Science with a heart

By Carrie Bengston

Most people wouldn’t pick science as a career that cares for people. Doctors? Tick. Counsellors? Tick. Social workers? Tick. But scientists – really? Well, yes. Science does have a heart.

Here are some of our scientists doing research with a social conscience, science that improves people’s lives, especially people disadvantaged by poverty, ill-health or living in remote areas. Their work helps people in Australia and overseas. It’s our science with a heart. We’ve picked 4Ps to tell you about each – person, project, pluses and perceptions.

Anthony Chariton: Protecting bush tucker food sources

Anthony Chariton is working with Indigenous rangers at Kakadu


Biodiversity under the surface of tropical river floodplains. A National Environment Research Program (NERP) – Northern Australia Hub.

In Kakadu National Park we’re developing ways to provide early warning for saltwater intruding into freshwater floodplain areas of the Alligator Rivers because of sea-level rise due to climate change. We are using bacteria and animals found in floodplain sediments to get early signals of saltwater before changes occur above ground.


Getting early warning of saltwater intrusion into wetlands – this threatens to change the vegetation and habitat for animals like magpie geese and freshwater turtles, which in turn will impact on indigenous bush tucker and the environment.


The project’s field work in remote areas of northern Australia has been a fantastic experience for me. As a big-city dweller, I’ve had little contact with indigenous people and little exposure to the issues they face or their culture. It’s been an incredible eye-opener working with indigenous rangers in the beautiful Kakadu area. This project has shown me the potential significant impact of climate change on a traditional culture.

This is an abridged version of a blog which originally appeared on the CSIRO blog. To read the full post go to news@csiro.

Thank you to CSIRO for granting permission to reproduce this excerpt.