OEH/ESA Prize for Outstanding Outreach


The NSW Office of Environment & Heritage and the Ecological Society of Australia have joined forces to establish a new prize for early career researchers who are doing an exceptional job of communicating ecological research to the public.

The OEH/ESA Prize for Outstanding Outreach will provide much-deserved recognition to six early career researchers who are doing an excellent job of communicating their research to the public. We also hope  this prize will inspire other ecologists to get involved with outreach.


We will award up to 6 prizes each year. Each winning entrant will receive $400 cash (to be used as you wish), a certificate, and recognition from OEH and ESA. The awards will be presented by an OEH representative at the annual conference of the Ecological Society of Australia. The winners will be featured on the ESA website and in the ESA Bulletin, and we will endeavour to get media coverage of the prizewinners.


The prize will be open to ecologists who are at an early stage in their career (including honours students, postgraduate students, practitioners, and academics, as long as it has been less than 5 years [not including breaks for maternity or carer’s leave] since the applicant was awarded their PhD). Although OEH is based in NSW, the award is open to people working in any part of Australia. Previous winners of the outreach award will not be eligible to apply. The winners must be available to work on a research project with school children (details below). Only ESA members are eligible to apply, but if you are not already a member, you can join the Ecological Society of Australia at the same time as submitting your application.


Online application form.

Applications open 26 June 2017  Closing August 25

You need to upload:

  1. Basic details (name, institution, contact details, career stage etc)
  2. A single PDF including:
  • A ONE PAGE desciption of your track record in outreach. We know that outreach comes in many forms, so just tell us about your contribution - organising public science events, giving public presentations, interactions with school groups, media (TV, radio, newspaper), social media, internet content - whatever you have done. Include any evidence of impact (this could be views on youtube, supportive quotes, prizes, etc). Include links to relevant content where possible.
  • A 200 word proposal for a simple ecological research project to be done with a class of year 5, 6 or 7 students. There is an explanation of the type of thing we are hoping to achieve in the "research project with school students", below.
  • A 100-200 word description of your research. Include details of your position, your study system(s) and approach(es), some of your most important/interesting findings, and a brief overview of your publication record (it's ok if you don't have one yet).

We do not require references, and self-nominations are fine. Applications will be judged by a panel of ESA members with known interest in outreach, plus a representative from OEH. If you have any questions, please contact Angela Moles.


Research project with school students.

The idea is that each of the six prize winners will establish a partnership with a school class, and the six classes will gather data according to a standard protocol. Data from the different classes will be pooled. The question addressed should be simple enough that the pooled dataset will be sufficient to provide a publishable piece of work, at the right level to engage year 5-7 students, and above all, it should be fun to do.

The proposed projects should be manageable in three 1-2 hour visits to a school, require only simple statistical analyses, should have public appeal, and simple logistics (e.g. no complicated permit/ethics requirements or dangerous chemicals). The project needs to be something that could be done in any part of Australia. We have some funding for basic equipment or analyses, but costs must be low.

The group of six winners will select one of the research proposals from the winning prize applications to carry out with school groups (decided during a teleconference chaired by Angela Moles). Each of the winners will form (or continue) a partnership with a local school, through the CSIRO Scientists in Schools scheme.

Each winner will help their class to collect ecological data according to an agreed protocol . The aim is for the school students to use the combined dataset to write a paper for publication (with a little help from their scientific mentors).

There will be a dedicated prize ceremony at the Ecological Society of Australia annual conference. The year after the prizes are awarded, the winners will be invited to give a special lecture to tell the ESA members about the amazing work they have done. This will add to the recognition for the winners, and we hope it might also encourage other ecologists to participate in the program in following years.

We aim to get media coverage of the project, the winners and the scheme. Inspiring Australia has also agreed to help promote the scheme.



25 August 2017 - applications close

winners announced (winners register with Scientists in Schools)

 Inaugural prizes presented at ESA conference 

Data collection with school classes

Data compilation, analysis and project write up

November 2017 - Presentation of findings at ESA conference, and dissemination to media.

Event date: 
Monday, June 26, 2017