Aflutter for Moths and Butterflies

By Rae Moore July 8th, 2014 at 6:38 pm | Comment

With National Moth Week worldwide AND the Big Butterfly Count in the UK launching on July 19, we’re all aflutter! SciStarter’s editors netted a list of seven other Moth and Butterfly research projects.

Learn more about National Moth Week through the Encyclopedia of Life’s Moth Week podcast!

Take and upload photographs of moths near your porch light. You can identify them if you’d like, or these researchers we’ll help. Get started!


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Catch a few cabbage white butterflies, and send ‘em in! With your help, researchers can create the world’s most comprehensive butterfly collection to learn how the cabbage white butterfly has adapted to new environments as it expanded across the globe. Get started!


Journey North
Get involved in this study of Monarch butterfly migration and seasonal change. Share your field observations with others across North America. Find free dynamic migration maps, pictures, and more! Get started!



Butterflies and Moths of North America
This web site and database shares butterfly and moth species information with the public via dynamic maps, checklists, and species pages. Data are updated in real time and come from a variety of sources, including citizen scientists. Get started!


L.A. Butterflies
The Museum of Natural History, Los Angeles County, is partnering with Butterflies and Moths of North America (above) to share data and learn more about L.A. butterflies and moths. There are 237 species recorded for L.A, County, but how many can you find? Get started!


Project Silkmoth
Help scientists learn more about silkmoths and learn more about them yourself in the process. Silkmoth accepts sightings of giant silkmoths from northern New York State. Get started!



Photograph butterflies and moths anywhere in Africa to map their distribution and help determine conservation priorities on the African continent. Get started!


From our partners:

Discover Magazine:
We want to hear about your experiences as a citizen scientist. Tell us, in 250 words or less, your story. Discover will choose favorite essays to run in the October print issue (featuring citizen science stories!) , and five lucky winners will receive a free one-year subscription to Discover.
Enter by July 13!

Check out “Exploring a Culture of Health,” a citizen science series brought to you by Discover Magazine, SciStarter and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, serving as an ally to help Americans work together to build a national Culture of Health that enables everyone to lead healthier lives now and for generations to come.

This is week on The Pulse and SciStarter’s segment about citizen science, producer Kimberly Haas speaks with Dan Duran, who is running a project that monitors the elusive Elaphrus beetle to monitor stream health.  Listen and learn!

Want your project featured in our newsletter, homepage or partners’ sites? Contact

The Encyclopedia of Life’s podcast is part of the One Species at a Time series hosted by Ari Daniel and produced by Atlantic Public Media and the Encyclopedia of Life, with the support from the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

Categories: Citizen Science

Coop’s Citizen Sci Scoop: Jefferson’s Legacy Cultivates a Nation of Amateurs

By Rae Moore July 5th, 2014 at 6:28 pm | Comment

Thomas Jefferson. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas Jefferson.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Every week, Caren Cooper’s Coop’s Citizen Sci Scoop delves into relevant citizen science topics, and rounds up scientific publications that have relied on citizen science.  In honor of Independence Day, Caren focused on Thomas Jefferson’s vision of civic duty and pursuit of knowledge, and demonstrated how Jefferson’s desire to track weather conditions has resulted in a legacy that exists today.

Caren highlighted many examples of Jefferson’s citizen science legacy, including:

Look for Coop’s Citizen Sci Scoop every Friday on the PLOS CitizenSci blog.

Save the Date! Citizen Science 2015 Conference and Gathering

By Rae Moore July 3rd, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Comment

Save the Date!  The Citizen Science Association will host the Citizen Science 2015 Conference on February 11 and 12, 2015.

Members of the SciStarter team serve on committees for the Citizen Science Association and pre-conference, including Darlene Cavalier (Web/Communications Committee), Lily Bui (Conference Communications Committee), and Caren Cooper (co-Chair, Publications Committee).

What: Citizen Science is a partnership between everyday people and professional scientists to investigate pressing questions about the environment, human health, societal issues, and more—studies that range from the microscopic to the galactic, and are taking place in communities, cities, and countries around the world.

Who: People involved in all aspects of citizen science, including researchers, project leaders, educators, evaluators, designers and makers, volunteers, and more – representing a wide variety of disciplines.

Why: Join people from across the field of citizen science to discuss designing, implementing, sustaining, evaluating, and participating in projects. Share your project innovations and questions.

When: February 11 & 12, 2015

Where: San Jose, California, USA

· Keynote speakers
· Concurrent sessions
· Speed talks
· Story-telling presentations
· Poster presentations
· Social gatherings
· And more!

Citizen Science 2015 is the inaugural conference and gathering of the newly formed Citizen Science Association (CSA). This event is a pre-conference of the 2015 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting.

For more information about conference plans and updates as they become available, please visit the Citizen Science Association.

Follow conference conversations on Twitter at #CitSci2015

Exploring a Culture of Health: Detecting Signals of Wellbeing

By Carolyn Graybeal July 2nd, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Comment

This post is part of Exploring a Culture of Health, a citizen science series brought to you by Discover Magazine, SciStarter and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, serving as an ally to help Americans work together to build a national Culture of Health that enables everyone to lead healthier lives now and for generations to come.

Imagine if everyday technology could transform how we manage our health and wellbeing? What if your phone could alert your doctor to a change in your behavior? Or what if grandma’s stove could tell you she is already up and about in the morning? It sounds complicated but as it turns out, it might simply be a matter of tapping into the data generated from everyday devices. Two independent groups in California are doing just this.

Using Mobile Technology to Help Youths with Mental Illness

At UC Davis behavioral scientists with the Early Diagnosis and Preventive Treatment (EDAPT) Clinic are embarking on a yearlong project to study whether mobile technology can improve treatment for young people who are in the early stages of psychotic illness. The EDAPT group has teamed up with a health data start-up to assess “users’ social, physical and mental health status”[1]. Through an app, users can actively input their daily symptoms, medication adherence, mood, and how they are coping, while information on their movements and daily social contacts, such as the number of incoming telephone calls and text messages, is gathered in the background. All of this data provides a patient and his or her clinical team with a finer resolution of that patient’s health profile.

A smartphone app that tracks signals of well being in youths with early stage psychosis (UCDavis EDAPT Clinic/

A smartphone app that tracks signals of well being in youths with early stage psychosis (UCDavis EDAPT Clinic/

“With this detailed level of data, our health care providers get a more complete picture of how their patients are doing – across multiple domains – in a way that may not be possible in a brief session,” explains Dr. Tara Niendam, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UC Davis and Director of Operations for the EDAPT Clinic.

Having a record of this information enables the patient and the clinician to build links between experiences and symptoms. “Instead of relying on the patients’ memory, the clinician is able to look at the data and say, ‘Hey, I noticed that you had an upsetting conflict Tuesday and your mood was very low Wednesday. What happened?’ It empowers the patients who can learn to recognize his or her potential triggers,” says Dr. Niendam. The technology also gives clinicians information about their patients on a more immediate basis. “We quickly identify patients who have stopped their meds and can reach out to them about why, allowing us to identify issues with side effects or patient concerns more quickly,” explains Dr. Niendam.

And it works for patients too—by using mobile phone technology, adolescents are able to monitor their health and partner with their provider in a way that fits their lifestyle.


Tapping Smart Meters to Monitor Wellbeing

Just two hours south of UC Davis in the technology hub of Silicon Valley, the people at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) Innovation Center are examining ways to address the social health and wellbeing for the aging community. Their recent effort, LinkAges Connect, is exploring the potential for signal detection to help seniors continue to live independently, safely.

One of the challenges to the aging population is their loss of independence, their increased loneliness, and the burden they feel themselves to be. “As one senior put it, ‘your world dies before you do.’ These are still valuable members of the community. We have a moral responsibility to address this problem,” says Dr. Paul Tang PAMF Vice President and Chief Innovation and Technology Officer. “We want to build a community based support system, to open up their world again.”

LinkAges Connect works by “crowdsourcing the signals around an individual” to manage their care. What does this mean? When the mailman sees that yesterday’s mail has been picked up that is a signal. When the lights go off at night that is a signal. The challenge for the LinkAges team was devising how to use these signals. The answer they came up with – tap into the smart meters infrastructure.

Smart meters are electronic devices used by utility companies to remotely monitor household consumption of basic utilities such as electricity, gas or water. These meters provide a constant data stream and over time can provide a picture of an individual’s typical home activity. “It is a non-invasive, non-intrusive way of detecting if grandma is okay,” says Tang. “When grandma wakes up and makes breakfast, there will be a spike in energy use. That information will be relayed through LinkAges Connect’s system to notify the family that grandma is up and active.” The system can even help detect if something is wrong. Increased energy use at night for example, could indicate that grandma is suffering from insomnia. Noticing a change, her caretaker would know to check in.

Using household utility usage data from smart meters to monitor well being of seniors (PAMF/LinkAges Connect)

Using household utility usage data from smart meters to monitor well being of seniors (PAMF/LinkAges Connect)

With the support of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), LinkAges Connect with be testing its system in the homes of seniors for more research and development. The UC Davis/ study is also a recipient of RWJF funding.

“These two projects are testing whether we can leverage technology to help us, and the people who care for us and about us, track and understand changes in our behavior that are indicative of a change in health status,” explained Paul Tarini, Senior Program Officer at RWJF. “Making it easier to be mindful of our health will help us advance a Culture of Health.”

You don’t have to be enrolled in a specific study to contribute to health and technology research. app users can contribute to science by passively submitting their own information or enrolling in current research collaborations if eligible. There is also information for researchers interested in utilizing this technology in their work.

Many citizen science projects are taking advantage of sensors to collect and track data. AirCasting is a project that allows citizens to monitor air quality by combining a smartphone app and a DIY Air Monitor. Loss of the Night uses your cell phone camera as a sensor to monitor light pollution. Noise Tube turns your cell phone into an environmental sensor to collect data about noise pollution. These and many other similar projects can be found using the project finder at SciStarter, an online citizen science hotspot.

What are some ways you track your health? Does it affect your day to day choices? Do you have ideas for using existing technology or infrastructure to monitor or measure health? Leave a comment below.


Interested in a more active participation opportunity in a health related citizen science project? The UC San Francisco Health eHeart study is globally recruiting participants for their ‘electronic clinical research study’. This study examines lifestyle patterns and heart health to improve what doctors know about preventing and treating heart disease. Participants will be asked to complete eVisits (online surveys) and in some cases wear special heart sensors. If you have an internet connection, you can participate.

If learning about gene-environment interactions is in your DNA, Infinome might be of interest. Infinome is an open science experiment studying how genomics and behavior affect health and longevity. Participants submit genomic information, such as results from 23andMe, as well as health and behavioral monitoring data. The project is seeking participants to help them through beta testing.



Image Credits

UCDavis/ and Palo Alto Medical Foundation


Citizen Science on the Radio: WHYY Features Dan Duran’s Drexel Elaphrus Beetle Hunt

By Lily Bui - Executive Editor June 27th, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Comment

Image credit: CC-BY Charles Lindsey via Wikimedia

Image credit: CC-BY Charles Lindsey via Wikimedia

This week on The Pulse and SciStarter’s segment about citizen science, producer Kimberly Haas speaks with Dan Duran, who is running a project that monitors the elusive Elaphrus beetle to monitor stream health.

Read WHYY’s related blog post to learn more. Here’s an excerpt:

Dan Duran, assistant professor in Drexel University’s Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science, has just embarked on a search for one of those indicator species. The marsh ground beetle, which also goes by the Latin name for its genus, Elaphrus, is found along muddy stream banks in temperate regions like ours. Duran says it’s an effective indicator species because it’s adversely affected by run-off, like road salts and agricultural chemicals–that make it into a stream without being visible.

Duran’s goals are to chart where Elaphrus is found in the waterways of the Philadelphia region, and to track changes to their range over time. But ours is a watery habitat, so how will it play out – one researcher vs. how many hundreds of streams? The answer, of course, is citizen scientists.

Here’s where you can help. If you’re a citizen science researcher, project manager, or participant in the PA, NJ, or DE areas, we want to hear from you! If you have an interesting story to share about a citizen science project or experience, let us know. Send your stories for consideration to


WHYY (90.9 FM in Philly) Friday on-air schedule:
6-9 a.m. – Morning Edition
9-10 a.m. – The Pulse
10 a.m. to 12 p.m. – Radio Times
10 a.m. following Sunday – The Pulse (rebroadcast)