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What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

Projects

  • National Moth Week 2014 More Science

    National Moth Week 2014

    National Moth Week 2014 kicks off July 19 worldwide and offers dozens of opportunities for Citizen Scientists

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: David Moskowitz and Liti Haramaty DATES: Saturday, July 19, 2014 - Sunday, July 27, 2014
  • iCoast: Did the Coast Change? More Science

    iCoast: Did the Coast Change?

    Help U.S. Geological Survey scientists study storm aftermaths and coastal changes

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sophia Liu DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Sunspotter Space

    Zooniverse: Sunspotter

    Help organize sunspot images in order of complexity to better understand and predict how the Sun's magnetic activity affects the Earth

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Paul Higgins DATES: Ongoing
  • New York Horseshoe Monitoring Network More Science

    New York Horseshoe Monitoring Network

    Help researchers collect data and to acquire biological information on horseshoe crabs in New York’s Marine District

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Matthew Sclafani/John Maniscalo DATES: Ongoing
  • iSeahorse More Science

    iSeahorse

    A tool for improving scientists’ understanding of seahorses and protecting them from overfishing and other threats

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Amanda Vincent DATES: Ongoing
  • Update: EyeWire Technology

    Update: EyeWire

    Help researchers make the scientific leaps necessary to understand the brain’s higher functions

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sebastian Seung, professor of computer science DATES: Ongoing
  • Ocean Sampling Day (OSD) More Science

    Ocean Sampling Day (OSD)

    Help marine scientists worldwide study ocean samples taken during the 2014 summer solstice

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julia Schnetzer, Ph.D. student DATES: Saturday, June 21, 2014 - Saturday, June 21, 2014
  • Zooniverse: Cyclone Center Energy & Sustainability

    Zooniverse: Cyclone Center

    Help scientists analyze more than 30 years of tropical cyclone satellite imagery

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Nerds for Nature: Mt. Diablo Morgan Fire Energy & Sustainability

    Nerds for Nature: Mt. Diablo Morgan Fire

    Citizen scientists help document the recovery of charred Mt. Diablo

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • MySwan (Australia) More Science

    MySwan (Australia)

    Australians can help scientists study black swans living at Albert Park Lake, in the urban heart of Melbourne

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Raoul Mulder, Associate Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Where's the Elderberry Longhorn Beetle? More Science

    Where's the Elderberry Longhorn Beetle?

    Help an evolutionary biologist and entomologist track the declining population of Elderberry Longhorn Beetle

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Dan Duran, Assistant Teaching Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Mountain Watch More Science

    Mountain Watch

    Hikers, families, school groups and conservationists can help scientists make observations along the U.S.’s Eastern Appalachian mountains and other northeast areas

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Georgia Murray, Staff Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse Condor Watch Technology

    Zooniverse Condor Watch

    Help researchers better understand the social dynamic of condors by identifying them in photos taken all across California

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • iSeeChange Everyday Science

    iSeeChange

    Contribute to a socially networked weather Almanac for communities to collectively journal climate observations, questions and decisions against near-real time climate information

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julia Kumari Drapkin DATES: Ongoing
  • SatCam Technology

    SatCam

    Capture observations of sky and ground conditions at the same time that an Earth observation satellite is overhead

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Liam Gumley DATES: Ongoing
  • Clock Your Sleep Everyday Science

    Clock Your Sleep

    Track your slumber in the city that never sleeps, and elsewhere

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Air Visibility Monitoring Science Education

    Air Visibility Monitoring

    Help USC researchers study air visibility using an Android smartphone and app

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gaurav Sukhatme, Professor and Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Happy Match Biology

    Happy Match

    In this twist on the on the classic quiz game, players participate in scientific research by classifying photos of animal, plant and insect species

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Kevin Crowston and Jun Wang DATES: Ongoing
  • EteRNA Biology

    EteRNA

    Game lets citizen scientists participate in creating large-scale library of synthetic RNA designs

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Rhiju Das, Assistant Professor/Adrien Treuille, Assistant Professor DATES: Ongoing
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