Damn paparazzi


The hell are YOU looking at

Thanks to @DustinWelbourne of UNSW, ANU and various outback paddocks for his past week curating @RealScientists. Dustin brought his PhD research on optimising non-invasive techniques for detecting animals (such as motion activated cameras and acoustic and ultrasonic recorders) out of the field directly into Your Computer And/Or Web-Accessible Mobile Device, much to the enjoyment of all.


Every day I’m snufflin’

Unfortunately Dustin has had to leave us…


…some folks just plain don’t like their photos taken. We wish Dustin all the best for his recovery and for the rest of his biogeography PhD at UNSW. Stay connected with Dustin on Twitter or on his blog. If you missed any of Dustin’s entertaining week on the account, hit up Storify.

Next week, all the way from Washington, DC: science artist Michele Banks, aka @artologica.

How Not To Be Seen


In this picture there are thirty cameras. None of them can be seen. In this next week, we hope to show you How Not To Be Seen…

This is Mr Dustin Welbourne of the University of New South Wales, Canberra. He is doing a PhD in biogeography, combined with a Masters in Science Communication at ANU. The snake (model’s own) is not, as it is hard to be a science communicator without thumbs.


Dustin, who in certain company answers to ‘Slothhead’, says he’s always had a love of science and nature. “As a kid I would disappear for hours looking for animals and plants. I used to go down to the quarry not far from my home and split open rocks, I always wanted to find a T-Rex…” He never did find a T-Rex.  T-Rexes, for the record, also make terrible science communicators. Tiny hands. Crap at tweeting.

Dustin admits, “My interest in so many forms of science has been a source of contention for deciding what I want to do.” Through high school Dustin became more interested in chemistry and physics and still to this day considers himself an amateur astronomer. Until recently he was the owner and director of the Canberra Reptile Sanctuary, a not for profit exhibit of native and non-native, venomous and non-venomous reptiles. At university he began in biochemistry, but after doing some readings on Malthus, got really interested in big, complex systems, which led him to his PhD field of biogeography. Biogeography is the study of where and why biological organisms are distributed the way they are. As a field, it lies at the intersection of multiple natural sciences such as climatology, geology, geomorphology, ecology and so on, which appeals to Dustin’s generalist preferences. Dustin’s PhD research is on optimising non-invasive techniques, such as motion activated cameras and acoustic and ultrasonic recorders, to detect vertebrates in the field. One of the outcomes of his work is to develop a monitoring methodology that can be used on Australian Defence Force Estates.

Because PhD research by definition turns you into a specificist, Dustin’s satisfied his generalist interests in science through science communication, which he’s exploring in his spare time (PhD students have spare time these days??) in his Masters at ANU. He tweets at @DustinWelbourne and blogs his PhD project and his interests in science/sci-comm at http://slothyscience.blogspot.com. An area of science communication that he is particularly interested in is the use of micro-mentaries, documentaries under 10 minutes, to tell science stories. Last year he won his group in “I’m A Scientist, Get Me Out Of Here” – something he has in common with our most recent curator, Brad Tucker. He’s recently finished the rough draft of a short doco on the nature of controversial issues in science, done on almost zero budget over 3 weeks. Dustin welcomes comments, preferably nice and/or helpful ones, on the draft version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Dto7hheZ04. We welcome Dustin and his tremendous beard to RealScientists and wish him all the best for a fun week on the account!