About us

ACSA is member-based incorporated association that seeks to advance citizen science through the sharing of knowledge, collaboration, capacity building and advocacy.

The Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA) was first conceived in 2014 when a large number of dedicated volunteers came together to discuss how to increase awareness and support of Australian citizen science both nationally and globally.

Our Vision

A community that supports, develops and informs citizen science.

Our Mission

To advance citizen science through sharing of knowledge, collaboration, capacity building and advocacy for citizen science.

Our Goals

The Australian Citizen Science Association actively works to:

  • Encourage and promote broad and meaningful participation in citizen science.
  • Facilitate inclusive and collaborative partnerships.
  • Support the development of tools and resources that further best practices.
  • Ensure the value and impact of citizen science and its outputs are realised.
  • Establish ACSA as an effective, trusted and well-recognised organisation and hub for citizen science in Australia.

What is citizen science?

Citizen science is the collection and analysis of scientific data in relation to the natural world, performed predominantly by citizens, usually in collaboration with scientists and field experts. Citizen scientists work with scientists or the scientific framework to achieve scientific goals.

ACSA’s official definition of citizen science is “citizen science involves public participation and collaboration in scientific research with the aim to increase scientific knowledge”

It’s a great way to harness community skills and passion to fuel the capacity of science to answer our questions about the world and how it works. Have a look at our 10 Principles of Citizen Science to find out more.

The ACSA Management Committee

The ACSA Management Committee

ACSA is supported by two part-time staff, a Management Committee, a patron, and broader volunteers including a social media moderator, a Citizen Science Global Partnership liaison, regional chapter management groups, and members of the Australian citizen science community. The Management Committee is member-elected and is comprised of a Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, General Members and a representative of the Host Organisation. Committee members are elected by members at ACSA’s Annual General Meeting for a two-year term.

Collectively, our broader membership includes people with extensive knowledge, across a range of sectors that intersect with citizen science. Areas of expertise include, for example, diverse natural and social science disciplines; environmental conservation; community mobilisation; strategic and implementation planning; business; technology design; communication; education and more. Likewise, our members have experience working with and within community groups; government at local, state, national and international levels; industry; not-for-profits; academia; consultancies; and as sole traders. Several of our members also have practice developing citizen science partnerships, leading community-driven groups, and facilitating national projects. The ACSA Management Committee regularly calls upon members with such expertise to support consultations on behalf of the Association.

If you are interested in joining the Management Committee, make sure you join ACSA as a Member and stay tuned for calls for nominations via our Newsletter.

Annie Lane

Chair, NSW

Annie Lane has over thirty-five years of experience in environmental management. She has worked in the mining industry, for State and Territory Governments, CSIRO and international organisations. Annie’s most recent role was head of Environment in the ACT. Under her umbrella were research, policy and operational aspects of Parks and Wildlife, biodiversity conservation, water and catchment management, natural resource management, environmental protection, and heritage. Annie is now involved in Landcare and Citizen Science projects in the south coast region of NSW. She joined the ACSA committee in November 2021.

Annie has a PhD in terrestrial ecology. She was attracted to ecology because of the intriguing interdependencies within ecosystems. Put people into the mix and it becomes even more interesting! Annie is keen on making connections across organisations and further embedding citizen science in standard approaches to data collection and analysis.

Prof Steve Turton

Vice Chair, QLD

Steve is a casual environmental consultant and an Adjunct Professor in Environmental Geography at CQUniversity on the Sunshine Coast. Over more than three decades, and prior to his retirement in July 2016, Steve engaged in a number of roles as a research centre director, professor, associate professor and senior lecturer/lecturer at James Cook University in Cairns. From 2003-2005, he was Director of Research for the Rainforest Cooperative Research Centre. Steve is a Past President of the Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, a Past-President of the Institute of Australian Geographers and a Past Chair of the National Committee for Geographical Sciences, Australian Academy of Science. In 2009, Steve was recognised with a Cassowary Award for Science from the Wet Tropics Management Authority, for his leadership and vision in the protection of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. In 2016, he was honoured with a Distinguished Fellowship of the Institute of Australian Geographers, recognised for his distinguished service to Australian Geography. Steve was the 2017 recipient of the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland’s J.P. Thomson Medal, recognised for his outstanding contributions to Australian Geography over an extended period of time. Steve was an expert reviewer for the IPCC 5th and 6th Assessment Reports, Working Group 2 (Impacts and Adaptation).

Darryl Ebenezer

Treasurer, QLD

Darryl is the current CEO of Queensland Water and Land Carers Inc. In this role, he has been able to contribute to and support the activities of many citizen scientists and groups across Queensland and Australia.

He is very much a facilitator and enabler, and has worked within community environmental groups and assisted with many practical citizen science activities, both on the ground and online. He currently works with more than 480 volunteer groups across Queensland assisting with good governance, risk and insurance, human resourcing, volunteer management and advocacy.

Mary-Lou Gittins

Secretary, QLD

Mary-Lou is an educator and irrigator from Goomburra Valley in the Upper Condamine catchment. She has a strong background in community participation and representation. Over thirty years she has represented Agriculture, Landcare and Natural Resource Management groups at a local, regional, state and commonwealth level.

At the local level in South East Queensland and now Darling Downs she has supported Landcare organisations, planted thousands of trees, and facilitated Waterwatch and Landcare education for children and adults. Mary-Lou has been recognised by her peers and won an individual State Landcare Award in 2003. Then in 2019 for service to conservation and the environment, Mary-Lou received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Currently, she is the Chair of Queensland Water and Land Carers. Locally secretary to the Condamine Catchment Management Association and Allora Medical Support Group.

Alice Motion

Host Representative, NSW

Dr Alice Motion is a chemist and science communicator based at The University of Sydney. Her research focuses on open science and Science Communication, Outreach, Participation and Education (SCOPE). Finding ways to connect people with science and to make research more accessible is the overarching theme of Alice’s interdisciplinary research. Alice is the founder of the Breaking Good project – a citizen science project that aims to empower high school and undergraduate students to be active researchers in projects that will improve human health. She has a strong commitment to Citizen Science and is the Co-Chair of the University of Sydney’s Citizen Science Node, which aims to enhance Citizen Science in Australia through research and practice. Alice will work with ACSA to strengthen participation in, and the impact of, Citizen Science in our region.

Jock Mackenzie

General Member, VIC

Jock Mackenzie is a tidal wetland ecologist and science communicator with over 18 years of experience in field ecology. About 18 years ago Jock discovered how truly amazing and useful mangroves are and since then he has developed a passion for their conservation and protection. He’s continually surprised by the fascinating complex interactions that occur in this environment and the functional benefits they provide to people in coastal areas.

His main interests are in developing an increased awareness of how people influence mangroves, the processes that detract from their capacity to provide the ecosystem services upon which we rely and what we can do to reduce those threats. In 2008 he co-founded MangroveWatch with Dr. Norm Duke to help address these issues and he is currently co-director and program coordinator. Through the MangroveWatch science-community partnership, he aims to raise awareness of the importance of mangroves, increase overall understanding of mangrove ecosystems, define local threats and processes and assess how people value mangroves in their local area.

Jock has worked extensively with Traditional Owner communities in Australia and the Pacific Islands where he has developed an increased understanding of both how important tidal wetlands are to coastal indigenous Australians and the important role these communities play in conserving their local mangrove and salt marsh habitats for the benefit of all Australians.

James Chong

General Member, VIC

James is a professional engineer and technology project manager by education, training, and work experience. He is a passionate citizen science advocate, especially in marine science. Specifically, he is most interested in coral and kelp reef protection and surveys. His involvement in citizen science began with his certification as a member of Reef Check in a citizen science expedition in the Maldives, to support the work of Biosphere Expeditions. He is currently involved in supporting the Reef Life Survey Foundation Inc. as its Victorian coordinator.

James recently helped secure a CoastCare Victoria grant to establish Reef Life Survey’s Vic Diver Network. This project will be completed in May 2023. The work supports CoastCare Victoria, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, and various research organisations by collecting scientifically rigorous marine data of Port Phillip and Westernport bays and near shore reefs.

Hannah Zurcher

General Member, ACT

Hannah is a keen volunteer at the grassroots level and brings that keenness to her role at ACSA. She has a background in ecology and invertebrate biology, which informs her engagement without limiting it. She firmly believes that there is a citizen science project for every Australian, and hopes to help everyone find their perfect project.

Kathryn Willis

General Member, TAS

Kathy is a research scientist at CSIRO in the Marine Debris Research Team. She is a marine socio-ecologist who is particularly interested in how communities can establish best-practice conservation management strategies in marine systems, and in doing so, maximise their environmental and social impact. She has worked extensively on policy responses to plastic pollution. The breadth of her work evaluates the selection, implementation and effectiveness of marine litter management strategies in countries around the world. Kathryn was a 2021 Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle USA, she completed her doctoral studies at the University of Tasmania where she conducted a continent-wide assessment of local government responses to plastic pollution in Australia. Kathy passionately wants to learn about community-based solutions that have social and environmental benefits beyond less pollution on our beaches, in our oceans and across our terrestrial and riverine landscapes. Kathy is a big advocate for ECR-led research and promoting a healthy work-life balance.

Kathy worked with the USA citizen science program, Coastal Observations and Seabird Survey Team (COASST), she has volunteered as a survey leader for the Takayna BioBlitz hosted by the Bob Brown Foundation and regularly reviews for multiple peer-reviewed journals, including the Community Science.

Louise Morris

General Member, WA

Louise comes to the ACSA management committee with over 20 years of experience in environmental campaign strategy and delivery, media coordination, advocacy and engagement, and legal interventions for environmental protection as can be seen in her volunteer work with Blue Derby Wild which uses citizen science as part of their work.

In her day job, Louise is the Director of Engagement with Conservation Volunteers Australia leading their citizen science program that includes engaging the public with their Eastern Barred Bandicoot reintroduction program in Victoria, marine plastic monitoring in collaboration with CSIRO, and regular bio blitzes to help record and restore urban biodiversity.

Robbi Luscombe-Newman

General Member, NSW

Robbi is the co-founder and President of Living Ocean Incorporated. Living Ocean was founded on Sydney’s Northern Beaches to fundraise and finance Sea Shepherd’s active campaign in the Southern Sea to halt so-called whale ‘research’ primarily targeted at Minke Whales. This was so successful Living Ocean branched out to fundraise for other ocean campaigns such as plastics, ocean-bound waste, shark netting, seismic testing and more. It quickly became apparent that the key to active actions for understanding and preserving ocean life and resources was acquiring data. So collaborating with scientists and developing protocols for ‘ordinary’ citizens to participate in research, led the organization to become a citizen science group.

Robbi also co-wrote and designed the user interface for an application Behayve, to study Humpback behaviour over 12 years of migration near Sydney. Within Living Ocean Robbi runs ocean-bound and coastal waste programs AUSMAP & Tangaroa Blue. Robbi studied natural resources at university and wrote, and photographed for magazines regarding coastal and coastal environmental issues. He is a firm believer that involving people in the environment empowers responsibility and awareness.

Jessie Oliver

Executive Officer, QLD

Jessie has been heavily involved in ACSA since its inception in May 2014, First, she served on Establishment and Management Committees for 4.5 years. Then, she served as an International Liaison for over 3.5 years. Before taking on the Executive Officer role, she also led several community and state-wide consultancy projects both on behalf of ACSA and more broadly.

Jessie draws from her diverse professional expertise in ecology, environmental education, public speaking, technology design, and academic research while working to grow the citizen science community and support ACSA members. Her citizen science endeavours example, have involved informing strategic project planning and implementation; data interoperability; community-based endeavours; UN Sustainable Development Goals (especially regarding marine debris); program evaluation; She also has a personal interest in exploring how our social lives, culture, practices, and policy influence citizen science sustainability and growth.

Lisa Evans

Executive Support Officer, New Zealand

Lisa first got involved in citizen science as a project officer at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy (ICRAR) where she managed the citizen science project AstroQuest for three years.

She originally studied Astronomy, then moved into a career in 3D animation and game development. After years of working as a technical artist on animations, visualisations, games, and educational projects, Lisa became interested in “serious games” – games that have other goals than just entertainment. She has completed a PhD about engaging the public in climate change using games, and has also worked on serious game projects for organisations like the Department of Road Safety and Surf Life Saving WA.

Lisa’s specific skills lie in creating interactive experiences that are engaging, accessible and easy to use, taking a user-centred approach from the ground up. Her research focus is on the design and evaluation of digital projects with real, measurable impacts on audiences – whether they are intended to raise awareness, teach new skills and knowledge, or change behaviours. She has a particular interest in citizen science as a means of directly engaging the public in science, and creating online platforms that empower citizen scientists to get involved.

In 2022 Lisa moved with her family from Perth, WA to Dunedin, New Zealand. She has continued her involvement with ACSA remotely as Executive Support Officer.

Michelle Neil

Social Media Moderator

In 2011 Michelle’s young son presented her with a spider. A redback spider. After convincing her son not to pick up spiders but to take pictures of them instead Michelle soon found she had over 7000 photos of all sorts of creatures and no idea what any of them were called. Thus a citizen scientist is made. In May 2014, Michelle was invited by Earthwatch to attend the inaugural Australian Citizen Science Association workshop in Brisbane. She found herself co-chair of the Communications Working Group. Michelle and Jessie Oliver co-developed ACSA social media (Twitter, Facebook, & LinkedIn). Since then Michelle, with her orange-coloured iPad clutched firmly in one hand, has been an active social media moderator, poster and tweeter for the ACSA social media platforms. Having worked in analytical chemistry for over a decade Michelle finds herself in an interesting place – a scientist as well as a citizen scientist, with a passion for science communication.

Libby Hepburn

Citizen Science Global Partnership Liaison

A founding member of ACSA, Libby served on the first Committee and chaired the Strategic Planning and Big Projects working groups and helped organise our first conference. She has organised high level international experts and speaking tours to bring International experience to Australia. As well as advocating for citizen science at all levels, Libby nurtures regional citizen science projects – establishing the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre and the Atlas of Life/iNaturalist biodiversity mapping project, building the networks, communities and skills sharing that give them life. The Atlas of Life currently has over 400 contributors and 24 Moderators and now the NatureMapr Network has 7 regional projects able to mobilise for broad scale research such as post bushfire recovery. Libby brought together the group which produced the Australian Guide to Running a BioBlitz and the BioBlitz Hub which offers advice and resources to all. Libby promotes ACSA and Australian citizen science internationally, at conferences and working groups in Europe and the US and World Data Forum, GEO and UNEA in the Middle East and Africa. Recognising the importance of the SDGs for the sane development of society and for citizen science, Libby established the global SDG & Citizen Science Maximisation Group and more recently the new Open Science & Citizen Science Community of Practice under the Citizen Science Global Partnership (CSGP) and co-chairs the CoP working with UNESCO to develop their Recommendation on Open Science which will be formalised in 2021. Libby is the interim Board Member of the Global Citizen Science Partnership helping it to become established after its incorporation in Austria.

Professor Hugh Possingham

ACSA Patron

Hugh is Queensland Chief Scientist, a role he commenced in September 2020. He is a conservation scientist and mathematician who has held a myriad of advisory roles to environmental NGOs (internationally and nationally), governments of all levels, and universities. Hugh is currently a board member for Birdlife Australia. His most significant contribution to conservation was the co-development of the spatial planning software Marxan. It was first used to rezone the Great Barrier Reef, and now used in almost every country in the world to inform the expansion of marine and terrestrial protected area systems.

Hugh is a huge advocate for citizen science. He asserts that when people are involved in discovery through citizen science they are empowered to advocate for positive action. In his recent citizen science article in The Griffith Review https://www.griffithreview.com/articles/power-to-the-people/ he wrote, 

The power of citizen science to remake or reimagine the world lies in the opportunities it gives to everyone involved – opportunities to learn about the world, to pose questions about how we affect the world and to consider how any change can make a difference. Furthermore, being engaged in citizen science provides people with the confidence to speak out about matters they care about and to question policies or decisions with which they disagree.

You may also like to read a blog he wrote about citizen science and birdwatching. Hugh clearly understands citizen science and appreciates the extraordinary value it adds to scientific research and participatory democracy. We look forward to working with Hugh to raise the profile of ACSA and citizen science across society.

Pat Bonney

Chair – ACSA-VIC

Pat Bonney is a citizen science researcher and practitioner, based at RMIT University. With a PhD in environmental management, his research examines the possibilities of citizen science to strengthen connections with waterway management and policy. Since 2017, Pat has served as a general member of the Australian Citizen Science Association Victoria Chapter and member of the ACSA Early and Mid-Career Researcher Working Group. Pat is working with DELWP and the Corangamite CMA to develop a new strategic direction for the Victorian Waterwatch program. He also co-facilitates a community-led citizen science program in East Gippsland, Living Bung Yarnda, which aims at elevating place-based knowledge and concerns for improved environmental management.

ACSA’s History

The Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA) was conceived at the Inaugural Citizen Science Workshop hosted by the Queensland Museum in Brisbane on 6 May, 2014.  A large number of dedicated volunteers came together and formed working groups to actively develop the structure of ACSA and build awareness of Australian citizen science both nationally and globally.

Inaugural Citizen Science Workshop

Attendees gathered at the Queensland Museum in support of the development of the CSNA on May 6th.***Please note that as of March 2015, the name of the Citizen Science Network Australia (CSNA) was changed to the Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA), though the next below remains as originally written***

Workshop summary documents have been finalized by each of the Citizen Science Network Australia (CSNA) working groups and are available for download at the respective links:

On 6 May 2014, 90 attendees gathered at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane to support the development of the Citizen Science Network Australia.

There was overwhelming agreement amongst the workshop participants regarding the formation of a national association/network to progress citizen science within Australia. Many new friendships were made during the breakfast networking session.

Left – Philip Roetman presents the results of the Australian citizen science survey to an audience of citizen science stakeholders.

The entire morning session was filmed (with the exception of Libby Hepburn) and is available for viewing via the links provided below:

Lots of enthusiastic discussion occurred during the two afternoon breakout sessions which focused on defining the: (1) purpose and (2) form of the Citizen Science Network Australia. Participants were split into nine groups of ten and were asked to summarise their thoughts on vision, mission, membership, entity, governance and communication. The majority of participants supported an Australian association similar in structure to the US association. Each group presented their discussions back to all workshop participants in a facilitated manner and these summaries were reviewed and synthesised for common themes amongst groups.

Above – Workshop attendees had the opportunity to discuss the purpose and form of the CSNA in small groups and then present their ideas back to the larger group during afternoon sessions.

Those in attendance were invited to sign up for one or more temporary working groups which will formalise the outcomes of the workshop through summary documents (including scope for further public consolation). These four working groups are (1) entity and governance, (2) charter and objectives, (3) CSNA funding and (4) communications.

The summary documents that were produced by each of these working groups are available via the links at the top of this page.

In June 2014 an establishment committee was formed and was responsible for a number of tasks such as the selection of a host institution, progressing incorporation and coordinating the development of relevant organisational plans. In July 2015 formal elections were held for management committee positions. Under the 2015 Management Committee’s guidance, ACSA officially became incorporated on 30 June 2016. The management committee released its inaugural strategic plan in 2016 and secured seed funding from Inspiring Australia.

ACSA’s Regional Chapters

ACSA Chapters operate under the overarching ACSA governance framework to support the values, approach and strategy of ACSA, and seek to foster an inclusive, inspiring and collaborative citizen science community in Australia. The purpose of ACSA Chapters is to help implement ACSA’s Strategic Goals, priorities and actions at a regional scale. ACSA Chapters help to build awareness of ACSA and citizen science in their local membership and areas of interest and have the opportunity to provide a local voice, representation and communication channel at the national level.

ACSA Working Groups

Working Groups help to implement ACSA’s strategic goals, priorities and actions. Working Groups are centered around a specific area of interest focus, whether that be a particular citizen science typology, citizen science issue or community of practice. Participating in a working group is an excellent way for members to help shape the future of citizen science practice.

ACSA may periodically put a call out for the formation of Working Groups via our website, newsletter and social media. Alternatively, groups of individuals who are interested in establishing a Working Group are encouraged to apply.  For all the information, including the application process, please download our Protocols and Application Template.

If you have questions about a Working Group please contact us.

ACSA Annual Reports