Episode 25 – Interview with reproductive biologist Professor Andy Pask

We’re so excited to welcome you to Season Four of Let’s Talk SciComm, with new episodes now released every Tuesday.

First up this season, we chat with Professor Andy Pask. Andy is a Professor in the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne and Domain Leader for Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology within the School. His research focuses on evolution and development.

His recent work is centered on the reproductive system and particularly the influence of hormones and endocrine disruptors on reproductive disease. He also has an active research program (TIGRR lab) on marsupial conservation, preservation and restoration. He has been supported by many fellowships, project grants, and philanthropic and industry funding for his work.

Andy has been very active in sharing his work with the media for many years and has learned a huge amount about how to communicate science effectively to different audiences.

You call follow Andy and find out more about his work here:



Jen (00:00:20)
Hello and welcome to Let’s Talk SciComm, a podcast by the University of Melbourne Science Communication Teaching Team. I’m Associate Professor Jen Martin and my wonderful co-host is Dr Michael Wheeler and we believe that science isn’t finished until it’s communicated.

Jen (00:01:11)
And welcome to Season 4. Michael and I are so excited to share this season with you, ’cause we’ve got some amazing episodes coming your way. We had the pleasure of talking with Professor Andy Pask and with Associate Professor Francine Marques about their science, as well as the amazing science communication they do and why they make time for that. We’ve also got a really amazing two part special interview coming your way where we talked with superstar climate change communicator Professor David Karoly. We had a wonderful conversation with Emily King from Voices of Academia and we also picked Jonathan O’Donnell’s brains about how to crowdfund research. And we had a conversation about how to get the most out of attending conferences and a really important chat with Professor Sandra Radovini about how we can all take better care of our mental health. So we really hope that you’re going to enjoy listening to this season as much as we’ve enjoyed recording each of the episodes. And let’s jump straight into our first episode of the season.

Jen (00:02:24)
Hello everybody and very warm welcome to another episode of Let’s Talk SciComm.
As always I am joined by the wonderful Dr Michael Wheeler and I am Jen. Hello, Michael.

Michael (00:02:36)
Hey Jen, it is wonderful to be here as always.

Jen (00:02:39)
Well, particularly today Michael ’cause you have a real treat in store for you. I have to tell you, I am so excited to introduce you to today’s guest, Professor Andy Pask, who I’ve known for quite a long time.
So Michael, I want you to do a little thought experiment with me. You know sometimes, very rarely, you hear about an academic who is unbelievably good at what they do. They have an incredible track record when it comes to publications, citations, grants, awards. But on top of that they’re also actually a really lovely person who everyone wants to work with, a wonderful supervisor for research students, a passionate mentor and advocate for younger scientists. Can you imagine a person like that?

Michael (00:03:24)
Sounds wonderful, Jen. Do you think you could introduce me to someone like that?

Jen (00:03:29)
Haha that’s exactly what I’m going to do, Michael. You took my bait.
Welcome, that’s you Andy. Welcome Andy Pask.

Andy (00:03:36)
Thanks for that introduction. If I can achieve even 50% of that, I would be really happy.
That sounds amazing. Who is this person?

Jen (00:03:43)
Let’s, let’s have a conversation and see if you can you know, see if you can fit the bill Andy. Andy, you’re a professor in the School of Biosciences at the University of Melbourne. You’ve published a ridiculous number of papers on developmental genetics, particularly comparing eutherians and marsupials.
So Michael, for the non-zoologist in the room eutherians are you know, tigers and elephants and mice and you and me compared to I know you know what marsupials are. But Andy is also the head of the new TIGRR Lab where tiger is spelled TIG-RR and it stands for Thylacine Integrated [Genomic] Restoration Research [Lab]. Congratulations on your new lab Andy.

Andy (00:04:24)
Thank you, it took me a very long time to come up with that acronym ’cause it had to be tiger, right?
I was like committed to tiger and just sitting there trying to figure out how I could make it work.

Jen (00:04:34)
And you did. And the… and you know, just all of your paraphernalia, the logo and everything looks awesome. And Andy, you’ve been in the news a lot lately because of your ambitious plan to bring back the Thylacine or the Tasmanian tiger from extinction. And obviously we want to come back and talk lots more about the TIGRR Lab a bit later.
But on this podcast, we always like to start our conversations with our guests by exploring how they got into science in the first place. So, tell us what led you to this point. Can you remember a moment where you decided that science was cool and that’s what you wanted to do?

Andy (00:05:09)
I always loved science right, right from when I was a little kid. I was obsessed with Australian marsupials. I grew up in the UK. We emigrated to Australia when I was 10. So as soon as I got here I could see brushtail possums and kangaroos and all that sort of stuff and I just thought… this was mind blowing to me. So I started reading out books. I was a total nerd as a kid. And then saw the Tasmanian Tiger, started really getting interested in the Tassie Tiger and its tragic story of extinction.
But there was no… I never had a master plan. I’ve never been that, that kid who was like oh, I’m gonna go into research and I’m gonna become a you know, a researcher that looks at molecular genetics. In high school for my year 9 work experience I was in a restaurant practicing becoming a chef and then I decided after that that I definitely wanted to be a lawyer about year 10, but I didn’t have the marks for it.
And then you know, I was doing, I kept on doing really well in biology. It was always my best subject, but I never had considered a career in biology. And then I got to the end of year 12 and I was like well, I’m going to go to uni and do biology, ’cause I seem good at that. And then even doing biology at uni, I didn’t have a master plan. I was just kind of doing all my subjects.
You used to do a lot of subjects right? Like back in the day you had to do everything. And I just got lectured in genetics by Jenny Graves, who’s one of the absolute superstars of Australian genetics. She won the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science a few years ago, like just absolutely incredible.
And being taught by her, it just blew my mind. I was like this is amazing, I love all of this research that she’s doing. And so then I just started working in her lab and then from doing that, doing an honours year I loved being at the bench doing science so much that right from two months into honours I was like this is what I want for my career for the rest of my life. And then it was terrifying ’cause I had no other backup plan. I was like this is it. I’m going to become a scientist and I, I don’t know what I would have done if the wheels fell off, but thank god I’ve been very fortunate that they have never fallen off, yeah.

Michael (00:07:10)
Yeah, sounds great. And Andy, I’d love to learn a little bit more about what developmental genetics is. And from what you’ve mentioned and from what Jen has said, it sounds like it plays a role in conserving threatened species and even potentially bringing back an extinct one.
But I know you’re also interested in human reproductive health. And I saw a headline from a few years ago talking about your work titled “These scientists think plastics are shrinking penises”.

Andy (00:07:40)
You’ve gotta love a good title, right?

Michael (00:07:42)
Sounds like a bit of a concern. But what I want to ask is, can you tell us a bit about your motivation that unites some of these different research interests?

Andy (00:07:53)
That’s a great question, right? Because I think on the surface, if you look at my lab, it’s like wow, you do so many things that are really different and unrelated. But they did all come from a related space, right?
So I started off with genetics and I was doing evolutionary genetics, so trying to understand how genomes evolved and this was back in like the 1990s. So this is pre-genomics era. So the way that we ask questions and did things is very very different. But you know, I was looking at marsupial chromosomes. They’ve got incredibly beautiful chromosomes. And trying to understand how we went from that to what we have in humans and all the evolutionary steps you have to go through to get to that, that place.
The most interesting chromosomes in our entire genome are the X and the Y chromosome of course, right? ‘Cause they contain all the things that regulates sex and you know, testis-determination, spermatogenesis, a lot of intelligence genes on the X chromosome. That’s why it’s a bit rough for us males, ’cause we’ve only got 1 X chromosome. So you know, there’s a lot of things that are just fascinating about that portion of the genome. So I got really interested in gonadal development, sexual determination, sexual differentiation. And how that’s underpinned the way that chromosomes have evolved over the years.
So still this sort of evolutionary take on reproductive development. And then that’s what I study in my lab now is reproduction, evolution and development are like my three key things and they are all directly related together. So if you want to try and bring the Tasmanian tiger back, it’s all reproductive biology and a lot of genomics. But basically it’s a bunch of reproductive biology.
And that’s also what you need for conservation. You need a bunch of reproductive biological technologies. And then you know, obviously, we’ve dabbled in the real big problem we have in humans at the moment, which is our massively declining fertility and why we’re seeing hugely declining fertility. In fact, we see in lots of different species. So we’re trying to understand again, what is it that’s having such a massive impact? And it’s things like plastics in the environment that are impacting a lot of our physiology. But yeah, if you tell men that plastic bags might be shrinking their penises, suddenly they’re gonna remember to take their non-disposable bags to the supermarket right? So and it’s true, right? There, there’s a reality to it, like these things are absolutely terrible for us.

Jen (00:10:07)
So I think Andy that means you should be the poster boy for non plastics. You know, you should be out there speaking to the world, we gotta stop using plastics if you don’t want to have a shrunken penis.

Andy (00:10:17)
Yeah, so we have the “shrink plastics, not penises” slogan in the lab.
But it never really caught on sort of in the broader community.

Michael (00:10:25)
OK, well maybe we could revive that logo here on the podcast.

Andy (00:10:28)
Yeah, yeah we could. Let’s bring it back.

Jen (00:10:32)
So Andy, obviously you do a whole lot of incredible science and hearing about where it all began and how it led to such diverse yet united interests is, is amazing. But you know, this podcast is all about science communication.
And one of the reasons we really wanted to chat with you is because you’ve been incredibly active in communicating your work with broad audiences. So you haven’t just stuck with other scientists, even other interdisciplinary scientists.
And I’m keen to hear when did that begin? You know, looking back, what was your first experience of actually trying to explain potentially complex work to an audience that didn’t have scientific training?

Andy (00:11:06)
Yeah, so I think the first really big splash we had was when we sequenced the Thylacine genome and that was like huge, it was global news and I was being contacted by people all over the place to do stories on that. We first started working on that, that was in the early 2000s, so this is my first iteration.
And then we’ve done several since then, but that was the first time, it was a really big media palooza and it was really you know uh, surprising, amazing juggernaut to be part of, that everybody really wants an exclusive. Everybody wants a piece of you for 24 hours and then nobody cares. Like 24 hours, like this story’s dead and there’s something else. And then like you know, you’re like left sitting there going but I’ve got so much more to say. But yeah, it was, it was a really amazing thing and I’ve always tried to take every opportunity I can whenever I’ve been reached out to, for any media thing.
So be it a podcast like this through to doing stuff for the Washington Post and BBC and you know, sort of like big juggernauts, like Net Geo and stuff. Like I, I just have always said yes and set aside time to really do it. And it is, it’s a, it’s a tough thing to do because it can take a lot of time away from the research that you’re doing. And so it took a while to have a payoff for me. But then when it had a pay off, my god, it was absolutely huge for the research that I’m doing.
And it does get you more known in the community, which has been enormously beneficial. But the most important thing and I’m really passionate about it, is getting the public educated on really interesting science and also really key important issues that they, they should be aware of. And I think often there’s that real disconnect between what we do with scientists and then having the community really understand the importance of that research that we’re doing. And I think we’re not doing our job properly as scientists if we can’t bridge that gap.
For me, being able to then do some of this public outreach… So when I was, I was contacted for one of those particular studies by one of the science writers at The Age. And Liam Mannix, he reached out to me and said I’d really like to do a story on this. And I was like yeah, here’s all my concerns, is like the public needs to be aware of some of this stuff. And so they did a really great story. And then finally you know, I got hundreds of emails from the public saying you know, my husband was exposed to this or I work in the pesticide industry or whatever. You know, asking me questions which are really difficult to answer.
There was a response from the water board of Australia that said they would finally now look at the research that we’ve done and start to think about revising some of their levels, and they actually did for one of the pesticides that we showed was particularly bad. And so that for me was like one of those moments where I thought I’ve actually been able to change something but not through doing science our standard way. It was only through having science communication, from having that public pressure that they then responded and said “OK, we’ll look at this and we’ll do something”.

Jen (00:13:47)
Yeah, ’cause it’s so hard to actually have impact with your work if the people who need to know the results and consequences of your research never hear about it, right? And that’s what we say to our students all the time. If the only things we ever do are publish in academic journals and speak at academic conferences, the vast majority of the world will never hear about it.
So Andy, just before you alluded to the fact that over time, you ended up having a really big payoff from your communication work. And I’d really like you to tell that story. So for our listeners, there’s a pretty amazing story that goes behind this amazing new TIGRR Lab. So tell us, how did this lab come to be Andy and where did the funding come from?

Andy (00:14:23)
Yeah, so there was a, just a person out there who’s, was really passionate about the Tasmanian Tiger and really loved the idea of de-extinction science so they had started to google Thylacine de-extinction. This person’s an Australian so they were you know, an Aussie. And then they said that whatever they looked at, wherever they went, whatever they put those search terms in, it was me everywhere.
And it was podcasts that I’ve done, it was YouTube video clips that are up there. You know, there’s just bits and pieces all over the web with me talking about this and all the science comm stuff that I’ve done in this particular area.
And so they just reached out to me and they just said you know, “Hi, here’s my name and I’m really interested in the Thylacine, maybe we could have a discussion.” And I get quite a lot of these emails, right? From people in the public. They just want to talk about it. And so I was like, you know, I’m busy. So I was like, I waited a couple of weeks and then I eventually email back.
He always picks on me for this. He’s like, I didn’t think you were even gonna respond to my email. I was like I’m so glad I did. So I wrote back and he was like, you know I, I could set up a zoom meeting as I got nothing to lose from a zoom meeting. So we had a zoom chat. It was a great, like we immediately got on really well and he was asking amazing questions about how I would do this and all the processes involved and how complicated is it. So we just chatted for about half an hour.
And then he emailed about a week later and said I’ve got some business associates who would like to meet with you and, and chat as well. And I was like, “Yep, sure”. So we met again and had like another half an hour conversation that was great. We had another really good half an hour and then that was it.
And then the next conversation is I just kept on saying to everybody in my life, like I don’t know where this is going. Like we haven’t talked about you know, what his key interests were or what he wanted to get out of this relationship. Anyway, it ended up with him going, “I really like this science. I would really like to get involved. What’s your biggest hindrance to saying that you want to bring back the Tassie Tiger?”
‘Cause I said I’ve never had a grant for actually doing that work. And I said it’s really difficult in Australia because we have three year grant cycle. It’s hard to propose doing a grand challenge for your science career like I’m gonna bring back the Tassie Tiger. If you’re working in three-year bits of cash. And also for something like the ARC or the NHMRC. And we don’t have a lot of money in science in Australia, so we’re very – for good reason – risk averse right? We don’t like to invest in super high risk, blue sky projects.
And so you know, I wouldn’t it even pitch this for them to try and fund because I know this is not really in their wheelhouse to fund this sort of research. And so that’s what he said to me, “Oh, so would 10 years of funding be helpful?” And I said, “Yes it would be”. Then he’s like “How would 5 million dollars be over 10 years?” And I was like, “Oh my God”.
It was just mind-blowing to me, yeah. And then he said “Do you have any questions for me?” And I’m like “Yes, who are you? Where does this money come from?” *inaudible* Like, I’ve got so many questions but yeah, he’s like you know, he likes to remain anonymous. He doesn’t really like to be out. He’s got a lot of money. He’s very generous and he really sees a lot of value in this, particularly ’cause I talked him through everything that we do for this project has immediate benefits or conservation benefits for marsupials. It’s really about marsupial conservation, with that blast sort of you know, amazing step that we can go to is applying all of those technologies to bringing back an extinct animal.
And so it’s just a great project and he just, he loved it. He loved the technology and everything new that we were doing, but it was incredible. But it was literally because I was the most visible person he could find thanks to doing all these science comms that he reached out to me in the first place. And then I’ve got this, I mean, I don’t know anybody else who has been given this incredible gift in their career to be able to follow their true passion projects without having to stress about funding, to be able to employ amazing young scientists and give them that security of a long time to actually work on a project and to propose to do something as amazing and as incredible as it would be to get to that point of bringing an extinct animal back. I just feel so lucky. I feel like 10 year old Andrew would look at me today and just be like that is awesome. Like I couldn’t be in a better spot.

Jen (00:18:20)
Well, it truly is awesome.
But my gosh you’ve earned it Andy, you’ve worked your butt off.

Andy (00:18:26)
I think I’ve, I, I have worked incredibly hard and I’ve had good luck. But I always say I said to my students too I think the hard work puts you in that place that when luck does come your way, you can take full advantage of that luck.
And when people do offer you to do you know, 10 interviews in the space of 24 hours you just make it work right? Like you, you sacrificed the time, you do it because it is a short lived interest, media, always having this stuff and you have to jump on all those opportunities.

Michael (00:18:51)
Hmm yeah, absolutely amazing story Andy. And you know, normally it is quite difficult to communicate about your research and generally you know the more complex your research is, the more difficult it is to communicate.
Now I can see with your research Andy that there’s an element there that perhaps adds a, an extra layer of complexity to your work which is the moral and ethical implications which I’m sure you get asked about all the time.
So I’d just love you to reflect on what your experience has been there, particularly in dealing with the media. Because from what you’ve said, it sounds like you’ve dealt with a huge variety of different media organisations.

Andy (00:19:30)
Yeah it’s, it’s really interesting, right? Because there’s reporters and media where they come on and they’re instantly on side. So they’re like going this is great. We really wanna sell this as you know, great for science and great for what we can do in the world and great for conservation and so they’re really easy.
But then there’s equal amount of people that come in and they’re 100% against it, and they still want to report on it anyway, because they know it’s very newsworthy, clickbaity, whatever, right? But they, they’re completely against it. And it is, it’s very different in how you have to approach those sorts of interviews and how you give the information across. And I had no formal media training, so I think I’ve come to to figure that out across the years.
But I can really see the value. You know, now when I see that they do those media training courses. I think oh, for young scientists, it would be such a useful thing to do is to get involved with that. But I feel like I’ve been stitched up a few times as well. You know, like I’ve, I’ve done a few interviews with people where they’ve gone oh, this is a really lighthearted interview, which is what you guys said to me at the beginning of this one as well. So I’ll be listening very carefully.

Jen (00:20:35)
Oh no, sprung Michael, we’ve been sprung.

Andy (00:20:38)
But actually on a couple of occasions I’ve done you know, where they said very lightheartedly, “we just want to get your opinions on a few things”. Then you know, we’ve been laughing and chatting and having a good conversational rapport. And then in the editing they’ve like rerecorded the way that they’re asking questions. I’m kind of answering them very flippantly because we were having a very lighthearted conversation. There’s a lot of stuff like that. I’ve been misquoted on countless times where I’ve read things in the media. And it was nothing that I said, that they’ve really pushed a particular angle of the story.
And it, there’s a, it was a huge learning curve for me. I think back in that first lot of media I did when I was a very junior scientist, one of them… So we had brought a gene back from the Tassie Tiger. So I cloned the genes in the Tassie Tiger. I put it in a mouse and it was the first time that anybody had resurrected gene function from a dead animal in a living organism.
So it was a huge media splash. They were all you know, it’s Jurassic Park, all of the references that we normally get for that kind of stuff. And then I was being interviewed and they said “So could you put pterodactyl wings on a mouse as your next thing?” And I was like, “Well, I don’t know why you would want to do that” and they’re like, “But could you do it?” And I’m like “Well, no, there’s no DNA in dinosaur fossils”. So then they’re like “But if he could get the DNA, could you do it? Could it, is it possible that if you could somehow find that gene you do it?” I’m like, “Yeah well, any of that’s possible, right? But we don’t have the materials.” And then it was like “researcher planned, next plan is to put pterodactyl wings on mice”. And then they did a whole cartoon of me, the mad scientist standing in the lab with pterodactyl winged mice flying around me.
But then it was like six months after that I was at, at a conference and there was like a somebody I barely knew, but an acquaintance that I’d had in the field for a long time. And then we were just having a casual drink or something and they were, they just said I just thought your comment in that article was utterly ridiculous, that you’re putting pterodactyl wings on mice. I went, I never said it but it just kind of blew…

Jen (00:22:31)
I agree, it’s ridiculous. So, so I think Andy, that’s then you, you’ve started kind of answering our million dollar question. And that is really given you’ve had this extensive experience now in communicating an exciting clickbaity yet also potentially really controversial topic to lots of different audiences, what advice do you have beyond what you’ve already said to other researchers who are really thinking carefully about how to increase their visibility, how to increase the impact of their work, how to ideally be awarded millions of dollars worth of funding down the track? What’s your advice given that you are now a quite an old player I think in this media system?

Andy (00:23:11)
I think so with the Tassie Tiger stuff, I’ll say it’s been easy because the media want to be engaged, right? That runs kind of easy. But for the the reproductive stuff and the endocrine disruptors, and the increases in human reproductive diseases and things like that, that was never something that the press went out and sought to report on.
I think it’s you know, like any of the other medical research that happens. And I think for me, it was about trying to find that message that the community can really interact with or connect with about. This impacts your fertility. This is impacting human fertility rates so profoundly, that we may end up like The Handmaid’s Tale or something like that.
We’ve got to find some way that the public get really, really engaged. And that’s easier for some topics than it is for others. So I think for any scientists out there, you’ve got to really start thinking about what is the public importance of your research? What is your three minute elevator pitch? What’s your lay way of really describing or communicating the core objectives of what you’re doing and why should they care about it.
‘Cause it has to be something that the community and the public are going to care about and they never care about anything unless you tell them, “you really need to care about these together” and then tell them you know like “and this is why” and make it really personal to them. So I think teasing out that message and really finding it, yeah.

Michael (00:24:21)
Hmm yeah, that’s great Andy. It sounds like continual engagement with the public is really the key. What you’re saying you know, honing your message and, and all that.
So yeah, so look, we’ve had the lighthearted questions Andy. Are you ready for the the hard hitting rapid fire questions?

Andy (00:24:37)

Michael (00:24:44)
We’ve got some lighthearted, only joking, they’re not hard hitting; Lighthearted, rapid fire questions just to finish off the interview.

Andy (00:24:55)

Jen (00:24:56)
But we will do some post editing to make it sound really bad, don’t worry.

Andy (00:25:00)
OK, amazing.

Michael (00:25:01)
We’ll try our best to take your responses out of context.

Andy (00:25:07)

Michael (00:25:09)
Right. So now that you’re ready Andy, first question.
If you had to pick an alternative career to what you’re doing now, what would it be?

Andy (00:25:17)
I this, I said I’m stuffed, I have no backup career at all. I love teaching so I think I would go into teaching for sure. But it’s not, it’s kind of a tangent, it’s not really a proper alternative career.

Jen (00:25:29)
Yeah, that’s a dodgy answer.

Andy (00:25:31)
I know I’m sorry.

Jen (00:25:32)
But we’ll, we’ll take it, we’ll take it.

Andy (00:25:33)
I picked up my whole, myself so badly.
I’m an amazing cook and I can do origami, but I’m not sure there’s a career in it.

Jen (00:25:43)
Well if, if things ever go awry in the lab? We’ll find out later.

Andy (00:25:47)
Cheffing could have been my second thing, yeah.

Jen (00:25:49)
OK, so we’ll lock in chef is your answer then.

Andy (00:25:52)
Yeah, chef. All right, done.

Jen (00:25:54)
Next question. We’d like to hear about your proudest professional moment.

Andy (00:25:58)
Ooh, I got an award last year, the Dean’s Award for Graduate Supervision for my graduate students. And they actually had to write, they did it without… I didn’t even know they were doing it, so they all wrote beautiful things about me supervising them. And that is I think the greatest thing we can do as a scientist right? Is get other people on that career path, to have amazing careers and do amazing things.
And I’ve had, I always they, people always say to me what “What makes a great mentor?” to me, asking you how I became a great mentor. I’m like just picking amazing people to mentor, like that’s all I do and then they’re already amazing and then I get credit for being their mentor. It’s like everybody wins, right? Like I’ve been fortunate to have just work with amazing people, so that was really a beautiful moment.
I was yeah, I’m very proud of that one. It’s the one certificate I actually put up on my office wall. All the rest are just under the desk somewhere. *inaudible*

Michael (00:26:47)
Yeah. Ah, brilliant.
Twitter or Instagram Andy and why?

Andy (00:26:52)
Twitter because I’m not on Instagram. I’m not even on Facebook. So it’s really bad. Look, I do tweet. It’s very uhh, lots of nepotism there. It’s all… When my students publish a paper I will tweet about it and I retweet things that I find particularly interesting. I only check Twitter once a week.
But it really does expand the amount of people that can see your research. So I’ve been contacted numerous times by people on Twitter about job opportunities. And you know, millions of other things that I would not have been in contact with those people.
So it is a great platform to use. And again, it’s one of those baby steps to science comms right? It’s like a great way to get your elevator pitch out there on Twitter and to get the public aware of the work that you do. So I think that’s a really good seller place. I actually really do like Twitter. Yeah.

Jen (00:27:38)
Excellent advertisement there for some of our classes. Thank you. We’ll just take that sound bite and play it to everybody. Next question, we’d like to know, please your favourite science related joke or movie or book?

Andy (00:27:51)
Ah, science-related joke, there must be one in there.
My favourite movie and book I’m ashamed to say is Jurassic Park.

Jen (00:28:01)
Why should you be ashamed?

Andy (00:28:04)
I know, look I’ll show you, I know this is on the audio medium, but what I’m showing you there is my action figure of John Hammond, the guy from Jurassic Park. He’s got the cane with the mosquito in it, seems like they got the cane in there.
But I’m a huge Jurassic Park fan. I think Michael Crichton was amazing to have pretty much nailed the way that we actually do do extinction science 30 years ago, before we even thought of it. So my hats off to him, yeah.
My favourite joke is it’s not really science. But what’s brown and sticky?

Jen (00:28:33)
Uhh… Let us in on the answer please before we embarrass ourselves.

Andy (00:28:37)
A stick. Yeah.
But my research related one is what’s pink and wrinkly and hangs out your undies?
And the answer is *inaudible* your grandmother.
That’s a great one.

Jen (00:28:55)
I can’t believe you tried to suggest that you didn’t have any science-related jokes.
You’ve just nailed it. Two of them.

Michael (00:29:01)
That’s a great joke because it’s you know, the question gets a laugh and then the punch line gets a laugh. So it’s a double whammy.

Andy (00:29:09)
Right? I tried to get my daughter to give that as the joke of the week at school.
But she could, she’d never do that. So anyway, sad day, yeah.

Michael (00:29:16)
Well, extra points for going for the joke. That’s the first joke that we’ve had in the rapid fire questions. So congratulation.
But final question Andy. You’ve given us some great advice on communicating science to different audiences. And I just love to hear if you had to pick one top tip for effective science communication, what would it be?

Andy (00:29:39)
I think really understanding what your message is and pushing it regardless of what the interviewers or people you know, asking you the questions are trying to steer the conversation off. So just sticking to your message, yeah.
And it’s tough. It’s not an easy thing to do, especially because they’re, they’re incredibly good, right? They do this for a living 24/7, is interview people and twist words and extract information that they want, whereas we kind of dabble in this occasionally. So it’s very hard to make sure your message gets across the way that you want it to. But you can do it, yeah.

Jen (00:30:12)
Well, I think you’ve dabbled in it more than occasionally Andy. And you shared some pretty awesome wisdom with us today of some of the things you’ve learned along the way.
So I think we just want to obviously thank you for your time, but also give our most massive congratulations on behalf of everyone listening for your new TIGRR Lab because what an amazing achievement.
And the fact that you attribute some of that success to the fact that you were willing to make time to share your message broadly, I think that’s just such an incredible science communication story. So thank you for sharing it with us today.

Andy (00:30:42)
Thank you very much.

Michael (00:30:44)
Thanks Andy.

Michael (00:31:10)
Thanks for listening and thanks also to our wonderful production team, Stephanie Wong and Steven Tang for making these episodes happen behind the scenes. And thanks also to you, our listeners for your support.
If you are enjoying these episodes, you can help spread the word by telling a friend about Let’s Talk SciComm or even sharing one of our episodes.
But that’s all for this week. We’ll be back in your feed next Tuesday. See you then.