ACADEMY MEDAL Awardees
Dr Peter Pockley
Peter Pockley is Australia’s pioneer writer, broadcaster and commentator about science. He established specialist reporting of science in the Australian media in 1964 and maintains this as an independent reporter and commentator.
He has been Senior Correspondent for Australasian Science magazine (the region’s only science monthly) since 1998. Other work includes recording lengthy biographical interviews with leading scientists for the Oral History program of the National Library of Australia (43 to date). He is an international Science Journalism Laureate of Purdue University, USA (2007- ).
In Australia he has broadcast and written widely for the ABC, Search, The Sun-Herald (Science Editor/columnist, 1989-95), The Australian, Campus Review, The Age, The West Australian, The Canberra Times, The Bulletin, Australia for the Record and SBS TV. Internationally, he was Australasian Correspondent for Nature in the 1970s and 1996-2002 and reports for Physics World (UK). Other outlets overseas have included The Daily Telegraph (UK), The New Zealand Herald, The Dominion (NZ), The Press (NZ), The South China Morning Post andthe BBC World Service. He has reported on science in UK, USA, New Zealand, Africa, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea and Sweden, as well as in Hungary with the Australian delegation to the UNESCO World Conference on Science in Budapest, 1999. He covered uniquely for press and radio the Stockholm presentation of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for Australian research.
His academic links include being Visiting Fellow at the National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science in the Australian National University from 1996-2006 and he has been Science Writer in Residence (Honorary Associate), University of Sydney. He established the Centre for Science Communication at the University of Technology, Sydney, where he initiated the Horizons of Science forums for the media. In 1998 he was William Evans Visiting Fellow in the University of Otago, New Zealand. Analysing science policy has been one of his hallmarks.
He has been a Council Member of the National Science and Technology Centre (Questacon), Canberra, a member of the Science and Industry Forum and the National Committee for Promoting Science and Technology (both of the Australian Academy of Science) and the Australian Government’s Advisory Group on Science and Technology Awareness.
In 1994 he was accorded status of Life Member (the only Australian) of the National Association of Science Writers (USA). A member of the Association of British Science Writers since 1967, he is a founder member of the International Science Writers Association and the Australian Science Communicators. He is a long-standing member of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS).
He studied at the University of Melbourne (resident scholarship at Trinity College) where he obtained first class honours, winning the Exhibition (top in year) in Chemistry in his Bachelor of Science degree and also gained first class honours in his Diploma of Education. He taught science at Melbourne Grammar School before going to the University of Oxford on a Shell Postgraduate Scholarship. He completed his Doctorate of Philosophy in the Geology Department with research on lead isotopes and geochronology (1961).
On returning to Australia in 1964, he became the first scientist working full-time as a reporter and producer of science in the Australian media. As founding Head of Science Programs for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (now Corporation), he set up the Science Unit for TV and Radio. He produced and hosted “live” broadcasts of all Apollo missions to the moon.
The Science Show on ABC Radio National today is an extension of Australia’s first weekly coverage of science and technology, The World Tomorrow, which he launched in 1968. His first regular program, Insight, on Sundays, continues under the title Ockham's Razor. ABC-TV’s Towards 2000, Quantum and Catalyst followed from plans he developed.