From tracking turtles and monitoring marine environments to sounding out biosphere changes and collecting bushfire data, ‘everyday scientists’ are joining forces with researchers to gather data across the country.
Researchers are showcasing their latest citizen science innovations this week at the annual Australian Citizen Science Association conference at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
More than 200 people registered to attend the national event, themed Inspire, Impact, Influence.
‘Data collection by citizen scientists is now in full swing in preparation for the bushfire season’ – Dr Sam Van Holsbeeck
Some of the UniSC researchers presenting at the conference include:
Associate Professor of Animal Ecology Kathy Townsend, keynote speaker: A trailblazer in citizen science, she heads the internationally acclaimed programs Project Manta and Turtles in Trouble. Her research confronts global-scale challenges like marine debris and pollution, enriching understanding of threatened marine species. She is an invited member of the UN Marine Litter and Plastic Reduction Program.
‘Listening to the environment is one of the most powerful ways to inspire connection to place in communities across the planet’ – Dr Leah Barclay
Lecturer in Design Dr Leah Barclay:
A sound artist, designer and researcher, she is presenting on biosphere soundscapes – engaging communities in mapping the changing soundscapes of UNESCO biosphere reserves such as those from the Sunshine Coast to the Fraser Coast. “Listening to the environment is one of the most powerful ways to inspire connection to place in communities across the planet. Acoustic monitoring involves measuring the presence and absence of species, habitat, human impacts, and long-term environmental changes. Rapid advancements in digital audio technology are now providing unparalleled opportunities for this approach to biodiversity monitoring and citizen science.
Senior Lecturer in Tourism, Leisure and Events Dr Vikki Schaffer: A champion of sustainable tourism, she is presenting results on two research projects: the expectations and experiences of community volunteers involved in TurtleCare Sunshine Coast; and ways to get more people aged 18 to 25 involved in citizen science, following a workshop to view deep space and learn about light pollution. She is taking observers into The Cave for virtual immersion in a marine environment.
Research Fellow Dr Sam Van Holsbeeck: A member of UniSC’s Forest Research Institute, he is presenting latest progress on NOBURN, the National Bushfire Resilience Network, a collaborative project empowering people to use their mobile phones to collect data that will help predict bushfire hotspots and minimize their impacts. NOBURN was developed after the 2019-20 deadly and destructive bushfires that burned more than 10 million hectares of forest. “Data collection by citizen scientists is now in full swing in preparation for the bushfire season and promising AI models will automate fuel hazard in our forests using citizen science forest images.”
Environmental Science PhD student Shelby Schumacher:
A member of UniSC’s Seaweed Research Group, she will discuss the social and environmental benefits and impacts of seaweed restoration powered by citizen scientists.