Outstanding Outreach Award

Applications for this award are currently closed.

NSW Environment, Energy & Science (DPIE) and Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) have joined forces to award early-career researchers who are doing an exceptional job of communicating ecological research to the public.

ESA/NSW Environment, Energy & Science (DPIE) Award for Outstanding Outreach provides much-deserved recognition to six early-career researchers who are doing an excellent job of communicating their research to the public. We hope this award will inspire other ecologists to get involved with outreach.

Read more about the winners from 201520162017, 2018 and 2019.


  • We will award up to six prizes each year. Each winning entrant will receive $400 cash (to be used as you wish), a certificate, and recognition from ESA and ​NSW Environment, Energy & Science (DPIE).
  • The awards will be presented by an NSW Government representative at the ESA annual conference.
  • The winners will be featured on the ESA website and in the ESA Bulletin, and we will endeavour to get media coverage of the prize winners.

How to apply

Make sure you meet the eligibility criteria and read the guidelines for the research project detailed below before you commence your application. Then when you are ready:

Apply via the online form


  • The prize is 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 ​NSW Environment, Energy & Science (DPIE) 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 ESA at the same time as submitting your application.

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. Each of the winners will form (or continue) a partnership with a local school, through the CSIRO’s STEM Professionals in Schools program.

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 ESA’s 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.