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.


  • Wildbook for Whale Sharks More Science

    Wildbook for Whale Sharks

    Help with whale shark research by submitting photos and sighting data

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Zaven Arzoumanian, Director, President, Co-Founder DATES: Ongoing
  • Fairbanks Community of Observers Energy & Sustainability

    Fairbanks Community of Observers

    Vermont’s Fairbanks Museum Community of Observers provides the tools to help regional citizen scientists record and map data on a variety of topics, including wildflowers, birds, butterflies and weather patterns.

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  • NYC Cyclist Air Quality Study Energy & Sustainability

    NYC Cyclist Air Quality Study

    NYC cyclists can help Columbia University researchers study air pollution on the streets

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Steve Chillrud/Darby Jack DATES: Ongoing
  • Plants of Concern More Science

    Plants of Concern

    Conservation agencies in the Chicago area monitor endangered, threatened, and rare plants

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Rachel Goad, Program Manager DATES: Ongoing
  • Sudden Oak Death (SOD) Blitz Energy & Sustainability

    Sudden Oak Death (SOD) Blitz

    Help University of California at Berkeley researchers track a deadly tree pathogen throughout California and Oregon

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Matteo Garbelotto DATES: Ongoing
  • 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


    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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  • 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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  • 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

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