We are thrilled to formally announce that ACSA’s new host institution for the next three years is The University of Sydney.
The University of Sydney was founded in 1850 and is Australia’s first University. Citizen Science is a burgeoning area of growth in both research and practice at the University of Sydney, and one that is set to expand over the next decade.
ACSA will be housed with the Faculty of Science, which is also home to Inspiring Australia NSW. This will be fantastic for strengthening our ties with Inspiring Australia going forward. ACSA will also work closely with the newly formed Citizen Science Node at the University, which oversees all the projects across the university that fall under the citizen science banner.
The node’s co-director, Dr. Alice Motion, was featured recently in this article about the official recognition and support of citizen science within academic institutions. With the vision to “become a world-leading hub for the advancement of citizen science that is ethically and methodologically rigorous.” ACSA is very excited about its new home!
One of our Member’s recently mentioned that they’d like to know a little bit more about ACSA’s Patron Dr Geoff Garrett AO, and the work he is doing behind the scenes for ACSA. What follows here is an amusing, honest and engaging account of the years since citizen science first crossed Geoff’s radar (which was not as early as you might have expected for a Chief Scientist!) But perhaps that is just testament to the times that were. Not anymore! Read on to find out a little more about our Patron.
ACSA: How did you get interested in Citizen Science? And why?
Geoff Garrett: To my considerable embarrassment, during my time as CSIRO’s Chief Executive and, thereafter, as Queensland’s Chief Scientist, citizen science hadn’t really crossed my radar.
I was probably not alone in this as, for example, up to that point I can’t recall any discussion on the topic with the other States’ Chief Scientists, who regularly got together under the leadership of Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel.
But then, late in 2016, towards the end of our time in Queensland, I got an interesting (and some might say pushy!) letter from a devoted citizen science evangelist, Libby Hepburn.
She wanted to meet. I didn’t at that stage know her from the proverbial bar of soap so (as one does, or did) I politely ducked her kind invitation saying I was finishing off, then going to be overseas for the first half of 2017 but “please feel free to contact me again when I’m back in Canberra”…. thinking (of course) that it would go away. It didn’t.
Early in July 2017 Libby got in touch again, too passionate on the topic for me to put off meeting with her. And at our first meeting the scales started falling from my eyes, around the scope, potential and importance of better involving – meaningfully – the broader community, young and old, in science, and scientific research.
My emerging enthusiasm was further ignited a couple of weeks later when Libby suggested I get in touch with Canberra-based Andrew Robinson of Questagame.
I had mentioned to Andrew our visiting UK brother-in-law, Ron Johns (for a decade Britain’s top ‘twitcher’), so birding was a prime topic. We had an awesome meeting and compelling roadshow through Questagame‘s objectives and activities.
Also around that time I had just joined the Board of the brilliant National Youth Science Forum, so enthusing young kids around science was also pretty much top of mind.
I was hooked.
And the rest just unfolded. ACSA was emerging as the organising vehicle here in Australia and I had some intriguing conversations with Erin Roger as Chairperson, especially around science leadership, politics, engaging key decision-makers and funding – stuff I’ve spent, happily(?), quite a lot of my career getting to grips with. I offered to help.
ACSA: So how, as Patron, have you been involved?
GG: First off, I was – and am – honoured, and indeed flattered, to have been invited by Erin and the Committee to take up this role.
Now – relationships are key…..
I still had some useful connections into, for example, the Office of the Commonwealth Chief Scientist, and we persuaded Alan to do a keynote address – which was great! – at ACSA’s February 2018 conference; into Department decision-makers around extending core funding; to my ‘old’ colleagues back in Queensland and the then Acting Chief Scientist, Dr Christine Williams and my former boss, the excellent Minister Leeanne Enoch. These ladies both got as excited as I was and devoted time and resources to getting Citizen Science well and truly launched in Queensland through a formal Strategy piece and $500+k initial grant funding for Citizen Science projects. And so on.
And all a great pleasure to be able to assist.
ACSA: So why do you think Citizen Science is important?
GG: For any ACSA Newsletter reader looking for a motivational briefing on this question – for pals, colleagues, family or bosses – if you haven’t yet come across it, this link might be helpful…
From my side, in particular, there are a couple of key drivers here…
Firstly, on capacity…. involving enthusiastic lay people in research studies can drastically expand for researchers the volume and spread of valuable data collection. My previously-noted brother-in-law and engaging the birdwatching community at large is a great example.
Secondly, debunking elitism and mystique…. which sometimes, unfortunately, scientists like to hide behind: “this is all very hard, and complicated, and you need to be very clever (like me) with decades of training behind you (also like me), to be able to contribute.”
Citizen science projects open up how science actually works, and exposing scientists to the broader community as real people, nice people, helpful people doing important work for the benefit of all of us, is very beneficial.
Thirdly, promoting collaboration… which we are still struggling with here in Australia, sadly.
I’m fond of quoting that “all business is people business” and that “communication excellence is the baton of leadership” (and that’s maybe twice as much listening as talking – the two ears/one mouth story!) Key skills essential for the broader ‘professional’ scientific corps, to hone and improve. Learning through doing.
ACSA: And finally, what would be your vision for citizen science in Australia in say 3 to 5 years time?
Track record. A burgeoning engagement of citizens in science projects – and results – of importance to communities, meaningfully influencing policy at local, State and Federal level.
No Heads of Science Agencies or Chief Scientists (mea culpa again!) – nor indeed any Ministers of Science – that don’t have citizen science on their priority action list. With funding.
The secret of success. Word-of-mouth spreading like wildfire with both professional scientists and community groups.
Voting is now open for the election of members to the ACSA Management Committee for 2020-2021. We received six nominations for the two General Member positions available.
The six candidates are listed below – you can find their profiles and answers to four questions about the field of citizen science, together with details relevant skills and experience, here. Alternatively, you can access individual profiles by clicking on the images below. Please use this information to help you decide which two candidates to vote for.
General Member Candidates
Remember, you must be a Member to vote!
Ready to vote now? Members, log in here to access the ballot.
ACSA would like to extend you an invitation to attend the 2019 Annual General Meeting of of the Australian Citizen Science Association and elections for two General Member management committee positions.
During the AGM we will provide:
An overview of our achievements from the year;
A summary of the 2018-19 Financial Statement, and
An opportunity for members to elect two new General Members to the management committee.
For those unable to attend in person, we will be offering the meeting as a Zoom meeting and we will also live stream it via our Facebook page. For details please click here.
Interested in joining the Management Committee?
Being involved in the ACSA Management Committee is a highly rewarding experience which provides members with an opportunity to engage with peers, professionals and the community to help advance citizen science both within Australia and globally. Nominating for a Management Committee position shows your willingness to be a crucial part of the ACSA team for 2020 and beyond. You are committing to attend a minimum of one committee meeting a month. For the Terms of Reference of the Management Committee, and list of basic responsibilities of each position, please click here.
We ask that you fill out and submit the nomination form. All nominations will be reviewed by the current committee, and someone from ACSA will be in contact with you. Nomination deadline is Monday 28th October, 2019.
Organisation: Taronga Conservation Society Australia
How long have you been a member of ACSA?: Since November 2017
Why did you join ACSA?: I have been involved with ACSA since the early discussions to create a citizen science network back in 2013-14. To join ACSA as a founding member was an easy and natural decision. I believe that the wide community should be involved with science for a better understanding of what it takes to create knowledge.
What do you love about citizen science?: I do appreciate the opportunities citizen science creates for the wider community to engage with different aspects of science, to foster public participation and curiosity regarding the scientific process. It is inspiring for individuals to make a difference and contribute to the broader science community through sharing knowledge and collaborating data.
What is the most awesome citizen science project you have been involved in and why?: I haven’t been extensively involved with citizen science projects. The first project I had been involved with was to identify galaxies for a NASA project – very cool! They all looked a blur to me at the start!
A bit about me: I’m Scott Bell, a fifth generation Tasmanian, married, and retired from General Practice at the end of 2006. I was fortunate to be able to purchase 640 acres of varied bushland, close to the coast in North Eastern Tasmania, in 2007. I’ve protected it with a covenant, apart from 2%, which is set aside for a building envelope.
Role: Retiree, home builder, citizen scientist, volunteer, community member
How long have you been an ACSA member?: I just joined last month
Why did you join ACSA?: To share ideas with other citizen scientists, to help me achieve my citizen science project goals
How have you used citizen science on your property?: Initially, I invited some local Wildlife Carers to use the site for the release of rehabilitated animals. An early approach to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Project resulted in the construction of a 50 acre biosecure enclosure, for breeding disease free devils. And a number of other groups are regularly involved in activities on the site – Field Naturalists, other Conservation Landowners, a local school group, and occasionally a Threatened Species group. And of course, family and friends participate.
What is the most awesome citizen science project you have been involved in and why? In 2018, I was involved in a state wide citizen science project, undertaking a census of wedge tailed eagles. I’d previously been monitoring fauna, in a slap dash fashion, periodically trapping, or trail camera photographing. I’ve since tried to be more diligent, recording dates and sites where trappings occur. There is still a way to go, in terms of developing more rigorous systems. Perhaps by sharing ideas with other citizen scientists, I’ll be able to achieve this goal. And also finishing the house building project will free up some extra time……
If you would like to share your citizen science story, or would to nominate a fellow ACSA member to be featured in our monthly member spotlight, please let us know!
It’s an election year for ACSA, which means that ACSA Members are eligible to nominate for a position on our Management Committee! We have two General Member positions coming up in November. We are looking for motivated, enthusiastic people who have a little bit of time available to dedicate to growing ACSA and helping us achieve our strategic goals.
Skills or experience in fundraising, grant writing, graphic design and/or WordPress would be advantageous! And the perks are that you get to work with a group of motivated citizen science lovers and shape the future direction of ACSA!
For more information about what being on the Management Committee entails, please refer to our Terms of Reference.
If you would like to nominate, please click here to access the nomination form. Nominations are due Monday 28th October.
Two of the key findings from the Member Survey we conducted last year are:
people are seeking a community through ACSA, and
members are most interested in exchanging knowledge & experiences, and building a professional network.
To help facilitate these wishes, we’ve expanded the ‘My ACSA Profile’ section on our website and invite you to enter additional information about yourself and your citizen science experience / engagement. We hope that this will help foster that sense of community and enable you to learn more about other members interests and skill sets, which may help achieve that goal of building a professional network. This information will only visible to other ACSA members who are logged in to the membership portal.
We are also working on a search function, which we hope, in time, will allow you to search for ACSA members who are based in Western Australia and who are interested in human health, for example. This sort of capability will be fantastic in terms of allowing you to connect with others in your field, or in terms of finding the right person to answer a question you may have.
We invite you to update your ACSA member profile now. Click on the link below, select My member profile > Profile > Edit.
I want that job.
What should my CV look like?
What do I include in my cover letter?
Presenting an exclusive opportunity for ACSA members only, this training will help you understand what Government and other employers are looking for when reviewing job applications.
Presented by our Chair Erin and Vice-Chair Stephanie, who between them have 26 years’ experience in the government sector, you will learn how to best structure, format and present your CV and cover letter to give you the best chance of being selected for interview.