Museum Staff Member a Science Week Hero

14 August 2012

The South Australian Museum's Mike Gemmell has been announced South Australia's Unsung Hero of Science Communication as part of National Science Week.

Mr Gemmell has run the Information Centre at the Museum – a public hub of discovery about our natural world – for 20 years. Few South Australians would have his depth of knowledge about natural science.

Mr Gemmell says it was a "thrill" to be nominated and he couldn't believe his ears when he was announced the winner.

"There were doctors of this, that and the other, and others who were doing all sorts of marvellous things in various scientific fields so when they announced the outright winner I just sat there in stunned silence for a while until I received a nudge," he says. "It was an extremely humbling experience to receive this award and to be recognised for something that I love doing, I haven't really come to terms with it yet."

Museum Director Professor Suzanne Miller says the Museum is immensely proud to have Mr Gemmell on board as an endless fountain of knowledge and tireless educator in our Information Centre.

"Mike is warm, approachable and has an infectious passion for science. For many years he has been central to the South Australian Museum's commitment to science education and his interactive engagement with our varying audiences is an immeasurable contribution to the State."

Mr Gemmell is a dedicated science communicator about most topics under the sun, including zoology, geology, palaeontology, mycology, medicine and many more. He takes questions from the public in person, over the telephone and in emails and is a key consultant on Museum community days. Members of the public ask about everything from a 'strange' insect they've found in their backyard, to the story behind ancient fossils.

Mr Gemmell also offers a vital public service by providing background information for television, radio and newspaper outlets. He advises South Australia's courts, councillors, pest controllers and pathologists.

The Information Centre Manager shows incredible patience as he identifies, describes and explains a specimen or scientific issue. His is much-loved by our scientists as he works to bridge the gap between their work and the community.

Members of the public can visit the Information Centre and hear the fantastic stories of science. The Centre is open from 11am to 4pm weekdays, and from 11am to 3pm on weekends and public holidays.


The Information Centre is generously supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation.