Lunch & Dinner Speakers
Lunch Speakers

Dr Stephen K Robinson, NASA Astronaut (Former), University of California Davis

Dr Robinson joined NASA Ames Research Centre in the fields of fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, experimental instrumentation and computational scientific visualization. While at NASA Ames, Dr Robinson earned his Master's and Doctorate degrees from Stanford University, with research emphasis in turbulence physics and additional research in human-eye dynamics. Dr Robinson founded and operated a computer graphics software firm in Silicon Valley and was also selected as Chief of the Experimental Flow Physics Branch at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, where he led a group of 35 engineers and scientists engaged in aerodynamics and fluid physics research.

He was awarded the NASA/Space Club Low Memorial Engineering Fellowship and was assigned for 15 months to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as Visiting Engineer in the Man Vehicle Laboratory (MVL). As an MVL team member, he conducted neurovestibular research on astronauts on the Spacelab Life Sciences 2 shuttle mission (STS-58). Additional MIT research included spacewalk dynamics for satellite capture and space construction. 

Dr Robinson was  a visiting scientist at the U.S. Department of Transportation's Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, doing research on environmental modeling for flight simulation, cockpit human factors for Global Positioning System (GPS)-guided instrument approach procedures and moving-map displays. Dr Robinson returned to NASA Langley iwhere he accepted a dual assignment as research scientist in the Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Branch and as leader of the Aerodynamics and Acoustics element of NASA's General Aviation Technology program. 

Dr. Robinson has held a wide variety of technical assignments within the Astronaut Office, including testing space shuttle flight control software, developing onboard computer and flight crew equipment, helping to develop the International Space Station robot arm and leading an astronaut team to specify window requirements for the Orion spacecraft. He has also served as Spacecraft Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) in the Mission Control Center for 17 shuttle missions. More recently, Dr Robinson served for two years as Chief of Safety for the Astronaut Office. Beginning in January 2012, Robinson served as Director of the NASA Johnson Space Center Virtual Reality Laboratory as well as Chief of Aviation Safety for the Astronaut Office. Stephen Robinson retired from NASA on June 30, 2012, after 17 years as an Astronaut and 36 years of NASA service. Dr Robinson has been flying since age 14 and has logged more than 3,500 hours in flight vehicles ranging from antique tail-draggers to NASA space shuttles. He is now Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, Davis.

Professor Michael Bunce, Distinguished Research Fellow, Department of Environment and Agriculture, Curtin University, Perth.

Professor Mike Bunce is currently the head of the Trace and Environmental DNA (TrEnD) Laboratory situated within the Department of Environment and Agriculture at Curtin University. Professor Bunce completed his undergraduate degree at Lincoln University (NZ), his PhD in medical research at the Australian National University. He completed post-doctoral positions at Oxford (UK) and McMaster (Canada) Universities before moving to Western Australia in 2006 to start his own laboratory.

Areas of expertise and research:
The TrEnD lab specialises in using next generation DNA sequencing to characterise degraded DNA samples for use in a wide variety of biological applications including biodiversity assessment, palaeontology, archaeology, forensics, food-webs, biosecurity, conservation and human health. Bunce has published widely in the field of ancient and degraded DNA across a variety of fields, he has nine Publications in Science and Nature. Details of his Bunce’s track record can be found at;

Conference Dinner Speakers

Professor Carmen Lawrence, Former Premier of Western Australia, School of Psychology, UWA

After training as a research psychologist at the University of Western Australia and lecturing in a number of Australian universities, Dr Lawrence entered politics in 1986, serving at both State and Federal levels for 21 years. She was at various times W.A Minister for Education and Aboriginal affairs and was the first woman Premier and Treasurer of a State government. She shifted to Federal politics in 1994 when she was elected as the Member for Fremantle and was appointed Minister for Health and Human Services and Minister assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women. She has held various portfolios in Opposition, including Indigenous Affairs, Environment, Industry and Innovation and was elected national President of the Labor Party in 2004.

She retired from politics in 2007 and is now a Professorial Fellow at the University of Western Australia, and Director for the Study of Social Change. This Centre applies research findings to devise workable public policy solutions to current and emerging problems, and creates a dynamic focal point for research, analysis and debate. It seeks to develop a generic, cross-cultural understanding of social change and links academics with policy makers in business and government.

Dr Robyn Williams, AM, Science Journalist and Broadcaster, The Science Show and Ockham's Razor

Although he graduated with a Bachelor of Science (honours) in England, Robyn admits to spending as much time acting as studying. Early in his career he made guest appearances in The Goodies, Monty Python's Flying Circus and Doctor Who, and stood in for Tom Jones for four months in his TV series. He has conducted countless interviews with scientists on ABC TV on programs such as Quantum and Catalyst, narrated the Nature of Australia series and appeared in World Safari with David Attenborough.

Outside the ABC, Robyn has served in various capacities, including president of the Australian Museum Trust, chairman of the Commission for the Future, and president of the Australian Science Communicators. In 1987, he was proclaimed a National Living Treasure.

In 1993, Robyn was the first journalist elected as a Fellow Member of the Australian Academy of Science. He was appointed AM in the 1988 Australian Bicentenary honours list and in the same year received honorary doctorates in science from the University of Sydney and Macquarie and Deakin Universities. The ANU awarded him a doctorate of law, and he is a visiting professor at the University of NSW and an adjunct professor at the University of Queensland.

A Reuters fellowship at Oxford University allowed him time to write his autobiography, And Now for Something Completely Different. He was a visiting fellow at Balliol College Oxford in 1995-96. Robyn has written more than 10 books, the latest being a novel, 2007: a true story waiting to happen.