Science by the sea!

I don’t know about you but when I went to school I didn’t get to measure, weigh and get up close and personal with one of the oldest and most graceful creatures of the sea, the green turtle!  But through the Ningaloo Outlook project, a strategic research partnership between CSIRO and BHP Billiton in Western Australia, we engage the local community in our science including the schools! Science students from Exmouth District High School were part of our turtle tagging school earlier this year and as you can see from the photos there were many smiling faces as they did turtle-science amongst the sand and by the sea! Now this is what I call ‘outdoor learning’ and ‘sea-ing’ science in action!! This is a great way of making STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fun, inspiring and engaging for our youth — as Education does not have to take place just in the classroom. As you can imagine we are now the envy of many outdoor classrooms around the world, so much so that we have just been featured by Outdoor Classroom Day, a global campaign celebrating outdoor play and learning! You can check us out on their website in the section entitled “…and the one we’re most jealous of!…”:

You can also follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook (, @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Drawing out social solutions!

I was recently invited to graphically record the Network of Environmental Social Scientists (NESS) Forum on Environmental Conflict held at the University of Queensland, in Brisbane. The Forum brought together a diverse group of researchers and practitioners from Universities, research organisations and conservation groups to discuss three key themes 1. Energy 2. Biodiversity and 3. Climate Change. Understanding and solving environmental conflict is a complex issue as it is often highly emotive and political, so hearing about the experiences of such a group was extremely interesting. It was also extremely fast, full-on and fun (…on the pens that is), as I visually captured 10 presentations in four hours!! My role at such a Forum is to help draw out the major issues, key messages and common themes from the researchers and practitioners to create a visual story of their experiences and knowledge. I’m excited that the visual story I created will now help in further discussions across disciplines to help with social solutions to environmental conflict!

It is also very rewarding to see how my visual stories are used post-event as I have just received a request from a Social Sciences Institute in India to use my graphics to help teach their students about environmental conflict in a course on Population, Migration and Environmental Change! WOW! And these visuals are now part of the NESS website, where you can also download copies of the Forum presentations: You can also follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook ( and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

My Dream Job started with Lobsters!

This week I revisited the place that started my new creative business, “Picture your ideas” with Dr Sue Pillans. About 18 months ago a friend and fellow female scientist, Dr Eva, asked me if I would be interested in combining my science and art to graphically record a meeting about the science of the Tropical Rock Lobster fishery in Torres Strait. I didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes!’ and travelled to the top of Australia with the CSIRO team to ‘draw out’ the science of the lobster fishery with indigenous fishers. This week I was delighted to return to beautiful Thursday Island to draw out the big picture of CSIRO’s latest science information session with the lobster fishers. What a beautiful part of the world and what a lovely community to work with…and I love lobsters! So it was a very special trip for me as it reminded me of a few important things which I sometimes forget whilst busily running my own creative business: I am lucky to be surrounded by so many great people that support me in my new creative journey; I am grateful for all the opportunities that come my way to “picture your ideas”; and I’m proud of myself for taking a chance and following my heart (and star) to turn something I love into something I live. So a BIG thank you to Dr Eva, all of my supporters and of course the Lobsters!!

You can follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook ( and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.