By Kaitlin Vortherms
When smog is so thick that it clouds our vision, we can see and acknowledge that air pollution is a problem. In December of last year, China issued its second ever red alert, their highest rating for air pollution, and last month, London broke modern air pollution records.
But on days when the haze has lifted, we tend to forget air pollution is still there. More to the point, we forget about how air pollution affects our health and the environment. It’s out of sight, and therefore, out of mind.
But what if we could actually see air pollution levels, even when the smog isn’t present? Would this motivate us to make changes about how we live our lives? This is where AirVisual comes in. Air Visual is a crowd-sourced platform that provides information and access to historical, real-time, and forecast air quality data in a visually engaging way. Read More
By: Marc J. Kuchner
Eighty-seven years ago, this week, Clyde Tombaugh was poring over a pair of photographic plates, hoping to change the world. He was staring hard into an arcane device called a blink comparator, which allowed him to rapidly switch from viewing one image to the next. In those days before computers, that was the best tool he had for finding the faint, moving dot he was seeking, a new planet in our solar system.
When Tombaugh discovered Pluto in those photographic plates on February 18, 1930, the news made headlines all around the globe. “In the little cluster of orbs which scampers across the sidereal abyss under the name of the solar system there are, be it known, nine instead of a mere eight, worlds,” said the New York Times. It was a victory for Tombaugh, and for astronomy. Read More
Join SciStarter, Science Cheerleader and our partners from Discover Magazine and Astronomy Magazine at the free Family Science Days in Boston on February 18th-19th as part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting.
This free event features tons of interactive science exhibits. Come talk with scientists, learn about their jobs, and explore science! SciStarter will help you DO science with citizen science including counting birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count. recording your flu symptoms for Flu Near You, observing clouds to ground-truth NASA satellites with the GLOBE Cloud Observer app, hunting for Backyard Bark Beetles and more! We can’t wait for you to become a citizen scientist with us!
We’ll also be joined by our partners from Science Cheerleader. Watch physics in action when the MIT cheerleaders show off their stunts and bring to life the free ebook, The Science of Cheerleading! Be sure to catch the Science Cheerleader stage show on Sunday, February 19th at 11:30am, sharp!
Theresa: Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
I graduated from Yale University with a B.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. I am currently working at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as a research associate in the laboratory of Feng Zhang. I am helping to develop a genome-editing platform by harnessing the crazy genome rearrangement pathway found in ciliated protozoa. Genome editing, or the ability to change the DNA code of human cells, allows us to further understand complicated genetic diseases such as cancer and someday could be used in therapeutics. I am currently applying to PhD programs in Biochemistry and Biophysics and I hope to continue contributing to scientific discovery throughout my career. My interest in science developed as a kid through science fair projects such as designing a seashell filter to remove lead contamination from water or harnessing wind energy with a kite power system. As a New England Patriots Cheerleader, I enjoy being engaged in the community and connecting with many different people. It has also allowed me to share my passion for science with kids and to encourage them to follow their own dreams, whatever they may be!
Hilary: Medical Oncology
I graduated from Colgate University with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. From there, I went on to do my PhD at Brown University in Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, which I defended in 2016. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School in William Kaelin’s lab. I am researching ways to selectively kill cancer cells based on the differences between cancer cells and normal cells. Currently, I am focusing on kidney cancer. I love my work, and I love getting people excited about it and about science in general (just like I loved getting the crowd excited as a cheerleader at Colgate!). I have been a regional coordinator with Science Cheerleader for almost five years, and one of my favorite things is watching young scientists get excited when they connect science to something they’re passionate about!
I graduated from Harvard with a degree in Engineering Sciences and I am now working on my PhD in Computational and Systems Biology at MIT. Being a scientist, and being able to discover things that nobody else in the world knew until me, makes me incredibly happy. I also like the fact that my research tries to answer “big questions” like understanding how our cells are capable of handling stress like starvation or temperature fluctuations. Understanding protein folding and interactions in this context is like a big puzzle, and I am so lucky that I get to help fit a tiny piece of the puzzle into the whole. In both cheerleading and science, having passion for what you’re doing and having the self-confidence to do it are hugely important! When you’re competing, there’s this saying to “leave it all on the mat” – do your best, don’t be afraid, believe that your stunts will hit, and give the performance of your life. In science, loving what you do and not being afraid to do it are what will allow you to come up with completely new ideas that can reshape what we know about our world.
See you the AAAS Family Science Days in Boston!
By: Ayla Fudala
If you’ve ever seen bees flying around at night, there’s a good chance they’re so-called “ZomBees”—honey bees whose brains are under the control of tiny fly larvae growing inside their bodies.
Yes, you read that correctly.
WHEN: February 8th 12-1pm EST
WHAT: This free webinar, hosted by the Citizen Science Association, will present an overview of Citizen Science Day; illustrate highlights from 2016 (the inaugural year); provide a discussion of tools and resources to support events, projects, and regional meet-ups; spark ideas to add citizen science to existing events; and, in general, serve as a starting point for anyone interested in celebrating citizen science during Citizen Science Day 2017!
Our colleagues from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and California Academy of Sciences will wrap up the webinar with a brief tutorial on how to run a BioBlitz, as one popular example of a possible event you might consider leading or joining.
JOIN: Learn more and find out how to connect online here: https://scistarter.com/project/16869-Citizen-Science-Day-Webinar
By Adam Reyer, Project Director for Global Fishing Watch
Hundreds of millions of people depend on the ocean for their livelihoods, and almost 3 billion rely on it as a protein source. But countless threats — overfishing, destructive fishing practices, bycatch, dishonest catch reporting, habitat destruction — threaten our oceans and the people who depend on them. It’s an economic problem, too: illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a universal problem that accounts for 11-26 million tons of fish caught and $10-23 billion in global economic losses each year.
It seems overwhelming. But what if there was a tool that gave all people the power to become watchdogs of our oceans? How can technology help enforcement agencies to better monitor their territory at sea? How can we help identify illegal fishing and protect ocean habitats? Read More
SciStarter is excited to once again present Citizen Science Day in collaboration with the Citizen Science Association! This month-long event is a chance to celebrate the millions of citizen scientists who have contributed countless hours to collect data in their backyard, analyze online images to cure diseases, build low-cost instruments, and SO much more! Citizen Science Day kicks off on Saturday, April 15th with celebrations running through April and into May, culminating during the Citizen Science Association Conference and public science event at the Science Museum of Minnesota on May 20th. We invite citizen scientists and project leaders from around the world to celebrate citizen science during this time!
“Citizen Science Day is a way to help showcase the opportunities and contributions of citizen science – #CitSciDay activities bring attention to the ways that everyone can engage with science to make a difference in the world – whether that is helping find a cure for Alzheimer’s, using data to address sources of air pollution, or making discoveries of new phenomena in our backyards or in space,” says Jennifer Shirk of the Citizen Science Association.
Events during last year’s celebration included over 100 BioBlitzes in areas from National Parks to community green spaces, transcription challenges at local libraries, citizen science hikes, festivals, workshops, and more! The 2017 Citizen Science Day webpage will go live on March 1.
Even if there isn’t a local event planned in your community, you can participate in one of SciStarter’s thousands of citizen science projects on topics ranging from Astronomy to Zoology.
SciStarter in collaboration with the Citizen Science Association will be hosting a webinar on February 8th from 12:00-1:00 EST all about Citizen Science Day. This free webinar will present an overview of Citizen Science Day, illustrate highlights from 2016 (the inaugural year), provide a discussion of ideas and resources for hosting events and regional meet-ups, and, in general, help you prepare for Citizen Science Day 2017! We will wrap up the webinar with a brief tutorial from Alison Young from California Academy of Sciences and Lila Higgins of the LA Natural History Museum on how to run a BioBlitz: one popular example of an event you might consider.
Once you’ve planned your event, add it to the SciStarter Events Calendar so people can find it. SciStarter will also be sharing the events through our syndicated partners including Discover Magazine, Astronomy Magazine, PBS, PLoS, NSTA, Philly.com, and more! The 2017 Citizen Science Day webpage will go live on March 1!
Interested in supporting Citizen Science Day? We’re actively looking for funders and sponsors. Contact us for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Nearly 50 million Americans live with one or more of 80 recognized autoimmune disorders, conditions in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells or tissues. Though widespread, the search for treatments for these conditions can be convoluted and frustrating.
Autoimmune Citizen Science founder Vivek Mandan experienced this frustration first-hand as he struggled to deal with his own autoimmune disorder.
“I spent a lot of time translating my health into data, conducting experiments on myself, combing through forums for ideas, Facebook discussion groups, blogs, and scrolling through the hundreds of articles I reflex-bookmarked trying to figure out whichever obscure theory I was experimenting with,” he said.
“I knew there had to be a tool that could help me understand my health and unified resources for combatting autoimmunity. In fact, there wasn’t, so I decided to make one.”