Join us for an enthralling exploration of creatures that make us squirm and squeal, in IMB Sip and Science: Fear and Fascination.

Featuring Artistic Director and Co-Founder of ERTH, Scott Wright, and researchers Dr Sam Robinson and Dr Natalie Saez from the University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), this panel conversation will walk the thinly-veiled line between friend and foe.

Through their artistic creations, Scott Wright and his team at visual and physical theatre company ERTH invite audiences to get up close and personal with some of the most feared and revered predators the planet has ever known. A highly-anticipated part of the Brisbane Festival 2023 program, ERTH's Shark Dive will take over Brisbane Circus Centre at Northshore, Brisbane, and allow audiences to cage-dive with a life-size great white shark while it circles - all while staying nice and dry!

From great whites to nasty bites - Dr Sam Robinson and Dr Natalie Saez have both had their fair share of close calls! As researchers whose work is centred around the lifesaving venom found within stinging insects, tarantulas and funnel-web spiders, the fear and the fascination are equal drivers.

Admission to the IMB Sip and Science series includes a drink of choice on arrival.


Scott Wright | Artistic Director & Co-Founder, ERTH

Scott is a founding member of Erth Visual and Physical Inc. He has been the Artistic Director for 33 years.

Scott is a bit of a troublemaker, choosing to push himself and the company against the stream. Scott enjoys flying a little under the radar but has also created shows that have toured the world and been seen by millions. Dinosaur Zoo and it’s many iterations serves not only as a benchmark that has inspired 100’s of copy cat shows worldwide, emerging when it did as a completely new original piece of theatre in 2005. The show has been translated into other languages and seen in no less that 15 other countries and continents, enjoying a very healthy touring life now and into the future. The work allows Erth (a not-for profit company) a relative security, through sustainable operational independence and the ability to continue to create new works that are perceived as less commercially driven, experimental works, work that explore new ideas around what the company wants to say and how it wants to say them.

Scott is particularly driven and focused on the natural world, indigenous knowledge & culture and social/cultural change with an anthropological sense of investigation. Humans and all living things serve as a world of curiosity and questioning and is inspired further with the constant inclusion of young people of all ages both in presenting the work and who the work is created for. Not to say that the work isn’t for adults ( it is ) but children do seem to be more honest and responsive and welcome tough themes that some adults might see as taboo such as grief, fear, loss, risk.

Scott as a director is dictator and enabler. Knowing when to put the foot down and when to open up and interrogate the work through consensus.

Dr Sam Robinson | Researcher, IMB

Dr Sam Robinson is an expert on plants and animals that sting. He is a researcher at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, where he investigates venomous animals to find new toxins that can be used as tools for improving our understanding of the human body and designing new and better treatments for certain diseases, such as diabetes and chronic pain.

Sam grew up in New Zealand, where he was fascinated by insects and reptiles. His plans to become a medical doctor were derailed by his love of biology, and he graduated with a Bachelor of Biomedical Science from the University of Auckland, before completing a PhD at Monash University where he identified all the toxins in the venom of a cone snail. Following a stint at the University of Utah, Sam joined the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, where he is exploring the venom of the gympie-gympie stinging tree, ants, bees, and more.

Outside of work, he is carrying on the legacy of Dr Justin O. Schmidt, an American entomologist who created an index of painful stings. Sam rates the pain of the stings of a wide variety of different creatures using the Twitter hashtag #StingofTheWild

Dr Natalie Saez | Researcher, IMB

Dr Natalie Saez is passionate about discovering new medicines from spider venom. Her role as a researcher at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) involves milking tarantulas and funnel web spiders, then analysing their venom to discover new medicines to treat conditions such as heart attack and stroke.

Natalie pursued a career in science due to her fascination with how the body functions, and how you can use medicine to alter ‘malfunctions’ of the body that occur in disease. A part-time job as a pharmacy assistant sparked her interest in drug discovery and development, and saw her poring over pharmacology textbooks in her spare time to better understand the medicines she was helping to dispense.

When Natalie heard that venoms were a wonderful source of potential medicines, she thought that sounded ‘so crazy and cool’ that she knew she had to learn more, enrolling in a PhD at IMB to investigate how molecules from venom interact with drug targets in our body, particularly proteins in the nervous system called acid-sensing ion channels.

This work ultimately led to the discovery of a molecule from funnel-web spider venom that is showing great potential to treat heart attack and stroke. In addition to her academic research role at IMB, Natalie is also a part-time employee at the spin-out company, Infensa Bioscience, that was established to advance this molecule to clinical trials.

About IMB Sip and Science

Throughout September 2023 

Last year’s popular Sip and Science series returns to Australian Retirement Trust Festival Garden, South Bank this September. 

Enjoy a series of panel conversations that spotlight the intersection of art and science in our world. Grab a drink on entry and enjoy a guided conversation between IMB researchers and Festival artists.

Admission to the IMB Sip and Science series includes a drink of choice on arrival.


Riverside Green South Bank, QLD 4101
Pavilion, Australian Retirement Trust Festival Garden