Author: Amy Slocombe

Entries to the 2020 Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science are now open!

Are you involved in a citizen science project that is building STEM knowledge or skills, empowering greater community engagement in STEM, or changing attitudes towards STEM?

Sponsored by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources the Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science is awarded for demonstrated excellence in citizen science practice, through an innovative research and community engagement project.

Who can enter?

  • The prize is open to individuals and teams.
  • People can either enter themselves or be nominated by others.
  • Projects of all sizes and scopes – from localised community focused projects to national scale initiatives – are welcome to enter.
  • Activity entered for the prize must have taken place in the past 5 years

It’s a brilliant opportunity to get your project noticed; finalist representatives will be invited to attend the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes Award Dinner in Sydney, and the winner receives $10,000 in prize money.

Find out more and enter now.

Entries close 7pm AEST Friday 15 May 2020.

2019 winners, Frog ID Team, with the Hon. Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Minister for Industry, Science and Technology

Adelaide takes on the Challenge!

Have you heard of the City Nature Challenge?

Last year, 159 cities were involved globally, with more than 35,000 participants, but none in Australia.

We are changing that this year, with four cities representing our nation: Greater Adelaide Area (SA), Geelong (VIC), Redland City (QLD) and Sydney (NSW).

We are involved in an international competition to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe. We hope you can make a contribution!

How to get involved:

You can participate as an individual and we hope you can spread the word to get friends and colleagues involved, too!

  • When? Any time from April 24 to April 27 – you can participate for four minutes or four days (any time you can spare)!
  • How? Find wild plants and wildlife in Greater Adelaide and record it using the iNaturalist app or website, work solo or work as a group. Your contributions along with everyone else’s will appear on the iNaturalist website ready for identification.
  • Why? Participate to learn more about local nature, demonstrate the importance of nature in Adelaide, make a contribution to global knowledge about nature in cities, and have some fun along the way!
  • Where? You can participate anywhere in Greater Adelaide, which includes all of the metropolitan area and extends to places like Kapunda, Murray Bridge, Goolwa, Victor Harbor and Aldinga (see the map when you register)
  • Need help? Come to a training session!
    • Urrbrae: 4–5pm Wednesday 26 February (click here)
    • Urrbrae: 6–7pm Wednesday 26 February (click here)
    • Pt Adelaide: 6–7pm Thursday 2 April (click here)
  • Find out more about the City Nature Challenge 2020 in Adelaide: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020-greater-adelaide
  • Questions? Ask us; reply to this email if you have any questions!

We hope you can participate and spread the word!

Katie

On behalf of ACSASA

The Australian Citizen Science Association, South Australia

The City Nature Challenge is a global event organised by Natural History Museum Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences.

Follow City Nature Challenge 2020 Adelaide on social:

Citizen Science Bushfire Response Project Audit

The unprecedented continental scale of the current Australian bushfires is devastating. They have led to the loss of lives, homes, habitats and biodiversity on a huge scale.

In this time of extreme loss, we are buoyed by the amazing response of individuals and communities in this time of crisis.  We believe there is a role for citizen science to assist across multiple disciplines, at scale, in many research and monitoring capacities to contribute to important and valuable science that is needed now and into the future.

ACSA is seeking to support conversations and plans – both short and long term – that help further connect the citizen science community to contribute to the complex efforts required to learn from and understand the impact of the bushfires (see ACSA bushfire response).

The first step we are taking is an audit to gather as many research projects as we can that include fire – bushfire/forest/wildfire as their focus and citizen science as part of their methodologies. We have developed the ACSA Citizen Science Bushfire Response Project survey and we would be very grateful if you could circulate this widely through your networks to all those who might already be working in this area. We are seeking projects across a broad spectrum of subjects, from biodiversity to human health that use a wide range of methodologies, from projects which require on the ground work, to purely online projects where everyone can contribute.

This information will be used to create a publicly available list of active projects and ACSA will work with partners to identify a number of projects that have the potential to contribute on a national scale.

Contact:  Libby Hepburn

libby@atlasoflife.org.au   +61 458 798 990  Merimbula,

New South Wales, Australia

ACSA Job Opportunity

ACSA is looking for a driven, passionate and creative individual to join our team to help deliver ACSA’s 3rd national citizen science conference on the Gold Coast in October 2020. The part time, contracted conference liaison position will work closely with the ACSA management committee as well as the agency managing the delivery of the conference.

See Position Description below for more information.
Applications close February 9th.

Position_Description_ACSA_Conference_Liaison

ACSA Seed Grant Winners

Congratulations to the recipients of ACSA’s Seed Grants for 2019! The Seed Grants were designed as a way of giving back and investing in our members, with two $1,000 grants available to ACSA members to seed their professional or project’s growth in line with ACSA’s strategic goals of Participation and Practice.

And the winners are:

  • Dr Erinn Fagan-Jeffries – Pupils for Parasitoid Wasps: The ‘Pupils for Parasitoid Wasps’ project involves school children running insect traps to collect parasitic wasps in their local environment, and being involved in naming and describing newly discovered species.

  • Jodie Valpied – Bachhus Marsh Platypus Alliance: The Seed Grant will help provide the necessary resources to the new Bacchus Marsh Platypus Alliance community group to begin a citizen science project on platypus habitat health, and to facilitate community engagement in this project.

Congratulations to Erinn, Jodie and your teams on winning this Grant, and we look forward to hearing how your projects progress.

ACSA’s new committee members

At Monday’s AGM, the results of the election were announced for ACSA’s two new General Members on the Management Committee.

We would like to extend a huge thank you to the six people who nominated – the calibre of your applications was outstanding, and we wish we had room for all of you!

Thanks also to the ACSA Members who cast their vote. There were 68 valid votes.

And now…the results! Firstly, we welcome back Jennifer Loder to the committee. Your commitment to ACSA is outstanding and we are very happy to have you back on board.

Secondly, and a big welcome and congratulations to Dr. Cobi Calyx, who will be joining ACSA’s commitee for the first time! We look forward to the skills, energy and enthusiasm that you will bring.

Dr Cobi Calyx

Congratulations again, and we look forward to working with both of you over the next two years.

Meet ACSA’s new host

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!

ACSA Chair Erin Roger signing the Affiliation Agreement with our new Host Representative Dr Alice Motion

Q&A with ACSA’s Patron…Dr Geoff Garrett AO

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.

Geoff and his avid birdwatcher wife, Janet

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?

Geoff sharing a science story with one of his granddaughters, Evie

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…

https://govoluntouring.com/what-is-citizen-science-why-is-it-important/

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?

GG:

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. The secret of success. Word-of-mouth spreading like wildfire with both professional scientists and community groups.

 

Thank you Geoff!

Voting open – 2019 AGM

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

Jordan Gacutan (NSW)
Dr Cobi Calyx (SA)
Jonathan Inglis (VIC)
Dr Maxine Newlands (QLD)
Rosalinde Brinkman (QLD)
Jennifer Loder (QLD)

Remember, you must be a Member to vote!

Ready to vote now? Members, log in here to access the ballot.

To become a member and vote, visit: https://citizenscience.org.au/join-now/.

Remember, ACSA membership gives you the power to select Committee members who can help build this association and advance the field of citizen science in Australia.

Voting will close at Midday (AEDT) on Monday 11th November. 

Vote Now!

Notice of 2019 ACSA AGM

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.

AGENDA

1:00pm – Doors Open

1:00pm to 1:15pm – Registration / Networking

1:15pm – Annual General Meeting

2:00pm – Close

DETAILS

Monday 11th November, 2019

Meeting Room 450 | Level 4 Carslaw Building F07 | Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney, NSW 2006 (Meeting Room 450 directions)

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.

Nomination Form

Questions?

Please contact Amy Slocombe on 0423 902 810.