Trending on Buzzfeed

We're trending on Buzzfeed.
We’re trending on Buzzfeed.

Today Buzzfeed ran a story on our mysterious billionaire benefactor: This Roo-Counting Couple Lost $2 Billion In Cruel Pozible Prank.

We’re not so sure it was a cruel prank so much as a software glitch, but it makes for a much better story!

Read the Buzzfeed version here.

Research Science communication

A funny thing happened last Thursday

A mysterious benefactor donated more than $2 billion to The Bog Roo Count. Well, almost.
A mysterious benefactor donated more than $2 billion to The Big Roo Count. Well, almost.

A funny thing happened last Thursday. For a brief hour or so Jenny and I became the custodians of billions of conservation dollars. ‘Huh?’, you say?

At approximately 12.30 pm the mysterious Jeffrey Green donated a little over $2 billion to our crowd-funding campaign. Sadly the money disappeared within an hour or so. We never really thought the donation was real, but it was fun to think what it might mean for both the Big Roo Count, and more broadly and importantly Australia’s biodiversity.

Professor Possingham has estimated that if federal and state governments invested $200 million a year we could secure all of Australia’s threatened species. So imagine what more than 500 times that would mean! To put things in perspective, the federal defence budget is roughly $26 billion a year. Stop its budget for three days and you could save all threatened species in Australia.

Imagine… we’re ready!

P.S. Jeff, if you really are keen to donate to our campaign we are ready to receive and make good!


Tina Thurburn: Crowd funding science research

With dollars for scientific research becoming harder and harder to get, many scientists are now turning to crowd funding as an option. Is this for everyone though and what do you need to know?

Today’s guest blog by Tina Thorburn has some answers but also poses many important questions.

You can read more from Tina about crowd funding here

Crowd funding is a bold and innovative means to acquire funding for scientific research. Guest blogger Tina Thulborn shares her recipe for success.

For years crowd funding has allowed musicians and artists to tap into the pockets of strangers. Through an exchange of promotion, sharing and ultimately pledging money, the average Joe can contribute to the pivotal exhibit of an emerging artist or a budding musician’s first album. More recently, scientists have added themselves to this list of successful crowd funders.

A year ago, a handful of Australian researchers at Deakin University reached out to the public to generate funds and awareness about their research. And fortunately for science, and Australia, they were successful.

But is crowd funding for everyone? After speaking to a handful of Australia’s first successful crowd funders in science research, I am pleased to report that like most things, there is a recipe for success.

List of key ingredients:

  • Research project idea
  • Marketing plan
  • Passion and enthusiasm
  • Hard work

Research project idea

As a researcher, you are in the privileged position of fully understanding your area of science, and the research questions you aim to address. However, it may be uncomfortable to comprehend, but your next-door neighbour, postman or mother-in-law, probably doesn’t know or even care about your line of research. Obviously, this is a huge overstatement, but my point is: when deciding on the research project idea, think outside of what you find engaging and critical to science, and go with a project that has pizazz and relevance to anyone and everyone.

There are examples of Pozible science research campaigns that have failed to include this crucial ingredient. Without it these projects have not been successful in raising funds. Remember, you are not selling your research project to an ASRC panel, but to the general public. But how do you get people reaching for their wallets?

Focus on the adjective that best summarises your research idea. If you have a research project idea that has contemporary relevance or implications for groups in society, then you have a ‘sexy’ research idea. Alternatively, you may have a conservation question that puts a cute animal at the centre of your ‘cuddly’ research idea. Whatever the adjective that best expresses your research project, ensure it not only encompasses your research, but is evocative.

Marketing plan

We no longer live in a world where having a good idea is enough. In an age where Facebook and Twitter are the norm, marketing plans and promotion are integral to the success of any crowd funding campaign.

Although some advocates have criticized crowd funding as a popularity contest, it seems that it doesn’t matter how many friends you have on Facebook, or how many followers on Twitter, but rather how you tap into the connections and networks you do have.

The marketing plan is closely linked to the last two key ingredients.

Passion and enthusiasm

There is no need to change your lab coat for pom poms, but it is essential that you are the biggest fan of your research idea. All the researchers I interviewed carried such enthusiasm in their voices, facial expressions and body language when talking to me about their Pozible campaigns. It was contagious.

Obviously, as a researcher you have dedicated much of your life and academic career to your area of science, but what is critical here, is for your passion to be easily gauged, and accessible to those that come across your crowd funding campaign. However, Australian culture dictates that garish attempts at self-promotion can sometimes be met with criticism. Unfortunately, that cannot be helped. Some of the researchers I interviewed shared with me that at times this was testing, but their fervour overcame the judgement of others, and in the end they succeeded.

Passion and enthusiasm are often well contained, but for a fruitful crowd funding campaign, these need to be tangible and sincere.

Hard work

If only it took a dash of marketing, a sprinkle of passion and a heaped teaspoon of a good research idea. Like many things a successful crowd funded science research project takes hard work.

All the scientists I spoke to worked tirelessly. Some focused on getting their research idea out to the groups that would be most affected; others were resolute in getting their research out into the realms of the general public. From the conception of the Pozible campaign, to the final donation, these successful researchers explored every avenue of communication and collaboration.

Some have said that this energy could be better put toward actually doing their research. However, I challenge that notion with a round of applause. These researchers are doing the commendable, and once unheard of action, of getting their science research into the public sphere. By engaging with their neighbours, postmen and mothers-in-law, these researchers have created a conversation that will continue as they continue to pursue their research questions.

Overall, crowd funding science research is a bold and innovative means to acquire funding. The pitfalls of popularity and the tall poppy syndrome await any scientist who chooses to go down this funding path. But in exchange, researchers get the rare opportunity to communicate and share with the public what they themselves dedicate their lives to: good science.

Research Uncategorized

Fully funded on Pozible!

I’m thrilled to announce that we have reached our $20,000 funding target on Pozible, a little over 48 hours ahead of deadline.

A huge thank you to everyone who supported the project, helped to spread the word, or made a donation — large or small.


We will now be able to begin our project: the first comprehensive camera trapping study of animals in the spectacular and remote Torricelli Mountain range in Papua New Guinea. We will build on the already amazing work of the Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA) and strengthen the alliance’s partnership with Deakin University.

This is something tangible we can do to help arrest the extinction crisis. Engendering hope is critical.

It has been wonderful to see science and conservation capturing the public’s imagination. I really hope the crowd funding model continues to increase the connection between the public and the scientific communities.

My first foray in to crowd funding has been exhilarating, humbling and exhausting… all at once!

One more thing: if you haven’t pledged but would like to help out, there is still time. More dollars means more cameras, which means more data. Or, if you would like to help out my Deakin colleagues, there are still 5 exciting projects that need support.

Again, on behalf of myself and the TCA, a huge thank you. We are very, very excited to get cameras out and start discovering just what’s out there!


80% funded on Pozible. Four days to go!



Tenkile updates

I’ve been busy garnering support and raising awareness for our crowd funding campaign.

Check out the full update on Pozible.

In short:

  1. The Tenkile Conservation Alliance opened its new research centre.
  2. Polyglot extraordinaire Stephen Fry threw his weight (and that of his six million Twitter followers) behind the project.
  3. I’ve continued my media assault.
  4. And, we hit the $10,000 mark: 50% funded on Pozible.

Please continue to spread the word and thanks again for all your support.


50% funded on Pozible!


Media Saving the Tenkile – an expedition to protect one of the most endangered animals you’ve never heard of is one of the world’s most popular environmental science and conservation news sites and publisher of Tropical Conservation Science, a peer-reviewed, open-access academic journal that seeks to provide opportunities for scientists in developing countries to publish their research in their native languages.

The tenkile, or Scott's tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus scottae). Image: Tenkile Conservation Alliance
The tenkile, or Scott’s tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus scottae). Image: Tenkile Conservation Alliance

Here’s my interview with Jordana Dulaney on the decline of the tenkile, and my new project to conserve the species.


Ideas for Sustainability: Tree kangaroos and crowd-funding follow-up

Funding is getting harder and harder to find right? And, the future doesn’t look great, well, at least in Australia. But, before you get depressed and start contemplating another career there is a way we can find funding to undertake important research. It doesn’t rely on governments or funding bodies, it relies on you, me, anyone! It’s called crowd funding.

Read my guest post on Professor Joern Fischer’s blog: Ideas for Sustainability


Papua New Guinea’s mountain mammals, a crowdfunding campaign

The Papua New Guinean mountains are home to amazing and endemic animals including the critically endangered Tenkile and Weimang tree kangaroos. Many of this region’s fauna are under severe threat of extinction.

Our project, a partnership between Deakin University and the Tenkile Conservation Alliance is the first comprehensive camera-trapping study of animals in the spectacular and remote Torricelli Mountain range. We will use automated, motion-sensing cameras to collect crucial information about these animals to establish the habitats that are most important – critical information if we are to save them.

I’m excited to be part of an Australian university first – using ‘crowdfunding’ to raise money for research. Our goal is $20,000, and we’re using the Australian crowdfunding website Pozible.

Please consider donating or, equally important, help us to spread the word.

Pozible: Discovering Papua New Guinea’s Mountain Mammals

Facebook group: Discovering Papua New Guinea’s Mountain Mammals

Deakin University Newsroom: Deakin Makes Research Pozible

Tenkile Conservation Alliance 


ABC Radio: Rifles and spotlights threatened endangered PNG tree kangaroos

This morning I spoke on air with Geraldine Coutts about the threats to Papua New Guinea’s endangered tree kangaroos, my research plans, and the new crowd funding campaign to raise the capital.

Stream the interview from ABC Radio Australia