©Bronwyn Shepherd

Science Communication

After completing my undergraduate degree in Zoology, I spent six years working in public relations in the UK. As a result, I have a keen understanding of the media, and of how to communicate effectively. What's more, I have a passion for doing so when it comes to science.

I love communicating science to diverse audiences, whether that's through the press, videos, public talks, or one-on-one engagement. I also enjoy teaching students how to effectively communicate their own science, both to other scientists, and the general public.

After completing my undergraduate degree in Zoology, I spent six years working in public relations in the UK. As a result, I have a keen understanding of the media, and of how to communicate effectively. What's more, I have a passion for doing so when it comes to science.

I love communicating science to diverse audiences, whether that's through the press, videos, public talks, or one-on-one engagement. I also enjoy teaching students how to effectively communicate their own science, both to other scientists, and the general public.

The RSNZ 2018 Callaghan Medal

In 2018, I was fortunate enough to be awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand's Callaghan Medal for Science Communication. You can watch a video that was made for the award on the right.

I was given the award in recognition of my efforts to raise the profile and understanding of conservation genetics and threatened species management both within and outside of academia.

The award resulted in some extra media coverage about my work, including a profile piece in the New Zealand Herald and an interview with Wallace Chapman on Radio New Zealand.

Video courtesy of Aotearoa Science Agency

Conservation communication: The Great Hihi Sperm Race

This year, I ran an awareness and fund raising campaign for one of New Zealand's least well-known threatened birds, the hihi, based on my research on this species.

 

In collaboration with the Hihi Recovery Group, I set up a website where people could bet on which male hihi in my study sample would have the fastest swimming sperm, as measured by me. 

 

The Great Hihi Sperm Race gained international media and social media coverage. Bets poured in from 17 different countries, raising over $11,000NZ for hihi conservation and some much needed awareness for this little known taonga (treasure). 

You can watch a video about the race here.

©Wildlife Australia

Popular science writing

I enjoy writing about my own and other people's science for a general audience. 

I have written pieces for  Wildlife AustraliaForest and Bird magazine, and The Spinoff. I am also a regular contributor to the SciBlogs NZ site, where I have my own page. My writing also appears on the Nature Ecology and Evolution community blog.

If you need someone to write a popular science piece focused on zoology or conservation, feel free to get in touch.

Face to face engagement

Seeing someone's face light up as they get excited by a scientific concept or story is a wonderful thing. It's what makes face to face science communication so rewarding.

Over the past few years, I have taken many opportunities to talk directly to the general public about my work. From engaging with rural schools in Southland as part of the University of Otago's Lab in a Box project, to giving talks on Interislander ferries and Cougar Line water taxis in exchange for free passage to my PhD field sites, I love getting people engaged in science and conservation.

I regularly give presentations for public events and community groups, including Otago Museum's Thirst for Knowledge, The New Zealand International Science Festival, the Catalyst Trust in Queenstown, Birds New Zealand regional groups, and local branches of the Royal Society of NZ. If you'd like me to come and talk to your group or school, please get in touch.

©Will Stovall

Communication training

I am really keen to see standards of communication improve in science and conservation across the board. As a result, I spend time training students and professionals how best to communicate their work effectively to  different audiences.

I currently lecture on presentation skills and media relations to fourth year students as part of the Anatomy Department's ANAT458 course. 

This year, I was invited to be a presenter at a series of communication skills workshop days for the New Zealand Department of Conservation, which was a brilliant project to be able to take part in.

I also like to learn new skills, and have recently taken the Science Media Centre NZ's Media Savvy and Video Editing courses, both of which I highly recommend.

Media Coverage

I have been fortunate enough to have my work covered by a wide variety of media over the past few years. Below is a list of all the media coverage my research and science communication has received to date, with links to articles/radio shows/videos where possible.

The Great Hihi Sperm Race

TV

12/04/18 The Project – TV3 NZ – 3 minute segment – live interview on the Great Hihi Sperm Race

 

Radio

07/04/18 Otago Access Radio (New Zealand) - The Nature Show with Sophie Fern – pre-recorded interview

06/04/18 Radio NZ (New Zealand) - Jesse Muligan – hihi sperm race mentioned by Nicola Toki and Jesse at end of Critter of the Week slot

27/03/18 Radio live (New Zealand) – The long lunch with Wendyl Nissen – live interview

26/03/18 Radio NZ (New Zealand) - Jesse Mulligan The great hihi sperm race – live interview

26/03/18 Newstalk ZB (New Zealand) - Mike Hosking Kiwis urged to bet on stitchbird sperm to help save the species – live interview

 

Print/Online

24/04/18 Otago Daily Times – Hihi sperm generates world interest

16/04/18 The Wanganui Chronicle – Little hihi birds released at new Bushy Park home

12/04/18 The Conversation Australia – A sperm race to help save one of New Zealand’s threatened birds, the sugar-lapping hihi

08/04/18 Whanganui Chronicle – Gamblers bet $5000 on the Great Hihi Sperm Race

04/04/18 The Herald NZ – Scientst’s hihi sperm race is pulling punters  

04/04/18 Otago Daily Times – Sperm race pulling punters

01/04/18 hk.01.com (Hong Kong) – Raising funds for threatened birds New Zealand scholars fight the birds’ strongest sperm quiz competition (Google translated headline)

31/04/18 TA News (Taiwan) – New Zealand bird sperm competition for endangered brids (Google translated headline)

30/04/18 Tianzheng County Media (China) - professor runs “sperm swimming contest” raise money for bird conservation (Google translated headline)

30/04/18 xApple Daily (Taiwan) - professor runs “sperm swimming contest” raise money for bird conservation (Google translated headline)

30/04/18 Knu.cc (Taiwan) - Professor thinks “sperm swimming contest” good insurance for birds (Google translated headline)

29/03/18 Gammme.com.tw (Taiwan) – Professor thinks “sperm swimming contest” good insurance for birds (Google translated headline)

29/03/18 Taiwan environmental information centre – New Zealand professor runs “sperm swimming contest” fundraising for bird conservation (Google translated headline)

29/03/18 River City Press – Bet on the bird with the fastest sperm...yes, taht’s right – sperm!

28/03/18 Wanganui midweek – Great sprerm race to help hihi

28/03/18 Wanganui Chronicle – Birds from Whanganui’s Bushy Park in fundraising sperm race

28/03/18 Stuff.co.nz – Great Hihi Sperm Race aims to make native bird conservation sexy

26/03/18 BBC international (news from elsewhere) – Sperm race funds rare New Zealand bird’s survival

26/03/18 The Spinoff – Place your bets for the bird sperm grand prix – all in the cause of conservation

26/03/18 The Herald NZ – And they’re off: Scientist’s quirky hihi sperm race

Other coverage

TV

November 2013 - Jeff Corwin's Ocean Mysteries (Season three, episode five - Zealandia: The garden of

Tāne)

Radio

March 2019 - Radio NZ (New Zealand) - Saturday Morning - Tuatara sperm caught on camera

January 2019 - Radio NZ (New Zealand) - News bulletin - Tuatara vs. Kiwi: the ultimate New Zealand showdown

October 2018 - Radio NZ (New Zealand) -Sunday Morning - Communicating Science with sperm and a smile 
January 2017 -  ABC Radio National (Australia) - The Science Show - Fewer, less viable sperm follows inbreeding of NZ endangered birds
April 2016 - National Radio (New Zealand) - Our Changing World with Alison Ballance - Dunnocks - and what bird sperm can tell us
July 2015 - National Radio (New Zealand) - Our Changing World with Alison Ballance - North Island brown kiwi genome
December 2014 - National Radio (New Zealand) - Our Changing World with Alison Ballance - Little spotted kiwi's dark genetic secret
January 2013 - National Radio (New Zealand) - Our Changing World with Alison Ballance - Little spotted kiwi and genetic research
May 2012 - National Radio (New Zealand) - This Way Up with Simon Morton - Kiwi tracking

 

Print/Online

January 2019 - Newshub - Scientists catch fight between kiwi and tuatara on video

January 2019 - Stuff.co.nz - Kiwi v tuatara aggression - scientists question if species are traditional rivals

January 2019 - The Herald NZ - Battle to the nest - ancient foes little spotted kiwi and ancient tuatara tussle it out

October 2018 - The Herald NZ - Rising star bringing her science out of the bush
November 2017 - NZ Geographic Life Hackers (interviewed for article on gene editing)
​August 2017 - The Spinoff Paying the price to see the science superstars
June 2017 - NZ Herald online DOC staff not keen to 'play god' with native species
May 2017 - NZ Herald online Study suggests 'gaps' still exist in DOC genetics use    
January 2017 - NewsHub Inbreeding little spotted kiwi pose genetic problems  
January 2017 - NZ Herald online Inbreeding threatens Marlborough kiwi population once thought to be thriving
January 2017 - Otago Daily Times Inbreeding threatens once thriving kiwi population
​January 2017 - Stuff.co.nz Kiwi colony "seriously threatened" by severe inbreeding
January 2017 - The Press - Inbreeding threatens kiwi colony
January 2017 - Marlborough Express - Inbreeding threat to kiwi colony
August 2016 - NZ Herald online Q&A with Dr Helen Taylor: why we need more science in our lives
August 2016 - Stuff.co.nz Prize-winning short video looks at genetic dangers after drastic falls in bird populations
December 2014 - TV3 News Inbreeding danger for little spotted kiwi 
October 2012 - Marlborough Express Studying nest success
August 2012 - Stuff.co.nz Science Kiwis in 'severe reproductive bottleneck'
August 2012 - Capital Times Looks like the kiwis are in trouble
August 2012 - Comms Critical Tags help kiwi recovery
November 2011 - Marlborough Express Kiwi hatches season's first chick
October 2011 - Dominion Post Fears over kiwi inbreeding

The opinions expressed on this site and on my social media feeds are mine and do not necessarily state or reflect the views of the University of Otago. 

All images and videos on this site are the property of Helen Taylor (unless otherwise stated).  If you wish to use any of the images or video on this site for any purpose, please contact me at helen.taylor@otago.ac.nz