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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.


  • Marine Metre Squared More Science

    Marine Metre Squared

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

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  • 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
  • SharkFinder Evolution


    Help paleontologists generate a more complete picture of ancient ocean life

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Aaron Alford and Jason Osborne DATES: Ongoing
  • LifeScanner More Science


    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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  • 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
  • National Moth Week 2014 More Science

    National Moth Week 2014

    National Moth Week 2014 kicks off July 19 worldwide and offers dozens of opportunities for Citizen Scientists

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: David Moskowitz and Liti Haramaty DATES: Saturday, July 19, 2014 - Sunday, July 27, 2014
  • New York Horseshoe Monitoring Network More Science

    New York Horseshoe Monitoring Network

    Help researchers collect data and to acquire biological information on horseshoe crabs in New York’s Marine District

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Matthew Sclafani/John Maniscalo DATES: Ongoing
  • iSeahorse More Science


    A tool for improving scientists’ understanding of seahorses and protecting them from overfishing and other threats

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Amanda Vincent 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
  • Nerds for Nature: Mt. Diablo Morgan Fire Energy & Sustainability

    Nerds for Nature: Mt. Diablo Morgan Fire

    Citizen scientists help document the recovery of charred Mt. Diablo

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  • 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
  • SatCam Technology


    Capture observations of sky and ground conditions at the same time that an Earth observation satellite is overhead

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  • 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
  • How Radioactive Is Our Ocean? Health

    How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?

    Help U.S. marine scientists monitor the spread of radiation across the Pacific Ocean from Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Ken Buesseler, Senior Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • Astro Drone Crowdsourcing Game Technology

    Astro Drone Crowdsourcing Game

    If you own a Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter, you can participate in the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Astro Drone crowdsourcing game to help improve robot vision

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Paul K. Gerke, I.G. Sprinkhuizen-Kuyper, Guido C.H.E. de Croon 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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