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Jean Fleming

Professor Emerita


Jean Fleming used to convene the SCOM406 course until 2013 and supervised students in the Popularising Science stream of the MSciComm. Subsequently, Jean was Associate Dean of Science Outreach at the University of Otago. In this role she scoped the wide range of outreach programmes conducted in the Divisions of Sciences and Health Sciences and looked for ways to support and coordinate such outreach better. Jean’s MSciComm students studied everything from sustainability to automata. She also supervised two PhD students in Science Communication. In 2014, Jean was honoured with Professor Emerita status in the Centre for Science Communication. Jean is known internationally for her interests in the role of scientists in the community. While she focussed originally on the perceived impression of scientists as untrustworthy and on the concept that humans shouldn't "play God", these days she is interested in the community’s response to the big issues of today, such as climate change, sustainability, obesity or cloning. Her research project “What People Know”, focuses on people’s understanding of and desire to find out about the science behind such issues, as well as determining effective ways to engage non-scientists in their discussion and deliberation.

Jean has extensive experience in science outreach. She was the first Programme Committee Chair for the NZ International Science Festival in 1997-8 and is still on the Festival’s Executive Committee, being made a life member of the NZISF in 2012. She has been on the University of Otago’s secondary school summer programme Hands-on Science organising committee since 1995 and helped run both the Physiology and the Anatomy Department projects for over 15 years. Jean has had a regular slot on the Radio NZ National Nights programme with Bryan Crump since 2008, where she discusses “Body Parts” – from the sticky bits to the thinking bits. Jean’s commitment to taking her science to the community led to the award of a Suffrage Medal in 1993, a Royal Society of NZ Silver Science & Technology Medal in 1998 and an ONZM for services to science in 2002.
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