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The Science Tent

Having trouble separating fact from fiction? Head straight for The Science Tent which will set you straight and blow your mind again in 2022!


What do yeasts, beasts, and sexual feasts all have in common? They’re all rockin’ Splendour in July!  The outrageous fourth instalment of The Science Tent returns to bring you awesome interactive experiences, engrossing talks, and other cool science-y sh*t across the entire Splendour weekend.

Be prepared to explore your bodies with Dolly Doctor, learn how fungi can free your mind or f*ck you up, check out climate-saving glowing algae, brew ideas with the yeastie boys, talk dinosaurs and all things Jurassic, get frisky (and risky), date like the planet depends on it, and heaps more!

The Science Tent will blow your mind, ignite your neurons, and curl your toes in ways you never thought imaginable. With science action happening both inside and outside of the tent, you never know what you might discover.



Friday 22 July at 10:30am – 11:45am


Hosted by Assoc Prof Alice Motion

With Dr Melissa Kang and Dr Rachael Sharman

Sex Ed in the Tent! – Presented by Dr Melissa Kang

Body bits and what they do. Pleasure and pain. Attractions and distractions…Dr Melissa will answer the FAQs that teens and young adults have been asking her for years. Myths about sex will be busted. Be prepared to say words out loud that could make us blush. Find out why it’s good to talk about sex, and what happens when you have a sexual health check at the doctor’s surgery.

DR MELISSA KANG was behind the sex ed in ‘Dolly Doctor’ for over 20 years. She’s a real doctor and a researcher at Sydney Uni.

Love, Sex and Social Media – Presented by Dr Rachael Sharman

How’s your love life? If you’re Gen Z or iGen, and especially if you’re female … probably not that crash hot. In fact, despite the promise of ever-increasing opportunities via social media to find someone hot in the cot, sexual frequency and satisfaction among young adults is at an all-time low.  Horrifyingly, your parents have more, and better sex than you! If you are disturbed by this (and you should be), come along to hear how social media disrupts evolutionary and intimacy-building processes in finding your best match, and what you can do about it!

DR RACHAEL SHARMAN is a lecturer and researcher in psychology specialising in child and adolescent development.  She is an engaging public speaker, with a weekly ABC radio segment, and appearances on The Project, SBS Insight, and many others.



Friday 22 July at 12:30 – 2:30pm


Hosted by Kirsten Banks

With A/Prof Steve Salisbury, Dr Ben Mather, Dr Daniel Dashevsky, and Lachlan Hart.

Get ready for four back-to-back sessions covering off on dinosaurs, volcanoes, snakes, and evolution!

The Science of Jurassic World – Presented by Assoc Prof Steve Salisbury

For over a generation, the way many people imagine the world of dinosaurs has been through the lens of the Jurassic Park movie franchise. But how does what we’ve seen on screen stack up scientifically? Were some dinosaurs feathered, did they hunt in packs, could they communicate with each other? Since the original ‘Jurassic Park’ movie came out in 1993, palaeontologists have uncovered countless dinosaur fossils, many of which have radically changed how we understand these animals and the worlds they inhabited. Join Steve on a prehistoric journey as we explore the science of these iconic films.

PROFESSOR STEVE SALISBURY leads the Dinosaur Lab at The University Queensland. His quest to understand the world of dinosaurs has taken him all over outback Queensland, to the remote beaches of the Kimberley and even the frozen vastness of Antarctica.

Volcanoes Downunder – Presented by Dr Ben Mather

Did you know there are hundreds of volcanoes in our backyard? Volcanoes have been active across eastern Australia for over 100 million years, which have shaped the landscape and produced the rich volcanic soil we use for growing food. Most volcanoes are found at the edges of tectonic plates, but not in the case of Australia’s volcanoes. Using coffee, Sesame Street, and pancake mix we will unravel the origins of Australia’s enigmatic volcanoes on a voyage through deep time.

DR BEN MATHER is a volcano expert extraordinaire, also interested in groundwater, green energy, and looking after the planet.

Venom Vendetta: History of Humans and Snakes – Presented by Dr Daniel Dashevsky

Snakes and humans have been in conflict for millennia and the threats we pose to each other have shaped the evolution of both groups. Humans have vision attuned to snakes and resistance to venoms while snakes have evolved visual warnings, venom spitting, and painful toxins to fend us off.

DR DANIEL DASHEVSKY grew up in Alaska but moved to warmer climates to pursue snakes and degrees in Biology. He studied snake venoms at UQ for his PhD and now works as a postdoc at CSIRO researching spider wasp venoms.

Go home Evolution, you’re drunk – Presented by Lachlan Hart

Evolution sometimes takes strange detours. The fossil record shows us that many times through prehistory, animals had unusual adaptations that took their bodies to the extreme. There are extinct reptiles whose necks are longer than their bodies and tails combined. Large, crocodile sized amphibians had so many teeth, that some grew from the roofs of their mouths. In fact, some grew teeth that were so large, that they didn’t fit in their mouths at all! And of course, there is also T Rex, with its famously short arms. But did you know that there were dinosaurs whose arms were even smaller?

LACHLAN HART (UNSW and Australian Museum) is a vertebrate palaeontologist who spends his time thinking about long-dead amphibians with weird teeth. He has had a lifelong obsession with all things extinct and what the fossil record can tell us about evolution.



Friday 22 July PM at 3:30 – 4:30pm


Hosted by Dr Suelette Dreyfus

If there was ever a place where ‘move fast and break things’ applied, it would be in all those Hollywood films featuring computer hackers. But have you ever wondered how professional hackers do it in real life? Come see how real-life cyber security experts swipe your card credentials, steal your passwords, slurp down your data and break things. Best of all, they get paid to do it!

DR SUELETTE DREYFUS teaches cyber security at University of Melbourne. She thinks everyone is entitled to their privacy from governments and corporations alike, as a new and evolving digital human right. She wrote the first mainstream book about computer hacking in Australia, with Julian Assange.

ASSOC, PROF TOBY MURRAY (University of Melbourne) did secret squirrel work in the Defence Department, building new tools to defend Australia and support the Australian Defence Force. He researches how to build super-secure computer systems that don’t leak information, despite aggressive attacks.

CHRIS GATFORD is the co-founder of and has previously been served on industry boards such as CREST Australia. Chris has co-authored “Network Security Assessment: From Vulnerability to Patch” and was the founder of HackLabs which grew to become one of the most well-known cyber security consulting firms in Australia.

SHELLY MILLS is the Deputy Chair of the Australian Information Security Association’s (AISA) Queensland branch and leads the data strategy and governance team at the University of Queensland. She’s skilled at reverse parking, drinking coffee, and collecting pets… oh, and keeping the information on tens of thousands of students and staff safe.



Saturday 23 July at 10:15 – 11:30am


Hosted by Assoc Prof Alice Motion

With Dr Dilara Bahceci, Dr Morgan Alonzo, and Dr Alistair McTaggart.

Get ready for three back-to-back sessions on drugs in our lives .

Drugs: From Criminal to Clinical – Presented by Dr. Dilara Bahceci

Party drugs or trail-blazing medicines? Cannabis, psychedelics, MDMA, and ketamine are offering high hopes for the treatment of mental health disorders and other conditions. Can a single dose of psychedelics really have antidepressant effects that last up to 6 months? Can cannabis treat epilepsy? Is it a medical revolution or is it all smoke and mirrors? Go on a mind-expanding trip with Dr Dil to discover the science behind these budding areas of research.

DR DILARA BAHCECI is a neuroscientist who specialises in drugs: she has a PhD in medicinal cannabis and is currently investigating psychedelic treatments for mental health. Whether it’s unlocking their therapeutic potential or reducing associated harms, when it comes to drugs, Dilara promotes evidence-based approaches and effective scientific communication.

What’s that drug? – Presented by Dr Morgan Alonzo.

How do we detect drugs and tell them apart? Did you know that more than 1000 new drugs have emerged in recent decades? Discover how drug detection works and the current research taking place to detect these new psychoactive substances.

DR MORGAN ALONZO is a forensic chemistry researcher at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) where she comes up with new ways to detect drugs in the field.

They’re Everywhere! Magic Mushrooms Presented by Dr Alistair McTaggart

Some fungi are good with butter and garlic, some cause a trip to the doctor, and some can make you see around corners. Magic mushrooms are just a handful out of more than a million species of fungi, but dang, they are exciting. Let’s talk about which ones are in Australia, how they got here, and why they do what they do.

DR ALISTAIR MCTAGGART is a researcher at the University of Queensland who takes any excuse to study fungi.



Saturday 23 July at 12:45 – 2pm

THE ATOMIC CHOIR (featuring Scary Strangers)

Presented by Associate Prof Alice Motion and Alexis Weaver

Have you ever wondered what science sounds like? Join Alice Motion and Alexis Weaver for an experiment in collective sound. Become a part of the Atomic Choir to create an album of some of science’s greatest hits as we ask you to sing, chant, stomp, clap, and more. Create rhythms for reactions, basslines for the Big Bang and melodies for molecules in a new and immersive experience merging sound, music, and science.

PROFESSOR ALICE MOTION is a chemist and science communicator at the University of Sydney. She loves molecules, music and marvelling at all the things we know and have yet to learn about our Universe and ourselves.

ALEXIS WEAVER is a music educator at the University of Sydney, as well as an electronic composer. She loves making music out of weird sounds and talking about music to anyone who will listen.

SCARY STRANGERS aka Ru Halwala and Tom Stevenson) serve up stand-up, improv, sketch comedy, and everything in between: strap yourself in for a high-energy cocktail of whimsy, wit, and wackiness.



Saturday 23 July at 3pm – 4:30pm


Hosted by Kirsten Banks and Adam Spencer

With Dr Serena Love, Richard Adamson and Jesse Searls, and Dr Alistair McTaggart.

Get ready for three back-to-back sessions on fungi, shrooms, and yeasts!

Baking and brewing with ancient yeast – Presented by Dr Serena Love

Come join us on a gastroegyptology adventure. Yeasts have been successfully extracted from ancient Egyptian objects in museum collections (dating to 2,400-1990 BCE) and brought back from the almost dead. And what else would you do with it, but bake up some tasty bread and brew up some tasty brews? But is this yeast really ancient? Just when you thought sourdough and craft beer couldn’t get any better, trust science to bring it to a whole new level.

DR SERENA LOVE is the Principal Archaeologist for the Everick Foundation, with over 25 years international experience in archaeological research, heritage management, community engagement. 

Algae and Beer – Presented by Richard Adamson and Jesse Searls

Aren’t algae that green stuff in your swimming pool? What’s it got to do with beer? Can it really help save the planet? Find out what happens when some brewers from Sydney work in collaboration with a university (UTS) and introduce algae – yes ALGAE – into their brewing process to help lessen their carbon footprint and ultimately save the entire world. Yeast and algae – a match made in (beer) heaven.

ABOUT RICHARD AND JESSE: Richard Adamson (Right) is a Young Henrys Founder; Jesse Searls (Left) is the Head Brewer at Young Henrys. Both froth on all things Science.

Mushrooms: Delicious, Deadly or Magic? – Presented by Dr Alistair McTaggart

Decomposing is awesome! Heaps of fungi are degrading carbon for their own and our pleasure. If you look closely, fungi are out there doing all sorts of amazing things. And then there’s the fungi we can’t see, you’re probably inhaling their spores (against your will) right now. Medicinal, delectable or just straight up dangerous, the few mushrooms you probably already know about are just a taste of this fascinating world.

DR ALISTAIR MCTAGGART is a researcher at the University of Queensland who takes any excuse to study fungi.



Sunday 24 July at 10:30 – 11:30am


Featuring Dr Alex Thomson, Dr Karl, Dan Ilic, Assoc Prof Alice Motion, Rachael Scott, Costa, and more

The earth is getting hot. Real hot. And so is your dating profile. But what would it take for you to swipe right on prioritising the climate over the date of your dreams? Climate and the environment are the number one political issue of young people today. Having the same views is critical in building those special connections. But do you know how deep those environmentalism roots (pun intended) go?

Enter Climating – where dating for the planet is made easier. Climating is an interactive live dating show, where our on-stage contestants will question their own climate values. Follow our contestants as they navigate through the world of carbon emissions, biodegradability, and even question how f*cking could unf*ck the planet, to see if they really can find their ultimate clim-mate.

DAN ILIC – Comedian, filmmaker, Climate Billboard Baron, host of the popular podcast and live comedy show A Rational Fear.

RACHAEL SCOTT – Environmental scientist, coral reef researcher, big-time climate enthusiast

DR ALEX THOMSON – Marine ecologist, science communicator, and “Superstar of STEM”

DR KARLAustralian National Living Treasure!

COSTA GEORGIADIS – Silver Logie award winning presenter of Gardening Australia.

ASSOC PROFESSOR ALICE MOTION  – Loves molecules, music and marvelling at all the things we know and have yet to learn about our Universe and ourselves.

Kristen Hardeman leads marketing and business efforts for Tinder in Australia as the app’s local Country Director, and is responsible for building the brand and finding new ways to connect with Tinder’s members.


Sunday 24 July at 12:30 – 2pm

The STEAM Room: A Science Comedy Experience!

Presented by Luke Steller, Samantha Young, Simone Herrmannsen and more

Welcome to The STEAM Room: A Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths (STEAM) themed comedy experience! The STEAM Room is helping researchers spice up their dry explanations by partnering them with experts in communication: comedians! Our crack-team of scientists have been to comedy school – come along and see the STEAMy results.

LUKE STELLER is a PhD candidate and science communicator at UNSW. He researches the chemistry of how life formed on Earth, to help figure out if there is life on other planets.

SAM YOUNG is a true millennial, and therefore is onto her third career. From a massage therapist to a reproductive scientist in Japan to a medical writer, she has a passion for science communication and will happily talk about reproductive biology until politely asked to stop.

SIMONE HERRMANNSEN has worked around the world as a marine scientist and underwater tv presenter. Set on saving the world through education and action, Simone’s passion is changing the shape of Agriculture through vertical farming.



Sunday 24 July at 12:30 – 2pm


Featuring Olivia McRae, Ru Halwala, Tom North, Alexandra Smith, and Tom Stevenson.

Science, have you met improv? Lines of Best Fit is Australia’s first science-themed improv comedy show! Come along to hear our expert scientist talk about their exciting new research, and then watch the spontaneous reactions of the improvisors as they create hilarious scenes inspired by the science.

OLIVIA MCRAE is a science communication PhD candidate from the University of Sydney. The creator of Lines of Best Fit, she has performed at the Adelaide Fringe, ITS Comedy Festival, and Sydney Fringe Festival.

SCARY STRANGERS aka Ru Halwala and Tom Stevenson) serve up stand-up, improv, sketch comedy, and everything in between: strap yourself in for a high-energy cocktail of whimsy, wit, and wackiness.

TOM NORTH is an improviser and student from Sydney and has performed in Improv Theatre Sydney’s Big House, ITS Comedy Festival, and the Improv Comedy Cagefight.

ALEXANDRA SMITH is a degree qualified actor and improvisor from Sydney. She has been performing with Improv Theatre Sydney since 2018, including ITS Big House and ITS Comedy Festival.



Sunday 24 July at 3:15pm – 4:30pm


Hosted by Adam Spencer

With Anastasia Shavrova, Dr Bojana Manojlovic, and Dr Sam Banister

Things get risky when you get frisky – Presented by Anastasia Shavrova

What happens when you take the biggest risk of all, in the name of sex? Male spiders are staring at the jaws of death every time they try to get frisky with their mates. But do females want to eat their mates? Perhaps it’s an uncontrollable behaviour? Or maybe the females were just hungry? Either way, turns out spiders are more afraid of their mates, than they are of you.

ANASTASIA SHAVROVA  is a science communicator and educator. She has presented her science at the Sydney Comedy Festival, has her own podcast Boiling Point FM, and is always eager to chat about her research in sex and evolution.

Risky Business – Presented by Dr Bojana Manojlovic   

In a world where algorithms rule, and data is the secret sauce on a burger you just never knew you needed, how does maths help you determine your next match, meal, and online purchase? Join Dr Bojana on a journey through the world of data connectivity and the algorithms fuelling your daily interactions.

DR BOJANA MANOJLOVIC is Head of Data Science at Annalect. She is a passionate algorithm builder, data detective and statistics lover. She comes with a PhD in mathematical modelling of marine ecosystems and more than 6 years of commercial machine learning and statistics experience.

Drugs: Just Say Know – Presented Dr Sam Banister

About 1 in 7 Aussies have used an illicit drug in the past year, and half of us will use an illicit drug in our lifetime. So just how risky *is* drug use? Is ecstasy more dangerous than horse-riding? Is paracetamol more likely to kill you than magic mushrooms? We can get a license to drive a 1.3 tonne death mobile or jump out of a perfectly good airplane – so are drugs just too risky to regulate? This interactive presentation will explore the science of drugs; the how and why of getting high while minimising the risks of drug use.

DR SAM BANISTER is a chemist and pharmacologist who has been studying drugs for most of his life, and professionally for over a decade.


Also, across Friday – Sunday will be interactive science happening in and out of the tent!



Science on the GO!
Presented by Griffith University

Happening Friday to Sunday

Griffith University’s Science on the Go! team will bring the lab to the fields of Splendour with experiments that will bend minds and dazzle the eyes. Through a feast of mind-blowing, hands-on demonstrations, Science on the GO! will deliver an engaging feast of science which encourages participation and engagement.

ABOUT SCIENCE ON THE GO! is the premiere STEM outreach team bringing you dynamic and engaging science shows, events, programs, and teaching resources by providing primary and secondary students access to Griffith’s innovative STEM facilities, resources, and expertise.


The Science Tent Hosts

Our legendary scientists-in-residence will be around all weekend to answer your burning questions!



ADAM SPENCER is an author, world debating champion and former PhD mathematics student.

DR KARLAustralian National Living Treasure!

KIRSTEN BANKS – Astrophysicist, science communicator and boring machine, that’s Astro Kirsten.

DR QUILL DARBY  – Instigator of shenanigans, science communicator, and all-round curator of fun.

DR ALEX THOMSON – Marine ecologist, science communicator, and “Superstar of STEM”




Hosted by Dr Suelette Dreyfus

With Shelly Mills, Shauna McCormack, Robin Doherty, Dale Hewitson, and Cath Thompson.


Friday July 22 at 2:30pm – 3pm

Saturday 23 July at 2pm – 3pm

Sunday 24 July at 11:30am – 12:30pm


What if I asked you to leave your car unlocked in the middle of town, keys in the ignition, wallet full of cash on the dash, personal medical records in the glove box and a collection of selfies (nude or otherwise) sitting on the front seat for anyone to distribute? Would you be keen? Yeah right! Well, many of us are doing it every day and worse!

It’s time to check your systems for leaks. Bring your phones and devices and come along for a cyber security tune-up. Let the experts help to do the stuff you never get around to or can’t quite figure out:

> Get a password manager

> Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

> Get a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

> Turn on patching (automatic system updates)

> Install an encrypted messaging app

> Check your social media privacy settings

> Check your tracking settings

> Prevent yourself from cyber-stalking

> Secure your data in the Cloud

Visit for more info.

SHELLY MILLS is the Deputy Chair of the Australian Information Security Association’s (AISA) Queensland branch and leads the data strategy and governance team at The University of Queensland. She’s skilled at reverse parking, drinking coffee, and collecting pets… oh, and keeping the information on tens of thousands of students and staff safe.

SHAUNA MCCORMACK is a software developer and educator who is on a mission to empower people from all walks of life with the skills and knowledge she believes should be universally accessible. She loves to unriddle and simplify the digital world.

ROBIN DOHERTY is a full-time security nerd who attempts to demystify and promote privacy and digital security by facilitating workshops and organising a collective of technologists called Hack for Privacy. He helped create a short collection of tips for personal digital security at

DALE HEWITSON is a Dev turned security person, passionate about sharing what I’ve learned and what’s exciting and applicable about security to everyone’s day to day lives.

CATH THOMPSON researches trustworthiness in the digital world. She is previously a 125 Grand Prix motorcycle racer and a natural physique competitor. Insatiably curious. 



ABC Science and triple j Hack presents – The Climate Assembly

Hosted by Jo Lauder


Friday July 22 at 11:45 – 12:30pm

Saturday 23 July at 11:30 – 12:45pm

Sunday 24 July at 2pm – 3:15pm


Do you have a bright idea about how we might create a better future? What do you think we should be doing more/less of when it comes to taking action on climate change? Do you have a question about climate change that you’ve always wanted to ask a climate scientist? Well, now’s your chance…

The team from WHO’S GONNA SAVE US? – the first ABC podcast dedicated to covering climate change – is taking over the Science Tent to host a Climate Assembly. And they need your help!

Bring your big ideas and burning questions about climate change to the assembly and put them to a panel of experts – and who knows? You might help us avert a climate catastrophe…



JO LAUDER is a radio producer based in Melbourne, Australia. In 2022 she steps up as host of the first ABC podcast dedicated to reporting on climate change, WHO’S GONNA SAVE US? (launches August 2022).

ANJALI SHARMA is a teen climate activist, and the lead litigant in a class action against the former Australian Federal government for failing to consider the impacts of climate change.

JAKE TAYLOR is the lead vocalist and manager of Australian band In Hearts Wake, the first band to create a carbon offset album and officially become a certified carbon neutral organisation. Jake wrote, produced, and directed carbon offset feature documentary Green Is the New Black, and directed the multi award-winning short film PubTalk.

DR JOHANNA NALAU is an award-winning climate adaptation scientist who thrives on finding clues how humans can better see into the future and make decisions how we adapt to climate change.

AMANDA CAHILL is the CEO of The Next Economy and founder of the Centre for Social Change. She has spent 25 years working with inspiring people all around the world to create positive change on issues as diverse as livelihoods and economic development; health and wellbeing, women’s empowerment; and climate change action.



Friday to Sunday

The University of Technology “Living Lights”

UTS Deep Green Biotech Hub

What’s green by day and glowing by night? ALGAE!

Hold your breath, the Deep Green Biotech Hub is teleporting a mini algae forest direct into the heart of Splendour.

Sucking up almost 5 times more carbon dioxide than trees and pumping out the same amount of oxygen as 1 hectare of Aussie bush, the Living Lights installation is sure to take your breath away, all while helping us change the climate for the better!

By day, swing by the Living Lights installation to chat to scientists about how this tiny plant is being used to make the next Yeezy shoe. Come back at night to gaze upon algae’s illuminated beauty as it bubbles away in the legendary Living Lights algae display.

Fun Fact: All the algae grown in Living Lights during Splendour will be used on-site as a home-grown fertiliser to help the Splendour plants sing!


What is the UTS Deep Green Biotech Hub (DGBH)?

Based in the University of Technology Sydney, and supported by the Faculty of Science Climate Change Cluster (C3), Deep Green Biotech Hub takes algae and innovates it to its fullest! We connect, innovate, accelerate, and engage to drive a sustainable algae future for Australia.