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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

  • Play to Cure: Genes in Space Health

    Play to Cure: Genes in Space

    Free mobile game that uses the collective force of players to analyze real genetic data

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Hannah Keartland DATES: Ongoing
  • Weather-IT Technology

    Weather-IT

    A series of weather-related citizen science projects

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Maria Aristeidou DATES: Ongoing
  • Mitten Crab Watch More Science

    Mitten Crab Watch

    Help scientists track the invasive Mitten Crab threatening U.S. waters

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Ignore That! Mind & Brain

    Ignore That!

    Help researchers better understand people’s ability to ignore unnecessary information

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Joshua Hartshorne DATES: Ongoing
  • Canid Howl Project Evolution

    Canid Howl Project

    Help researchers understand the communication of wolves, dogs and coyotes

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Fatty Acids: The 6th Taste? (Denver, Colo.) More Science

    Fatty Acids: The 6th Taste? (Denver, Colo.)

    Help Denver’s community-based Genetics of Taste Lab explore the possibility that there are more than just the five known tastes of sweet, sour, salty, umami (savory) and bitter

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Nicole Garneau/Richard Mattes DATES: Ongoing
  • Lost at Night Space

    Lost at Night

    Help astrophysicists georeference the position of cities which appear in images taken from the International Space Station (ISS)

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: José Gómez Castaño DATES: Ongoing
  • Marine Metre Squared More Science

    Marine Metre Squared

    New Zealand citizen scientists monitor the diversity living things found on beaches

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • 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
  • Zooniverse: Penguin Watch Evolution

    Zooniverse: Penguin Watch

    Join researchers in sorting through 200,000-plus penguin images to help improve efforts at penguin conservation

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various 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
  • LifeScanner More Science

    LifeScanner

    Discover the diversity of living organisms around you and contribute to a global knowledge base on biological diversity

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sujeevan Ratnasingham, Director of Informatics DATES: Ongoing
  • New England Basking Shark and Ocean Sunfish Project More Science

    New England Basking Shark and Ocean Sunfish Project

    Help researchers learn about the biology and ecology of the second-largest living fish

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication and Health (BEACH) Program Health

    Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication and Health (BEACH) Program

    Help monitor the health of Washington State beaches

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Debby Sargeant, BEACH Program Manager DATES: Ongoing
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