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Genetics of Taste Lab

Welcome to a world where very small changes in a person's DNA can have a huge impact on how they perceive taste.

The community-based Genetics of Taste Lab at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is now home to a new and groundbreaking population study! Findings from the study will contribute new insights into the possibility that there are more than just the five known tastes of sweet, sour, salty, umami (savory), and bitter. The focus for this study will be to learn more about people’s ability to taste fatty acids.

Assuming people can detect the taste of fatty acids, how does it happen?
Research suggests that humans can detect the taste of fatty acids, but how this occurs is not known. To look into this question, the Genetics of Taste Lab is conducting a new research study for public participation. Using an omega-6 essential fatty acid (linoleic acid), the Lab is examining both genetic and environmental factors that might contribute to the ability to taste this important nutrient.

The Genetics of Taste Lab is a unique venue for both research study participation and citizen science, connecting the community to real scientific research.
• Make scientific research accessible and relevant to people’s everyday lives.
• Actively generate and publish new knowledge to contribute to the field of genetics and human health.

This research study is being conducted FOR the community and BY the community. Our scientific team includes citizen scientists, undergraduate interns, and Teen Science Scholars.

This two-year study is led by Nicole Garneau PhD and Richard Mattes PhD and made possible by a partnership between the Health Science and Visitor Programs Departments at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Nutrition Science Department at Purdue University.




FrogWatch

FrogWatch USA Chapters are overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and are hosted and managed by zoos, aquariums, and like-minded organizations.

At a training session hosted by a local chapter, volunteers will learn to identify local frog and toad species by their calls during the breeding season and how to report their findings accurately. By mastering these skills, volunteers gain increased experience and control over asking and answering scientific questions which, in turn, augments science literacy, facilitates conservation action and stewardship, and increases knowledge of amphibians.




iNaturalist

iNaturalist is a place where you can record what you see in nature, meet other nature lovers, and learn about the natural world.

From hikers to hunters, birders to beach-combers, the world is filled with naturalists, and many of us record what we find. What if all those observations could be shared online? You might discover someone who finds beautiful wildflowers at your favorite birding spot, or learn about the birds you see on the way to work. If enough people recorded their observations, it would be like a living record of life on Earth that scientists and land managers could use to monitor changes in biodiversity, and anyone could use to learn about nature.

That's the vision behind iNaturalist. So if you like recording your findings from the outdoors, or if you just like learning about life, join the project!




Smithsonian's Neighborhood Nestwatch

Volunteers for the Smithsonian Institution's Neighborhood Nestwatch in the Washington, DC, area team with scientists to find and monitor bird nests and to record and report their observations.

Participants help capture, measure, and band backyard birds as well as track their presence from year to year. Through annual summer visits to urban, suburban, and rural backyards, participants and their families receive coaching on how to monitor and report data on nests of common backyard birds.

Volunteers also become an important part of a study seeking to determine the effectiveness of informal education experiences.

If you live within 60 miles of Washington, DC, take a naturalist’s journey into the mysterious lives of neighborhood birds, and join more than 200 citizen scientists making significant contributions to our knowledge of backyard wildlife.




Firefly Watch

Firefly Watch combines an annual summer evening ritual with scientific research.

Boston's Museum of Science has teamed up with researchers from Tufts University and Fitchburg State College to track the fate of these amazing insects. With your help, we hope to learn about the geographic distribution of fireflies and their activity during the summer season. Fireflies also may be affected by human-made light and pesticides in lawns, so we hope to also learn more about those effects.

- Join a network of volunteers.
- Observe your own backyard.
- Track your progress online and interact with fellow Citizen Scientists.
- Help scientists map fireflies found in New England and beyond.
- No specific scientific training required.

It's easy to participate in Firefly Watch. Basically, we want to know if you have fireflies in your backyard this summer (or in a nearby field if you don't have a backyard). Even if you don't see fireflies, your data is valuable.




Precipitation ID Near the Ground (PING)

The National Severe Storms Laboratory needs YOUR help with a research project!

If you live in the area shown on the map, the Precipitation Identification Near the Ground project (PING) wants YOU to watch and report on precipitation type.

PING is looking for young, old, and in-between volunteers to make observations—teachers, classes and families too! We have collected tens of thousands of observations since 2006, already making PING successful because of your help.

PING volunteers can spend a little or a lot of time making observations. The basic idea is simple: the National Severe Storms Laboratory will collect radar data from NEXRAD radars in your area during storm events, and compare that data with YOUR observations.

Why? Because the radars cannot see close to the ground, we need YOU to tell us what is happening. Scientists will compare your report with what the radar has detected, and develop new radar technologies and techniques to determine what kind of precipitation—such as snow, soft hail, hard hail, or rain—is falling where.





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