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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

  • Zooniverse: Asteroid Zoo Space

    Zooniverse: Asteroid Zoo

    Scientists scanning our solar system need your help to find asteroids for the exploration of their mineral properties

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Radio JOVE Space

    Radio JOVE

    Radio JOVE students and citizen scientists observe and analyze natural radio emissions of Jupiter, the Sun and the galaxy

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jim Thieman/Chuck Higgins DATES: Ongoing
  • Dear Professor Einstein Technology

    Dear Professor Einstein

    Transcribe letters written by members of Albert Einstein’s Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists following World War II

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Floating Forests More Science

    Zooniverse: Floating Forests

    Help scientists uncover the history of Giant Kelp forests around the globe

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • The Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET) More Science

    The Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET)

    Conduct year-round beached bird surveys in order to identify and record information about bird mortality along the eastern coast of the United States

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julie Ellis, Research Assistant Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • NOVA Cybersecurity Lab Technology

    NOVA Cybersecurity Lab

    Explore the world of coding, cyber scams and online safety

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • NOVA RNA VirtuaLab Technology

    NOVA RNA VirtuaLab

    Find the patterns that dictate RNA design

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Adrien Treuille, Computer Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • Wildlife Tracker Technology

    Wildlife Tracker

    Help scientists study the impacts of habitat fragmentation on wild animals by tagging photos taken by motion-detecting cameras

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Yiwei Wang, PhD candidate DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Operation War Diary Technology

    Zooniverse: Operation War Diary

    Researchers need help transcribing regimental diaries describing events in the lives of British soldiers during the First World War

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Luke Smith, Digital Lead, First World War Centenary Program DATES: Ongoing
  • Update: EyeWire Technology

    Update: EyeWire

    Help researchers make the scientific leaps necessary to understand the brain’s higher functions

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sebastian Seung, professor of computer science DATES: Ongoing
  • Ocean Sampling Day (OSD) More Science

    Ocean Sampling Day (OSD)

    Help marine scientists worldwide study ocean samples taken during the 2014 summer solstice

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julia Schnetzer, Ph.D. student DATES: Saturday, June 21, 2014 - Saturday, June 21, 2014
  • 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
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