April 12, 2021 | Published by | , , ,

After the COVID-related troubles of 2020, I was relieved to see 2021 kicking off with a few solid achievements for the Knowledge Brokerage Team. Most recently, I was pleased to see the publication of an Environmental Research Communications paper co-authored by NSW Government scientists, CLEX Research Fellow Nina Ridder and myself. The paper taps into CLEX expertise on the application of extreme value statistics to investigate climate model projections of future changes in climate extremes that occur, on average, once every 20 years. These are more interesting to government, and others who manage climate risk, than oft-analysed, but generally less damaging, annual extreme events. The paper notes the difficulties of using climate model projections in this context and sets the scene for further improvements in their design and further research on coincident climate extremes.

In February, with others, I convened the online 28th Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) Annual Conference. The conference was themed Science for Impact, a subject dear to my heart as a Knowledge Broker. I’ve written in more length about the conference elsewhere in this newsletter. Here, I would just highlight that this was a conference sponsored by CLEX with a lot of CLEX participation.

One of the workshops run as part of the AMOS conference comprised another step for the Knowledge Brokerage Team in its engagement with school teachers. The Climate Classrooms workshop (read more here) brought teachers and conference attendees together to work on educational resources on climate science. The workshop was part of an ongoing collaboration between CLEX and the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub, both of which are now partners in TROP ICSU, an international project that aims to provide educators across the globe with teaching resources in climate change. CLEX researcher and schools’ resources developer Sanaa Hobeichi led the workshop and was supported by numerous CLEX professional staff and affiliates. Special credit goes to CLEX PhD students Rishav Goyal, Charuni Pathmeswaran, Manon Sabot, Maurice Huguenin and Jon Page for stepping up to work closely with the teachers. Sanaa and I are on a mission to promote this kind of workshop to maths and science teachers across Australia and were very pleased to have published an article on the workshop in SCIOS, the journal of the Science Teacher’s Association of Western Australia. We are working to place similar articles in the journals and newsletters of other teacher’s associations. We are also pleased to have hard data that contributes to demonstrating the impact of the workshop, thanks to CLEX professional staff member Karla Fallon’s efforts in setting up and analysing pre- and post-workshop surveys of participants.

Looking forward to the rest of 2021, this year will be a year of evolution for engagement between CLEX and the non-academic world, and for the Knowledge Brokerage Team that supports this engagement. The Centre’s Mid Term Review strongly encouraged further engagement of this type and you may already have noticed a few changes inspired by the review. For example, Alvin’s weekly update to CLEX staff now contains a section that specifically celebrates engagement and there is now a new CLEX prize for ECRs engaging with stakeholders outside universities. A new series of monthly CLEX webinars have been established that will see speakers alternating between CLEX Partner Investigators and climate science stakeholders outside the research community. The Centre’s Outreach Committee, which advises the Centre leadership on dealings with the non-academic world, has evolved to become the Engagement and Impact Committee. This reflects the recognition that, as well as talking to stakeholders about what we do, it is important to talk with them to discover how the Centre’s research could have an impact in their domains.

Expect further changes as the year progresses and prepare to work with new members of the Knowledge Brokerage Team. An expansion in the team is planned that will allow it to provide more support to our researchers to help them identify and engage with potential stakeholders in their work that lie outside academia. For example, it will allow greater focus on establishing links between our research programs and relevant private companies, industry bodies and government departments. Of course, CLEX already does a great deal in the way of engaging with government, business, schools and the general public. For example, in March, Andy Pitman joined Tanya Fiedler, a business expert at the University of Sydney, in briefing financial services firm UBS on the use of climate models in assessing business risk. Also in March, Xinyang Fan at the University of Melbourne was part of the “20 PhDs in 20 minutes” segment on Triple R’s Einstein-A-Go-Go radio show. However, we all need to be reminded that the Centre relies on reports in Clever to track our engagement. As far as CLEX is concerned, engagement that hasn’t been reported in Clever hasn’t happened.  If you’re unsure about whether the engagement that you have done is reportworthy, please report it. If you can’t work out how to use Clever to report it, please drop Karla Fallon a line at k.fallon@unimelb.edu.au. Karla and I are working with Stephen Gray to help you to help us to capture all your awesome engagement activities.