Category: Conferences

@CitSciTC – A Citizen Science Conference For Everyone

Towards the end of 2019 we will see something that has never happened in citizen science before – our first ever worldwide twitter conference!

Do you have a smartphone? An internet connected laptop? A computer with wifi? Does your local library have public computers connected to the internet or provides access to wifi? If so then you can participate. But here’s the great thing – there is no venue to pay for and no accommodation needed so this is the cheapest conference you will ever attend!

What is a Twitter Conference?

A Twitter conference is a virtual conference that takes place on Twitter under the hashtag #CitSciTC. Just like a regular conference, #CitSciTC will feature research presentations and even keynotes, but the talks will be delivered via a series of tweets under the conference hashtag.

At this stage #CitSciTC is still in the planning stages. However the conference organisers would love some help including some tweeters to be our “Spam Police” both leading up and during the conference. If you would like to help in any way please contact the twitter account for the conference @CitSciTC or email CitSciTC@gmail.com.

Never tweeted before or not sure how to set up an account? Have a look at this really helpful video.

If you would like to see a twitter conference in action the 5th World Seabird Twitter Conference (#WSTC5) starts next week and you can already follow the online conversation here.

UN Science Policy Business Forum & UNEA4, Nairobi March 2019

Report of the citizen science delegation to the UN Science Policy Business Forum and UN Environment Assembly 4 Nairobi March 2019

By Libby Hepburn

Amongst a cast of thousands from across the globe, the citizen science delegation in Nairobi included 20+ representatives from the global citizen science community, Europe, US, Australia, Africa, Madagascar, Asia, South America….The focus of our big delegation was for strong advocacy across as many sessions as possible to promote citizen science as a valuable and significant provider of data towards the SDGs, bringing in local knowledge and changing behaviours.

Representatives from the global citizen science community in Nairobi

Building on the great work done in 2017, when citizen science was really introduced as an important concept, the citizen science team was again organised, co-ordinated and inspired by Martin Brocklehurst. We met before and after every day during both main events, to share insights and contacts, usually in the famous café where we enjoyed great Kenyan coffee.

The key theme of the Science Policy Business Forum seemed to be that data alone achieves nothing. There was an amazing array of technologies on display, but an acknowledgement that there are many data gaps and progress towards the SDGs will only be achieved with the transformation of the way we work and the engagement of public and civil society in this great endeavour.

Citizen science and its critical part in contributing to the SDGs, was mentioned in the opening plenary of both main sessions and many of the other presentations and discussions. The level of understanding of all its potential may be questioned, but citizen science is definitely the hot topic at this global policy forum just now.

Many of the presentations talked about the huge advances in Earth Observation technologies and showed great examples from developed and developing countries and the oceans where previously impossible to measure or influence problems are becoming seen and therefore able to be tackled.

Again and again people from many different perspectives working on many different kinds of problems were saying that we are getting access to much more detailed data, but for the SDGs there are still many data gaps which are becoming more evident as the whole 2030 Agenda moves forward. There is also much data which will not be of any use unless there is the engagement of local communities to ground truth and action what is becoming known.

Our citizen science global community has had great visibility, with presentations by Dilek Fraisl, Anne Bowser, Martin Brocklehurst, Jacquie McGlade and Herizo Andrianandras showcasing key projects and demonstrating the value we can bring to the sustainable development agenda.

We are getting the clear message that it is incumbent on our global community to demonstrate its capability through results. In Nairobi, we were an international delegation representing the Citizen Science Global Partnership(CSGP) which is in its early stages of development and the UN who encouraged its formation two years ago, wants to see it institutionalised in some way so they have a single entry point to act as an interface for all the world’s citizen science networks.

At the end of the UN Science Policy Business Forum, we added a day-long workshop for all the delegates present, working as the CSGP Task Force to develop proposals for the governance of the Partnership. There was a planning meeting of the SDG/citizen science Maximisation group and we announced another CSGP hub in Geneva hosted by the Citizen Cyberlab and University of Zurich – just a desk and meeting room so far, but at the heart of the UN.

A positive and powerful declaration of citizen science’s advances and aims was announced at the end of the Science Policy Business Forum and was included by UNEA4 in their records and final declaration. It is added here for you to see.

#CitSci2019, Raleigh, NC USA!

By Michelle Neil (ACSA Secretary and social media moderator)

We come together at this conference to learn and work together for positive, productive outcomes.”

Every year ACSA sends a member of the Management Committee to a sister citizen science association conference somewhere in the world. This year I was the lucky one, so earlier this month I set off to attend the Citizen Science Association’s #CitSci2019 Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina USA.

Flying into Raleigh NC. Population 464,000. Pic: Michelle Neil

After more than 30 hours of travel I flew into Raleigh at 4am on Tuesday the 12th of March, grabbed an UBER and headed to the hotel.

The first day of the conference dawned cold and fine. I headed across the road to the Raleigh Convention Centre to help with the expected 800+ registrations!

I was very impressed by CSA’s organization of this event. At #CitSciOz18 we had 3 concurrent sessions running at any one time. However at #CitSci2019, CSA had up to 7 sessions running concurrently! This made me very busy trying to figure out which sessions I had already pre-booked and which ones I had already nominated to go to. I would have loved to go on the excursions but I wasn’t sure what I would miss out on that day.  Thank goodness for the conference app!

Raleigh Convention Centre. Pic: Michelle Neil

The theme for the conference was “Growing Our Family Tree”.  There were 4 main sub-themes intertwined throughout the conference. The themes were Equity (not equality), Education, Environmental Justice and Applied Ecology.  These themes were very well represented by the keynote speakers each morning and the Environmental Justice Panel on the Friday night.

This is what 800+ delegates looks like! Pic: Michelle Neil

Equity

Of the 4 keynote speakers I was particularly impressed with Dr Max Liboiron from Memorial University and Director of CLEAR, the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research, which is an explicitly feminist and anticolonial laboratory that studies marine microplastics in Newfoundland, Canada.

Dr Liboiron spoke about the difference between equity and equality, the power relations within citizen science, humbleness and paying her citizen scientists. I thoroughly recommend you read her speech as she has transcribed it here.

She neatly summed it up in the end with the words “Let’s use citizen science as an opportunity to be more equitable, more humble, more diverse.”

I was so impressed with Dr Libiron’s speech I even tweeted to #CitSciOz18 keynote speaker Dr Emilie Ens (We Study Country, Macquaire Uni) and e-introduced these two amazing citizen science researchers. I found their methods of citizen science very interesting and thought that they should at least be aware of one another.

Education

Education, particularly STEM, is a subject very dear to my heart so it was fantastic to hear Marine Biologist-turned-science teacher Rachael Polmanteer and three of her students from River Bend Middle School in Raleigh talk about how citizen science had been incorporated into their classroom and how much they now like to go to science class and what they want to do in science in the future.

Rachael, in conjunction with citizen science practitioners, is literally writing the book on how to incorporate citizen science into classrooms with their local curriculum.  This means that students (and teachers) can do more hands-on science with citizen science plus further the field of scientific knowledge. I would love to see more of this work in the open access journal “Citizen Science: Theory and Practice”. Perhaps there should be a student edition?

I was very impressed with both Rachael’s and her students’ talks.  It’s not easy standing up in front of so many people to talk!I gave them each a little clip on koala as a keepsake, I think they were a hit, don’t you?

Environmental JusticeSource: https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice (29.03.19)

Did you know that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the USA have developed an “Air Sensor Toolbox”?  The EPA site “provides information for citizen scientists and others on how to select and use low-cost, portable air sensor technology and understand results from monitoring activities. The information can help the public learn more about air quality in their communities.” Enviromental Justice (EJ) is really just starting out here in AUstralia but in the USA it is in full swing and has been for many years. The EJ panel brought together citizen scientists and practitioners in a compelling arguement for equity.

https://www.epa.gov/air-sensor-toolbox

I attended one of the Air Quality Workshops presented by the EPA USA where we talked about what sort of air monitoring we would need in different situations and also about which commercially available sensors were the best fit for each situation. Then we got to go out and put the sensors to the test! My personal favourite was the AirBeam air pollution monitor which wifi’d to an Android tablet. I did find out that it wasnt available on iphone or ipads as yet.

Trying out the AirBeam air pollution monitor. Pic: Michelle Neil

Environmental Justice (EJ) is really just starting out here in Australia but in the USA it is in full swing and has been for many years. The EJ panel brought together citizen scientists and practitioners in a compelling arguement for equity.

The panel was live streamed and I recommend you watch the entire program on the CSA YouTube site here. It will be very interesting to see how Australia develops in citizen science in this sector. Should we be proactive and have an Environmental Justice working group? Food for thought…

 

Applied Ecology

Have you ever wondered if sour dough bread is the same in USA as it is in Australia? Or what are the microbes in your belly button?  Rob Dunn from North Carolina State University spoke about the smaller things in life – ants and microbes and what they can tell us about our environment and how it is shaping us!

Rob’s team of citizen science practitioners run all sorts of cool projects. In fact you can ask to do the Sour Dough Project here in Australia through the SciStarter website. In fact there is even a project to make beer from the yeast wild bees pick up!

Tragedy…

On the Friday night we had all heard the news about the terrible Christchurch Mosque Shooting. It was a tough day for our Kiwi friends in our ACSA contingent and also those of us who have family and friends “across the ditch” in New Zealand. The Environmental Justice panel Chair Dr Sacoby Wilson asked everyone to pay their respects and stand for a moment of silence for the victims of gun violence.

 

Everyone stood before bowing their heads for the moment of silence to pay their respects to the victims in NZ of gun violence. Pic: Michelle Neil

Podcast with SciStarter

One of my highlights was chatting with and recording a podcast with SciStarter’s Caroline Knickerson and finally getting to meet the founder of SciStarter, Darlene Cavalier with whom I have been tweeting and interacting back and forth on Facebook with for ages.  I even got to sit in on a few workshops with Darlene and the SciStarter crew including the all-important Citizen Science Day working group. Citizen Science Day falls on the 13th of April this year.

Caroline and I after taping the podcast. I loved the badges! She loved the koala!

Finally got a moment to say hello to the amazing Darlene and pose for a #CitSciSelfie!

Citizen Science Day

So how do you run Citizen Science Day if you’re the moderator of the Australian Citizen Science Association’s social media platforms?

The answer is to encourage everyone to go to the Citizen Science Day website and sign up to do the Stall Catchers Megathon to help scientists find a cure for Alzheimers!

https://scistarter.org/citizen-science-day

If you are running a Bioblitz or any other citizen science day event please let us know via email so that we may help you promote it on our ACSA channels.

The CitSciDay organisers covered most of the globe! Pic: Michelle Neil

City Nature Challenge

While at CitSci2019 I also wanted to find out more about the City Nature Challenge that is run every year in the last weekend of April using the iNaturalist app. I was too late to sign up this year as an organiser but I have put my name down for next year to get some people together and Bioblitz my hometown in SE Qld.

Team to beat: Boston, USA!

Boston USA organisers. Pic: Michelle Neil
One of my absolute favourite symposia was led by our own International Liasion Officer, Jessie Oliver as a fireside-style chat. With a truly stellar line up Jessie and her team talked tech design with around 30 audience participants. This was great because this style got everyone involved. In fact I was quite hard pressed to keep up with the minutes! You can check out the blog I co-wrote with Muki Haklay here. Collaborative note taking! Yay!

Jessie and I were also invited to attend a working group for the emerging Iberamericano (South American) Citizen Science Association and share our memories and ‘dos and donuts’ of setting up a citizen science association from scratch. I was amazed at just how much we had done, when Jessie and I started putting it all down on paper. Redricap (as it is known) has the added problem of language barrier. Portuguese, Spanish and English are the three main languages of South America. I suggested that Twitter and Facebook, with their translation abilities, would be ideal platforms to start on. I am looking forward to seeing how this develops!

On the final day of the conference I got up in front of everyone and asked 7 important words “Who would like to go to Australia?”

And the whole room leapt to their feet!

So I extended the invitation to come along to our ACSA #CitSciOz20 conference in SE Qld next year.

I wonder how many will come along?

I also announced the creation of a new conference which a few of us had been discussing last year in April – the first ever Citizen Science Twitter Conference to be held later this year.  @CitSciTC  is currently seeking moderators so if you are interested please contact the twitter account.

In closing, I would like to thank ACSA and CSA for supporting me to go to #CitSci2019. It was a fantastic experience working with amazing people. The work we have done in various symposia and workshops continues to this day as I am now contributing to Jessie’s HCI Group, Dr Andrea Wiggin’s Risk and Responsibility Group and the Iberoamericana (South American Citizen Science Association) formation working groups document.
Now to try and catch up on my sleep!
The stayers going out for dinner on the last night…. we didn’t want the week to end!

Entering a new age

Welcome to the new website for the Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA), and the start of a new era for the citizen science community of Australia!

The Management Committee (past and present) along with a slew of incredible people have been working hard to create a tool that will enable our community to connect across Australia, share projects and ideas, and to start delivering membership options and benefits. This new website has been built specifically for our growing community, and will help ACSA support the development of citizen science best practice within Australia. Become a foundation member today!

Registrations for #CitSciOz18 opened on Wednesday 1 November with early bird rates closing December 15th. Register now to secure your place! Be sure to keep an eye out in our newsletter (subscribe here) and here on the website for news, hot goss on the social activities happening as part of the conference and more. You can also follow along on Twitter and on Facebook for news and events.

February 7 to 9 promises to be an incredible collection of citizen science aficionados in Adelaide, with a smorgasbord of practitioners, policy makers, academics, enthusiasts and researchers united in their passion for collaborative science.

Portrait of Dr Alan Finkle

#CitSciOz18: Dr. Alan Finkel confirmed!

We are very excited to announce that our final keynote speaker has been confirmed as Dr. Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist. Dr. Finkel completes an exceptional line up of key note speakers for #CitSciOz18.

The Federal Government, under Dr. Finkel’s science stewardship, is a strong proponent of citizen science and supports several initiatives for citizen science capacity building and project development.

Dr. Finkel is an engineer, neuroscientist, successful entrepreneur and philanthropist with a personal commitment to innovation and commercialisation. He is passionate about communicating the wonders of science.

You can follow Dr. Finkel on Twitter @ScienceChiefAu.

#CitSciOz18: Abstract Submission Deadline Extended

We know that many of you have been working hard on your abstracts for #CitSciOz18…and if you didn’t get yours in by the 10th, it’s not too late! We are pleased to announce that the submission deadline has been extended until

FRIDAY 20th OCTOBER 2017! (midnight, AEDT)

That gives you an extra 10 days to get your abstracts ready…

Check the abstracts guidelines here

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE ABSTRACT PORTAL

CitSciOz18 – Call for Abstracts OPEN!

The Call for Abstracts for the 2018 Australian Citizen Science Conference is now OPEN!

Please refer to the abstracts page on the conference website for all the guidelines on abstract submission, including:
* presentation themes
* presentation types
* abstract selection criteria
* key dates, and
* the Abstract Submission Portal

The Call for Abstracts will be open for 4 weeks only…closing date is 10 October 2017. Don’t leave it to the last minute – get cracking and submit your abstract pronto!

Notification of abstract acceptance will be sent to submitting authors in November, 2017.

If you have any questions about the Abstract Submission Portal, please contact Shanna Sheldrick of Premier Event Concepts via email shanna@premiereventconcepts.com.au.
Otherwise please contact Amy via info.acsa01@gmail.com.

We look forward to reading about all the great work you’re doing!