Australian Science Communication Awards 2024

For the first year, the ASC is now presenting multiple awards addressing a range of gaps in the current Australian merit landscape.

Nominations closed at 12 PM AEST on Thursday 16 May 2024. We look forward to announcing the award winners at the ASC Conference in Perth, 19 June 2024!

Previous recipients of the Unsung Hero award have been Lyndal Byford (2022), Jen Martin (2019), Kylie Andrews (2017), Geoff Crane (2016), Kylie Walker (2015), Frankie Lee (2014) and Craig Cormick (2013). The award was relaunched by the 2011 National Executive, realigned from the previous ‘Unsung Hero of Science’ award (read some background here).

The awards

There are now four awards available for members of the ASC to nominate people for. A fifth award (the President’s medal) is not available for members to nominate candidates; it is selected from award nominees or from the sector at the President’s discretion.

The awards are:

  • The Unsung Hero of Australian Science Communication award
    • Many of our science communication heroes work behind the scenes. This award recognises those hard workers who are yet to be acknowledged for their impact.
  • The Science Communication Hero of Australia award
    • A career-level award recognising impact and achievement within the science communication sector in Australia.
      • Practice awards would be expected to have had many practical impacts and benefits brought to audiences and/or the sector, and to have been highly engaged in building the appreciation for expertise within the sector.
      • Research awards would be expected to have been an advocate for research and education, and conducted and led research that has been enabling or beneficial to the science communication community
  • The Inspiring Project in Science Communication award
    • For a research or practice project that is impactful and demonstrates innovative or a best-practice led approach.
  • The Scientist Communicator of the year award
    • An award for a researcher who communicates their work (or the work of their field) to audiences with clarity and excellence.
    • Crucially, the quality of the scientist’s science communication expertise is being recognised by this award. Having a large media presence does not necessarily equal success. 
  • The Australian Science Communicators President’s Medal
    • Awarded by the President of the ASC, this medal recognises significant contribution to the sector, the ASC, and Australia.
    • Nominations are not received for the President’s Medal, although the President may choose to award someone who has been nominated for another award.

Award Criteria

All Australian Science Communication Awards are assessed against the following criteria:

  1. Engagement with the Australian science communication sector
    • Nominees (an individual or group) must be currently residing in Australia and actively engaged in the Australian science communication sector.
  2. Impact in Australia
    • The work of the nominee must have had impact in Australia.
    • Impact internationally can be considered but is not weighted as highly as domestic efforts.
  3. The nominee’s contribution has been significant for… 
    • [Unsung Hero] a period of time (at least five years, but typically more) by which time that they should by now have been recognised.
    • [Hero of Aus] a long period of time (over a decade).
    • [Inspiring Project] a single definable project.
    • [Scientist communicator] at least three consecutive years in science communication activity in Australia.
  4. Special criteria
    • [Unsung Hero] Nominees should have not yet received significant recognition for their contributions to science or science communication.
    • [Scientist communicator] Additional to their science communication impact, the nomination must outline the significance of the nominee’s scientific contribution. This will be easier for those whose scientific work is publicly accessible (published in journals or industry reports).

General Notes

Engagement in the Australian science communication sector is interpreted broadly to include, but is not limited to, pursuits such as:

  • teaching or outreach (in science or science communication),
  • broadcasting or reporting on science,
  • script and book writing,
  • science promotion,
  • policy advice or program development in the sciences,
  • health or climate communication,
  • research into science communication, 
  • interpretation of science within cultural institutions, and
  • [for the scientist communicator award] research in STEM and then the dissemination of this research to audiences outside of the nominee’s field.

Awards may be made to a nominee whose work is across many fields, but the science communication component of their work must be highly significant. The Scientist Communicator’s primary work must be in STEM research that they then use science communication practice to engage the community.

Impact can be relevant to a range of areas, including but not limited to:

  • contributing to the public or decision-makers’ understanding of science, 
  • increasing the sector’s value or quality of science communication,
  • improving the practice of science communication, 
  • improving policy within the sector through advocacy or advice, or 
  • increasing the appreciation of decision makers for science communication expertise.

Nominators should give careful consideration to what counts as impact in science communication and demonstrate this in their nomination. For example:

  • A science communication professional working for a Government or Government-funded entity may score better if it is demonstrated that their strategic leadership led to positive change for the sector, e.g. changes in public or decision-maker attitudes or behaviours.
  • A prolific communication researcher may score better if it were demonstrated that they conducted outreach within the sector to facilitate the translation of their work into practice.
  • A scientist who communicates may score better if it were demonstrated that their contribution to science communication as a practice was significant and unrecognised.

For the purpose of the Unsung Hero award, an absence of prior recognition is a critical aspect of eligibility. This will intentionally rule out many popular science communicators, leaders and journalists. This will also mean the nominee may be largely unknown within the Australian Science Communicators membership.

  • Minor awards or scholarships are not considered significant.
  • Recognition such as winning a Eureka awards, OAMs, honorary doctorates, fellowships, being published in collections such as the ‘Best Australian Science Writing’, being a Chief Executive of an organisation or being promoted to Professor level at a university, or having a large national public profile for their specialist topic would be considered exclusionary.

Selection Process

Selection is based primarily on the written information provided on the nomination form by the nominator. The committee may access the public record to verify claims or check whether a nominee is eligible (e.g. whether Unsung nominees have already been recognised by another award), but will not consider projects or impacts not included in the nomination form.

A selection committee of representatives convened by the Secretary (Awards) from the Australian Science Communicators will assess all nominations. In rare instances, the selection committee may request further information from nominators before making their final decision. After assessment, the committee will recommend award recipients via the Secretary to the Executive Committee for approval.

It would not be uncommon for an individual to be nominated by multiple nominators. In this case, the Secretary (Awards), at their discretion, may pool the nominations to consider together. The Secretary (Awards) may also direct the selection committee to consider a nominee for an award they have not been nominated for.

In years with high-quality applications, the award committee may award up to two project awards and up to two career awards for the year, one in scicomm practice, and one in scicomm research.

The Australian Science Communicators reserves the right to make no awards should the committee consider that the quality of candidates does not warrant awards, or should the nominated candidate(s) not satisfy the selection criteria.

The Australian Science Communicators’ Executive Committee decision is final. We welcome constructive feedback to improve future rounds of selections.

Membership requirement for Award Nomination

The nominator must be a current financial member of the Australian Science Communicators, but the nominee need not be a member. While not essential, the nominator should first consult with the nominee and any referees to ensure the nominee is aware of and gives consent to the application.

Each nomination must comprise a fully completed award nomination form. Incomplete forms may not be considered.

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