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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

  • 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
  • Asteroid Data Hunter Technology

    Asteroid Data Hunter

    Protecting the Earth from the threat of asteroid impacts means first knowing where they are

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Science Gossip Technology

    Zooniverse: Science Gossip

    Help researchers classify Victorian-era science drawings and map the origins of citizen science

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Reverse the Odds Technology

    Reverse the Odds

    Analyze real cancer data by playing a mobile game

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Anne Kiltie and Gareth Thomas DATES: Ongoing
  • Nanocrafter More Science

    Nanocrafter

    A game that challenges players to build nanoscale devices using small pieces of DNA

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Play to Cure: Genes in Space Health

    Play to Cure: Genes in Space

    Free mobile game that uses the collective force of players to analyze real genetic data

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Hannah Keartland 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
  • Lost at Night Space

    Lost at Night

    Help astrophysicists georeference the position of cities which appear in images taken from the International Space Station (ISS)

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: José Gómez Castaño 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
  • Zooniverse: Asteroid Zoo Space

    Zooniverse: Asteroid Zoo

    Scientists scanning our solar system need your help to find asteroids for the exploration of their mineral properties

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Radio JOVE Space

    Radio JOVE

    Radio JOVE students and citizen scientists observe and analyze natural radio emissions of Jupiter, the Sun and the galaxy

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jim Thieman/Chuck Higgins DATES: Ongoing
  • Dear Professor Einstein Technology

    Dear Professor Einstein

    Transcribe letters written by members of Albert Einstein’s Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists following World War II

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Floating Forests More Science

    Zooniverse: Floating Forests

    Help scientists uncover the history of Giant Kelp forests around the globe

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various 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
  • NOVA Cybersecurity Lab Technology

    NOVA Cybersecurity Lab

    Explore the world of coding, cyber scams and online safety

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • NOVA RNA VirtuaLab Technology

    NOVA RNA VirtuaLab

    Find the patterns that dictate RNA design

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Adrien Treuille, Computer Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • Wildlife Tracker Technology

    Wildlife Tracker

    Help scientists study the impacts of habitat fragmentation on wild animals by tagging photos taken by motion-detecting cameras

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Yiwei Wang, PhD candidate DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Operation War Diary Technology

    Zooniverse: Operation War Diary

    Researchers need help transcribing regimental diaries describing events in the lives of British soldiers during the First World War

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Luke Smith, Digital Lead, First World War Centenary Program DATES: Ongoing

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