Four new publications, maternity leave

What a year, hey? The nature of academic publishing means that though I’ve been on leave for half of the year, I’ve more publications than last year.

The first was part of a special collection in the Journal of Science Communication, from the Australian Science Communicators conference at the Monash Sustainable Development Institute in February. It’s about how a climate change sceptic politician changed their mind. It was my last in-person conference presentation for the year, as the pandemic was spreading to Australia. I cancelled a trip to Sydney the week afterwards and have worked from home since.

The next emerged from my work with the UN and CERN in Geneva, as part of a special Sustainability issue about citizen science and sustainable development. It was about sustaining citizen science beyond an emergency and was mostly written before the pandemic, but found its place in 2020.

The third had its roots in the early days of my PhD, when I was researching and experimenting with participatory decision-making methods. It’s my first debate article, in the journal Evidence & Policy, about participatory budgeting for research funding decisions. Since my PhD literature review stage, research progressed about how randomness would be a better way of making research funding decisions than most current processes. This article builds on that research to argue that participatory processes would be better still, to improve governance for societies as well as science.

While much of the world was in lockdown, we were getting to know our new baby at home. Life with 2 children under 3 means that being stuck around home – as long as we could visit the park and beach – isn’t that different from what we’d be doing anyway. I learnt from travelling overseas when our first was 4 months old that it’s not as appealing as the solo travel I enjoyed previously! The pandemic isn’t over yet, but I’m incredibly grateful to be living in Australia at this stage of my life. Given I’ve lived in several countries on different continents and spent most of my twenties overseas, I’m incredibly lucky I happened to be grounded at home when the pandemic happened.

The final publication wasn’t academic, though I gave some related interviews and remote presentations during fire season and the pandemic, talking about how people documenting their experiences would be historically valuable. I’ve now contributed some of my pregnancy story to the National Museum of Australia as part of their Momentous project. I don’t share much about our kids publicly online, as they can’t yet consent to it. I shared this story to raise awareness of the risks of poor air quality to vulnerable people, including pregnant women and babies. Among the mixed fortunes of 2020, my greatest blessing has been a healthy and happy baby girl.

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