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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

  • Ventus Project Energy & Sustainability

    Ventus Project

    Help researchers locate and count all the carbon dioxide at the world's power plants

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Kevin Gurney, Associate Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Digital Fishers More Science

    Digital Fishers

    Looking for a few hundred thousand citizen scientists to help analyze 15-second deep-sea videos

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Rod Dobell, Senior Research Associate DATES: Ongoing
  • Space Warps [Zooniverse] Space

    Space Warps [Zooniverse]

    Help spot rare gravitational lenses in the distant universe

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Arfon Smith, Director of Citizen Science DATES: Ongoing
  • Marine Debris Tracker More Science

    Marine Debris Tracker

    Help scientists map trash on coastlines and waterways

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jenna Jambeck, Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Notes from Nature More Science

    Zooniverse: Notes from Nature

    Help make information about natural history collections available via the Internet

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Arfon Smith, Director of Citizen Science DATES: Ongoing
  • Precipitation Identification Near the Ground (PING) More Science

    Precipitation Identification Near the Ground (PING)

    Help NOAA researchers better understand determine what kind of precipitation—such as snow, soft hail, hard hail or rain—is falling and where

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Roadkill Survey for Road Bikers More Science

    Roadkill Survey for Road Bikers

    Help ecologists better understand the impact of roadways on wildlife by submitting information about road kill

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gregg Treinish, Founder/Executive Director DATES: Ongoing
  • FrogWatch Canada More Science

    FrogWatch Canada

    Help Canadian herpetologists understand (and hopefully correct) declining frog populations in their country

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Project MERCCURI More Science

    Project MERCCURI

    Collect microbial samples on Earth and compare them with microbes found on the International Space Station (ISS)

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jonathan Eisen, Professor DATES: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - Sunday, September 1, 2013
  • Hummingbirds @ Home More Science

    Hummingbirds @ Home

    Track, report and follow the spring hummingbird migration to better understand how climate change is impacting hummingbirds

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gary Langham, VP and Chief Scientist DATES: Friday, March 22, 2013 - Saturday, June 15, 2013
  • SubseaObservers More Science

    SubseaObservers

    Help assess the health and abundance of the mid-Atlantic scallop fishery

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Art Trembanis, Associate Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Snowtweets More Science

    Snowtweets

    Tweet data about snow depths in your area

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Richard Kelly, Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Management DATES: Ongoing
  • IceWatch USA More Science

    IceWatch USA

    Help researchers study how seasonal differences in the ice cover of lakes, rivers and other areas impact ecosystems

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Melinda Hughes-Wert and James Wert DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Snapshot Serengeti More Science

    Zooniverse: Snapshot Serengeti

    Help researchers identify animals photographed in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park—from the safety and comfort of your computer

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Craig Packer, Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • RinkWatch More Science

    RinkWatch

    Climate science and sports collide as researchers track outdoor skating days for signs of environmental change

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Colin Robertson, Assistant Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Play with Your Dog More Science

    Play with Your Dog

    Help researchers investigate canine behavior by sending video of time spent playing with your furry friends [DEADLINE: MARCH 31, 2013]

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Alexandra Horowitz and Julie Hecht DATES: Ongoing
  • Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey More Science

    Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey

    Hunters can help the N.Y. State Department of Conservation keep tabs on important game birds

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Joe Martens, Commissioner DATES: Ongoing
  • Bat Detective More Science

    Bat Detective

    Help researchers identify and classify bat calls

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Kate Jones, Professor of Ecology and Biodiversity 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
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