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.


  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Citizen Science Grants (NYC) Sustainability

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Citizen Science Grants (NYC)

    The EPA is offering $125,000 for citizen science projects in New York City

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Paula Zevin, volunteer coordinator DATES: Ongoing
  • MyHeartMap Challenge Tech

    MyHeartMap Challenge

    Create map of defibrillators to help save lives in the Philadelphia area

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Raina Merchant DATES: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - Tuesday, March 13, 2012
  • Monarch Larva Monitoring Project The Sciences

    Monarch Larva Monitoring Project

    Aid in conserving monarchs and their threatened migratory phenomenon, and advance our understanding of butterfly ecology in general

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Karen Oberhauser DATES: Ongoing
  • Project FeederWatch The Sciences

    Project FeederWatch

    A monitoring program for more than 100 bird species that winter in North America

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: David Bonter DATES: Ongoing
  • Wildlife Sightings The Sciences

    Wildlife Sightings

    Organize and publish nature sightings for enjoyment, education and to aid conservation efforts

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Paul Lindgreen DATES: Ongoing
  • Eyewire Health


    Help scientists help make discoveries about the neural structure of the retina

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sebastian Seung DATES: Ongoing
  • Meteor Counter Communications

    Meteor Counter

    Mobile app lets citizen scientists keep track of meteoroids

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  • Did You Feel It? The Sciences

    Did You Feel It?

    Contribute your experience of having been in an earthquake with USGS scientists

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: David Wald, Supervisory Research Geophysicist DATES: Ongoing
  • Pigeon Watch Environment

    Pigeon Watch

    Learn about city pigeons, watch pigeons for science, learn cool facts, and increase your awareness of nature in your neighborhood

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: John Fitzpatrick, Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Bee Hunt! The Sciences

    Bee Hunt!

    A scientific study to understand the impact of climate change and other factors on plant-pollinator interactions, geographic distributions and seasonal abundances

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: John Pickering, associate professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Invaders of Texas The Sciences

    Invaders of Texas

    Help with the identification and management of non-native invasive species in Texas

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Damon Waitt, Senior Botanist DATES: Ongoing
  • Phylo Health


    Help researchers use bioinformatics to better study the origins of certain genetic diseases

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jerome Waldispuhl and Mathieu Blanchette DATES: Ongoing
  • Christmas Bird Count The Sciences

    Christmas Bird Count

    The National Audubon Society's 112th Christmas Bird Count begins December 14, 2011

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gary Langham, chief scientist DATES: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - Thursday, January 5, 2012
  • Health Tracking Network [Project Closed to New Participants] Health

    Health Tracking Network [Project Closed to New Participants]

    Help researchers better understand influenza, the common cold and stomach flu. Note: This project is now closed to new participants

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Devon Brewer DATES: Ongoing
  • The Whale Song Project (Whale FM) Tech

    The Whale Song Project (Whale FM)

    Help marine researchers answer key questions about how whales communicate

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Peter Tyack, Scientist Emeritus DATES: Ongoing
  • GO Fight against Malaria Tech

    GO Fight against Malaria

    Help The Scripps Research Institute find a cure for drug-resistant malaria

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Arthur Olson, Molecular Biology Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Nearby Nature GigaBlitz #2 Tech

    Nearby Nature GigaBlitz #2

    Call for entries for a second Nearby Nature GigaBlitz, to take place December 19 to 25

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Alex Smith, Ken Tamminga and Dennis vanEngelsdorp DATES: Monday, December 19, 2011 - Sunday, December 25, 2011
  • SOHO Comet Hunting Computing

    SOHO Comet Hunting

    Discover new comets by analyzing images taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Karl Battams DATES: Ongoing
  • NASA Balloon Flight Experiment Tech

    NASA Balloon Flight Experiment

    University students vie for a chance to install their instruments on the next NASA science balloon

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: T. Gregory Guzik DATES: Ongoing

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