News / 12 September 2018

ARMI researchers standing at a stall at the Scienceworks AstroLight Festival
ARMI researchers manning the stall at the Scienceworks AstroLight Festival. From left to right: Sam Keenan, Monika Mohenska, Christina Gangemi, Jean Tang, Laura Galvis Vargas, Harriet Manley and Celia Vandestadt.

Welcoming in Spring on a warm Saturday evening, Scienceworks was abuzz with activity at the AstroLight Festival. Hosted by Museums Victoria, this annual event serves to introduce popular science to the public. This year’s AstroLight Festival featured a jam-packed program, offering visitors an exciting array of activities and presentations from which to choose. One such presentation was delivered by Celia Vandestadt and Sam Keenan, two Ph.D. candidates from ARMI.

As a returning participant, Celia was particularly excited about the opportunity to share ARMI’s research with the public as a reminder of its importance. “I remember my first experience in [scientific] outreach at AstroLight two years ago - I was blown away by so many people from all walks of life coming to engage with science!” beamed Celia. “I fell in love with science communication that day and realised how important and rewarding it is to break down what we do and make it relatable to others. Participating in these events is not only great for ARMI’s public outreach, but it is also a great reminder to our scientists how amazing our research is - it’s easy to lose that big picture when you’re in the lab everyday.”

For Sam, AstroLight is an opportunity to inspire young scientists, “The reason I do these science communication presentations is to stress the concept of critical thinking, especially among younger individuals who may, like myself, become fascinated with science and decide to focus their future towards a career in research. Not only do we need more scientists, but we also need to train them on how to communicate effectively and empathetically, which will hopefully drown out the misinformation that we see on the internet and social media.”

Celia and Sam took to the AstroLight stage last Saturday to share their love of zebrafish, a small stripy fish that can regrow broken limbs and organs. Excited to engage with the local science-curious community, they showed how critical these little creatures are in regenerative medicine research in their presentation entitled ‘Fluro-fish and the secrets of regeneration’. The zebrafish’s ability to regrow broken limbs and organs has captured the imagination of scientists all around the world and now the race is on to find out how they do it.

Celia and Sam explained how scientists use fluorescent microscopy to understand how zebrafish can regrow damaged limbs and organs. More excitingly, they shared with the audience how their research team has explored the possibility for medicine to harness this regenerative potential to one day regrow human limbs and organs.

ARMI’s AstroLight presence also included a stall enabling the public to interact and be amazed by the potentially life-changing research conducted at ARMI. ARMI’s volunteers were able to take a break from the lab and be enveloped by the public’s enthusiasm for their research, reinforcing its importance.

For more information on Celia Vandestadt and Sam Keenan and their groups at ARMI, please visit the Kaslin Group and Currie Group groups respectively. Follow Celia and Sam on Twitter via @CVandestadt and @SamKeenan37