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.


  • National Cockroach Project Ecology

    National Cockroach Project

    High school students and other citizen scientists collecting and helping analyze American cockroaches using DNA barcoding

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Mark Stoeckle, Senior Research Associate DATES: Ongoing
  • Killer Whale Tracker The Sciences

    Killer Whale Tracker

    Monitor endangered Pacific Northwest killer whales by detecting orca sounds and measuring noise levels using hydrophones

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  • 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
  • New Jersey Shorebird Survey The Sciences

    New Jersey Shorebird Survey

    Citizen scientists with birding experience can help New Jersey study its migrant shorebird habitats

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Nellie Tsipoura, Senior Research Scientist and Citizen Science Director DATES: Friday, July 15, 2011 - Monday, October 31, 2011
  • Nature's Notebook The Sciences

    Nature's Notebook

    Citizen scientists help the North American Bird Phenology Program study wildlife

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jake Weltzin DATES: Ongoing

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