The Australian Science Communicators (ASC) has just awarded its prestigious Unsung Hero of Australian Science Communication prize to Lyndal Byford of the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC).
The award recognises individuals who have made a significant impact in the communication of science but have not yet been acknowledged adequately for their contributions.
Ms Byford has been instrumental in the accurate reporting of COVID-19 science during the pandemic, facilitating expert comment in over 80,000 news stories in Australia and overseas. Through her tireless efforts, she has helped the public access the most up-to-date and accurate information about the virus.
If you’ve read a quote from a scientific expert in a news story, there’s a very good chance it has come via Ms Byford’s desk. Her work has been critical in helping to combat misinformation and to promote public health and safety.
Jirana Boontanjai and Dr Tom Carruthers, the current co-presidents of the ASC, praised Lyndal’s work and expressed their gratitude for her dedication to science communication.
“Lyndal’s contribution to the field is immense,” they said. “Her work over the past 15 years, and especially during the pandemic, has been nothing short of heroic, and she truly deserves recognition for her efforts.”
Ms Byford was nominated by Dr Susannah Eliott, Chief Executive Officer at the AusSMC.
“Lyndal has worked extensively and tirelessly at the coalface between the scientific community and the news media for more than 15 years,” said Dr Eliott. “She has helped scientists to work effectively with the media and helped journalists to cover some of the biggest science stories of the last decade.”
Ms Byford says she is honoured by the award, and is grateful for the support of her network.
“I have always felt so lucky to be working in a field I love. I have an amazing job – I get to work with exciting new science stories every day.
“I want to thank my amazing team at the AusSMC who work tirelessly making a difference to the way science is talked about every day.”
The award was presented this evening at the gala dinner hosted at the National Gallery of Australia as part of the ASC’s 12th national conference. The conference, titled Hindsight, Insight, Foresight, has been discussing the impact of science communication in Australia, and taking lessons from the past to plan how science communication can better serve the community.