A well-known fact among scientists is that science and beer mix very well.

The Pint of Science festival, a global event where scientists give brief talks about their work in pubs, finished recently. I went to an event in Melbourne and one of the speakers, Euan Ritchite from Deakin University, raised a very good point about Australian marsupials:

“Many Australians cannot identify a native marsupial that is not a prolific species such as the koala, kangaroo, wombat or platypus.”

It makes me feel a little better about my own knowledge of Australian natural history.

As an expatriate Australian I have always felt a bit behind in my knowledge of Australian flora and fauna compared to peers who have lived here their whole lives.

This (paraphrased) quote, however, exemplifies the emerging realisation that we, as a society, are at risk of becoming completely disconnected from the nature that surrounds us.

One way we can overcome this disconnect and get people to care about nature is to encourage engagement with nature, which is just what GSA’s Sustainability Prize has done. The prize was a photo competition, asking students to submit a smartphone photo of native biodiversity on any campus of the University of Melbourne. The subject of the photo had to be native Australian flora and fauna.

I thought it was a great idea and it definitely made me look at the species I see every day and wonder, ‘is this a native species?’. It was even a good reason (excuse!) to go for a walk to try to snap a good photo.

Anyway, I decided to enter a photo I took during Spring of hover flies enjoying a flower outside Biosciences 2. Here is the photo:

And it won a runners-up place! Which is nice.

You can find the complete list of winners here.

I hope little initiatives like this encourage people to think about the natural world and the impact they have on it. After all this is the Anthropocene.


This post is adapted from something originally published on Jacinta’s own blog, here.