Capacity Crowd for Citizen Science 2015 Conference

By Darlene Cavalier February 10th, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Comment

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SAN JOSE, CA – A global audience is gathering this week, intent on changing the way science is done. Over 600 people from 25 countries will convene February 11 and 12, 2015, at the San Jose Convention Center for “Citizen Science 2015,” the inaugural conference of the Citizen Science Association (CSA).

In citizen science, members of the public participate in real scientific research. To date, participants in this rapidly expanding field have made significant contributions to the study of neurobiology, astronomy, ornithology, genetics, psychology, linguistics, and many other disciplines. At the same time, public knowledge and insights have helped bridge research and action in arenas such as environmental justice, public health, conservation, and engineering.

Dr. Alan Leshner, CEO of AAAS, comments: “AAAS is pleased that the Citizen Science Association is hosting their first conference near the 2015 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose. Our meeting offers scientist-citizens many ways to engage with public audiences; the Citizen Science Association offers additional strategies for scientist-citizens and citizen-scientists to connect in meaningful ways.”

In brief, citizen science stands to transform scientific research. To ensure integrity as it does, Citizen Science 2015 brings together scientists, volunteers, data managers, educators, and many others to addresses the frontiers, innovations, and challenges that are common across the diverse disciplines using this research approach. Over 350 talks and posters will address, among other things, data management and visualization, STEM education, novel technologies, industry partnerships, and strategies for addressing issues of ethics and inclusivity in participation. Sessions include:

KEYNOTE: A Place in the World–Science, Society, and Reframing the Questions We Ask. (Dr. Chris Filardi – Director, Pacific Programs, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History)

KEYNOTE: EyeWire: Why Do Gamers Enjoy Mapping the Brain? (Amy Robinson – Executive Director, EyeWire)

WORKSHOP AND OPEN SESSION: Developing a Framework for Citizen Science in STEM Education (Citizen Science Association Education Working Group, supported by the National Science Foundation; Session Chair Sarah Kirn, Gulf of Maine Research Institute)

PANEL: Biomedical Citizen Science: Emerging Opportunities and Unique Challenges (National Institutes of Health Citizen Science Working Group; Session Chair Dr. Jennifer Couch, National Cancer Institute)

SYMPOSIUM: Using a Citizen Science Approach to Change the Face of Environmental Public Health Research (Session Chair: Dr. Monica Ramirez-Andreotta, University of Arizona)

PANEL: Creating a Welcoming, Inclusive, Diverse, and Just Citizen Science Association (Session Chair: Tim Vargo, Urban Ecology Center)

SYMPOSIUM: Supporting Multi-Scale Citizen Science: Leveraging the Local, Addressing the Global (Session Chair: Mark Chandler, Earthwatch Institute)

Additional conference activities include a poster session and reception, a hackfest, and a BioBlitz of downtown San Jose.

This event is an official pre-conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting. Conference supporters include the National Science Foundation, National Geographic, and others.

For more information: please visit

Conference blog:

Follow us on Twitter: @CitSciAssoc and #CitSci2015

Additional contacts from the CSA Board of Directors:

Rick Bonney, Cornell Lab of Ornithology,
Darlene Cavalier, Arizona State University,
Mary Ford, National Geographic,
Muki Haklay, University College London,
Greg Newman, Colorado State University,

Contact: Jennifer Shirk, CSA Communications Coordinator (additional contacts below)
Phone: 607-342-0995

Categories: Events,hackfest

Propose or Join a Citizen Science Hackfest Project!

By Darlene Cavalier February 10th, 2015 at 11:20 am | Comment

Propose or join a project or activity for the SciStarter Hackfest at the Citizen Science Association Conference!

Be a part of SciStarter's hackfest at CitSci 2015 in San Jose, California!

Be a part of SciStarter’s hackfest at CitSci 2015 in San Jose, California!

What: A hands-on and discussion-driven meet-up where everyone participates in dreaming up AND building creative tools to improve the field of citizen science!

Where: Citizen Science 2015 Conference, San Jose, CA

Who: The SciStarter team and YOU!

Why: To capitalize on the collective wisdom (and desire to act!) at the Citizen Science Association Conference

The inaugural conference of the Citizen Science Association will take place February 11-12 in San Jose, California and the SciStarter team is looking forward to soaking up new information during the scheduled sessions and talks!

We’ll also contribute to these conversations through a few presentations and an interactive, “roll-up-your-sleeves!” hackfest designed for everyone.

Will you join us? Learn more about SciStarter’s past Hackfests here.

First, make sure you have registered for the Citizen Science 2015 Conference if you want to participate in person. You can join us remotely, too. Just let us know how you plan to participate when you sign up.

Then, fill out this form to let us know you’re coming so we know how many people to expect. Remember, ALL contributions are valuable, and some projects may be discussion-based (no programming skills required). All projects should spark the start of something great! Just bring your creativity, enthusiasm and talents and we’ll make sure you’ll have fun!

Do you have a Hackfest idea or project you’d like people to know about or join at the event? Great!

Use this form to propose a project for the Hackfest at the Citizen Science Association meeting, February 11, 2015, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm at the San Jose Convention Center!

Here’s the running list of proposed projects! Just click on the image to learn more about the proposed project.


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1.  Agile Citizen Science
Join this group to participate in a brainstorm session to generate ideas and examples of possible agile citizen science projects and of the design features for a digital platform that would support those projects. Click to learn more.

scistarter robot
2. Locating Citizen Science Activity
Having a simple, accurate representation of a project’s geographic area of interest is important not only for validating the contributed data, but also for finding and recruiting potential participants who live or visit the area of interest and may be able to contribute. Click to learn more.

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3. Update Wikipedia Entry for Citizen Science
You’ll learn how to add content to Wikipedia! Between 80-90% of Wikipedia editors are male, so I, Dr. Caren Cooper, particularly want to encourage women to participate. Click to learn more.


scistarter fresh data
4. Fresh Data/Notify Me!
We want to help biologists subscribe to fresh data alerts for their species and regions of interest from many (wildlife observation) citizen science platforms, and enable observers on those platforms to be notified if their observation was sent to someone. Click to learn more.


scistarter fresh data
5. Hackfest for the world’s biggest fish!
Produce a mobile- and tablet-friendly spot mapping tool to allow whale shark researchers to quickly map the spots on a whale shark in the browser of their favorite device and then submit that pattern to our existing grid computer. In short, we need some help with JavaScript to create a simple tool for shark researchers all over the world. Click to learn more.


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6. Citizen Science Web Platform Needs Activity
Help those who develop citizen science web platforms / websites design and create better solutions for your needs. Come to this brainstorm session to offer your insights into what is needed to better support online data management for citizen science projects. Click to learn more.


Citizen Science for Your Genes and Proteins

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) February 9th, 2015 at 9:10 pm | Comment



DNA, proteins, and chromosomes are too small to be seen with the naked eye, but there are plenty of citizen science projects that make the building blocks of life accessible to us all.

Here are some great projects that need your help to advance our understanding of what we’re made of and where we come from.


Read the rest of this entry »

Declining monarch population means increased need for citizen scientists

By Eva Lewandowski February 7th, 2015 at 12:00 pm | Comment

(Wendy Caldwell) adult monarch












With its striking orange and black coloring and transcontinental range, the monarch butterfly is probably the most recognizable insect in North America. All pollinators are important to maintaining our food supply, but monarchs also have a key role in education; for decades schoolchildren across North America have been raising and releasing monarchs as part of their science lessons. Unfortunately, while monarchs were once one of the most commonly seen pollinators in gardens and fields, in the past decade there has been a precipitous drop in the monarch population. Just last week the World Wildlife Fund, in conjunction with the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, released the latest monarch population estimate- a number that was the second lowest on record for the population1.

The annual estimates of the monarch population are taken at the monarch’s overwintering site in central Mexico. Most of the monarchs in North America live east of the Rocky Mountains, and each fall they migrate thousands of miles south to their overwintering location in Mexico, where they cluster together on oyamel fir trees. In the spring those same monarchs fly north, where they produce new generations that spread throughout the United States and Canada. Their vast summer range can make it difficult to get precise estimates of the population size, but in winter the monarchs are bunched tightly together, making population estimates more feasible. Instead of counting individual monarchs, scientists record the amount of land that the overwintering monarch population covers.

This year, the monarchs covered 1.13 hectares; that’s a little more than two football fields’ worth of land. That might sound like a staggeringly small size, but it’s actually a 69 percent increase over last year’s population, which was the smallest on record. This increase offers some hope to counterbalance the fact that the current population size is the second smallest on record, but there is still much concern about the monarch. In fact, the US Fish & Wildlife Service is currently evaluating the monarch for listing as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

A listing would provide the monarch with legal protections, but a decision is not expected for at least a year, and in the meantime, there are many things that the public can do right now to help monarchs!

Planting native nectar plants and native milkweed, the only plant on which monarchs will lay eggs, is an easy way to help, but people who want to get more involved will find a whole host of monarch citizen science projects in need of volunteers. These projects study monarchs as they migrate and reproduce in the United States and Canada, and provide insight into how disease, climate change, and habitat loss are affecting the monarch population. Citizen science is so important to monarch research that since 2000, almost two-thirds of the published results on monarch field research have used citizen science data2. University of Minnesota Professor Karen Oberhauser, who heads the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, emphasizes the need for continued participation in monarch citizen science projects.

“As the monarch population becomes smaller, it is important that we continue these efforts, even if it’s not as much fun to monitor something that we don’t see as often,” said Oberhauser. “We need to understand what’s driving the declines, and, hopefully, what drives future increases.”

If you’d like to help with the ongoing research into monarch conservation, check out these projects:

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project- Volunteers from across North America regularly monitor milkweed plants for monarch eggs and larvae, in order to understand variations in the monarch population. Some volunteers rear wild caught monarchs and record rates of parasitism.

Project Monarch Health- Participants carefully take scale samples from adult monarchs to test for the presence of a widespread parasite called OE. Sampling doesn’t hurt the monarchs, and it’s easy to do.

Journey North- People from across North America help track the monarch’s spring and fall migrations by entering observations online. Anyone who sees a monarch is encouraged to log the sighting with Journey North, which then creates interactive maps of the migration.

Monarch Watch- Volunteers with this project place small, lightweight tags on monarch wings. When monarchs with those tags are recovered, Monarch Watch can track how far monarchs travel.

Western Monarch Count- Most monarchs along the West Coast don’t migrate to Mexico; instead, they overwinter in California. Every November and December, volunteers are needed to count overwintering monarchs.


1Monarch Joint Venture.

2 Ries, L., and K. S. Oberhauser. In press. A citizen-army for science:  Quantifying the contributions of citizen scientists to our understanding of monarch butterfly biology. Bioscience.

Photo courtesy of Wendy Caldwell.

Eva Lewandowski is a PhD candidate in the Conservation Biology Graduate Program at the University of Minnesota. She is part of the Monarch Lab, where she studies citizen science and conservation education.

Categories: Citizen Science

San Jose, we’re comin’ at ya with a TON of #citizenscience !

By Darlene Cavalier February 6th, 2015 at 4:22 pm | Comment

Are you planning to attend the Citizen Science Association’s Conference and/or the American Association for the Advancement of Science Conference and Family Science Days in San Jose, CA?

Let’s meet up!

Here’s where you will find SciStarter: All events are at the San Jose Convention Center.

Citizen Science Association Conference

2/11 11:50am The Crowd & The Cloud – Using Broadcast and Social Media to Advance and Support Citizen Science

Abstract: A November 2013 workshop on “New Visions in Citizen Science” at the Wilson Center concluded with a series of recommendations as to next steps, including (1) raising the visibility and impact of citizen science (CS); (2) broadening participation and lowering barriers to entry; and (3) developing and deploying training materials, including “success stories.” THE CROWD & THE CLOUD project (C&C), supported by NSF, is an ambitious transmedia initiative addressing each of those challenges. C&C includes 4 hour-long public television programs to air in Fall 2016, innovative social media resources, including a custom-designed 2nd screen app to help turn “viewers into do-ers,” and external evaluation to address the questions, “How, where, when, why and with whom can media, both broadcast and online, generate greater and deeper involvement in citizen science?” This session addresses conference Themes 1, 2 and 4 and invites creative collaboration by attendees in C&C’s work relatively early in project development.

Panelists will include C&C PI, Geoff Haines-Stiles (moderator), former NASA Chief Scientist, Waleed Abdalati, now director of CIRES, UC Boulder and host of the TV specials (on Big Science and the democratization of research), Darlene Cavalier, founder, Science Cheerleader and SciStarter (on maximizing awareness of innovative CS projects), Raj Pandya, Program Director of AGU’s Thriving Earth Exchange (on engaging underserved communities in CS) and Alexis de Belloy, Entrepreneur in Residence, Skoll Global Threats Fund, on SGTF’s support of participatory surveillance and “crowd-sourcing” for public health initiatives such as “Flu Near You.” This diverse panel will discuss C&C’s assumptions about how media—old and new—can mobilize broader awareness of, and greater participation in, CS by the public, and acceptance by professional researchers. It will present planned program content and invite feedback and new ideas, and the audience will even have a chance to boo or cheer episode working titles!

4:10 pm Aligning Next Generation Science Standards to Citizen Science

Abstract: The proposed session will feature several citizen science projects that have taken steps to bring their projects into the K-12 classrooms by aligning with the Next Generation Science Standards to make use of data that students can use to construct explanations and design solutions, engage in argument from evidence, and obtain, evaluate and communicate information.

Presenter/Panelists include (1) Andrew Collins with School of Ants, a citizen-scientist driven study of the ants that live in urban areas, (2) Leanora Shell with Your Wild Life and the Students Discover Project from North Carolina (NC) State University and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, (3) Kristian Breton from the New York Academy of Sciences who is working with the Education team to design and build an online platform where youth can share and explore Citizen Science projects, (4) Sandra Henderson with NEON’s Project Budburst, a climate change focused citizen science program for educators, and (5) Jennifer Fee, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s BirdSleuth K-12 program, which engages students in schoolyard investigations and citizen-science projects. Moderated by Darlene Cavalier, Founder of SciStarter.

After a series of short talks, the speaker/panelists will solicit input from the community on how to use citizen science data in the classroom and gather citizen science from classrooms. Questions could focus on data mining, suitable research questions, available data sets, and analysis tools, as well as how best to engage teachers and students in the research. The feedback from participants in this session could help determine the direction and emphasis for the next phase of citizen science in education with respect to NGSS, including how to scale this for the 850 projects in SciStarter’s project finder.

2/11 5:30 pm Poster Session
Leveraging SciStarter to grow and sustain your citizen science project. Case Study: Project MERCCURI

Abstract: SciStarter is more than a searchable index of over 900 citizen science projects worldwide. Project leaders can work with SciStarter to promote their projects and recruit participants. In the workshop, we’ll cover the basics of SciStarter’s multi-media campaigns with Discover Magazine, Public Library of Science, WHYY and the National Science Teachers Association; highlight partnerships with broad and diverse audiences including national sports, culture, and hacker communities; and lead a brief “how to” session to implement free, open SciStarter APIs and other tools designed to make it easier for project owners to recruit, retain, and learn about participants, find and partner up with complementary projects, align NGSS with projects, and capitalize on opportunities to share and leverage existing citizen science data and participants, worldwide.

David Coil, coPI on Project MERCCURI, from the Eisen Lab at UC Davis, will kick off the workshop with a talk about this citizen science project to compare microbes on Earth and in space (citizen-collected samples are currently orbiting the Earth on the International Space Station!). He’ll provide updates on the findings, share successes and challenges, illuminate how working together with complementary communities (including SciStarter and Science Cheerleader) helped advance the field of microbiome research and share a glimpse into the future of citizen microbiome research.

2/11 5:30 – 8:30 pm Hackfest: Creating Interoperability Between Projects, Communities, and Data
(There’s still time to sign up for this event!)
Abstract: This hackfest will build upon lessons learned during a similar event at the Citizen Cyber Science conference in London in February, 2014 (organized by SciStarter, and NYU with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation). This hands-on hackfest is designed to be a collaborative working session to explore and design ways to create helpful connections between citizen science communities.
Participants and project owners face barriers: Multiple types of logins for many different projects or platforms coupled with an inability to track contributions across projects/platforms, are two examples.
This hackfest aims to tap the collective wisdom of San Jose’s programmers, designers, artists, program managers and others to design and create new or repurposed tools to help more people get involved in and track their contributions to citizen science projects AND to explore ways projects can share data, volunteers, tools and other resources to rise the tide of citizen science and enable better cross-platform analytics for project leaders while improving the experience for participants.

Daniel Arbuckle (lead developer, SciStarter); Steve Gano (director of product development, SciStarter); Arvind Suresh (managing editor, SciStarter) Greg Newman (; Russell Neches (UC Davis/Eisen Lab); Caren Cooper (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences)

2/14 and 2/15 Join SciStarter, Discover Magazine, Astronomy Magazine and the Science Cheerleaders at Family Science Days (a free event presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science):
Read more about this event, here.

2/15 10 am – 11:30 Room LL21D (San Jose Convention Center) at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Conference (paid registration required)

Citizen Science: Advancing Innovations for Science, Information, and Engagement

Abstract: Citizen science is now an established practice for scientific research and public engagement. However, the field is still maturing and ripe with innovation in areas such as image analysis, gaming, do-it-yourself science, large-scale data collection, visualizations, communications, and applications in public health, disaster response, and conservation. Moreover, the ability to engage directly with the public in research is changing the way we think about information — how we gather and work with it, who has access to and ownership of it, and how to collaborate to address social and scientific problems. A two-day pre-conference event at the 2015 AAAS Annual Meeting will gather practitioners from across scientific disciplines and from around the world to share innovations in citizen science practice and theory. The event also marks the first meeting of the Citizen Science Association, a new organization that unites and serves this rapidly growing community of practice. In this session, representatives of the Citizen Science Association and architects of the field of citizen science will share major themes from the citizen science pre-conference, highlight exciting innovations that have impacts across disciplines, and provide a vision for citizen science as a growing field of research and practice.
Jennifer Shirk, Cornell University
Meg Domroese, Citizen Science Association/Schoodic Institute
Jennifer Shirk, Cornell University
Meg Domroese, Citizen Science Association/Schoodic Institute
Abraham J. Miller-Rushing, Acadia National Park and Schoodic Education and Research Center
Facilitating Growth, Innovation, and Positive Outcomes in Citizen Science
Richard Bonney, Cornell University
Citizen Science: Organizing Information and Inquiries for Impact
Darlene Cavalier, SciStarter
Connecting Communities To Rise the Citizen Science Tide