‘Vogel het uit!’ has won the 2013 Academic Year Prize

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

‘Vogel het uit!’ has won the 2013 Academic Year Prize for the best communication plan for scientific research. The project was proposed by an interdisciplinary team led by researcher Judy Shamoun-Baranes and Prof. Willem Bouten, both of UvA-BiTS and UvA’s Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED). The award money will allow the research team to carry out its proposed project.

The ‘Vogel Het Uit’ Team celebrates upon receiving the news of their win.

The project aims to complement research carried out using UvA-BiTS GPS tags by helping interested members of the public follow the daily activities of these birds and, as ‘field workers’, provide supplementary information about the locations the birds have visited and bird behaviour, something not registered by a GPS tag. Participants can use a special app on their smartphone to navigate to these places and share their observations (for example, through photos and videos of the landscape). In doing so, they will also be making an important contribution to UvA-BiTS research, and UvA-BiTS will be enriched with additional information. The mobile app, and the website and social media that will support it, will all be designed in Dutch.

Jury president Paul Schnabel, former director of the Netherlands Institute for Social Research, was particularly enthusiastic about the fascination the project generates: ‘What we enjoyed was the idea that as a layman you might not be able to distinguish between two birds of the same kind, but this research shows that birds are also individuals that have their own patterns and behaviour.’ The jury also praised the quality and advanced state of the project, clearly demonstrating that it is a viable one. ‘It has involved lengthy preparations, is well detailed and will produce new and exciting data.’

Secretary of State Sander Dekker from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science presented the team with the €100,000 award during the finale on 23 October. The Academic Year Prize is a Dutch prize awarded annually to the most original and innovative communication plan for making a scientific research project more accessible to a broader public. The Prize was initiated in 2005 by, among others, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the leading NRC Handelsblad newspaper.

The latest developments can be followed on the Vogel het Uit Facebook page and The Academic Year Prize website (information in Dutch).

Almut Schlaich releases a male Montagu’s Harrier male with GPS tracking device (top left). Male Montagu’s Harrier landing at nesting site in winter wheat (top right). Male Montagu’s Harrier arriving at a nesting site (bottom left). Volunteers help count Montagu’s Harriers (bottom right). Photos: Ben Koks, Andre Eijkenaar, Jan Harms, Almut Schlaich

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