OEH supports Outstanding Outreach Awards

The NSW Office of Environment & Heritage and the Ecological Society of Australia have joined forces to award six early career researchers doing an exceptional job of communicating ecological research to the public, and inspiring other ecologists to get involved in outreach.

Young scientists with magnifying glasses

The prizes were awarded at this year’s Ecological Society of Australia Annual Conference in Fremantle, WA.

The Ecological Society of Australia is the peak group of ecologists in Australia, with over 1500 members from all states and territories.The Ecological Society of Australia has an impressive 50 year history supporting ecologists, promoting ecology and ecological research.

Each of the winners will establish a partnership with a school class to gather and analyse data as part of a year-long research project, with the aim of producing a publishable paper with the students.

Meet the 2016 Outstanding Outreach Award winners:

Ecological Society of Australia 2016 Outstanding Outreach Award recipient Amy EdwardsAmy Edwards

Post-doctoral Fellow, La Trobe University, VIC

Amy investigates parental sex allocation in marsupials and how mammal mothers ‘choose’ the sex of their babies to maximise lifetime reproductive return.

Her main focus in outreach is increased involvement in science in schools, hosting programs such as the Tasmanian Youth Science forum (2016) and the Conoco-Phillips Science Experience (2016) for school children.

“My passion for science, animals and communication has taken me all over the world, opening up opportunities that I never would have dreamed possible.”

Ecological Society of Australia 2016 Outstanding Outreach Award recipient Marie DadeMarie Dade

PhD student, University of Queensland, QLD

Marie’s PhD project questions how ecosystem services supply changes under different urban landscape scenarios.

In 2015, she was named Young Student Ambassador with the Wonder of Science (WOS) program, to promote science education within regional Queensland schools. Marie has also worked with the School of Distance Education, visiting remotely-based students on the Cape York Peninsula to talk science careers and ecology research.

“I am passionate about developing ecology-related projects for school students, and love being involved in scientific outreach. It’s a great way to communicate new ideas and discoveries to a wider audience, and encourage scientific thinking in students.”

Ecological Society of Australia 2016 Outstanding Outreach Award recipient Ravindra NettimiRavindra Palavalli Nettimi

PhD student, Macquarie University, NSW

Ravindra is a first year PhD student focused on miniaturisation in ants and how it impacts their visual navigation behaviour. Ravindra actively blogs about his research and his journey as a PhD student on his blog, ‘Antists’.

Ravindra’s soon-to-be-released podcast series encourages students to ask research questions and think about the important of science and research.

“Science often starts with questions, and each question has a story. There is a lot one can learn about asking questions – and then working out how to answer it.”

Ecological Society of Australia 2016 Outstanding Outreach Award recipient Tim DohertyTim Doherty

Post-doctoral Research Fellow (Centre for Integrative Ecology), Deakin University, VIC

Tim is a wildlife ecologist with expertise in predator-prey interactions, invasive species and disturbance ecology. His work seeks to advance theory and knowledge of ecosystem responses to global change, underlining a passion for applied research that helps to preserve Australia’s unique biodiversity.

He is also an active science communicator aiming to raise the profile of wildlife conservation in both the scientific and general communities. Tim engages widely with schools, regional land management groups, NGOs and government agencies and maintains an active presence on social media communicating ecological research to the general public.

“My aim is to raise the profile of wildlife conservation amongst both the scientific and general communities. I know that science isn’t finished until it’s been communicated!”

Ecological Society of Australia 2016 Outstanding Outreach Award recipient Katherine CraneyKate Cranney

Master of Science (Botany), University of Melbourne, VIC

Kate is a science communicator created from the mixing of science and fine art. Currently working with the Nature Conservancy ‘Solomon Islands Program’, Kate is developing communication resources for a newly established women’s conservation group.

While completing her Master course, she has also been working for Bush Heritage Australia and RMIT University’s Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Research Group.

“Storytelling is in my blood. I have photographed phasmids, filmed scientists, interviewed volunteers, and profiled honey possums and thorny devils. I moved to Melbourne to study fine art, before realising I’m a scientist at heart.”

Ecological Society of Australia 2016 Outstanding Outreach Award recipient Kylie SoanesKylie Soanes

Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences at the University of Melbourne as part of the National Environmental Science Programme, VIC

Kylie researches the conservation of threatened mammals in landscapes dominated by human activities. Specifically, research around road ecology and tree-based (aboreal) mammals, the effectiveness of road crossing structures and how monitoring influences the detection of population levels.

Her blog, “Life on the Verge”, features easy-to-read summaries about wildlife crossing structures on the Hume Highway and other general ecology topics. Kylie is also a wildlife expert for the ABC Riverina Mornings program, providing inputs on various topics from roadkill to the mating habits of echidnas.

“Not only do we have a responsibility to share our research with the general public, but I believe public engagement is critical to the success of science itself, particularly in applied disciplines like conservation biology.”