Inspiring Australia and science prizes

I’m seeking information and comments about science award programs in Australia which recognise science communication in selecting the award winners. I’ll provide some context before I fully phrase my request.

The ASC executive is pleased to note that several of our members have participated in initial actions to implement aspects of the Inspiring Australia report. Two expert working groups have convened, one on Science and the Media and the other for Developing an Evidence Base for Science Engagement in Australia. The latter will soon release its recommendations which I’ll post in a separate article.

This work has commenced over the past few months despite the absence of specific federal funding. As money was promised during the election campaign for some recommendations of Inspiring Australia the pace of activity will gradually ramp up. I expect there soon will be a group to review the science prizes funded by the government (related to recommendation 5 of Inspiring Australia).

An email from Questacon (acting for DIISR) says that, “…Questacon will be identifying how award programs can be further enhanced to engage the wider community in science and to profile Australia’s capability overseas.” Questacon welcomes comments on this.

Here’s my request: to prepare for Questacon’s invitation for comments, and the possible expert panel, I ask that you email me information and comments about science award programs at federal, state and local levels that recognise science communication or use it as a criterion in selecting the award winner.

And further context:

Toss Gascoigne reported to the e-list in August that “The Government has now provided $21 million to implement some recommendations from the report, in an election policy announced on 10 September.

Among other things, it will fund:

* the PM’s Prize for Science

* the Eureka Prizes

* National Science Week

* Science events and activities around Australia

* Promotion of science through the media

The three-page policy is at: http://www.alp.org.au/agenda/more—policies/science-for-australia-s-future/. The money is coming from cuts to other activities, such as the CRC program. There is no new money.”

It is good to see continued federal funding for a selection of the Eureka Prizes, especially as two prizes, the Eureka Prize for Science Journalism and the Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science, are strongly related to science communication.

Another interesting award program is the Young Tall Poppy Science Awards. To be considered for these prizes early career research scientist applicants need to have been very active in communicating their scientific research to lay audiences. This awards program operates in several states and territories and is seeking to expand nationally.

Rob Morrison has previously posted an article on the ASC website about how to assign value to an academic’s or research scientist’s science communication activities. The link to his paper is http://www.asc.asn.au/2010/08/what-counts/.

It would be good for ASC members to contribute to Rob’s thoughts and in turn to the anticipated expert panel. I look forward to hearing from you via jesse [at] prismaticsciences.com or add your comment below this article.

Jesse Shore
National President