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.


  • Participatory Urban Sensing Technology

    Participatory Urban Sensing

    Through the use of sensors built into your mobile phone (cameras, motion sensors and GPS) and Web services that can aggregate and interpret the assembled information, a new collective capacity is emerging: one in which people like you participate in sensing and analyzing aspects of life that were previously invisible

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Deborah Estrin DATES: Ongoing
  • Scuttle Fly Study Evolution

    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
  • Zooniverse: Planet Hunters Space

    Zooniverse: Planet Hunters

    Use data from NASA's Kepler spacecraft to find undiscovered planets outside our solar system

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Debra Fischer DATES: Ongoing
  • Foldit Online Protein Puzzle More Science

    Foldit Online Protein Puzzle

    An online game that has players solve 3-D puzzles to help scientists understand protein folding

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  • NatureMapping Energy & Sustainability


    Expand knowledge of the natural world and help translate that knowledge into positive change

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Karen Dvornich DATES: Ongoing
  • Nature's Notebook More Science

    Nature's Notebook

    Citizen scientists help the North American Bird Phenology Program study wildlife

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jake Weltzin DATES: Ongoing
  • The Quake-Catcher Network Energy & Sustainability

    The Quake-Catcher Network

    Help develop the world's largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Elizabeth Cochran DATES: Ongoing
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