Top honour for Dr Reed, our resident paleontologist

Dr Liz Reed, who has spent the last 20 years championing the Naracoorte Caves, has won the Unsung Hero of SA – Science Communications category at the SA Science Excellence Awards.

“It requires a substantial commitment,” Dr Reed said of the work which led to her receiving the award last weekend.

“But the importance of the Naracoorte Caves cannot be understated.”

Dr Reed first visited the Caves when she was an undergraduate student in 1995.

As she described it, “I went into the Victoria Cave as a student, and I came out as a paleontologist.”

Dr Reed returned to the Caves during her PhD, which began in 1998. She would regularly visit the various caves, using them as a field site.

She was also sometimes employed to give guided tours since then, a job she enjoyed.

Since then, her career in science communication has gone to great heights.

“I’ve spoken with CNN, National Geographic, various TV and radio shows, and delivered talks at conferences,” Dr Reed said.

Dr Reed is also at the forefront of educational information about the Caves, speaking with various kindies and schools.

“I take great pride in promoting the World Heritage site,” Dr Reed stated about her profession.

“It’s globally significant – a unique window into biodiversity and climate.

“If I can communicate how significant the Caves are, I would have done my job.”

Dr Reed is a paleontologist, and is at the forefront of an ARC (Australian Research Council) funded project which explores ancient flora and fauna that has been fossilised in the Caves.

Dr Reed has been a prominent spokesperson for the project, but she’s also thankful for all of the support that the project has received.

“The Naracoorte Lucindale Council, the Wrattonbully Wine Region, the University of Adelaide, the South Australian Museum, they’ve all been amazing.”

Liz would also like to thank the staff at the Naracoorte Caves, and her partner, Steve.

“Steve has been with me since the beginning, and has also been involved in the Caves over the years.

“I may have got the award, but a lot of people are a part of it.”

But the best reward for Dr Reed is seeing the next generation of scientists working out at the Caves.

“I’m glad that the future is bright, and that a wave of young scientists will continue to work at the Caves after I’m gone. That’s the great thing I’ll have achieved.”