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.


  • Native Buzz More Science

    Native Buzz

    Learn more about the nesting preferences, diversity and distribution of indigenous solitary bees and wasps, share this information, and provide a forum for others interested in native beekeeping

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jason Graham, Honeybee Extension Lab DATES: Ongoing
  • WildObs Technology


    Record and share your photos and observations about wildlife

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  • North American Bird Phenology Program More Science

    North American Bird Phenology Program

    Help ornithologists make historical bird migration records available to the public via the Web

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jessica Zelt, Program Coordinator DATES: Ongoing
  • The UVA Bay Game Technology

    The UVA Bay Game

    Online game informs researchers and policymakers about caring for watershed areas

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jeffrey Plank, Associate Vice President for Research DATES: Ongoing
  • Wildlife Health Event Reporter More Science

    Wildlife Health Event Reporter

    Citizen scientists engaging in their regular work or recreational activities have tremendous potential to observe and record events that may identify important changes in the environment

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  • Update: Nature's Notebook More Science

    Update: Nature's Notebook

    Phenological citizen science project anticipates recording its millionth observation

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jake Weltzin, Executive Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Update: Old Weather and Naval History Technology

    Update: Old Weather and Naval History

    Old Weather Citizen Science project enlisted to help write naval history

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gordon Smith DATES: Ongoing
  • Solar-Storm Watch Space

    Solar-Storm Watch

    Help solar scientists spot explosions on the sun and track them across space to Earth

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Chris Davis, Project Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • Camel Cricket Census More Science

    Camel Cricket Census

    The Your Wild Life team needs citizen scientists to share observations and photos of camel crickets

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Katlin Mooneyham DATES: Ongoing
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Citizen Science Grants (NYC) Energy & Sustainability

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Citizen Science Grants (NYC)

    The EPA is offering $125,000 for citizen science projects in New York City

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Paula Zevin, volunteer coordinator DATES: Ongoing
  • MyHeartMap Challenge Technology

    MyHeartMap Challenge

    Create map of defibrillators to help save lives in the Philadelphia area

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Raina Merchant DATES: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - Tuesday, March 13, 2012
  • Wildlife Sightings More Science

    Wildlife Sightings

    Organize and publish nature sightings for enjoyment, education and to aid conservation efforts

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Paul Lindgreen DATES: Ongoing
  • Eyewire Health


    Help scientists help make discoveries about the neural structure of the retina

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sebastian Seung DATES: Ongoing
  • World Water Monitoring Day Health

    World Water Monitoring Day

    Test your local water and share the results globally

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: various regional scientists DATES: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - Monday, December 31, 2012
  • Meteor Counter Space

    Meteor Counter

    Mobile app lets citizen scientists keep track of meteoroids

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  • Did You Feel It? More Science

    Did You Feel It?

    Contribute your experience of having been in an earthquake with USGS scientists

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: David Wald, Supervisory Research Geophysicist DATES: Ongoing
  • Pigeon Watch Evolution

    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
  • Bee Hunt! More Science

    Bee Hunt!

    A scientific study to understand the impact of climate change and other factors on plant-pollinator interactions, geographic distributions and seasonal abundances

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: John Pickering, associate professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Phylo Health


    Help researchers use bioinformatics to better study the origins of certain genetic diseases

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jerome Waldispuhl and Mathieu Blanchette DATES: Ongoing
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