Book Review: Citizen Science, How Ordinary People are Changing the Face of Discovery

By Guest | May 23, 2017 3:24 pm

bookBy Dr. Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher

Caren Cooper. (2016). Citizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of Discovery. Overlook Press: New York, NY. $28.95.

While publications proliferate on the subject of citizen science, an introduction to inform and delight all readers has been conspicuously absent until Caren Cooper’s new book, Citizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of Discovery hit the shelves this spring. In the pages of Citizen Science we find compelling stories of citizen scientists who shape the field as we now know it. Cooper tells these stories not only as entertainment, although her prose and humour certainly keeps readers entertained, but, importantly, to inspire readers to take up citizen science themselves. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science

Global Mosquito Alert: UN Backed Citizen Science Platform to Fight Mosquito-Borne Diseases

By Guest | May 16, 2017 10:24 am

With the summer approaching, so are the mosquitoes. Now a UN-backed global platform will align citizen scientists from around the world to track and control these disease-carrying species.

By Yujia He

Mosquitoes are an annoying and unavoidable part of the warmer season. Their constant buzzing follows you whenever you step outside of your house, and the females feast on your blood to produce their offspring.

In many parts of the world, mosquitoes bring not just annoyance but also disease and death. Globally mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika and malaria kill 250,000 people a month, compared to 130,000 deaths from all forms of violence. Citizens tracking and controlling mosquitoes are on the frontline of our fight against such diseases. A UN-backed new initiative, Global Mosquito Alert, will empower these local citizen scientists to collect, process and share data about mosquitoes on a global scale.

Female Aedes aegypti mosquito, the main type of mosquito that spread Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and other viruses. Author: James Gathany. Source: Wikipedia Commons

Female Aedes aegypti mosquito, the main type of mosquito that spread Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and other viruses. Author: James Gathany. Source: Wikipedia Commons

As the first global citizen science mosquito monitoring platform, Global Mosquito Alert will bring together scientists and volunteers from around the world to share real-time local citizen-generated data. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) maintains the centralized platform Environmental Live that provides open data to policy makers, researchers and the general public. Data will come from a consortium of providers in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Currently the consortium includes Globe Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper (U.S./International), Invasive mosquito project (U.S.), Muggenradar (Netherlands), Mosquito Alert (Spain), ZanzaMapp (Italy), MosquitoWEB (Portugal), and CitizenScience.Asia (Hong Kong/Asia). At a workshop convening national/local project teams in Geneva in April, organized by the UNEP, the Wilson Center’s Science and Tech Innovation Program (STIP), and the European Citizen Science Association, participants have agreed to work towards a standardized protocol of citizen science monitoring to enable data sharing and analysis.

Citizens interested in mosquito monitoring can use simple tools to generate and report data to national/local citizen science projects. For instance, the Invasive mosquito project, based in the U.S., recruits volunteers to use no more than brown paper towels and dark-colored plastic party cups to collect data on mosquito eggs around their homes.

The Mosquito Alert project, based in Spain, asks volunteers to use a smartphone app to snap pictures of the mosquito or the breeding site and send them via the app. Kids and students can also participate following the project protocols including the safety instructions. In the long and leisurely summer months ahead, such an educational experience from participating in citizen science projects could be very appealing to our young future scientists.

“Global Mosquito Alert” will contribute to our understanding of the local and global distribution of mosquito species and habitats, where existing open data from government sources is still limited in both the species diversity and the geographical scope. For instance, the CDC website provides only the potential range of Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti, the two Zika-carrying mosquito species within the United States. Enhanced data availability and accuracy will enable better and faster response and thus mitigate the risks of mosquito-borne diseases.

In addition, the platform will pool together the data, knowledge and experience of existing projects for use by citizen science groups, allowing for more streamlined project implementation and community response at lower cost. As the Director of Science at UN Environment, Jacqueline McGlade, said, the platform is “a unique infrastructure that is open for all to use and may be augmented with modular components and implemented on a range of scales to meet local and global research and management needs.” It will “offer the benefit of the millions spent in developing existing mosquito monitoring projects to local citizen science groups around the world.”

“Global Mosquito Alert” welcomes participation from citizen science mosquito monitoring projects around the world. If you would like to sign up for the initiative, please contact Anne Bowser or Eleonore Pauwels.


Yujia He is a Research Assistant in the Science and Technology Innovation Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Want more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

Citizen Science Recruitment, Retention, Research & Evaluation Workshop at Citizen Science Association Conference

By Catherine Hoffman | May 13, 2017 4:55 pm

The SciStarter 2.0 Research and Evaluation team will host a hands-on workshop on May 17, the first day of the Citizen Science Association conference.  (Note: there’s still time to register for the conference and workshop!)

When: Wednesday May 17, 2017 11:30am – 12:30pm Meeting Room 11

CSA conference

With an Advancing Informal STEM Learning (Pathways) grant from the National Science Foundation, SciStarter, Arizona State University and North Carolina State University (in collaboration with a dozen citizen science project owners and citizen scientists, a panel of advisors, and a team of evaluators)  developed a suite of new, free project-agnostic tools and functionality to better support volunteers and project owners. This workshop will showcase to practitioners the opportunities presented by the SciStarter 2.0 tools to deepen volunteer engagement, learning and growth by addressing cross-project skew, evolving motivations, seasonal gaps, untapped synergies across projects via movements of volunteers, and other unanticipated factors that can be addressed with intentional planning in the SciStarter network but cannot be addressed via management within project silos. One goal of this workshop is to solicit input from project owners and evaluation/researchers to further improve the tools and prepare for the expansion of SciStarter 2.0 across hundreds of projects. The workshop will include a brief review of the new tools and functionality,  hands-on demonstrations and test-drives of the tools, and discussions.

We hope to empower project owners to consider how they can make the most of these free tools, leverage synergies with other projects, and demonstrate to evaluator/researchers how they can expand their repertoire of techniques beyond surveys to include embedded tracking of volunteer activity across projects and embedded assessments.

Sign up for this free workshop when you register for the conference.

 

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science

Citizen Science Association Aims to Bring Everyday People into Research

By Catherine Hoffman | May 11, 2017 4:25 pm

shutterstock_236437837

Researchers to share knowledge and best practices in establishing high standards while engaging volunteer support St. Paul, MN

Scientists, community members, and educators from around the world will gather at the Citizen Science Association (CSA) “CitSci2017” Conference to share innovations and best practices for significant research collaborations between scientists and everyday citizens. CitSci2017 will be held in St. Paul, MN, May 17 – 20. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science

Out-of-this-world citizen science just for you!

By Catherine Hoffman | May 11, 2017 4:00 pm
unnamed (1)You can be a space scientist!
Take photos of the upcoming solar eclipse, help map the surface of the moon, document seal populations from satellite images, and more! Here are out-of-this-world citizen science projects we think you’ll love. Find more projects and events on SciStarter, to do now or bookmark for later.
Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Space & Physics

Step right up and guess their age — for citizen science!

By Guest | May 9, 2017 7:19 pm

By Nina Friedman

For decades, fair- and festival-goers around the country have volunteered to step right up and have a carnival busker guess their age. Now, guessing someone’s age through citizen science can contribute to research in the social and computer sciences and medicine, too.

Everyday scientists and medical professionals are creating lifespan increasing technologies. Researchers across the globe are bettering our health so quickly that the average lifespan is increasing by six hours a day. If you want to contribute to that research, simply go to Ageguess.org and begin playing the game. Read More

Citizen Scientists Donate Data for Online Price Personalization Research

By Guest | May 3, 2017 11:39 am

Citizen scientists learn how algorithms affect their online shopping and help researchers break open the “black box” of price-personalization

By Chelsey Meyer

Have you ever wondered whether you see the same online prices as other consumers? If not, you may want to after hearing about price personalization. While many Internet users may understand that algorithms affect their social media feeds, few realize that algorithms also personalize their online shopping experiences. Researchers at Northeastern University’s Volunteer Science, a platform for gamified scientific research, are studying how this personalization occurs and who it affects, and they’re tapping into the world of citizen science to do it.   Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Technology

Help accelerate biomedical research from the comfort of your couch

By Jenny Cutraro | April 27, 2017 5:35 pm
 

No scalpel required!
Learn how to identify images of clogged blood vessels to accelerate Alzheimer’s research or trace 3D images of neurons to shed light on how these structures influence behavior.
SciStarter’s editors hand-picked five, biomedical research projects we think you’ll love. You can do these free projects and contribute to research all from the comfort of home!
Find more projects and events on SciStarter, to do now or bookmark for later.
Bonus: Complete your SciStarter profile this month and we’ll send you a free digital copy of The Rightful Place of Science: Citizen Science.
Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

EyesOnALZ
Speed up Alzheimer’s research simply by clicking on video images that show clogged (or “stalled”) blood vessels. Scientists think stalled blood flow may contribute to Alzheimer’s and they need your help to identify stalls in short videos of (real!) ultrasound images. All ages are welcome to participate. You’ll view a brief tutorial before you get started.
Location: Online

The Biomedical Citizen Science Hub (CitSciBio)
Find and share biomedical citizen science resources through the National Institute of Health-supported CitSciBio. This hub is your source for resources, projects, references, methods and communities about biomedical citizen science research.
Location: Online 

Mozak: Brainbuilder

Humans still outperform computers at identifying complex shapes like neurons. Simply trace 3D images of brain neurons (on your computer) to shed light on how neuron structure influences brain function. Since Mozak launched in November, citizen scientists (like you!) have reconstructed neurons 3.6 times faster than earlier methods!
Location: Online

Mark2Cure

If you can read, you can help. With Mark2Cure you are trained to identify scientific concepts and mark, or annotate, those concepts in scientific literature. Help scientists find information they need to solve complex problems.
Location: Online

Citizen Endo
Help improve the medical field’s understanding of endometriosis symptoms on daily life. You can participate (with or without endometriosis) by tracking your daily experiences using the Phendo app.
Location: Online

Celebrate Citizen Science Days through May 20th!
More than 100 events are listed on SciStarter. From BioBlitzes, to trainings, to hack-a-thons, there’s an event near you.
 

Read More

River Keeping in New Mexico

By Sharman Apt Russell | April 25, 2017 9:00 am
Volunteers across the country participate in River Keeper programs. Photo: Virginia State Parks CC BY 2.0

Volunteers across the country participate in River Keeper programs. Photo: Virginia State Parks CC BY 2.0

River Keeper. Watershed Keeper. There’s something poetic—maybe a bit Celtic—about these terms, which in the world of citizen science refer to someone monitoring a waterway for soil erosion, contaminants, and loss of biodiversity. Across the United States, with sonorous names like Willamette River Keepers and Chattahoochee River Keepers, citizen scientists are keeping watch over the environmental health of our rivers, lakes, and estuaries.

Where I live in southwestern New Mexico, the Silver City Watershed Keepers are mostly teenagers—a high school class and their dedicated teacher, Maddie Alfero, organized by a local environmental group, Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP), with support from the New Mexico Environmental Department. A GRIP staff member, A.J. Sandoval, coordinates the program. A retired Environmental Department staff member, Dave Menzie, acts as their Quality Assurance Officer. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment
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