Dr James Tweedley has been named WA Young Tall Poppy of the Year for his outstanding and wide-ranging commitment to fighting the ongoing challenges facing our oceans and estuaries.
A Senior Lecturer in Animal Biology at the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems at Murdoch’s Harry Butler Institute, Dr Tweedley was honored at the Australian Institute of Policy and Science’s annual Young Tall Poppy Science Awards last night at the WA Museum Boola Bardip.
As a young boy, Dr Tweedley spent many hours at the Natural History Museum in London marvelling at their blue whale skeleton Hope, so it was a fitting tribute when he was presented his prestigious award in the shadow of Otto, WA’s own awe-inspiring blue whale skeleton.
The award recognises Dr Tweedley’s globally significant research on aquatic environments and fisheries management, but it was his commitment to education that sealed the deal for the judges, highlighting Dr Tweedley’s use of citizen science to protect the world’s oceans and the creatures that live within them.
As a child Dr Tweedley was inspired to study marine biology after watching the nature documentary Sea Trek, and he believes communication is the key to science having a larger, more positive impact on the world’s ecological challenges.
“It’s that combination of not just doing science, but communicating it, involving members of the public in the research and feeding science to the broader community through the media and workshops,” he said.
For some research it’s not the scientists that need to know about it, it’s the people on the ground who can actually make the real difference.”
Dr James Tweedley
Through citizen science projects, Dr Tweedley has trained recreational fishers to deploy underwater video cameras to collect monitoring data on artificial reefs, and helped to develop a smartphone application to track prawn catches which resulted in changes to prawning regulations to increase sustainability.
His research has also led to the development of indicators that can be used to help predict the effects of climate change on aquatic ecosystems.
Chair of Marine Ecology and Conservation at Murdoch University, Professor Neil Loneragan, said Dr Tweedley is an outstanding young academic making a significant contribution to the university and the broader community.
“James has led innovative, collaborative, multi-disciplinary research, and he has boundless energy and enthusiasm as demonstrated by the number and quality of his publications,” Professor Loneragan said.
He is a fantastic promoter of science using his excitement, passion and expertise to distil complex concepts to a range of audiences including fishers, government, schools, and the broader community.”
Professor Neil Loneragan
Murdoch Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor Lucy Johnston, said the University was extremely proud of Dr Tweedley.
“James’ research is incredibly important to the future health of our aquatic environments, but not only is he delivering solutions to real-world problems, he is educating future generations to ensure as much positive impact on the planet as possible."
This research supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.