Max Day awardees aim to safeguard culture and change behaviours

November 15, 2021
The 2022 Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship awardees, Ms Bridget Campbell and Dr Brock Bergseth. Photos: supplied.

Two early-career researchers have each been awarded a 2022 Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship for their highly interdisciplinary research work to protect the environment. Ms Bridget Campbell is a PhD candidate at Macquarie University and Dr Brock Bergseth is a research fellow at James Cook University.

Safeguarding biological and cultural and diversity

Ms Bridget Campbell in the lab. Photo: supplied

Ms Campbell’s project aims to bridge the gap between Western scientific and Yolŋu Indigenous knowledge systems of the Laynhapuy Indigenous Protected Area in north-east Arnhem Land. She says the detailed ecological knowledge of Indigenous Australians could help protect Australia’s biodiversity.

Her project, ‘Warrakan ganma: Bridging Western and Indigenous science to safeguard biocultural diversity’, uses novel scientific data and detailed Indigenous knowledge to study declining fauna and strengthen cultural ecosystem services.

Combining genetics, Indigenous knowledge, field ecology, anthropology and spatial science, she aims to characterise and safeguard biological and cultural diversity.

“There is a current paucity of projects adopting biocultural conservation approaches,” she said in her award submission.

“[This is] despite their potential to advance Australia’s national and international [conservation] commitments.”

Reducing illegal fishing using behavioural interventions

Dr Bergseth will investigate whether behavioural interventions can reduce illegal fishing in Marine Protected Areas in Australia and neighbouring countries.

Dr Bergseth’s project is titled ‘Bolstering conservation outcomes: understanding social and ecological effects of illegal fishing behavioural interventions’.

It will look at how behavioural interventions can be used to increase fisheries compliance, voluntary reporting of observed illegal fishing, and the resulting ecological benefits.

“Using behavioural interventions to influence compliance by fishers [and] other types of resource users is a novel research frontier,” he said in his award submission.

“These interventions are an alternative to traditional ‘command and control’ efforts that coerce rather than encourage compliance.”

Dr Brock Bergseth in the field. Photo: supplied

Four researchers were also highly commended for their 2022 Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award applications:

  • Mr Tim Ghaly: Who lives inside fungi? Bacterial endosymbionts of plant-associated fungi
  • Dr Stephanie Gardner: Quantifying the contribution of benthic invertebrates to global nitrous oxide production
  • Dr Niloofar Karimian: Arsenic and antimony co-behaviour in soil under a changing climate: resolving unexplored interactions between microbiology, mineralogy and geochemistry
  • Dr Alice Twomey: Enhancing resilience of coasts: nature-based solutions for flood mitigation

Max Day’s legacy

The Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award provides up to $20,000 for early-career researchers working on interdisciplinary projects to further the conservation of Australia’s flora and fauna, the ecologically sustainable use of resources, and the protection of the environment and ecosystem services.

The award is named in honour of Academy Fellow, the late Dr Maxwell Frank Cooper Day AO FAA, who spent a lifetime championing entomology, conservation and forestry, as well as helping other scientists.

More information about the Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award

© 2022 Australian Academy of Science