David Allan-Petale is a writer from Perth, Western Australia whose debut novel Locust Summer was long listed for the 2021 ALS Gold Medal for "an outstanding literary work," and shortlisted for the 2021 WA Premier’s Book Awards. The manuscript was shortlisted for the 2017 Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award, and developed through a fellowship at Varuna, the National Writers’ House. David has worked for many years as a journalist in WA and internationally with BBC World and Al Jazeera.
Mandy Bamford grew up near the Swan River, watching the creatures that spilled over into the suburbs from urban swamps and bushland. As a child, family camping trips fuelled Mandy’s passion for nature. Since graduating from UWA, she has worked as an ecologist and environmental communicator in research and industry. Mandy is active in community organisations and along with her husband Mike, she runs Bamford Consulting Ecologists, a collaborative team of ecologists who specialise in wildlife research and science communication. Mandy is fascinated by vertebrate ecology, urban nature, biodiversity, waterbirds and wetlands, and innovative ways to engage people with nature.
Lyn Beazley AO
Lyn Beazley AO FTSE is a neuroscientist and educator. From 2006 to 2013 she was Chief Scientist of Western Australia, advising State Government on science, innovation, and technology. In 2009, Beazley was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia. Later that same year she was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. In 2011, she was inducted into the inaugural Western Australian Women’s Hall of Fame, followed by election as a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators and a Companion of Engineers Australia. She was the second recipient of the Governor’s Award for Giving, in 2012. She received the Australian of the Year Award for 2015.
Stephen Bevis studied zoology and botany at the University of WA before completing an arts degree, specialising in English literature and history. He also learned the ABC of life during a year-long hitchhiking tour of Australia, picking asparagus, bananas and cabernet grapes. Stephen is a former arts editor (2006 to 2016) of The West Australian, where his 25-year career also included the senior editorial roles of weekend magazine editor, deputy foreign editor, news editor, Canberra correspondent and State political reporter.
Any moment Neeve Blackham-Jennings (aged 17) can spare, she can be found writing, drawing, painting or reading a book. When she was 15, Neeve wrote and illustrated Wally’s Way Home – a beautiful story about Wally the Western Swamp Tortoise and his journey to find a safe home – to raise funds and awareness of this critically endangered species. Her book was awarded a Whitley Award for young authors in 2021 by the Royal Zoological Society of NSW and has sold many copies, with proceeds going to support the rehabilitation of habitat and breeding programs for the species. Neeve has recently written a fantasy novel and aims to write and illustrate more children’s books to support endangered species, and to continue to use her writing and illustrative talents to make a difference.
Phil Bland is Professor of Planetary Science at Curtin University. He came to Curtin in 2012 on an Australian Laureate Fellowship. In 2015 Bland established a partnership between NASA and Australia in planetary, space and exploration science. Curtin now formally represents the Australian planetary community to NASA. In 2017 Bland initiated the Binar Space Program in order to develop a WA spacecraft engineering capability, and in 2018, the Curtin Space Science and Technology Centre. SSTC is now the largest planetary science group in the Southern Hemisphere. SSTC flew its first spacecraft in August 2021. Six more will follow over the next 18 months. Phil has been on six planetary mission science teams. In 2006, Asteroid ‘1981 EW21’ was renamed ‘(6580) Philbland’ in recognition of his contributions to space and planetary science. He was named Western Australia Scientist of the Year in 2019. His goal is to see Australia take its place amongst space faring nations by leading our own science missions.
Clint Bracknell is a music-maker and language revivalist from the south coast Noongar region of Western Australia. He is interested in the connections between song, language, and landscapes and his work intersects with applied linguistics, ecomusicology, Australian studies, and Indigenous studies. Recent arts-language projects he has collaborated on include a mainstage production of Shakespeare's Macbeth in Noongar (Hecate 2020), a Bruce Lee film dubbed in Noongar (Fist of Fury Noongar Daa 2021), and the multi-sensory 'Noongar Wonderland' performance installation in Perth Festival 2022. He serves as Deputy Chair of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and received the 2020 Barrett Award for Australian Studies.
A science fiction fan for as long as he can remember, Stefen Brazulaitis has been bookseller in WA for more than thirty years. Working in various roles for Angus & Robertson, Dymocks and Borders, he used his passion and knowledge of speculative fiction to develop those sections and promote local writers. Proudly wearing the title of professional nerd, he has been a speculative fiction reviewer for Bookseller & Publisher Magazine since 2002 and opened his own science fiction and fantasy specialist store, Stefen’s Books in 2011.
James Bradley is a novelist and essayist. His books include the novels Wrack, The Deep Field, The Resurrectionist, Clade and Ghost Species, and The Penguin Book of the Ocean. His fiction has won or been shortlisted for a number of major literary awards, and his non-fiction has been nominated for a Walkley and twice shortlisted for the Bragg Prize for Science Writing, as well as winning the Pascall Prize for Australia’s Critic of the Year in 2012. He is an Honorary Associate at the Sydney Environment Institute at the University of Sydney, and his new book of essays about the ocean, Deep Water, will be published by Penguin Random House in 2024.
Rob Brooks is Scientia Professor of Evolution at UNSW who writes about the relevance of evolution to modern life. He has won prizes for both his research on the conflicts at the heart of sex (Australian Academy of Science Fenner Medal) and his popular writing (Eureka Prize, Queensland Literary Award). His latest book Artificial Intimacy charts what happens when human nature and 21st century technologies like sex robots, virtual reality and artificial intelligence collide.
Cristy Burne is passionate about blending STEM, literacy, storytelling and creativity to enthuse, engage and empower. She has worked as a science communicator for 20 years across six countries and has degrees in biotechnology, science communication, and a Masters in Professional Communication. She has been a garbage analyst, museum writer, magazine editor and atom-smashing reporter. She is the author of several books for children including the Wednesday Weeks series (co-created with Dennis Knight), and Zeroes and Ones, a non-fiction history of computing.
Wolfgang Bylsma is the Editor-in-Chief for Gestalt Publishing, which he co-founded in 2005. Wolf’s publishing endeavours have helped change the nature of the comics industry in Australia and assisted in building reputations and careers for Australian talent on the international stage. Wolf also serves as Executive Producer on THE DEEP animated series streaming on ABC iView and Netflix, and Creative Director on the LUSTRATION VR series for the Meta Quest platform. His writing credits include adapting the ABC iView series, WASTELANDER PANDA, and co-writing the CLEVERMAN comic series with TV series creator Ryan Griffen.
Oron Catts is the Director and co-founder of SymbioticA (Est. 2000), The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, UWA. He is an artist, researcher and curator. He co-founded the Tissue Culture and Art Project in 1996, was a Research Fellow in Harvard Medical School, a visiting Scholar at Stanford University, a Visiting Professor at Aalto University, and a Professor at Large in Contestable Design at the Royal College of Arts, London. His work has been exhibited and collected by the Pompidou Centre, MoMA.
Danielle Clode is a biologist and natural history author. Her books include Killers in Eden, which was made into an award-winning ABC TV documentary; Voyage to the South Seas, winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Non-fiction; and The Wasp and the Orchid, which was shortlisted for National Biography Award. Her most recent book is In Search of the Woman who Sailed the World.
A chance opportunity to bring the chief architect of the Paris Climate Agreement, Christiana Figueres to Perth in March 2020 has changed Meri Fatin’s life. Later that year she was guest curator of the TEDxPerth COUNTDOWN: WA Climate Leadership Summit which led her to starting WA Climate Leaders, driving a vision to inspire bold WA leadership on climate action in this critical decade. A graduate of WAAPA, Meri is an interviewer and facilitator with a background in radio.
James Foley makes picture books, middle grade novels and comic books for kids. James is the author and illustrator of the S. Tinker Inc graphic novel series and the illustrator of the Toffle Tower series by Tim Harris. His latest release is the picture book Stellarphant. He lives in Perth with his wife, 2 kids, and a Labrador and comes from a long line of queuing enthusiasts.
Tim French is a researcher primarily working in the fields of logic, artificial intelligence and knowledge representation and reasoning. He is particularly interested in understanding rationality, belief and uncertainty in artificial intelligence. Tim is also interested in applying these ideas in industrial settings, and has worked on projects using automated planning for industrial process, and combing machine learning and physical models to build predictive systems. He is the Regional Contest Director for the South Pacific Programming Contest, and is the Program leader in UWA’s technical language processing group.
Sandra Harben is a Whadjuk/Balardong Noongar woman of the Noongar nation in the southwest of Western Australia. She studied at the University of Western Australia graduating in 1994. In 1995 she undertook studies at the University of Illinois as a recipient of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Overseas Study Award. In 2003 she was awarded Murdoch University’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Scholarship. She is the Noongar Cultural Consultant for Noongar Mia Mia, the only Aboriginal-owned and operated Community Housing Provider in the Perth metro area. She has also worked across Aboriginal heritage projects and conducted numerous research projects relating to Noongar heritage, culture and language.
Lesley Head is Professor of Geography at the University of Melbourne and President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Her research examines the cultural dimensions of environmental issues, including climate change. Her books include Hope and Grief in the Anthropocene (Routledge 2016) and Plants. Past, Present and Future (co-authored with Zena Cumpston and Michael-Shawn Fletcher, forthcoming November 2022 with Thames and Hudson).
John Hughes is the Senior Subject Specialist at the State Library of Western Australia. He has previously managed public libraries, arts, museums and archives in London and Western Australia. John studied history and librarianship at the London School of Economics and John Moores University and has acquired an MBA from Curtin University. He is particularly interested in the role of libraries in the digital age.
Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker uses novel radio telescopes to explore the Universe at the longest wavelengths of light. She has revealed the radio glow of our own Milky Way galaxy and hundreds of thousands of distant galaxies, creating the first "radio color" survey of the sky. She is a keen science communicator who has brought her view of the Universe to the world with an Android VR app, an online viewer, and a popular TED talk, and continues to engage the public with fascinating talks on the Universe and our place in it. She is a WA Tall Poppies Scientist of the Year (2017), an ABC Top 5 Scientist (2018) and a Superstar of STEM (2019).
Anthony James is a fifth generation Australian man living on ancient lands among the oldest continuous cultures on earth. He is the creator of The RegenNarration podcast, an award-winning facilitator and educator, Prime Ministerial award-winner for service to the international community, widely published writer, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia, and Warm Data Lab Host Certified by the International Bateson Institute.
Dr Michelle Johnston is a consultant Emergency Physician who works at an inner city hospital. Mostly her days consist of trauma and mess. She studied medicine at UWA, and gained her Fellowship with the Australian College for Emergency Medicine in 1998. She believes there is a beating heart of humanity, art, and beauty within the sometimes brutal reality of the Emergency Department, and she has dedicated her career to finding that sweet spot between creativity and critical care medicine. Books are her other oxygen, and writing her sustenance. She is the author of Dustfall.
Patrick Marlborough is a neurodivergent nonbinary writer, comedian, journalist, critic and musician based in Walyalup (Fremantle), Whadjuk Boodja. They have been published in VICE, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Junkee, Noisey, Meanjin, Overland, Crikey, The Lifted Brow, Cordite, Going Down Swinging, The Betoota Advocate, and beloved other. They are a passionate mental health and disability advocate, regularly writing about their experiences with depression, suicide, bipolar, high functioning autism, and OCD.
Jane McCredie is an award-winning journalist and writer about science. She is the author of Making Girls and Boys: Inside the science of sex and past editor of The Best Australian Science Writing. A former publisher of scholarly and popular science books, she reviews science books and writes a regular opinion column for the Medical Journal of Australia. Jane is the founder and director of the Quantum Words Festival of writing about science.
Oral McGuire is a Noongar leader and landholder with extensive experience in traditional land and fire management practices. He is the Managing Director of Gundi Consulting and Gundi Contracting and the Chair of the Noongar Land Enterprise Group.
Associate Professor Katarina Miljkovic is a planetary scientist. She joined Curtin University in 2015, following her international research roles in the UK, France and USA. She studies impact processes to better understand structure and evolution of terrestrial, lunar and planetary crusts. Katarina is currently a collaborator on the NASA InSight mission that is operating on Mars and recording marsquakes. She has won several competitive awards, including an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, an Australian L'Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science Fellowship, Australian Institute of Physics Woman in Physics lectureship and WA Tall Poppy Young Scientist of the Year award.
Jennifer Mills is an author, editor and critic based on Kaurna Yerta (Adelaide). Her latest novel, The Airways (2021), was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and shortlisted for an Aurealis Award for Horror. Dyschronia (2018) was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin, Aurealis (for Science Fiction), and Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. A widely published essayist and a strong advocate for the rights of writers and artists, her key interests include the climate crisis, labour, gender and the body. In 2022 Mills is pursuing these subjects and more as Artist in Residence at Vitalstatistix.
Helen Milroy, a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of WA, is currently the Perth Children's Hospital Foundation Professor of Child and Adolescent psychiatry; a Commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission; Co-chair of the Million Minds Medical Research Advisory Group and Honorary Research Fellow with the Telethon Kids Institute. Helen was not only the first Aboriginal person in Australia to become a doctor, she’s also a writer and illustrator who believes storytelling is an ‘absolutely vital part of childhood’ that is paramount to children building good relationships as they grow up.
Natasha Mitchell is a multi-award winning journalist and broadcaster, presenting flagship ABC Radio National programs including Life Matters (2012-2016), as founding host and producer of All in the Mind (2002-12), and now a new culture and science program, Science Friction, which won best science and medicine podcast at the 2019 Australian Podcast Awards. Natasha served as vice president of the World Federation of Science Journalists, and was recipient of a prestigious MIT Knight Fellowship. She has an engineering degree, and a postgraduate diploma in science communication.
Nicki Mitchell is an award-winning tertiary educator and Associate Professor of Conservation Biology at UWA, with a focus on threatened fauna and their vulnerability to environmental change. She has studied amphibians and reptiles for the past 25 years – ranging from frogs in subalpine Tasmania, tuatara on offshore islands in New Zealand, and flatback sea turtles the Kimberley. Conservation strategies such as assisted colonisation are a major research interest, and since 2010 Nicki has led an initiative to translocate the Western Swamp Tortoise into higher rainfall zones near the south coast of Western Australia as a response to climate change.
Greg Mullins AO AFSM became a major national figure in the 2019–20 bushfire crisis – Australia’s longest, hottest and most devastating on record. From being a volunteer firefighter then a career firefighter, he is an internationally recognised expert in responding to major bushfires and natural disasters. During his 39-year career he served as President, Vice President and Board Chair of the Australasian Fire & Emergency Service Authorities’ Council, Deputy Chair of the NSW State Emergency Management Committee, Australian Director of the International Fire Chiefs Association of Asia, NSW representative on the Australian Emergency Management Committee, Australian representative on the UN’s International Search & Rescue Advisory Group, and as a member of the NSW Bushfire Coordinating Committee. He is currently Chair of the NSW Ambulance Service Advisory Board. In early 2019 he formed Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, a coalition of 34 former fire and emergency service chiefs from throughout Australia. They tried to warn the federal government of an impending bushfire disaster, were ignored, but continue to explain how climate change is super-charging the bushfire problem and why urgent action is needed on greenhouse emissions.
A former A-grade district cricketer and schoolteacher, Barry Nicholls has written about cricket for decades and is a broadcaster with the ABC, where he has worked since 2003. After 25 years of playing cricket he now enjoys spending his weekends watching his children embrace the challenges and pleasures of participating in sport. Barry lives in Perth and has learned a bit about second chances in life.
Bruce Pascoe has published widely in both adult and young adult literature. He has won numerous awards, including the Children’s Book Council of Australia Eve Pownall Award for Young Dark Emu (Magabala Books 2019), New South Wales Premier’s Book of the Year Award in 2016 for Dark Emu (Magabala Books 2014) and the Prime Minister’s Literature Award for Young Adult fiction for Fog a Dox (Magabala Books 2012) in 2013. In 2018 Bruce was awarded the Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature. He has worked as a teacher, farmer, fisherman, barman, fencing contractor, lecturer, Aboriginal language researcher, archaeological site worker and editor. Bruce is a Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man, and currently lives on his farm in Gippsland, Victoria.
David Pollock is a second-generation pastoralist from Wooleen Station in the Murchison region of Western Australia. He took over the 153,000-hectare property when he was 27, and was soon joined by his now wife Frances as they embarked on a quest to transform Wooleen into a sustainable grazing enterprise. They run a station-stay tourism business to help pay for repairing the ecological damage caused by historic overgrazing, and have appeared on the ABC TV’s Australian Story program four times. David loves Frances, palatable perennial grass, Wooleen, their four kelpies, and happy cows. In that order.
Justin Randall is an award winning Graphic Novelist and VR artist from Perth, Western Australia, best known for his supernatural thriller series Changing Ways, interior artwork and novel covers for 30 Days of Night and cover art for the Silent Hill comics. His clients include Simon & Schuster, IDW, Gestalt Publishing, and Image Comics. He is currently working on his new title Cavity, interiors for Talgard and the First Nations Indigiverse comic series, Dark Heart.
Physicist, Soldier, Comedian, Astronaut Candidate, Cave Explorer - one thing Josh Richards can never be called is boring. After 10 years blowing things up with the Australian Army, slogging through mud with British Commandos, being science adviser to the richest artist in history, and performing as an angry koala to confused audiences around the world; Josh decided to leave everything behind in 2012 by applying for a one-way mission to Mars. After another decade preparing to leave Earth, Josh wound up in the awkward position of being shortlisted to the final 100 from 200,000 applicants... when the project shut down. So until Elon sells him a seat to the big red dustbowl in the sky, you'll find Josh writing books about aliens/black holes/why work is for robots; conducting guerilla warfare on corporate culture; pretending to be an emotionally-unstable marsupial; or crawling down a muddy hole to explore underwater caves.
Katie Stewart is an author and illustrator. Born in the north of England, she came to Australia at the age of nine. She started her working life as an archaeologist and ethnohistorian, went on to teaching and then to being a mother. She later worked in a school library, but her lifelong dream was to be what she is now. She is married to a farmer, has three children and lives north of Northam, where her love of animals means she has a lot of pets and takes lots of nature photos. In her spare time, she tries to play the harp or wanders the countryside with a metal detector amusing the neighbours and occasionally finding an interesting piece of history. Her books have been shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year (2020 and 2021) and shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Book Awards (2022).
Rachel Robertson is a Perth based writer and Associate Professor at Curtin University, where she teaches creative and professional writing. She is author of Reaching One Thousand (Black Ink), co-editor of Purple Prose (Fremantle Press) and Dangerous Ideas about Mothers (UWAP). Rachel writes memoir, literary essays and other nonfiction and her research focuses on life writing, Australian literature and critical disability studies.
Josephine Taylor is a Perth writer and editor, and an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Writing at Edith Cowan University. Her creative and critical writing has been anthologised and published widely. Josephine’s first novel, Eye of a Rook (Fremantle Press), which was shortlisted in the 2021 WA Premier’s Book Awards, follows two women separated by 150 years who are struck down by inexplicable genital pain. Their stories throw light on the beleaguered history of hysteria, gynaecological disorder and female sexuality. Josephine is a board member of Writing WA and a 2022 Emerging Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre.
Petra Tschakert is a human-environment geographer and Professor in the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry at Curtin University. Her work is on climate change adaptation, climate and mobility justice, resilience and power, and intersecting inequalities. She co-chairs the National Strategy on Just Adaptation, led by the Australian Academy of Science and Future Earth Australia. She has contributed to the Climate Health WA Inquiry to inform its 2020 report, and she was Coordinating Lead Author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for the Fifth Assessment Report (2014) and the Special Report on 1.5°C Global Warming (2018). Petra also leads the research project ‘Locating Loss from Climate Change in Everyday Places’ in WA.
Alton Walley is a Whadjuk, Wilman, Kaneang Nyoongar man from the South-West of Western Australia. Alton has been heavily immersed in his culture since he was a young boy, being fortunate enough to have access to, and engage with, a wealth of knowledgeable cultural figures. He has been dancing and playing music with the Middar dance group since he could walk, performing locally, nationally and internationally.
HM Waugh is an environmental scientist, writer and educator with a long-term love of wild places and high mountains. This has led to icy feet and sunburnt cheeks in magical countries like New Zealand, Nepal, Bolivia and Switzerland. She has studied dolphins in New Zealand and rare plants in the Wheatbelt, and worked in mining and construction projects across Western Australia. When she’s not writing, she’s teaching school and community groups about science and the environment. This often involves working with children and animals concurrently, and Waugh loves being able to truthfully say she handles dragons for a job.
Annamaria Weldon, a poet and essayist best known for her nature writing, was Patron of the Perth Poetry Festival 2021. Her books are: Stone Mother Tongue (UWAP October 2018); The Lake’s Apprentice (UWAP 2014); The Roof Milkers (Sunline Press, 2008) and Ropes of Sand (Associated News Malta, 1984). She held artist residencies with SymbioticA, UWA and St James Cavalier in Malta, researching landscape and anthropology for her last two books. Annamaria won the Inaugural Nature Conservancy Australia Essay Prize, the Tom Collins Poetry Prize and was shortlisted in ABR's Peter Porter Poetry Prize. She is now writing her memoir.
Dianne Wolfer is the author of 23 books for teenagers and younger readers. 2022 has been a busy year with three titles published; Skye Blackburn-Lang: Eating bugs for the planet, The last Light Horse, and Mia, a novel set during Cyclone Veronica. Dianne’s books have won the Speech Pathology Awards, WA Premier’s Award, WAYBRA, been shortlisted for many others, translated into several languages, and adapted for stage. She completed PhD research into anthropomorphism in children’s literature which led to two titles and the website, www.animalswhotalk.com.