CQUni parasite project shares stage with Chief Scientist

18 March 2021

A CQUniversity citizen science project is set to showcase its impact across the Central Highlands' sharing the stage with Queensland Chief Scientist Professor Hugh Possingham for a fun community event.

Fabulous Fossils' Remarkable Reptiles and Peculiar Parasites is on Monday 22 March at Emerald Art Gallery' offering an educational evening focused on science' technology' engineering and maths (STEM).

CQUniversity Agriculture Lecturer Saba Sinai and sci-art practitioner Dr Anita Milroy are among four panellists for the event' and will share their innovative Parasites in the Wild citizen science project.

The project' in partnership with Outback Exploratorium in Emerald' aims to engage members of the Central Highlands community in making important scientific discoveries.

"Citizen science is an approach that seeks to involve the community in scientific research' usually by using a 'crowd sourcing' model to collect data or samples'" Mr Sinai said.

"The Parasites in the Wild team hope to resolve a long-held doubt about the subspecies of the ornate kangaroo tick (Amblyomma triguttatum)."

"The ornate kangaroo tick has four subspecies' but there is some doubt as to how 'genuine' their current scientific classification is.

"To solve these doubts' tick collections have to occur at the zones of contact between the geographical range of the subspecies' ie where they meet.

"The project is already showing that the majority of the ticks that we collect and that people pull off their animals have been kangaroo ticks' so it is interesting to see the range of hosts that the ornate kangaroo tick feeds on."

The project has involved school children in building tick traps' conducting tick collection and identification' and art creation using the ticks.

"We are finding that parasites seem to spark a real sense of awe in both children and adults' and there is genuine fascination with their biology'" Mr Sinai said.

"It has been really encouraging to see and to think of parasites as a 'gateway discipline' for science' creating an initial spark of wonder that encourages children to pursue science in general."

Parasites in the Wild is supported by the Queensland Government's Queensland Citizen Science Grants' with the initiative receiving $26'134 in late 2020.

Monday's free event is coordinated by The Flying Scientists' a partnership between the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Wonder of Science organisation.

The 6pm - 8pm session includes free pizza for kids' as well as snacks and supper throughout the evening' and registration is recommended.

Register now: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/fabulous-fossils-remarkable-reptiles-peculiar-parasites-tickets-142996936687

More than 50 Central Highlands locals have already participated in Parasites in the Wild.

To be part of the project' contact Saba Sinai at s.sinai-mameghany@cqu.edu.au or on 07 4980 4139.