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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

  • Wildbook for Whale Sharks More Science

    Wildbook for Whale Sharks

    Help with whale shark research by submitting photos and sighting data


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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Zaven Arzoumanian, Director, President, Co-Founder DATES: Ongoing
  • GeoTag-X Technology

    GeoTag-X

    Can citizen scientists be taught to recognize the important information in a photo and create useful datasets to aid those working on the ground during a disaster response?


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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: NA DATES: Ongoing
  • Did You See It? Energy & Sustainability

    Did You See It?

    If you’ve witnessed a landslide—the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope—report it to the U.S. Geological Survey to help them better understand these hazards


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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: NA DATES: Ongoing
  • Fairbanks Community of Observers Energy & Sustainability

    Fairbanks Community of Observers

    Vermont’s Fairbanks Museum Community of Observers provides the tools to help regional citizen scientists record and map data on a variety of topics, including wildflowers, birds, butterflies and weather patterns.


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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Plants of Concern More Science

    Plants of Concern

    Conservation agencies in the Chicago area monitor endangered, threatened, and rare plants


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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Rachel Goad, Program Manager DATES: Ongoing
  • NOVA Evolution Lab Evolution

    NOVA Evolution Lab

    What could you possibly have in common with a mushroom, or a dinosaur, or even a bacterium? More than you might think.


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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Chia Shen DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Planet 4 Space

    Zooniverse: Planet 4

    Help planetary scientists identify and measure features on the Martian surface while also helping improve the design of future Zooniverse projects

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Orchid Observers [U.K.] Energy & Sustainability

    Zooniverse: Orchid Observers [U.K.]

    Help scientists better understand the effects that climate change is having on orchids in the U.K.

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • MicroBlitz [Western Australia] More Science

    MicroBlitz [Western Australia]

    University of Western Australia researchers are looking for citizen scientists to send them soil samples from around the state to better understand region’s biodiversity and environmental health

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Andy Whiteley DATES: Ongoing
  • Go Viral Health

    Go Viral

    Research program collects fluid specimens from the community and analyzes them with the latest molecular diagnostics instruments

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Rumi Chunara DATES: Ongoing
  • Citizen Science Soil Collection Program More Science

    Citizen Science Soil Collection Program

    Help University of Oklahoma scientists study microscopic life in search of new drug compounds

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Robert Cichewicz DATES: Ongoing
  • Asteroid Data Hunter Technology

    Asteroid Data Hunter

    Protecting the Earth from the threat of asteroid impacts means first knowing where they are

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Migratory Dragonfly Partnership More Science

    Migratory Dragonfly Partnership

    Join a growing citizen science community working together to increase knowledge about North America’s five main migratory dragonfly species

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Celeste Mazzacano DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Science Gossip Technology

    Zooniverse: Science Gossip

    Help researchers classify Victorian-era science drawings and map the origins of citizen science

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Reverse the Odds Technology

    Reverse the Odds

    Analyze real cancer data by playing a mobile game

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Anne Kiltie and Gareth Thomas DATES: Ongoing
  • Nanocrafter More Science

    Nanocrafter

    A game that challenges players to build nanoscale devices using small pieces of DNA

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Weather-IT Technology

    Weather-IT

    A series of weather-related citizen science projects

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Maria Aristeidou DATES: Ongoing
  • Mitten Crab Watch More Science

    Mitten Crab Watch

    Help scientists track the invasive Mitten Crab threatening U.S. waters

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Ignore That! Mind & Brain

    Ignore That!

    Help researchers better understand people’s ability to ignore unnecessary information

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Joshua Hartshorne DATES: Ongoing

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