Explore science with NSW libraries

Inspiring Australia NSW’s library series The Science of Us continues in National Science Week with more libraries joining the State Library of NSW to present fascinating research conversations that explore common human behaviours, emotions and challenging experiences we may struggle to understand.

Each event sheds light on the science and points to transformational programs and insights that may help change attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that can cause us emotional, social and financial harm.

Limit your screentime
11:30am to 12:30pm Thursday 5 August 2021 

Worried about how much time you and your family are spending on screens and the impact this is having on your ability to concentrate and communicate with each other? Discover the latest thinking on what too much screen time does to our brains and learn scientifically proven techniques for resisting the pull of our digital devices. Cognitive neuroscientist Dr Mark Williams will explain why interacting with our devices is so compelling, what happens to our brains when we do, and outline a pragmatic approach to setting limits that will be effective in helping us understand and change our behaviour. Read more

End loneliness together
12:30pm to 1:30pm Tuesday 17 August 2021 

Globally, loneliness is a major public health crisis, particularly because of its impact on health and wellbeing. Loneliness is linked to poor physical and mental health, and researchers warn that social disconnection poses a greater health threat than smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise. Join psychology researchers Dr Michelle Lim from Ending Loneliness Together, and Professor Catherine Haslam of the University of Queensland in a conversation with Jennie Sager, Head of Nextdoor to explore what we can do to stop feeling lonely. Register to attend and read more

Can’t Meditate? Find other ways to manage your stress
1:00pm-1:45pm, Thursday 19 August 2021

Interest in meditation and mindfulness as ways to reduce stress have exploded in popularity. They are great tools to have in your mental health toolkit. But what if these techniques don’t work for you? For some, trying to control your mind with your mind is a bit like trying to hold on to mist. Join neuroscientist Dr Sarah McKay to discover evidence-based, practical alternatives to switching off your stress response and finding peace of mind. Register to attend

Rethink addiction
11:30am to 12:30pm, Thursday 19 August 2021

Whether it’s shopping, drinking, drugs, gambling or being addicted to sex or the internet, many Australians struggle to manage behaviours that are detrimental to their relationships, their health and their financial and emotional wellbeing. What is the science of addiction and how can we begin to change unhealthy habits? Addiction is the most stigmatised health condition globally, and that may be why so many Australians are reluctant to seek help. Join Professor Dan Lubman AM for an empathetic discussion about how you or your loved ones can help overcome some of the barriers they face in getting professional support. Register to attend

How the ‘love hormone’ might alleviate the impacts of childhood trauma
11:30am to 12:30pm, Thursday 19 August 2021

Childhood trauma can profoundly change the brain during an important developmental period, increasing the chance of developing future mental health problems including anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Dr Sarah Baracz, a senior research associate at UNSW will explain how researchers are investigating the ‘love hormone’, oxytocin, in animal studies. Learn how their research findings show the potential of oxytocin in preventing the development of mental illness after experiencing early life trauma. Register to attend

Regenerate and cure
1-2pm, Thursday 19 August 2021

Discover cutting edge techniques in biomedical engineering and how they are used to regenerate broken body parts or diseased organs. Currently working on a new stem cell-based therapy for osteoarthritis, UTS researcher Dr Jiao Jiao Li hopes to find a cure for this debilitating condition that haunts hundreds of millions of patients around the world. Register to attend

Rocking the Cradle of Life
6.30 to 7.30pm, Thursday 19 August 2021

Discover how the field of astrobiology has relevance for our search for life elsewhere, including one of nearest neighbours, Mars with A/Prof Brendan Burns whose astrobiology group at UNSW is studying the origin of complex life using the stromatolites, ‘living rocks’, of Shark Bay in Western Australia as a model environment. Register to attend

Understand the microbiome-gut-brain axis
6.30 to 7.30pm, Thursday 19 August 2021

What is the microbiome-gut-brain axis and how can it affect our mental health? Bacteria and viruses have a bad reputation, especially in these times of a global pandemic. But not all bugs are bad for us. In fact, some of them actually help us to digest food and keep our bodies healthy. Join Dr Caitlin Cowan, a psychologist and research fellow at the University of Sydney, to discover how the bugs in our guts (the “microbiome”) might influence our brains and our behaviour through a complex bodily system known as the microbiome-gut-brain axis. Register to attend

Overcome anxiety and burnout in a time of change
10.30am – 11.30am, Friday 20 August 2021

Join award winning ABC Medical Reporter Sophie Scott who will give an illustrated talk on overcoming anxiety and burnout in a time of change. Sophie has a special focus on medical research and patient safety investigations. Her stories have led to improvements for patients in areas including cosmetic surgery, genetic testing and women’s health. Register to attend

The pathology of stress
4 to 5pm, Wednesday 25 August 2021

In the last 18 months, the impact of stress on mental health has perhaps never been more acutely felt by everyone. Stress is a major risk factor for various disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Meet University of Sydney researcher Dr Anand Gururajan who is seeking to understand why some people respond better to stress than others. Find out how his research findings inform both the pathology of stress-induced psychiatric disorders and development of new therapies that may help those suffering from stress disorders. Register to attend

Feature image from Joshua Earl at Unsplash.com. Inspiring Australia NSW thanks all those who will present their research in National Science Week 2021