Unlike the parasitic worms he spends much of his time researching, Dr Paul Giacomin is not one to shy away from the spotlight.
When he is not in the lab at James Cook University’s Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, he tirelessly promotes not only his own work, but that of the greater scientific community.
So great are his efforts to tell the world about the wonders of science that on Wednesday night, he received a Queensland Young Tall Poppy award.
“[The award] is recognising people who are doing great science, but also taking their great science and telling the world about it and disseminating their findings,” Dr Giacomin said.
“The ultimate goal of it, really, is to increase people’s interest in science — especially young people — and get people interested in STEM subjects.”
Dr Giacomin said it was important for today’s scientists to reach beyond the pages of high-brow scientific journals and explain their research to everyday people in a way they were able to understand.
Whether it be through traditional and new media, school visits or other means, Dr Giacomin has gone to great lengths to ensure he does exactly that.
“Being active in the community, whether it be with younger people or just the general community, really does get attention to your own research,” he said.
“That obviously benefits you, but you also get the added benefit of giving something back to the community.
“The public are funding this science so you need to be able to tell people about it and not use medical mumbo-jumbo.
“Hopefully that influences younger people who are not sure if they should go to a career in science and shows them the kind of difference you can make.”
A life of curiosity
Using his own experience as an example, Dr Giacomin said choosing a career in science offered the opportunity to live in a perpetual state of curiosity.
“Being a scientist is almost like being a child for your whole life,” he said.
“You’re constantly challenging yourself, you’re constantly learning new things and experiencing the experience of discovery over and over again.
“Seeing something for the first time — no matter what field of science you’re in — I think is the number one attraction for being a scientist.
“It feels like you never work a day in your life; you’re doing something that you love and you get to travel the world.
“There are amazing things about being a scientist.”
For more information on National Science Week, visit www.scienceweek.net.au