Dr Lindy Orthia

BSc (La Trobe) Hons (ANU), GCertHist (ANU), PhD (ANU)
Senior Lecturer in Science Communication
College of Science

Research interests

Lindy's current research interests are:

  • histories of science communication and the uses of history in science communication
  • representations of science in popular fiction and public responses to them
  • intersections of science and science communication with ideologies such as scientism, eurocentrism, sexism and heteronormativity.

Contact her with your ideas if you would like to study under her supervision, or if you prefer pre-designed projects, she is currently offering two PhD project ideas:

Doctor Who characters as STEMM role models

The Scientific Revolution and its others in popular discourse

For more current and complete information on Lindy's publications and bio go to lindyorthia.com.


Lindy is a teacher and researcher in science communication. She has worked at CPAS since 2007 and enjoys the intersection of science, politics and writing that science communication offers. She only realised science communication was the place she felt at home when she transferred from a PhD in plant systematics to a PhD in sci com in 2005, graduating in 2010. Realising much of her work took a historical approach, she undertook a Graduate Certificate in History from 2013-15.

Lindy completed a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences at La Trobe University then came to ANU to undertake honours in plant systematics, based at the Australian National Herbarium, CSIRO. Prior to discovering science, Lindy was an activist who spent much of her time researching, writing and agitating in regard to diverse political issues, working in student representative and community organisations.

Professional Awards and Honours

  • 2014 recognised as Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • 2013 Winner: Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence
  • 2013 Winner: ANU Commendation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning
  • 2012 Winner: Colleges of Science Award for Teaching Excellence
  • 2009 Winner: ANU ResearchFest Award for Excellence in Tutoring or Demonstrating

Researcher's projects

Lindy has two major continuing projects serving her research interests:

History of science communication in the longue durée

This project studies diverse aspects of science communication history, particularly in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when western science was invented institutionally, ideologically and professionally, but also raising questions about longer term, cross-cultural conceptions of science communication history.

Ideologies of science in Doctor Who

This project involves ongoing analysis of ideologies of science within the long-running science fiction television series, Doctor Who (1963-89, 2005-present). It includes attention to politics, race, gender, environmentalism and scientism in the program, as well as research into Doctor Who fans' responses to its representations of science.

Lindy is currently editing a book Doctor Who and Science with Marcus Harmes from the University of Southern Queensland.

Available student projects

Lindy is keen to supervise any student projects in her areas of research interest. Contact her to discuss your ideas. Here's two project ideas she’s currently offering - click on the links for details:

The Scientific Revolution and its others in popular discourse here.

Doctor Who characters as STEMM role models here.

Past student projects

PhD supervisory chair

  • Cobi Calyx (graduated 2018) Deliberative theory versus practice in Australian public science engagement 
  • Jarrod Green (graduated 2017) Audience perspectives on scientific realism in fiction
  • Rashel Li (graduated 2016) Audience views of science and scientists in ‘The Big Bang Theory’
  • Tegan Donald (graduated 2016) What would a Scientifically Engaged Australia look like?

PhD associate supervisor

  • Maria Taylor (graduated 2012) Discourses of climate change in Australia 1987-2001

Honours supervisor

  • Imogen Brown (2017, co-supervisor) Depictions of scientists in children’s shows on Australian television
  • Kate Reid (2016) The influence of fiction on scientists’ career choices
  • David Knowles (2014, co-supervisor) Communicating the sociology of safety to the Australian pipeline industry
  • Rudi Spennemann (2013) Public expectations of technology prototyped through fiction
  • Martina Donkers (2011) Evaluating theatre for science engagement using the play ‘A Number’

Master of Science Communication research project supervisor

  • Zoë Tulip (2019) Public responses to the deaths of anthropomorphised space robots
  • Myfanwy Williams (2017) Mura Gadi – A pathway for searching: a historical analysis of Western attitudes towards Indigenous ecological knowledge in the Canberra region from first contact to present day
  • Sarah Bradley (2017) Can we use personal stories of scientists to make science more interesting?
  • Oliver Shearman (2017) Citizen science impact on participants’ feelings towards science
  • Sunxuezi (Tara) Cheng (2016) Does science communication produce science crackpots?
  • Mantian (Skye) Zhu (2016) The functions of scientific jargon in fiction film and television
  • Don Gomez (2012-15) Public responses to science in ‘Breaking Bad’
  • Denis Warne (2013-14) Communication in Indigenous-Western science knowledge exchange
  • Chris McKay (2011) Environmental scientists’ and ecologists’ uses of Indigenous knowledge

Third year science communication research project supervisor

  • Katelyn Tsipiras (2019) Applying PES models of science communication to outreach programs with kids
  • Scarlett Harbin-Owens (2019) Australian women’s knowledge about hormonal contraception
  • Clare Coman (2017) Audience responses to female scientists in Doctor Who
  • Imogen Brown (2017) Scientist stereotypes in recent mathematician biopics
  • Zoë Tulip (2016) Messages about fear and the environment in music videos
  • Michaela Ripper (2015-16) What kinds of facts do people remember from reading fiction?
  • Genevieve Crutchley (2015) Nuclear power: what does the world think?
  • Carmel Foley (2015) Uses of ‘Jurassic Park’ in popular books about dinosaurs
  • Kate Reid (2015) Discourses of evolution, race and anti-racism in the ‘X-Men’ films
  • Chris Ingles (2014) Theorising the geological basis of Middle Earth in ‘Lord of the Rings’
  • Aneeta Nathan (2013) HIV/AIDS in South Africa under President Mbeki and models of expertise
  • Alana Pascoe (2012) Students’ decisions to study physics: the role of fiction, gender & more
  • Olivia Swift (2012) Impact of the musical ‘Rent’ on HIV/AIDS activism and awareness
  • Amy Dobos (2012) Public interpretations of photographs representing Alzheimer’s disease
  • Stefan Nekvapil (2012) Expectations of aged care facilities by residents, staff and families/friends
  • Minky Faber (2011-12) Women’s attitudes to menstruation and menstrual technologies
  • Naomi Shadbolt (2011) Communicating endometriosis with teenage girls

Other coursework research project supervisor

  • Hillary McArthur (3rdyear PhB, 2014) Modes of rhetoric in ‘NaturalNews’ articles about cancer
  • Guy Leech (3rdyear PhB, 2014) Ideologies of science and environment in the game ‘Civilization 5’
  • Mugdha Bokil (MChD, 2012-13) Influence of ‘Scrubs’ on medical students’ clinical practice
  • Martina Donkers (3rdyear Summer Scholar, 2009-10) Public engagement with science in theatre
  • Courtney Landers (1styear PhB, 2009) Nanosunscreen experts’ views of the public
  • Xuerong (Shirley) Qin (2ndyear Research Intern, 2009) Nanosunscreen experts’ views of the media
  • Five SCOM2003 students (2014) ‘World War Z’ as communication about immunisation
  • Eight SCOM2003 students (2013) Gender and scientist role-modelling in ‘NCIS’ 
  • Ten SCOM2003 students (2012)Using ‘House’ to identify public preferences about medical practitioners
  • Six SCOM2003 students (2011) Viewing habit effects on responses to science in ‘Bones’
  • Six SCOM2003 students (2010) Public responses to science in ‘The Simpsons’


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Updated:  20 January 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers