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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

  • MicroBlitz [Western Australia] More Science

    MicroBlitz [Western Australia]

    University of Western Australia researchers are looking for citizen scientists to send them soil samples from around the state to better understand region’s biodiversity and environmental health

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Andy Whiteley DATES: Ongoing
  • Go Viral Health

    Go Viral

    Research program collects fluid specimens from the community and analyzes them with the latest molecular diagnostics instruments

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Rumi Chunara DATES: Ongoing
  • Citizen Science Soil Collection Program More Science

    Citizen Science Soil Collection Program

    Help University of Oklahoma scientists study microscopic life in search of new drug compounds

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Robert Cichewicz DATES: Ongoing
  • Migratory Dragonfly Partnership More Science

    Migratory Dragonfly Partnership

    Join a growing citizen science community working together to increase knowledge about North America’s five main migratory dragonfly species

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Celeste Mazzacano 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

    SharkFinder

    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

    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
  • 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

    iSeahorse

    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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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • 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

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