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.


  • Send Us Your Skeletons [Australia] Sustainability

    Send Us Your Skeletons [Australia]

    Play a key role in fishing research being conducted by Western Australia’s Department of Fisheries

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  • Animal Ownership Interaction Study The Sciences

    Animal Ownership Interaction Study

    A study to establish once and for all how owner personality and psychological status affect a pet dog’s behavior

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Nicholas Dodman DATES: Ongoing
  • Track a Tree [U.K.] Sustainability

    Track a Tree [U.K.]

    Track a Tree will provide insights into the seasonal timing of U.K. woodland species, and how future changes in climate may affect the interactions between trees and flowering plants

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Christine Tansey DATES: Ongoing
  • Virginia Key Restoration Sustainability

    Virginia Key Restoration

    Volunteer to help monitor habitat restoration on this 1,200-acre barrier island situated two miles east of downtown Miami and one mile southwest of Miami Beach

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Fernando Bretos, Curator of Ecology and Director of MUVE DATES: Ongoing
  • Connecticut Turtle Atlas Sustainability

    Connecticut Turtle Atlas

    Help scientists track turtles statewide to better understand threats to their habitat

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Tim Walsh, Citizen Science Coordinator DATES: Ongoing
  • Michigan Herp Atlas Sustainability

    Michigan Herp Atlas

    Help the state’s Department of Natural Resources create a statewide survey and complete history of its amphibians and reptiles

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Lori Sargent DATES: Ongoing
  • Wildbook for Whale Sharks The Sciences

    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 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 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 The Sciences

    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 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] The Sciences

    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 The Sciences

    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 The Sciences

    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 Tech


    A series of weather-related citizen science projects

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Maria Aristeidou DATES: Ongoing
  • Mitten Crab Watch The Sciences

    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.) The Sciences

    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 The Sciences

    Marine Metre Squared

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

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