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.


  • Michigan Herp Atlas Sustainability

    Michigan Herp Atlas

    Help the state’s Department of Natural Resources create a statewide survey and complete history of its amphibians and reptiles

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Lori Sargent DATES: Ongoing
  • NOVA Evolution Lab Sustainability

    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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  • Canid Howl Project Biology

    Canid Howl Project

    Help researchers understand the communication of wolves, dogs and coyotes

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  • Zooniverse: Penguin Watch The Sciences

    Zooniverse: Penguin Watch

    Join researchers in sorting through 200,000-plus penguin images to help improve efforts at penguin conservation

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  • SharkFinder Evolution


    Help paleontologists generate a more complete picture of ancient ocean life

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Aaron Alford and Jason Osborne DATES: Ongoing
  • Happy Match Tech

    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
  • National Cockroach Project Ecology

    National Cockroach Project

    High school students and other citizen scientists collecting and helping analyze American cockroaches using DNA barcoding

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Mark Stoeckle, Senior Research Associate DATES: Ongoing
  • Evolution Megalab Climate

    Evolution Megalab

    Start your own banded snail hunt and learn about evolution first hand

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Robert Cameron, professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Pigeon Watch Environment

    Pigeon Watch

    Learn about city pigeons, watch pigeons for science, learn cool facts, and increase your awareness of nature in your neighborhood

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: John Fitzpatrick, Director DATES: Ongoing
  • School of Ants Environment

    School of Ants

    What will you find living in your backyard?

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Andrea Lucky, Postdoctoral Researcher DATES: Ongoing
  • Scuttle Fly Study Environment

    Scuttle Fly Study

    Researchers want your help collecting scuttle flies (Megaselia scalaris) from as many localities as possible across the U.S. in order to study the genetic factors that determine the sex of these insects

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Suzanne McGaugh DATES: Ongoing

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