Leading scientists explore Possible Impossibles

The Victorian Parliament has partnered with the Royal Society of Victoria to conduct an online community forum as the finale to National Science Week 2020.

Held on Sunday 23 August 2020, the Possible Impossibles online forum considered how science can help create the sort of future Victorians want.

Hosted by award-winning ABC science journalist Natasha Mitchell, the forum featured four scientists working at the forefront of environmental science, new technologies, medical science and space exploration:

  • Professor Elizabeth Croft, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Monash University and a leading expert on artificial intelligence and human-robot interactions whose research is helping to create socially aware robots
  • Dr Kudzai Kanhutu, an Infectious Diseases Physician at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and a Research Fellow at The Doherty Institute whose research on digital translation seeks to improve health outcomes for people from refugee and migrant backgrounds
  • Dr Gail Iles, Senior Lecturer in Space Physics at RMIT University, a leading expert on space flight and exploration and a former astronaut trainer with the European Astronaut Centre.
  • Associate Professor Julie Mondon, Director of Environmental Science and Marine Biology at Deakin University in Warrnambool whose work is focused on reducing the impact of human-generated waste on marine organisms and habitats.

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“The Victorian Parliament has been finding new ways of connecting with people online,” said Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Colin Brooks.

“This event was a way for people to contribute to a broader discussion about what the future should look like and how scientific exploration can help us get there,” he said.

The panel answered many questions from the online audience and reflected on the way science can respond to community demands to improve people’s lives.

“Science contributes a great deal to our economy and our state,” said President of the Legislative Council Nazih Elasmar.

“Importantly, this project has allowed our Parliament to strengthen its connection with young people and understand their needs in a time of rapid change,” said President of the Legislative Council Nazih Elasmar.

“During National Science Week the Parliament was keen to recognise our many scientists whose work today will lead to a better future for all Victorians,” he said.

“Whether Victorians imagine landing on Mars, reducing the impact of climate change or improving the health of all living things, the Possible Impossibles forum invited an exchange of ideas and asked, What’s next?” said Dr Renee Beale, Science Week Curator and Producer at the Royal Society of Victoria.

Video interviews with the four scientists, recorded for National Science Week as a preview to the online forum, can be viewed at vicparl.news/explore.


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