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.


  • Gravestone Project The Sciences

    Gravestone Project

    Citizen scientists map the location of graveyards around the globe as well as the impact of air pollution on marble gravestones

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gary Lewis, EarthTrek Project Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Turtle Roadway Mortality Study The Sciences

    Turtle Roadway Mortality Study

    Citizen scientists document turtle roadkill observations in Massachusetts through an online mapping interface

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Tim Dexter and Mike Jones DATES: Ongoing
  • Morphology Analysis Project for Participatory Exploration and Research (MAPPER) Environment

    Morphology Analysis Project for Participatory Exploration and Research (MAPPER)

    Help NASA find life on Mars by exploring the lakes of British Columbia

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Margarita Marinova DATES: Ongoing
  • The Dragonfly Swarm Project The Sciences

    The Dragonfly Swarm Project

    Participate in a large-scale study of dragonfly swarming behavior

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Christine Goforth, aka "Dragonfly Woman" DATES: Ongoing
  • Safecast Sustainability


    Help researchers study the impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster by taking and submitting radiation readings

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sean Bonner, Global Operations DATES: Ongoing
  • PiggyDemic Health


    Become part of a social-networking effort to understand and fight viral threats

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gal Almogy and Nir Ben-Tal, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department DATES: Ongoing
  • JellyWatch The Sciences


    Help marine biologists track the movement and location of jellyfish and other unusual marine life

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Steve Haddock, Lead Researcher DATES: Ongoing
  • Gulf Oil Spill Tracker Sustainability

    Gulf Oil Spill Tracker

    Help track oil still coming onshore from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Paul Woods, Chief Technology Officer DATES: Ongoing
  • Volunteer Field Observer Program Sustainability

    Volunteer Field Observer Program

    Help monitor shoreline conditions along Alabama's coast and alert officials of places where oil washed ashore and where wildlife was (and is) affected

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Bethany Kraft, Executive Director DATES: Ongoing
  • The Sciences

    Help University of Arizona researchers track rainfall throughout the state

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gary Woodward, Associate Director, Hydrology and Water Resources DATES: Ongoing
  • Encyclopedia of Life The Sciences

    Encyclopedia of Life

    Join a global effort to document all 1.9 million named species of animals, plants and other forms of life on Earth

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Erick Mata, Executive Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Global Garlic Mustard Field Survey The Sciences

    Global Garlic Mustard Field Survey

    Citizen scientists have an opportunity to contribute to biological research and learn more about the impact of invasive species

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Robert Colautti, Postdoctoral Scholar (North America) DATES: Ongoing
  • Redwood Watch Sustainability

    Redwood Watch

    Citizen scientists help the Save the Redwoods League by recording observations of some of the world's largest trees

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Ruskin Hartley, Executive Director and Secretary DATES: Ongoing
  • Project Noah The Sciences

    Project Noah

    Help researchers build the go-to platform for documenting all the world's organisms

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Yasser Ansari DATES: Ongoing
  • Project Squirrel The Sciences

    Project Squirrel

    In addition to being interesting animals to watch, squirrels can tell us a lot about our local environment and how it is changing

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Steve Sullivan, Director DATES: Ongoing
  • FrogWatch USA The Sciences

    FrogWatch USA

    Learn about the wetlands in your community and help conserve amphibians by reporting the calls of local frogs and toads

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Paul Boyle, Senior Vice President for Conservation and Education DATES: Ongoing
  • Shark Observation Network The Sciences

    Shark Observation Network

    Help researchers study the broadnose sevengill shark in the San Diego area

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Vallorie Hodges, Diving Safety Officer 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
  • NestWatch The Sciences


    NestWatch aims to provide a unified nest-monitoring scheme to track reproductive success for all North American breeding birds

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jason Martin, Project Leader DATES: Ongoing

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