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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

  • 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
  • Zooniverse Seafloor Explorer Technology

    Zooniverse Seafloor Explorer

    Identify species and ground cover in images of the seafloor, and help create a library of seafloor life in the habitats along the northeast continental shelf

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Scott Gallager, Biologist DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse CycloneCenter Technology

    Zooniverse CycloneCenter

    Help scientists analyze the intensities of past tropical cyclones around the globe

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Chris Hennon DATES: Ongoing
  • Geo-Wiki Project Technology

    Geo-Wiki Project

    Help researchers improve the quality of global land-cover maps

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Steffen Fritz, Research Scholar DATES: Ongoing
  • "Tag A Tiny" Tuna Fishing Program Technology

    "Tag A Tiny" Tuna Fishing Program

    Help the Large Pelagics Research Center improve scientific understanding of large fish and other species living in the open ocean by supporting and participating in cooperative research projects

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Molly Lutcavage, director, research professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Update: The Quake-Catcher Network Technology

    Update: The Quake-Catcher Network

    Southern California residents called on to install mini-sensors that record earthquake data beneficial to science, emergency response and seismic safety

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Elizabeth Cochran DATES: Ongoing
  • WildObs Technology

    WildObs

    Record and share your photos and observations about wildlife

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Adam Jack 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • The Whale Song Project (Whale FM) Technology

    The Whale Song Project (Whale FM)

    Help marine researchers answer key questions about how whales communicate

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Peter Tyack, Scientist Emeritus DATES: Ongoing
  • GO Fight against Malaria Technology

    GO Fight against Malaria

    Help The Scripps Research Institute find a cure for drug-resistant malaria

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Arthur Olson, Molecular Biology Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Nearby Nature GigaBlitz #2 Technology

    Nearby Nature GigaBlitz #2

    Call for entries for a second Nearby Nature GigaBlitz, to take place December 19 to 25

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Alex Smith, Ken Tamminga and Dennis vanEngelsdorp DATES: Monday, December 19, 2011 - Sunday, December 25, 2011
  • NASA Balloon Flight Experiment Technology

    NASA Balloon Flight Experiment

    University students vie for a chance to install their instruments on the next NASA science balloon

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: T. Gregory Guzik DATES: Ongoing
  • 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
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