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Communication award for Auckland scientist

29 November 2012

The New Zealand Association of Scientists has this week awarded the Science Communicators Award for 2012 to Dr Siouxsie Wiles from The University of Auckland and Maurice Wilkins Centre.

The award recognises Dr Wiles’ commitment to communicating a range of scientific issues of interest to the public, in addition to her specialist area, through traditional print and broadcast media outlets as well as social media and other communication formats.

Dr Wiles is a microbiologist researching infectious diseases, working in the Maurice Wilkins Centre and in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. The holder of a Health Research Council Hercus Fellowship, she is a passionate science communicator who believes science can empower people to make informed choices that shape their future for the better.

Dr Wiles communicates her passion for science across a wide range of platforms. An active science blogger and new media enthusiast, she has brought her research involving bioluminescence and infectious diseases to life through two short YouTube animations illustrating why and how fireflies glow, and how this light can be used in science.

This year Dr Wiles explored the benefits of crowdfunding for science, successfully harnessing the power of social media and the internet through the SciFund Challenge to raise money for her scientific research that uses genome sequencing to learn more about how bacteria evolve.

Recently Dr Wiles has been seen in television advertisements for the National Science Challenges, a Government initiative which encourages scientists and the public together to identify issues they believe are most important to New Zealand. The findings, due in early 2013, will allow the Government to take a more strategic approach to addressing these through investment in science, research and development.

The New Zealand Association of Scientists hopes that in awarding this prize to Dr Wiles, it will encourage many other scientists to follow her lead and become proactive, engaging communicators with integrity and passion.

"New Zealand needs more scientists like Siouxsie Wiles,” said the President of the NZAS, Prof Shaun Hendy: “ She is passionate about communicating science, whether based on her own research or the research of others, and makes use of many media to get her ideas across. She is articulate and interesting to her audience, and available and accommodating to the media she deals with."