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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

  • MySwan (Australia) More Science

    MySwan (Australia)

    Australians can help scientists study black swans living at Albert Park Lake, in the urban heart of Melbourne

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Raoul Mulder, Associate Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Where's the Elderberry Longhorn Beetle? More Science

    Where's the Elderberry Longhorn Beetle?

    Help an evolutionary biologist and entomologist track the declining population of Elderberry Longhorn Beetle

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Dan Duran, Assistant Teaching Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Mountain Watch More Science

    Mountain Watch

    Hikers, families, school groups and conservationists can help scientists make observations along the U.S.’s Eastern Appalachian mountains and other northeast areas

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Georgia Murray, Staff Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse Condor Watch Technology

    Zooniverse Condor Watch

    Help researchers better understand the social dynamic of condors by identifying them in photos taken all across California

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • iSeeChange Everyday Science

    iSeeChange

    Contribute to a socially networked weather Almanac for communities to collectively journal climate observations, questions and decisions against near-real time climate information

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julia Kumari Drapkin DATES: Ongoing
  • 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
  • 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
  • NOVA Cloud Lab

    NOVA Cloud Lab

    Try your hand at classifying clouds and investigating the role they play in severe tropical storms

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • NOVA Energy Lab Energy & Sustainability

    NOVA Energy Lab

    Help design energy systems that meet demand and save the greatest amount of carbon emissions for the least amount of money

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Weddell Seal Population Count More Science

    Weddell Seal Population Count

    Help scientists in the field monitor the Weddell seal population in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jay Rotella, Robert Garrott and Don Siniff DATES: Ongoing
  • Flusurvey Health

    Flusurvey

    Feeling sick in the U.K. or Europe? At least it won’t interfere with your citizen science work

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Alma Adler & John Edmunds (UK) DATES: Ongoing
  • The Snowtweets Project More Science

    The Snowtweets Project

    Citizen scientists can help Canadian researchers map snow depths worldwide using Twitter

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Richard Kelly, Professor DATES: Ongoing
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