Mid-Afternoon Masterclasses

Our popular Mid-Afternoon Masterclasses are a series of 45-minute lectures that showcase up-and-coming University of Melbourne scientists and their research. The Masterclasses are hosted online daily throughout Science Festival, and include interactive scientific explanations, experiments, live demonstrations, virtual lab tours, and lots of fun!

This year's topics ranged from weather systems to volcanoes, AI, animal welfare, and food science, attracting an audience of more than 700 people from across Australia and overseas. Hosted by Julia Cleghorn, Manager of STEM Outreach Programs.

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Oh boy, here comes El Niño!

Monday 14 August 2023

Don’t let the cute names fool you: El Niño (‘the little boy’) and La Niña (‘the little girl’) can have devastating impacts. These oscillating phases of a massive ocean-atmosphere interaction strongly influence Australia’s year-to-year climate variability, driving floods, droughts, and bushfires. How will global warming affect this?

Presenters: Dr Josephine Brown and Ruby Lieber (School of  Geography, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences)

Volcanoes: from distant ancestors to diamonds

Tuesday 15 August 2023

What do diamonds in volcanoes tell us about deep, dark places? What can we learn about human evolution by studying volcanoes in Africa? Verily, our veteran volcanologist will vitalise visitors with valuable vocalisations and vibrant visuals.

Presenter: Dr Hayden Dalton (School of  Geography, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences)

Hotdogs, triangles, and AI: pattern finding in machine learning

Wednesday 16 August 2023

2,4,6,8… There are patterns in numbers, language, nature, and everywhere! Humans are hard-wired to notice patterns, mathematicians analyse and model them, and machines are learning to recognise and apply them. Artificial Intelligence may find patterns humans miss. Is this a good thing?

Presenter: Matthew Mack (School of Mathematics and Statistics)

A day in the life of your dog (cat-lovers welcome)

Thursday 17 August 2023

Is your dog stressed, bored, or lonely? Discover how interdisciplinary animal welfare research is helping dogs to live their happiest lives, alongside their humans. Delve into fascinating science and technology that’s making tails wag.

Presenter: Dr Mia Cobb (Melbourne Veterinary School)

Sensational food science: BYO coriander seeds

Friday 18 August 2023

Have you had a meal that looked great, but tasted horrible – or vice versa? Do you like the colour of raspberries? The smell of coffee? What shapes our food experiences, memories, and preferences? Why are some food pairings fabulous and others foul? Bring a few coriander seeds for an experiment and expect answers… and some strange sensations.

Presenter: Sonja Needs (School of Agriculture, Food and Ecosystem Sciences)