Archive for the ‘Academic studies on citizen science’ Category

Announcing the 2017 Citizen Science Association Conference

By September 20th, 2016 at 7:49 pm | Comment


The 2017 Citizen Science Association Conference takes place May 17-20 in St. Paul, MN

Join practitioners and researchers from across the field of citizen science from May 17-20 in Saint Paul, Minnesota for the 2017  Citizen Science Association conference. Sessions will span disciplines and sectors, with a focus on making citizen science relevant and useful to more communities.

The conference will feature keynote speakers, concurrent sessions and poster presentations, a citizen science festival hosted by the Science Museum of Minnesota, and opportunities to showcase your project in front of a growing community.

Want to Participate?

Find full conference details on the conference website, join the CSA Conference Facebook group for updates, and follow the organization on Twitter (@CitSciAssoc #CitSci2017).  Membership in the Citizen Science Association is open and free, so it’s easy to become a member.

Citizen Scientists Help Unravel the Genetics of Taste

By December 19th, 2015 at 11:40 am | Comment

Citizen scientists participate in the genetics of taste lab (Image Credit: Denver Museum of Natural History)

Citizen scientists participate in the genetics of taste lab (Image Credit: Denver Museum of Natural History)

Citizen scientists help make discoveries about how genetics may shape the way we taste food. 

Turkey or ham? Stuffing or mashed potatoes? Pumpkin or apple pie?

As I prepared for Thanksgiving this year, I reflected on all the culinary choices this feasting day offers and wondered why people who share a culture, a community, or a family have such diverse preferences when it comes to their favorite holiday foods.

Maybe it’s genetics?

Researchers at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science are exploring this question through their Genetics of Taste Lab, a permanent “science on the floor” health exhibit that brings together citizen science and crowdsourcing to understand our relationship with food. Read the rest of this entry »

Putting Your Data to Work With myObservatory

By December 9th, 2015 at 6:46 am | Comment


Editor’s Note: myObservatory is a SciStarter advertiser but had no editorial input or control over this blog post.

by Kristin Butler

When I attended the Citizen Science Association’s first national conference in San Jose earlier this year, I noticed a recurring theme: while there has been an explosion in the collection of data by volunteers across the globe, researchers are still challenged to find the time and resources to organize, analyze, understand, and share all that data.

Helping people use technology to make their data meaningful is the idea behind myObservatory, an information management system platform that allows users to collect, check, analyze, and share data.

The small company was founded in 2007 by Yoram Rubin, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley who has a passion for conserving natural resources. Read the rest of this entry »

Hash Out Citizen Science in Twitter Chat Sessions

By January 19th, 2015 at 10:12 am | Comment


Starting this month, you can tune in and take part in monthly discussion sessions about citizen science. The discussions take place on Twitter and anyone is welcome to join with questions, answers, comments, and ideas. You can follow the discussion at the hashtag #CitSciChat.

The monthly #CitSciChat are sponsored by SciStarter and The Counter Culture, which is my new research lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. These Twitter chats are designed to bring citizen scientists, project managers, students, and scientists together to share ideas, knowledge, and resources. We’ll discuss news, policies, discoveries, papers, and projects. The chats are opportunities for people around the world to meet and share their experiences with citizen science.

Whether you are experienced with Twitter or not, I hope you will find it easy to take part. Here’s how it works. I’m the moderator (@CoopSciScoop) and for each session I will invite a few guests with varied expertise and who enjoy lively discussions. I’ll pose question (Q1, Q2, etc.) and guest panelists and others will answer (prefaced with A1, A2, etc). Others can answer too, and pose related questions (label them, e.g., Q1a, Q1b, etc). There are no expectations that everyone will agree, but there are expectations that everyone will be courteous, polite, and respectful. Know that it’s okay to simply follow along, but I hope you will join the conversation. If you do, be sure to remember to include the hashtag #CitSciChat so that others in the conversation don’t miss your Tweets. I will Storify each session and post the recap on this blog.

The #CitSciChat follows in the footsteps of many other Twitter chats. For example, there are Twitter journal clubs, such as #microtwjc for discussions of microbiology papers (initiated by @_zoonotica_). There are chat sessions like #StuSciChat that connects high school students and scientists (moderated by Adam Taylor @2footgiraffe) and #STEMchat that connects parents, educators, and STEM professionals (moderated by Kim Moldofsky @MakerMom).  A very popular #Edchat, founded by Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell), hosts conversations among educators.

Citizen science chats take place on Twitter at #CitSciChat the last Wednesday (Thursday in Australia) of every month, unless otherwise noted. The first will be January 28 (29th in Australia). We’ll increase in their frequency if interest levels are high. To involve people across the globe, chats take place 7-8pm GMT, which is 2-3pm ET in USA and Thursday 6-7am ET in Australia. Each session will focus on a different theme. To suggest a project or theme for an upcoming chat, send me a tweet @CoopSciScoop!

January theme:

Building A Community of Practice: Organizing the Organizers in Citizen Science

I’ve invited guests among the leadership of the Citizen Science Association, the European Citizen Science Association, and Citizen Science Network Australia. These panelists will discuss how these organizations are helping coordinate practitioners across the many disciplines that engage the public in research.

Panelists to follow:

From US:

  • Darlene Cavalier @Scicheer – CSA
  • Mary Ford @maryeford – CSA
  • Jennifer Shirk @ShirkSci – CSA (tentative)
  • Martin Storksdieck @Storksdieck – CSA

From Europe:

  • Muki Haklay @mhaklay – CSA & ESCA
  • Fermin Serrano @Ibercivis – ECSA
  • Joseph Perello @OpenSystemsUB – ECSA

From Australia:

  • @CitSciOz – CSNA
  • Michelle Neil @Michelle_Neil – CSNA

Groundbreaking Air Quality Study Demonstrates the Power of Citizen Science

By November 6th, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Comment 1

Air Sampling in Progress (Courtesy: Global Community Monitor)

Air Sampling in Progress (Courtesy: Global Community Monitor)


Editors Note: This is a guest post by Gwen Ottinger, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Drexel University.  She has done extensive research on community-based air monitoring and community-industry relations around oil refineries.  She is author of Refining Expertise: How Responsible Engineers Subvert Environmental Justice Challenges (NYU Press 2013).


A study released last week in the journal Environmental Health breaks new ground in our understanding of the environmental effects of fracking—and shows the power that citizen science can have in advancing scientific research and promoting political action.

Unconventional oil and gas (UOG) production, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking), can affect water and air quality.  Researchers, including citizen scientists, have studied its impacts on water extensively.  But we don’t know a lot about how air quality is affected, especially in nearby residential areas, according to the study, “Air concentrations of volatile compounds near oil and gas production.” Part of the problem is where most academic researchers take samples.  Too often, they choose monitoring locations based on the requirements of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, which look for regional, not local, effects of pollution.  When looking at air quality around UOG production operations, they may select sites opportunistically, based on where they can gain access or where they can find electricity for their monitoring equipment. This approach, however, may not produce data that is representative of the actual impact of fracking on air quality.

The recently released study pioneers a new approach to choosing sites for air quality monitoring: it mobilizes citizens to identify the areas where sampling was most likely to show the continuous impact of fracking emissions. Citizens chose places in their communities where they noticed a high degree of industrial activity, visible emissions, or health symptoms that could be caused by breathing toxic chemicals.  They took samples themselves, following rigorous protocols developed by non-profit groups working in conjunction with regulatory agencies and academic researchers.

The result – we now have a lot more evidence to show that UOG production can have a big impact on local air quality.  And, as a result of citizens’ involvement in selecting sampling sites, scientists and regulators now have a better idea of where to look to start studying those impacts systematically.

The study demonstrates once again the power of citizen science to improve scientific research. But it also shows the political power of citizen science.  In a companion report released by the non-profit Coming Clean, the study’s citizen-authors use their finding that air quality is significantly affected by UOG to argue that governments need to be cautious when issuing permits, and to call for more extensive monitoring that includes citizen scientists.

Next week, several of the study’s authors—and many other citizen scientists—will convene in New Orleans to cultivate the scientific and political power of citizen science.  At the Community-based Science for Action Conference, November 15-17, citizens dedicated to protecting their community’s environment and health will have the chance to try out new technologies for environmental monitoring, share best practices for successful collaboration between scientists and citizens, and learn about the legal and political issues where their science can make a difference.

Want to get involved?  Registration is still open at the conference’s website. Can’t attend but want to support your fellow citizen scientists? Consider making a donation to help send someone else to New Orleans.