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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

  • 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
  • Forgotten Island Science Education

    Forgotten Island

    Contribute to scientific knowledge while playing this adventure game

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Kevin Crowston and Jun Wang DATES: Ongoing
  • Marine Animal Identification Network (MAIN) Biology

    Marine Animal Identification Network (MAIN)



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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • The Smell Experience Project Health

    The Smell Experience Project

    Help researchers understand how and why a person’s sense of smell might change over time

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Dolores Malaspina, MD, MSPH, Director of InSPIRES DATES: Ongoing
  • How Radioactive Is Our Ocean? Health

    How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?

    Help U.S. marine scientists monitor the spread of radiation across the Pacific Ocean from Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Ken Buesseler, Senior Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Project Star Date M83 More Science

    Zooniverse: Project Star Date M83

    Study Hubble telescope images to help identify the ages of the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy’s (M83) many star clusters.

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Astro Drone Crowdsourcing Game Technology

    Astro Drone Crowdsourcing Game

    If you own a Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter, you can participate in the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Astro Drone crowdsourcing game to help improve robot vision

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Paul K. Gerke, I.G. Sprinkhuizen-Kuyper, Guido C.H.E. de Croon DATES: Ongoing
  • SENSR Technology

    SENSR

    A tool to create, share and manage a citizen science project running on mobile devices to harness the power of citizen scientists

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sunyoung Kim, PhD Candidate DATES: Ongoing
  • NoiseTube Technology

    NoiseTube

    Participate in the collective noise mapping of your city or neighborhood

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Ellie D'Hondt DATES: Ongoing
  • BioCurious DIY BioPrinter Technology

    BioCurious DIY BioPrinter

    Join BioPrinter community project

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Eri Gentry, Executive Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Space Hacker Workshop Technology

    Space Hacker Workshop

    Learn how to do "space on the cheap" at this two-day event May 4-5, 2013

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Edward Wright, Chairman DATES: Saturday, May 4, 2013 - Sunday, May 5, 2013
  • Update: EyeWire Technology

    Update: EyeWire

    M.I.T.’s EyeWire project for mapping retinal neurons is out of beta testing and looking to broaden its use among citizen scientists

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sebastian Seung, professor of computational neuroscience DATES: Ongoing
  • uBiome Technology

    uBiome

    Help researchers map the human microbiome, the microorganisms that inhabit every inch of our skin as well as our ears, mouth, sinuses, genitals and gut

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Zach Apte, Will Ludington, Jessica Richman DATES: Ongoing
  • TrafficTurk Technology

    TrafficTurk

    Researchers study post-Sandy traffic patterns in New York City via a downloadable app

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Dan Work, Assistant Professor DATES: Friday, November 2, 2012 - Saturday, November 3, 2012
  • Citizen Sort Technology

    Citizen Sort

    A Web site with tools and games to classify various species of insects, animals and plants

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Kevin Crowston, Professor of Information Science DATES: Ongoing
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