About Us

discovery_circle_logoJoin the Discovery Circle for fun opportunities to contribute to research and learn about local natural environments. The Discovery Circle runs Citizen Science projects, interactive workshops and publishes informative blogs to help you connect and learn.

Our aim is to help people connect with nature. The human need to connect with nature has been called “biophilia”. To read more about “biophilia” and citizen science, please read this online article by Philip Roetman.

Citizen Science

Hands-on activities are the basis of Citizen Science projects, like searching for wildlife and recording where you found it, or collecting water samples and testing the water. Citizen Science projects can focus on animals, like birds, bats, bees or bettongs. Or they can address how we manage local environments, from our gardens, to parks, to nature reserves.There are a number of reasons you might get involved in a Citizen Science project. You might be fascinated by the topic of the project, or want to learn more about it. Or you might be concerned about changes you have noticed in the environment.

Previous projects run by the University of South Australia have focussed on local wildlife in South Australia, like koalas, possums, magpies and bluetongue lizards. These projects helped us to understand how people feel about and interact with local wildlife.

Discovery Workshops

The Discovery Circle runs interactive workshops to share research findings and present ways you can connect with local natural environments. Find out more…

Blogs

The Discovery Circle publishes two blogs:

  1. The Discovery Blog discusses activities for budding nature enthusiasts
  2. Nature Notes provide insight into the nature of Adelaide and South Australia

eNewsletter

We are always developing new projects and events. To stay informed about our program, so you don’t miss opportunities to participate, please register for our eNewsletter.

Contacting us

For more information, please contact the Discovery Circle at the University of South Australia on 8302 9999 or by email at: DiscoveryCircle@unisa.edu.au. You can also contact the project leader, Dr Philip Roetman.

Our People


 

Philip Roetman

Philip Roetman

Philip is the research leader of the Discovery Circle initiative. As a researcher, Philip is particularly interested in citizen science – actively involving the wider community research projects. Before the Discovery Circle, Philip worked with Professor Chris Daniels on citizen science projects including Operation Possum and the Great Koala Count. Through the Discovery Circle he is now coordinating BioBlitzes and citizen science projects like Cat Tracker. Personally, Philip enjoys bush walking with family and friends, cycling to work, and playing backyard cricket and guitar with enthusiasm, although this enthusiasm is not necessarily matched by talent (for the cricket or the guitar). Find out more about Philip on his staff webpage at the University of South Australia or follow him on Twitter.


 

Sandra Taylor

Sandra Taylor

Sandra is an Adjunct Senior lecturer in Urban Ecology at the University of South Australia and a researcher/research supervisor associated with the Discovery Circle initiative. Sandra’s current research activities are concerned with urban biodiversity conservation and restoration, environmental history, citizen science and Australian nature writing. Through the Discovery Circle, Sandra is supervising research on the factors influencing participation in citizen science projects and is assisting Philip Roetman with Cat Tracker. Sandra is a plant ecologist by profession, but has a keen interest in the conservation of endangered animal species, which she expressed in her spare time by volunteer guiding at both Monarto and Adelaide Zoos. Find out more about Sandra on her staff webpage at the University of South Australia.


 

Carla Litchfield

Carla Litchfield

Carla is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of South Australia. Her passion is animal behaviour, conservation psychology (changing human behaviour to be more sustainable), and living in harmony with nature. She is particularly involved with Great Apes, but has also worked with felids, canids, marine mammals and other animals. She spent a month locked in an enclosure at Adelaide Zoo as part of the Human Zoo in 2007 and has served as the President of the Board of the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia. She loves spending time with her daughter and their amazing indoor Bengal cats and whippet. Find out more about Carla on her staff webpage at the University of South Australia.


 

Belinda Chiera

Belinda Chiera

Belinda is a Lecturer in Statistics at the University of South Australia. She has many years of experience in statistical methods, with research interests ranging from environmental projects with the EPA, through to social network analysis and modelling communications over the Internet. Belinda loves drawing insights from data and applying them to real world and believes the more data the better. An avid animal and nature lover, Belinda has focused much of her research on air quality pollution modelling and the environmental impact of ENSO and when travelling she has made it to far-flung places including Iceland, The Faroe Islands and Greenland, taking a walk on the polar ice cap. Belinda is excited to be part of the Discovery Circle research group but hasn’t yet explained to her cat Tyke that the research group is not all about her. Find out more about Belinda on her staff webpage at the University of South Australia.


 

Hayley Tindle

Hayley Tindle

Hayley is the Discovery Circle project officer. Hayley has a PhD in Conservation Psychology which investigated how Psychology can be used to encourage sustainable behaviours in the general public. Previous research projects have investigated human-animal interactions with the Cheetah at Monarto Zoo, and studies during the drought encouraging people to have shorter showers. Personally, Hayley is an animal-lover and has a strong interest in sustainable living and animal welfare. She loves spending time in her garden and vegetable patch, with her rescued furkids (cats and dogs), cooking, and eating!


 

Annette Scanlon

Annette Scanlon

Annette is working as a research assistant on the Discovery Circle’s little corella project. Annette has a PhD in Environmental Science, which examined the ecology and conservation of Fiji’s plant-visiting bats. Apart from crawling through guano-filled caves, sampling kava, and catching critically endangered monkey-faced bats in cloud forests, the project involved close engagement and collaboration with traditional land managers and conservation managers. Personally, Annette enjoys time at the beach with her children and trying to be a good gardener.


 

Nina James

Nina James

Nina is a PhD student in the Discovery Circle research group, where she is focussing on the engagement and participation of citizen scientists in scientific research. Nina has a background in Natural Resource Management, Adult Education and Community Engagement and is particularly interested in the relationship between people and the environment. Her own love affair with wilderness environments is obvious in her choice of holiday destinations, including the ancient Boireann and untamed west coast of Ireland, the pristine Fiordlands of Southern New Zealand, and the stunning Catskill Mountains in the USA (pictured). Nina and her husband Jay have five children, and if she can find any spare time between her PhD and an incredibly busy household, you’ll find her sketching portraits, painting landscapes, or making up ditties on her harmonica.


 

James Plummer

James Plummer

James is currently completing a PhD supervised by A/Prof David Bruce, Dr Philip Roetman and Prof John Boland. See the project webpage: “Birding the ‘burbs“. He is investigating the impacts of increasing urbanisation on biodiversity, using birds as a biodiversity measure and the Greater Adelaide Region as both a case study and investigation area. The longer term aims are to examine the most appropriate form of development to use over the urban areas of the Greater Adelaide Region in order to maximise biodiversity outcomes and to then develop protocols for applying this to other urban locations. He has a strong passion for environmental monitoring, spatial sciences, green roof and walls and the Internet of Things and hopes one day to be able to get his compost bin to share its feelings with him about how it’s going.



 

Georgia Pollard

Georgia Pollard

Georgia is a new PhD student supervised by Dr James Ward and Dr Philip Roetman. She is beginning her research into urban agriculture (such as community gardens and backyard food gardens) in Adelaide, in response to the growing interest and engagement our food’s providence. Georgia is collecting both quantitative data (yield and water use etc.), with qualitative data (motivations, expectations and values). Learn more about the “Edible Gardens” project on the project webpage (click here). Personally, no matter where she lives, Georgia has always had a veggie patch and is determined to one-day have her own urban farm (complete with livestock!).



 

Brianna Le Busque

Brianna Le Busque

Brianna is a conservation psychology PhD student in the Discovery Circle research group, where she is focusing on promoting shark conservation through Australian shark tourism experiences. She is particularly passionate about using tourism as a way of engaging people in conservation issues. She previously researched the ‘human aspect’ of the FlukerPost project for her Honours degree, and is still involved in citizen science with the Discovery Circle and the South Australian chapter of the Australian Citizen Science Association. Personally, Brianna loves dabbling in nature photography and going on weekend adventures to explore different beaches.


 

2016 Honours Students


 

Jane Brister

Jane Brister

Jane is a Psychology (Honours) student researching attachment to place and connection to nature in relation to the FlukerPost project. She is passionate about wildlife conservation and animal welfare. Jane is a trained koala rescuer and carer with Fauna Rescue SA and considers it a privilege to interact so closely with wildlife. She holds an animal welfare advocate position on the animal ethics committee of a major Adelaide hospital. Jane plans to pursue a PhD opportunity in the conservation psychology field. She is interested in human-animal interaction, animal intelligence and behaviour and wildlife conservation. Jane hopes to contribute to knowledge and understanding of human attitudes and values towards nature and improve animal welfare. In her spare time she loves hiking and if she had (more) time would pursue wildlife photography.


 

2015 Honours Students


 

Brianna Le Busque

Brianna Le Busque

Brianna is a psychology honours student in the Discovery Circle research group. Her focus is on the FlukerPost project and, in particular, who uses FlukerPosts and how the system can be improved. As she is still completing her undergraduate degree she has limited research experience but hopes to continue onto a PhD next year. Her main interests are in wildlife/ecological tourism as she believes that such tourism should provide conservation benefits, such as promoting attitude and behavioural change amongst tourists. Personally, Brianna enjoys photography, cooking and hopes to continue to cross travel destinations off her bucketlist.
Brianna did a great job on her honours thesis and received a first class honours.


 

Gillian Quinton

Gillian Quinton

Gillian is a Psychology student currently completing her Honours thesis on cat personality as part of the Cat Tracker Project. Gillian hopes to pursue a PhD investigating human attitudes and behaviour around factory farming and animal welfare and dreams of working in Conservation Psychology. Personally, Gillian is a self-confessed “crazy cat lady”, general animal-lover and thoroughly enjoys health and fitness, hiking and chasing the winter snow seasons around the world.
Gillian’s fantastic work on cat personality saw her receive a first class honours.