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Pandemics and Deadly Science feature as festival goes digital

A global biosecurity expert, a virus research director, an investigator into the origins of Covid-19 and physician, journalist and broadcaster Norman Swan will discuss Pandemics: Past, Present and Future at the Sydney Science Festival, which will go digital in 2021.

Coinciding with National Science Week, the festival will present a series of live panel discussions and talks – free and online from August 14-22. Leading Australian and international scientists will join the Powerhouse in conversation to discuss First Nations sovereignty in science, the ecosystems of our oceans and the origins of Covid-19.

Members of the pandemics panel joining Dr Swan on August 20 are Dominic Dwyer, an Australian representative on the World Health Organization’s investigation into the origins of Covid-19, will be in conversation with global biosecurity expert at the UNSW Kirby Institute Professor Raina MacIntyre, co-director of the Centre for Virus Research at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research Professor Tony Cunningham AO.

The festival launches with American technologist and author Jaron Lanier, who joins Powerhouse Director, Curatorial Matthew Connell in conversation on August 14. Credited as being one of the creators of Virtual Reality, Lanier will connect the Powerhouse collection to latest emerging technologies to discuss ethical quandaries of social media and the ideology of Silicon Valley.

Corey Tutt, Kamilaroi man and founder of Deadly Science, is Sydney Science Festival’s ambassador for 2021. He is also NSW Young Australian of the Year 2020. Tutt will deliver a keynote address, Our Deadly Science, on August 15. With knowledge acquired through community consultation and celebrating the breadth and depth of knowledge of Australia’s first scientists – from bush medicine, astronomy, engineering and forensic science to chemistry, land management and ecology, Tutt will introduce the audience to leading First Nations scientists.

Corey Tutt, Kamilaroi man and Founder of Deadly Science will deliver the festival’s keynote address and introduce the audience to leading First Nations scientists. Photo: Supplied

Two leading ocean scientists share solutions to the biggest challenges threatening the vitality of Earth’s ocean ecosystems in Justice for the Oceans. UNSW Dean of Science, Emma Johnston, sits down with American marine biologist and policy expert Ayana Elizabeth Johnson to share solutions to protect and maintain a critical global ecosystem. Presented by the Powerhouse, UNSW Centre for Ideas and UNSW Science (August 21).

Broadcast alongside live footage from the Sydney Observatory, Gomeroi astrophysicist Karlie Noon will journey through multiple deep-sky targets in the Southern Skies highlighting nebulas, stars, planets, distant galaxies and more, for her final live stream as Sydney Observatory Astronomy Ambassador (August 18).

Broadcast alongside live footage from the Sydney Observatory, Gomeroi Astrophysicist Karlie Noon will journey through multiple deep-sky targets in the Southern Skies at the Sydney Science Festival. Photo: Supplied

American cosmologist and activist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein will join Karlie Noon in conversation to discuss her first book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter. Pairing her love for physics and the latest theories of dark matter with her lived experience of prejudices within the academic system, Prescod-Weinstein discusses her journey from inspired child to cosmologist (August 22).

Lisa Havilah, Powerhouse Chief Executive said: “The Powerhouse has transformed Sydney Science Festival 2021 into a free online program that everyone can engage with no matter where you are. The last 18 months have continued to reinforce the vital role that science plays in our everyday and we are committed to providing a platform where audiences can engage with science leaders from across Australia and around the world.”


Sydney Science Festival
August 14-22, 2021
Events will be available to stream and then online at

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