Episode 56 – Interview with Zoos Victora CEO Dr Jenny Gray

This week we have the enormous pleasure of speaking with Dr Jenny Gray who is the Chief Executive Officer of Zoos Victoria, charged with the operation of the Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, Kyabram Fauna Park and Werribee Open Range Zoo.

Over the last decade Zoos Victoria has transformed into a Zoo Based Conservation Organisation, committed to fighting extinction and creating a future rich in wildlife. Working closely with 27 critically endangered species and engaging with over 2.6 million visitors and 360,000 members, Zoos Victoria is testing models of optimism and bravery to address threats to species survival and enhancing care of wildlife.

Jenny has a wide range of public and private sector experience having worked in transportation, airlines and banking, before moving into the zoo industry in South Africa, then Australia. Jenny has qualifications in Civil Engineering, Transportation Engineering, Business Administration and Ethics. Jenny is the Deputy Chancellor at Victoria University and serves on the Board of the Biodiversity Council.

You can follow Jenny and learn more about her work here:

And here’s the link to Jenny’s Book, Zoo Ethics: https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7667/


Jen (00:00:00)
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 (00:01:10)
Hello everybody and a very, very warm welcome to another episode of Let’s Talk SciComm. I am delighted to be here.
And Michael, as always, I’m delighted by your company. How are you going?

Michael (00:01:43)
I’m doing very very well, Jen, and very excited for this episode.

Jen (00:01:48)
Well, we’ve got a serious treat in store for us today Michael because we’re joined by Dr Jenny Gray, who I have to say, she’s one of the busiest people I know.
Jenny is the CEO of Zoos Victoria here in Australia and she’s also one of the most skilled science communicators I know.
So Jenny, we are so thrilled that you’ve made time to chat with us today. Thank you.

Jenny (00:02:15)
Thanks, Jen. It’s really a joy to be here and I’ve always enjoyed talking with you.

Jen (00:02:20)
Well, that’s lucky ’cause we want to talk with you lots.
But Jenny, you’ve had a really interesting career. We’ve had the pleasure of interviewing quite a lot of people on this podcast now who work in this general world of STEM, but I think your career path is a really interesting one.
So you’ve been the CEO of Zoos Victoria for more than 15 years. Before you came to Australia, you worked in a few, well, quite a few different roles in South Africa, including as the CEO of the Johannesburg Zoo.
But what I find really interesting is that before you moved into the world of zoos, you worked in a whole lot of very senior transport-related roles.
So if we go back to your training, from what I understand, you’ve got a degree in civil engineering, a master’s degree in transportation and highway engineering. I didn’t even know there was such a thing.
But then you’ve got an MBA and then you’ve got a master’s degree and a PhD in ethics. I mean, that’s a really interesting sequence of qualifications.
And then to top it all off, not only are you a CEO, but you’ve published a book called “Zoo Ethics: The Challenges of Compassionate Conservation”.
I mean, that’s a pretty remarkable career journey in there.
I mean, you know, I can’t wait to unpack it with you, but we would like to begin by asking: is there a particular experience or moment that you can recall in your childhood where you realised how much you loved I don’t know, if it was science or engineering or the natural world and animals? Like, take us back to little Jenny.

Jenny (00:04:13)
Oh, I guess. Thank you. It’s always a little intimidating to hear someone pull it together like that. And I guess my biggest takeaway would be: it happened. It wasn’t planned. And if anything, possibly that career of mine has been almost more opportunistic and open to what was going on.
And so… but to answer your question properly, going back to little Jenny, little Jenny was good at maths. I was really good at that. I can remember my dad thought I was one of those best party tricks ’cause you could ask me like to add up the bill in a restaurant, but like line by line instead of column by column.
So he would just like, put up you know, and just great, imagine you got your like, eight year old kid with you and you just run through all the items on the menu and I’ll go, “Oh, that’ll be $122”. I could do that kind of maths. And so I love maths.
I loved animals. I always have had animals living around me, guinea pigs, dogs, anything that kind of ran around and distributed fur. I did a lot of bird watching when I was young.
And there was never a twitch or anything, I just… And it was reflected back to me probably most when my husband arrived in Australia, sorry, other way around, my Australian husband arrived in South Africa.
He would go, “What bird is that?” And I would know. But if you said to me, “Am I good at birds”? I would say, “No, I’m rubbish at birds.” I couldn’t possibly tell you about them until you go, “What’s that?” And I, “Oh, well, that’s a lilac-breasted roller.”
I don’t know why I know that, but I think, you know, somewhere in my youth, I spent a lot of time staring at guidebooks and understanding them. So deep curiosity, short attention span.
And when you talk about my career, you can see that short attention span. So those are the kind of things that are kept together and built a career, just doing incredible stuff at different times.

Michael (00:05:59)
Hmm. Yeah. And I’d love to maybe hear a little bit more about that journey, you know, moving from one thing to another.
What was the motivation that led you from engineering and transport to zoos? And do they have anything in common?

Jenny (00:06:16)
Well, I’m gonna make it worse, Michael, I moved from engineering and transport into banking.

Michael (00:06:22)

Jenny (00:06:24)
And I had a step where I kind of felt I wanted to try out my hand in the commercial world. I did four years in banking, I made lots of money for very rich people I didn’t like. And I realised that was not where I needed to be.
And so the step into zoos was really me going back to saying, deep in my core, I believe in the public service, deep in my core, I want to be making the world a better place. I’m not sure I can deliver that while I work in a bank.
And so the zoo was a vacancy. And when I say curious and opportunistic, I kind of went, Oh, that looks good. And I was already on the board of the bus company for the local government. And they were running the zoo that was in a world of trouble. And so it just was a good fit and an opportunity.
But loved it so much that I was able to then transition to Australia, first at Werribee, and then a CEO at Zoos Victoria.
And it was just that every day, I can be curious. You know, the five meetings I’ve had today have no common theme. It feeds on my need for something novel and new and curious and being able to jump around.
If I have to say what would be common under all of the kind of messiness of my career; love the public service, love finding ways of doing things better, whether it’s getting you to your job on time, whether it’s helping to save threatened species. I’m driven by that, there must be a better way. And can we find that?
And then I’m driven by working with great people and just finding these just pockets of excellence and helping them be who they can be.

Jen (00:07:58)
I have to ask, when you got the role at Johannesburg Zoo, you said the zoo is in trouble.
Was it partly because of your background in banking that they wanted you in that role?
Did that help?

Jenny (00:08:09)
No, honestly, I was well credentialed within the political ranks. I had worked as the head of the transport department in KwaZulu-Natal, which was a really big role.
And then got into… it’s so messy, into an airline for a little while. And it was at that point, and then went into the banking from the airline.
But I went through all the different rounds just explaining you know. And I think this is a thing people forget but these days, you put your CV together based on a whole lot of skills you’ve accumulated over your life. Don’t think of yourself as a linear person. If you’ve taken time off to raise children, well, I think you probably have some of the best negotiating skills. You have ability to time manage and multitask that other people don’t have.
And yet I still see people say, “Oh, there’s a gap in my career ’cause I raised kids for five years.” Like, Oh my God, how much did you learn in those five years? So how do you repackage?”
And so what I was able to do when I went into the zoo role was to say, “Okay, there’s five core skills here.” When you talk about the business model, it’s the same as a bus company. The visitor and the passenger are similar. If you don’t get them today, you can’t sell it tomorrow.
It’s a public good. I understand public good. I’ve worked in that. It’s about money and I understand that, I’ve worked in banking. It’s about infrastructure and I really get that. I’m a civil engineer. I’ve built bridges and airports and large scale public works.
And it’s about animals. And I don’t know much about that, but I can see that we hire 400 of those. And so I’ll work with those really smart animal people. And then over the journey I learnt a lot.
But I think it’s that repackaging. I didn’t go in saying I’m a municipal transport engineer. That wouldn’t have got me the job at the zoo. Talking up the skills you have in an interesting combination of ways.

Jen (00:09:32)
And I think Jenny, our listeners are already hearing about part of the reason we want you here is because you really are a master communicator and that description of how you tailor your skill set according to the jobs I think is a perfect example.
But look, Jenny, we’ve been so grateful to you for many years now that you’ve been so supportive of our science communication teaching and our students. Because you come in every year and you talk with our students and share your experiences on a particular topic. And that topic is about communicating science with politicians.
Because I think for many scientists, that feels like the ultimate goal. I want to change the world. I want to impact policy. But I have no idea how I would go about doing that. And you’ve got a few really great stories to share around your interactions with policymakers.
So I’d love you to tell us what comes to mind when we say, “Jenny, what do you know about communicating science with politicians?”

Jenny (00:10:30)
Yeah, it’s such an interesting field. And you know, one of the things I always lead with, as you know Jen, is well, politicians are people like everyone else.
And so the first thing you have to know, regardless of who your audience, who the audience is, is that you do have an audience.
Some of us talk to ourselves, but not many of us. Most of us talk to other people. And so who is that other person and what is it they would like to hear from you at this point in time?
And I think when we think of politicians, we should be thinking, what is it that this person wants to hear from us? And so it’s not so much about sharing what you would like to tell them.
It’s about what they may need to hear in order for whatever reason it is, we’re all going to be more interested in things we are interested in than what someone’s trying to tell us.
And politics is tricky, and it keeps changing. And so you know, what I would have shared with students six, seven years ago is completely different to what we’re talking about now.
And I almost am tempted to come back in. One of the first things I always put up is a kind of a group of four different politicians and ask them if they know who they are. And they tend to be the leaders of various political parties.
I have no doubt if I went back to the first time I did this and put up those four political leaders, they’d be like, “No idea, don’t know who any of those people are.”

Michael (00:11:43)
Yeah, yeah.

Jenny (00:11:47)
And so that means you can’t even use the same messages you were using six months or 12 months ago.
That’s how fast this world moves.

Michael (00:11:54)
Yeah. Yeah, it must be frustrating if you’re wanting to communicate with politicians.
But as you say, because roles change, and there are new people coming in and out, you establish a relationship and then, you know, you have to start from, from square one again. Yeah, it must be, it must be challenging.
I’d love to ask you know, for you know, our listeners who… maybe they’re thinking about communicating to politicians, that’s something that I would like to do a little bit more of.
Are there any particular things that scientists should should know about tailoring a message that will resonate with a politician?
You mentioned kind of understanding a little bit about what they want to hear. But is there anything, anything else that makes this a special audience? Or maybe they’re not a special audience? Maybe they’re just like everyone else?

Jenny (00:12:50)
Well, a bit of both. You know, they are a special audience, because often we want something from them, either funding, or a policy change, or them to take us seriously. And I think it’s really good to understand which of those you want.
And definitely I think for scientists, one of the best roles is just building your credibility. Are you going to give this politician a great story that they’re going to repeat? Or are you trying to desperately get your funding across the line? And these are very different types of communication.
And so for example, I think you often want to leave them with a sense of that was incredible. We were able to take the Minister for Environment to Oceania Sea Catchment when we released helmeted honeyeaters a couple of weeks ago. And she opened the release aviary. She was standing there as the helmeted honeyeaters come out and the wild ones come in.
The wild ones are all around you. And then the ones we’re releasing come out and they join and they do a whole big corroboree and everyone flutters their wings and does their little thing. And to be able to stand next to her and just go, “You know, what we’re looking at right now is 10% of the remaining population of this bird.” And have her gasp. Now she leaves with an experience of what that was like.
And I know that has impact. So you know, I could equally have sat in her office and just talked to her and she wouldn’t have had the same real visceral experience. Now, I’m not asking for money or anything at this point. We’re just sharing with her what it’s like to be part of the team that saves species.
And so I think as researchers are doing research, I always say to them, “Well, first of all, understand your audience”. If you’re talking to someone from the Liberal Party, it’s completely different to someone from the Greens. And if you understand that, then you probably will be able to craft your message in a different way.
Then you also have to understand the hook for them. We constantly have to think about the cycle that politicians go through. It is challenging when we know that long term giving a message repeatedly is going to be one of your best tactics.
Yeah, but you don’t have that luxury with politicians. And so you have to think of different ways. And that’s why I think it is different from communicating with other people.
You know, if you’re communicating with your friends and family, you can take them through every step in your journey and repeat it every time until they just give up and…
You know, you don’t have to, you can just use repetition. Whereas with politicians, you have to think carefully about how you’re going to make an impression.

Jen (00:15:05)
And Jenny, just listening to you speak immediately makes me think of the story of the Christmas Island pipistrelle, because I think this is a story with huge power and impact.
So I’m wondering, I’d really like to explore it with you. I’m wondering, perhaps you could share the story with our listeners first, because there’ll be people who don’t know it at all.
But then I’d really like to talk with you about why it’s such a powerful story and how you’ve used this story as a call to action and really what it’s taught you about some of the essentials of effective science communication, which is a very long question.
But let’s talk about the Christmas Island pipistrelle.
Can you tell us the story of the pipistrelle?
And then I’ve got a few questions.

Jenny (00:15:51)
Yeah, sure. It’s a sad story. From 2009, we were involved, the scientists had been going for years to Christmas Island. The pipistrelle is a very small bat, a little insectivorous bat.
And the team would go out and put measuring devices across the known habitat and then record the bats flying and they could estimate the numbers from that.
If you plotted them on a graph, you would see that we were going to lose them in 2009. And that’s just the line goes through the axis in 2009.
And so somewhere around February, the government woke up to, yes, the species was in a lot of trouble. They went out on a tender for which there was only one tenderer, which was a consortium of zoos. We negotiated with government for about six months and we finally put a team on the ground in August 2009.
They recorded, put the measuring devices out, 500 measuring devices, and they recorded one solitary bat flying (sound of bat call). And they recorded that single bat for about six days and then they never recorded it again after that.
So we literally arrived in time to record an extinction event. And they stayed for another five weeks. We never heard the bat again and they’re gone. We’ve never seen them again.
Now I carry around with me and it’s actually on my phone, a recording that was taken on the last night of the last bat flying. And I play that recording.
And when you hear it, it’s an incredibly emotional thing. And I say to people, how does that feel? And the room goes deadly quiet. And the fact is that we’ve just listened to an extinction event and you’ve heard the last bat fly on the last night.
And that moment is incredibly profound because we’re not hearing this as something being delivered to us. We’re actually feeling at a kind of visceral level, listening to the bat’s call.
And I’ve literally had rooms full of people burst into tears and choke up and actually cry at that moment. And it is a powerful moment.
And so as you say, Jen, it’s a bit of storytelling, but it’s a very strong, using something people don’t expect. They didn’t come to listen to my talk expecting to hear the last individual of a species on a specific day.
So it’s using what we have in slightly different ways. I also had a bit of a moment where I thought I was done with the bat because it’s then so hard to make people optimistic when you’ve just made the whole room cry.
I then have to bring you all back to being a little bit positive. But you know, I do that. I have a couple of really profound little stories about children, the work that children do for threatened species as well.
And I’m again shameless in using those stories just to bond people and particularly moms will end up with tears in their eyes thinking about little kids. And the things that kids are prepared to sacrifice and do to save species really humbles all of us, I think.
So it’s that storytelling that brings science alive. You’ve now heard an extinction event. You’ve now seen a little child do something that we could easily all do. And I hope that that just makes people pause and think about what they could do differently.

Jen (00:18:50)
Yeah, I mean, Jenny, it was really interesting just then because I’ve heard you tell that story quite a few times and I’m the one who asked you to tell it. So I knew it was coming. And I still got goosebumps hearing you tell the story, which I think just shows the power of emotion, that emotional sense of deep loss and regret and frustration and anger that it took so long to get the team on the ground, that it was too late.
And you know, the story just stays with us. And I think it does tell us a lot about how communication works. And yes, it’s the storytelling, but also it is the emotion. As you say, the challenge then is how to go from the despair to the hope of giving people a sense of agency, that it’s still worth trying to do stuff.

Jenny (00:19:35)
For us at Zoos Victoria, that moment in time changed who we are as an organisation. Our board was incredibly brave and they made the commitment that no Victorian terrestrial vertebrate species will go extinct on our watch.
That we showed up once to witness an extinction. In future, we won’t wait and we won’t wait for someone else to raise the money or tell us to go. We’ll go when we need to go.
And that changed us in a really interesting and exciting way. And so we now work with 27 endangered species. We’ve been really clear on what it takes to downlist them, to improve their conservation status. We’re applying resources. We work with a myriad of partners who are incredible.
You know, often we’re a fairly small role in a project. But we bring our audience. We bring our skills. We bring our resources. And we love working with partners.
And so that story may well change the audience I talk to. But I know more than anything, it changed me and it changed the organisation that I work for.

Jen (00:20:37)
The power of stories.

Michael (00:20:41)
Yeah. Oh, it’s really important.
And I guess I never realised the extent to which zoos are involved in conservation to that level.
I guess I kind of grew up thinking that yeah, it was a public service that maybe you know, there’s a bit of education that goes on there, but I never realised how involved zoos are in, in conservation.
How would you kind of, if you’re thinking about all of the activities that fall under Zoos Victoria, how much of a role does that conservation play versus like the day to day running of the zoo, which is also you know, a massive task as well?

Jenny (00:21:20)
So, it’s such a great question, Michael.
And you know, really we’ve evolved since 2009, since the pipistrelle. We now talk of ourselves as a zoo-based conservation organisation. And we do conservation each and every day, in and through our four amazing zoos.
And my challenge back to every single staff member is how did we help threaten species today? And I don’t care whether you’re working in the retail shop or you’re caring for the elephants or you’re parking cars. You have the opportunity to have a conversation. You have the opportunity to contribute to the funds we raise to work on our threatened species work. And most of, well, most of the threatened species work we do on our properties.
So if you come and look at frogs at any of our zoos, you’ll be looking at endangered Victorian frogs, because that’s the only frogs we work with. There’s no point us holding lots of exotic frogs when we’re not caring for our own frogs.
And so step by step, bird, frog, reptile, we’re working with more endangered species in the collections. We still have the charismatic animals that get the conversation started and tell the story. So we can talk about palm oil while you’re looking at elephants or orangutans. We can talk about balloons being released into our environment while you’re looking at seals. And yet that’s not enough for us just to share stories with you.
And so what I love about the balloon campaign was, a few years later, and so around about 2019, 2020, EPA was doing a revision of legislation and we were able to engage with them and get a change in legislation so that releasing balloons outdoors is now illegal in Victoria.
And if you do it… And it’s always really funny because people put their name on balloons before they release it. Like we know it was you, ok? Not great detective work. If a company repeatedly releases balloons outdoors in Victoria, the fines can be up to $80,000.

Jen (00:23:13)

Jenny (00:23:14)
Now that makes you pause and go, “yeah, maybe I’m not going to release balloons”. We’re not talking the odd rogue balloon at a child’s birthday party, doesn’t attract that kind of fine. But to release big sways of balloons will get you fines for littering.
And that’s super interesting. Like, and we also saw some changes because children started refusing to accept balloons, because they knew that balloons go into our air, go into our oceans and go into our seabirds. And so we’re able to do multiple different kinds of conservation.
And to answer your question, in my mind, and it’s what we always strive for is each and every day, each and every visitor. And we see now when we do background surveys of the broader community and even more so of our members and people who are credible supporters and active participants with us on this journey. They understand that we’re largely a conservation organization, but we’re based in zoo.

Michael (00:24:03)
Yeah, fascinating stuff.
And you must be so busy with all of that activity happening.
I believe you also have a PhD as well. And as you know, we have students who have to write their theses.
I’d love you to share some tips on how do you complete a PhD while being busy as the CEO of Zoos Victoria. It’s an incredible achievement.

Jenny (00:24:26)
Well, my first trick is I did my PhD on my work. And so that really helps because everything I read, all the information I was gathering that made sense for my PhD also made sense for my strategies at work and working with my own teams.
And the the book is really my PhD. So there’s the trick of saving yourself the cost of my book by just downloading my PhD off the Melbourne Uni system, which I think quite a lot have done. So umm…

Jen (00:25:02)
I’m guessing your publisher doesn’t want you to say that.

Jenny (00:25:05)
Oh they haven’t. They haven’t done a second publication run, so I’m less worried about that.
You, you miss a few pretty pictures, that’s all.

Jenny (00:25:41)
But these were questions I was grappling with myself.
And I remember one of my supervisors saying, “This is kind of a brave topic”, which was, I was really exploring the ethic of zoos. Because if I couldn’t mount a good defense of the ethical grounds of zoos, I have a tough choice. Do I resign or am I just an unethical person? But luckily I’ve been able to argue the two together.
And what really is rewarding for me is young people who read my book and think heavily about and in depth about animals and our response to animals and our relationship with animals.
And they’ll send me emails and ask me questions on how I square away certain things. And I just love that. I mean, that’s why we do it right, Jen? So that someone will pick it up and it’ll impact them and touch them at some level.

Jen (00:25:55)
Absolutely. I mean, that’s what we’re all trying to do, right?
Which really makes me want to ask you another question. And that is when we ask students, why did you go into science? What brought you here? The vast majority say, “Because I want to make the world a better place. You know, I want to make a difference.”
And so I’d love to hear from all the things you’ve done over the years and the ways you’ve found to have really quite important impacts out there in the world, particularly now in the context of Victoria’s threatened species, what advice would you have for a science student or any early career scientist who has this deep sense of I want to make a difference in the world? What would you say to them?

Jenny (00:26:34)
I’d say be thoughtful and open to opportunity.
And so don’t rush too hard at thinking at the age of 22 that you’ve worked out what the worst problem in the world is and how you’re personally going to solve it. Build your skill set and then be open for that moment where you see it.
So the example I gave on the balloons and littering, that was one of my staff seeing an opportunity and just grabbing it and jumping in there bravely.
And so think less about your mission and more about the skills you’ve built and then survey the environment. Look for that job opportunity that will suddenly open new doors. And if you narrowly define yourself, you’re going to ready battle to find those opportunities.
But be open. Zoos were never on my… you know, I was working in a bank. I was earning twice as much money as I earn now. Who thought I was going to jump ship and go work in a zoo?
But if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be part of this team that’s doing this incredible work here. And I’ve enjoyed it way more. So don’t chase money. But you’re all scientists. You all know that already. But be open to opportunities.
The second thing I’d say is be hopeful. It’s really easy to become depressed and overwhelmed. I am super excited when I just get a small thing right. Find the joy in every day.

Michael (00:27:49)
So Jenny, you mentioned jumping ship there in terms of your career.
And we’re going to jump ship now over to the section of the podcast where we like to ask some quick questions just to finish off.

Michael (00:28:10)
First question that I would like to ask is: If you had to pick an alternative career to what you’re doing now or what you’ve done in the past. What would it be?

Jenny (00:28:21)
Oh, I’d love to be a police detective.
To like, do investigations and like solve crimes. I’m really good at that kind of stuff.

Jen (00:28:35)
I never would have picked that. I love that that’s your answer.

Jenny (00:28:38)
Oh, just think it’s the same as what we do with threatened species, right? We have to work out who done it? Why is it in trouble? How do you get your way around it?
Yeah. And it probably frustrates me that a lot of crime goes unsolved. But yeah, I’d love to be a detective.

Jen (00:28:52)
I love it. Excellent.
OK, question two. Can you name your proudest professional moment?

Jenny (00:29:01)
Oh, there’s so many. It’s really hard just to find one.
You know, I would probably say the team that brought the eastern barred bandicoot back from extinct in the wild to now being listed as threatened. Being part of that journey, just a tiny part of it.
And I still don’t think we’ve managed to celebrate successfully the broad interdisciplinary, the people from Deakin, the people from Phillip Island, Odonata, zoos, universities. There were just so many people involved in that success story. And I absolutely love that.

Jen (00:29:44)

Michael (00:29:46)
Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, collective success.
And if you could go back in time now Jenny, to witness any event, in history, science, discovery or otherwise. What would it be?

Jenny (00:29:59)
Oh, I… dinosaurs. You’re letting me go back in time.
I… The T-Rex always bothered me. The little arms really bother me.
Like, you’re going to be that fearsome and yet you’ve got like silly arms.
So I would just want to go back and see one and just go, Oh, okay. We’ve just got it wrong for so long. I would want to understand that.
When I first saw kangaroos, I did have a bit of a, Oh, oh, okay. They have the same problem of the little arm thing.
But yeah, no, you’re going to build the most fearsome predator ever and then give it little stupid arms. That bothers me. So that’s where I’d go.

Jen (00:30:42)
I’m coming with you. I want to see dinosaurs too.

Michael (00:30:45)
Yeah. And you know, if you could bring a T-Rex back, would it be possible to have a T-Rex exhibition at the zoo?

Jenny (00:30:54)
Oh, Michael, I’m going to call on your science knowledge and say, “You know, one’s not enough.”
So if we’re going to have to bring in back a [T-Rex]. Generally founders, we start with 28.
Oh, it’s going to be challenging.
So yeah, look, I think they’re best leaving them where they were. I also just, the logistics of containment and OH&S and yeah, it boggles the mind a little.

Michael (00:31:20)
And Jenny, you’ve had some great advice to share with us on the podcast.
For the final question, I would like to know if you had to pick one top tip for effective science communication. What would it be?

Jenny (00:31:32)
I would say be brave and be interesting. And your politicians are more accessible than you think. If you’re a young, start-out scientist, make an appointment, go and see your local politician and tell them what you’re doing. Give them an insight that they can use in question time.
You would be surprised how easy it is to appear in the Hansard if you go and talk to your local politician because they have to get up and speak every week. And so give them something interesting to talk about.
And as… That’s why I say, be brave, make the appointment, go in. They’re going to be delighted that it’s a young scientist wanting to talk about something interesting, not a pensioner wanting to talk about the cracks in the sidewalk.
And so you’ll get your appointment. And use it, be interesting. So that’s what I would say, definitely. And talk, talk about what you’re doing. It’s easy to say, “Oh, but I’m a bit of an introvert. I’ll just stay in the data.”
Practice, practice on everyone, practice on your friends, practice on your family. Be comfortable talking because that’s how we often get our stories across.

Jen (00:32:25)
Jenny, that’s such good advice.
And I feel like I want to go out and make a whole merchandise range now with the slogan “Be brave, be interesting”. To me, that seems like, that’s the story of life, right?

Jenny (00:33:38)
Absolutely. And you know, I’ve long believed we can’t all be rich, but we can all be interesting.
And once you’re interesting, you’ll be surprised how many doors that opens.

Jen (00:32:48)
Well, Jenny, I intend to take your message to heart and to do my very best to be brave and interesting.
But I mostly want to thank you for being so brave with everything that you’ve done in your career and that you’re doing.
And for being so interesting to talk to. I really value all of the advice and tips you shared with us today. There’s a lot in there for all of us. And thank you so much for making time for us today.

Jenny (00:33:15)
Absolutely, a pleasure, Jen.
Thank you.

Michael (00:33:19)
Thanks Jenny.

Michael (00:33:38)
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