Dr Penny Hawken
I was born in the UK and graduated from Newcastle University with first class honours in Agriculture and a PhD in the reproductive physiology of sheep. I moved to Australia in 2005 to pursue a career in academia and worked at The University of Western Australia (UWA) for 9 years. I currently live about 45 minutes from Perth with my husband, two cats and horses.
My passion for science communication began in 2003 when I visited UWA during the 2nd year of my PhD. After I nervously presented a seminar on my research, Professor Graeme Martin from the School of Animal Biology took me to his office and went through my slides with me. He highlighted what I had done well and what could be improved – essentially teaching me what I now know to be the principles of effective oral communication of science. It was one of those glass shattering moments where everything suddenly fell into place – it was so simple and I wondered why no one had ever told me this before. From that day onwards, I never looked back – I won awards for my science presentations and shared the principles of oral communication with anyone willing to listen.
During my time at UWA , I was fortunate enough to put my passion into practice and teach undergraduate students the art of oral and written communication of science. Emeritus Professor David Lindsay is the pioneer of the principles of effective science communication that I teach through this website and I owe him a debt of gratitude for changing my life and that of the students and scientists around me.
During 2013 I had the privilege of teaching academic communication to international students studying at UWA from countries as diverse as Brazil, China, Japan, Iran, Chile, Germany and Denmark to name a few. This experience gave me an incredible insight into how valuable the communication skills that we teach through this website are to people that have English as a second language.
Why did I start this business?
The answer is quite simple… because the scientific community needs it. We are so passionate about our work; we toil in the laboratory or out in the field for months, even years on end but when it comes to verbally communicating that information to our peers or the real world, we often struggle.
Public speaking is often cited as being more feared than death and I see this fear in both young scientists and those that have been working in their field for years. Personally, I think that death is preferable to listening to a poor scientific presentation. Perhaps you blame yourself when you can’t follow a presentation, think you must be stupid or not paying enough attention but this is simply not true. Great presentations are those that seem simply effortless, both in terms of execution and for the audience to follow – it is your job, as the speaker, to make the audience understand and follow your research.
The principles that we teach through ‘Science presentations made easy’ do just that – they make it easy for you to prepare and give a great presentation, irrespective of your age, experience, status and even fluency in English. Like me, you will be amazed that it can be so easy and will reap the benefits in your professional career and beyond.
So, give us a call or fill out our presentation skills enquiry form and let us help you make your science more accessible to your peers and the public.