Cel­e­brat­ing science

Australian Geographic - - From the Editor-in-chief -

PLEASE don’t freak out when you dis­cover our cover this month fea­tures a non-Aus­tralian an­i­mal! We haven’t sud­denly ex­panded our ed­i­to­rial fo­cus to en­com­pass the rest of the world.This pe­cu­liar an­i­mal, the pan­golin, is the first non-na­tive crea­ture to grace our unashamedly Aus­tralian mag­a­zine, and there’s a good rea­son for that.

As we pro­mote Aus­tralian Science Week in this edition, we’re proud to pub­lish the story of an in­spir­ing mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary team of young Aus­tralian women sci­en­tists whose trail­blaz­ing re­search has the po­ten­tial to dis­rupt the grow­ing scourge of the global il­le­gal wildlife trade (see page 38).The re­search, which was sup­ported by you, our sub­scribers, through an Aus­tralian Geo­graphic So­ci­ety grant, has pi­o­neered sci­en­tific meth­ods to help iden­tify the true source of an­i­mals, like the pan­golin and many of our own unique na­tive species, as they are un­law­fully shipped around the world.The tech­nol­ogy of­fers a sim­ple and affordable so­lu­tion to a grow­ing cri­sis.We are al­ways keen to shine a light on this kind of achieve­ment in the hope it will en­cour­age more young peo­ple, es­pe­cially women, to con­sider a ca­reer in the sci­ences.

Aus­tralian science can trace its roots back to Au­gust 1768, when En­deav­our set sail for the Pa­cific re­gion car­ry­ing a group of nat­u­ral­ists led by wealthy botanist Joseph Banks un­der the steady and sure com­mand of James Cook. Cook’s com­pass forms the logo of the AG So­ci­ety be­cause it sym­bol­ises that fate­ful fu­sion of ex­plo­ration and science that ul­ti­mately led to the found­ing of modern Aus­tralia.We mark this mile­stone 250th anniversary with a feature about that early at­tempt to make sense of the world through de­tailed sci­en­tific en­quiry (see page 50).

We will be hon­our­ing our modern he­roes of science, con­ser­va­tion and ad­ven­ture at the an­nual AG So­ci­ety awards, in Oc­to­ber.This year, how­ever, we are ring­ing the changes with a dif­fer­ent kind of event.We will hold a theatre-style evening rather than the seated gala dinner oc­ca­sion of re­cent years. It’s been a stel­lar year for big ad­ven­tures and we have re­ceived many won­der­ful nom­i­na­tions for the var­i­ous awards. I do hope you can join us on 25 Oc­to­ber in Syd­ney (see page 32). Even if you can’t get there, we’re hatch­ing plans to take the awards on the road through­out 2019 with a se­ries of talks to be held around the na­tion, so we hope to catch up with you in your neigh­bour­hood! Watch this space for more news on that front.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at: twit­ter.com/chris­sigoldrick

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