Local Lady Scientist Margo Adler
by Stephanie Williams
As a native New Yorker, scientist Margo Adler has found her feet, and heart, in Hobart.
Where in Hobart do you live? I live in sunny South Hobart. Well, sometimes sunny.
What’s the best thing about Hobart? The people. And the fact that I live within walking distance to town, but if we forget to close our gate, the wallabies come in and munch on our veggie garden. It’s a bit annoying, but when I tell my family in New York about this, they think I’m living in a David Attenborough documentary.
And the worst? The public transportation (or lack thereof).
Tell us a little about your work? I’m an evolutionary biologist, but it’s been about six years since I’ve actually done any research. I started Beaker Street in 2016 because I wanted to create engaging social events around science, and it unexpectedly turned into a full-time job. Now we have an annual festival (Beaker Street Festival) with a hub at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. It’s a raucous celebration of science and arts, with more than 150 scientists on hand, excellent booze and food, live music in an underground Speakeasy, and much more.
How has the festival (and Hobart!) evolved since 2016? The Festival has grown from a two-night affair at TMAG to a more-than-week-long bonanza that spans most of the state. Hobart has changed a lot too, so I hear. I wouldn’t really know because of children.
What are you looking forward to most at this year’s festival? The Dark Sky Party at Spring Bay Mill, which is going to be amazing, and that’s all I’m going to say about it for now.
What excites you most in the science world right now? The fact that labs all over the world managed to work together to develop Covid vaccines in record time, which I hope will boost people’s respect for science, and the technology that’s been proven through this effort might also be a huge leap forward for vaccines for other diseases.
You’re originally from New York. How did you find your way to Hobart? I lived in Sydney for 8 years, where I did my PhD and met my partner, who’s from here. After we came down a few times to visit, I knew this was the place to start Beaker Street. People always say how different Hobart must be from New York, but New Yorkers are really friendly (much more so than they get credit for), and the friendliness of the people here makes me feel at home.
I’m inspired by… water. If I’m ever stuck for ideas, or need to change my frame of mind, there’s nothing better than a swim. If that’s not available, a bath or shower is pretty good too.
What do you love doing outside work? Swimming (or gazing longingly at the water when it’s too cold and feeling like a wimp), having a glass of wine and drinking copious amounts of tea.
Where’s your favourite Hobart eatery? Bar Wa Izakaya for vegetarian ramen and Salamanca Cream for a dark chocolate Affogato afterwards
Drink of choice and where do you head for it? A bottle of the best clean skin Tassie Pinot money can buy from Cool Wine.
Guilty pleasure? Reading the New York Times on my phone in the morning while my long-suffering partner gets the kids ready for daycare
What do you never leave home without? Well I recently bought a bag to fill with all the things I need to get out of the house, because it takes me so long to leave. But I haven’t managed to put anything in it yet.
I’d like to travel to…New York City to eat sushi with my sister.
If I didn’t live in Hobart I’d live…in Barcelona or New Orleans.
Favourite Hobart secret? There’s a thylacine that lives on the Rivulet Track and eats blackberries.
Where to next? I wouldn’t mind getting off the island for a week one of these days. A holiday somewhere warm sounds like a dream.
Quote to live by? “Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.” – Oscar Wilde