The winner of the Citizen Science Award 2023 is Insect Investigators, who will receive a $5000 prize, to support their work.
Insect Investigators was funded by the Australian Government’s Inspiring Australia Citizen Science Grants and was led by the South Australian Museum with support from a wide range of partner organizations. In March 2022, Regional school students acted as citizen scientists setting up insect traps and sending their samples to the University of Adelaide. Over 12,000 insect specimens were DNA barcoded, and new species were named by students in workshops with taxonomists. Collaborations with educational and scientific institutions, as well as international partners, strengthened the project’s impact.
The projects DNA barcoding efforts significantly increased the reference dataset of Australian insects, benefiting researchers and the public alike. The involvement of schools and students in real scientific surveys provided valuable learning experiences, fostering a deeper connection to nature and an understanding of the scale of our local biodiversity. Teachers received resources and support, leading to a high interest in future citizen science projects.
The Citizen Science Award runner up is Find Our Fungi! who will receive $2,500 to support their work.
Find Our Fungi! is a pioneering community fungi monitoring project in South Australia’s Murraylands and Riverland region. Co-designed by Fungimap Inc., Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board and Prospect Hill Bushland Group, and supported by the University of Adelaide. The project empowers citizen scientists to discover and record 20 distinct fungi species. The project aims to understand the distribution and conservation status of these species. It uses resources such as booklets, field identification sheets, videos, and workshops to engage and educate citizen scientists. By partnering with the iNaturalist platform, the project provides a systematic data collection platform. Find Our Fungi! has significantly increased the number of fungi records and improved the understanding and conservation of fungi in the region.
Many aspects of the nominated Citizen Science projects were considered in the judging process, including how projects advance the wider community’s understanding of science and actively engaged citizens in scientific endeavours.
The SA Chapter of the Australian Citizen Science Association partnered with Inspiring SA and the Department of Environment and Water to present this award. Thank you to the members of the judging panel, Dr Katie Irvine – SA Vice Chair Australian Citizen Science Association, Emma Ginman – Department for Environment and Water, Evan Parker – South Australian Museum and Alison Kershaw representing Inspiring SA.