Australian Museum launches Centre for Citizen Science

citizen scientistsThere’s an opportunity for anyone in Sydney to indulge in some real science as part of the Australian Museum’s recently created Centre for Citizen Science.

“Citizen science is an exciting and developing field of science, where the public can make a meaningful contribution to our scientific understanding. Museums, the world over, are ideal organisations to foster, excite and engage non-scientists to make this contribution,” Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO of the Australian Museum said.

Current citizen science projects include:

  • DigiVol: Over 70 volunteers in the lab, and 918 online volunteers have been working for the past five years both onsite and online digitising Museum collections and capturing biodiversity data from around the world.
  • Solar-powered Ibis: for the past 7 years, Australian Museum has been conducting monthly surveys of the Ibis populations to reveal the inner-city eateries and vacation escapes of Ibis birds.
  • Cockatoo wing tags: Despite being large and loud, little is known about our sulphur crested cockatoos. In collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens and the University of Sydney, the project aims to increase our understanding and conservation of these native birds.

The Australian Museum will also extend its reach by hosting the Australian Citizen Science association at its Sydney headquarters.

This is a great initiative to get greater engagement between the Museum and the public. The Australian Museum has done a great job over the last few years putting on meaningful and engaging exhibitions and making the most of a collection that often doesn’t lend itself to much interaction. But at its heart the Australian Museum was always supposed to be a research institution and while funding cuts are clearly hitting it hard, citizen science is a great way of providing both engagement and resources.

The opportunities for citizen science have multiplied with the internet and with the ubiquitous nature of smartphones. As Dr. Rebecca Johnson, the newly appointed director of Australian Museum Research Institute, said, “The advent of smart phones, with their inbuilt GPS capability, among other things, allows us to explore cutting edge methods for citizen engagement.”

Speaking as a citizen – well done Australian Museum and everyone involved.

For more information, to get involved, to become a citizen scientist, to just appreciate what those involved are doing, take a look at the Australian Museum website.

Image: © Australian Museum

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