow. In coral reefs, fish provide these, holding the nutrients in their tissue and excreting them through their urine and gills. Phosphorous is released into the water through their urine, while ammonium is excreted through their gills. Over 4,000 species of fish inhabit coral reefs (Photo by Wikimedia Commons) Scientists have long known that both these nutrients are critical to coral reef growth. One study in the 1980s showed reefs with fish grew twice as fast as those without fish. Now, a new study has shown the importance of large fish to coral reefs and looked at the impact removing them has on the … Read More

Studs or Duds? Bird Sperm and Conservation - Up and Atom

Aug 17, 2016

Dr Helen Taylor is one of thirteen scientists from New Zealand who have entered Thinkable’s 180 seconds of science and is using the opportunity to talk about bird sperm. The competition, supported by the Royal Society of New Zealand, gives early career researchers a unique opportunity to share their passion for innovative research in a 3 minute video. Helen’s video investigates what bird sperm and genetic diversity can tell us about the extinction risk of wildlife populations. What is your video about? My research explores the link between bottlenecks, inbreeding and reduced reproductive success in birds. We know inbreeding is linked to poor egg hatching success in many bird species, but it’s not known whether this is due to poor male fertility or other issues.  To find out what’s causing the problem, I am measuring bird sperm quality and relating it back to genetic … Read More

This is how the flu spreads through your body - Up and Atom

Aug 03, 2016

Take a journey through the microscopic world of a cell as these GIFs, taken from a video by NPR, show how the flu spreads through your body.  Viruses can’t survive by themselves and must seek out a living host to grow and multiply. They spread very easily and enter our bodies through the nose, mouth or breaks in the skin. Once they’re inside, they look for cells to infect. Cold and flu viruses will often attack cells that line the respiratory or digestive tracts. Each virus is covered in small molecular receptors that act as keys. If they fit the receptors on a cell, it will open and let in in the entire virus or accept its genetic material. Once inside the cell, the protein capsule on the virus bursts and releases the genetic material. Read More

Three science experiments to try these school holidays - Up and Atom

Apr 25, 2016

These three science experiments are a great way to keep the kids entertained during the last week of school holidays. They’re the first three videos from Pop Up Science‘s series of fun, hands-on science experiments that use simple ingredients from around home. Learn about chemical reactions while watching food colouring swirl through milk, yeast react with hydrogen peroxide to create a foamy mess, or by mixing oil and coloured water. Tune in to Pop Up Science on YouTube every Friday for a new hands-on science experiments that you can do at home! Magic Milk The magic milk experiment is a classic! I remember doing it myself as a child. Not only is it beautiful and fun, it’s also a good way to introduce children to chemical reactions. The swirling colours are sure to delight. Find out  how it works! … Read More

8 Mosquito Facts to Distract You From the Itching - Up and Atom

Dec 28, 2015

It’s summer, which means we’re all scratching at our legs and ankles in an attempt to relieve the constant itch of mosquito bites. But how much do you actually know about these flying vampires? These 8 facts might help distract you from the chronic itching… Only female mosquitoes suck your blood. Footage captured by the Pasteur Institute in Paris shows a mosquito piercing a blood vessel. Mosquitoes usually feed on fruit and nectar but females need the protein from blood to help her eggs develop. She uses a long mouthpart called the proboscis to pierce your skin – one tube draws blood while the other injects saliva containing painkillers and anti-coagulants to thin the blood. It’s a dexterous organ and can almost bend at right angles to probe between cells in search of blood vessels. Mosquitoes prefer Type O blood. Some blood types are more tasty to mosquitoes than others. Read More

The Best of Science’s Strangest Prizes - Up and Atom

Sep 20, 2015

The Ig Nobel awards are notorious for celebrating the strangest and most entertaining scientific breakthroughs.  The prizes aim to “honour achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think” and are a parody of the prestigious Nobel Prizes. Past winners have celebrated everything from the slipperiness of banana skins to the discovery that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond — if those people and that pond were on the moon. What I love most about these quirky awards is they remind us that even the most absurd sounding questions can yield useful information. This year’s winners include a range of unusual achievements, but each will teach you something new – while hopefully giving you a good laugh. Here are my three favourites. If you raise a chicken with … Read More