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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

  • 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
  • Monarch Larva Monitoring Project More Science

    Monarch Larva Monitoring Project

    Aid in conserving monarchs and their threatened migratory phenomenon, and advance our understanding of butterfly ecology in general

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Karen Oberhauser 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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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Bill Cooke 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
  • 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
  • Gravestone Project More Science

    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 More Science

    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
  • Global Garlic Mustard Field Survey More Science

    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
  • School of Ants Evolution

    School of Ants

    What will you find living in your backyard?

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Andrea Lucky, Postdoctoral Researcher DATES: Ongoing
  • Project <i>MonarchHealth</i> More Science

    Project MonarchHealth

    Help scientists better understand host-parasite interactions in monarch butterflies

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sonia Altizer, Associate Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • SoundCitizen Health

    SoundCitizen

    A community-based water sampling network based in Washington's Puget Sound region

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Rick Keil, Associate Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Lost Ladybug Project More Science

    Lost Ladybug Project

    Help entomologists better understand ladybug species distribution across North America

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: John Losey, Associate Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • BeeSpotter More Science

    BeeSpotter

    More than 75 percent of the planet's flowering plants depend on pollinators (mostly insects) in order to reproduce. Among the most important pollinators are the 5,000+ species of bees in the family Apidae, a group that includes honey bees and bumble bees

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: May Berenbaum, Professor and Department Head DATES: Ongoing
  • Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program More Science

    Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program

    As deadly white-nose syndrome moves toward Wisconsin's borders, citizens are called upon to help investigate the threat through the collection of data about these nocturnal insectivores

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jeanette Kelly, Citizen Science Center Director 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
  • 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
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