Listen. Let’s get one thing straight: I am an unabashed public radio nerd.
So, when citizen science and public radio come together, I am nothing short of ecstatic. But it’s not just my public radio nerdiness for its own sake. Rather, this convergence speaks to a larger narrative (for me, at least) — that of citizen science being a form of public participation in science and public radio playing the role of representing public discourse.
In conjunction with SciStarter’s current audio/radio citizen science theme, I’ve put together a “playlist” of some examples of how public radio can engage citizen scientists and vice versa.
WHYY the Pulse
Producer Kimberly Haas features various citizen science projects, in partnership with SciStarter, on The Pulse on WHYY. She has covered projects like Old Weather, Tiny Terrors, IceWatch, and other projects in order to (1) report on research findings and (2) recruit volunteers for the projects themselves.
Encyclopedia of Life podcast
If you haven’t listened to the EOL’s ‘One Species at a Time‘ podcast, go do it now. Producer Ari Daniel walks listeners through various species — from bees to raptors to head lice (and much more) — and their traits. You can also help contribute to the Encyclopedia of Life with your own findings.
There might not be any on-air pieces about citizen science yet, but Science Friday certainly has a lot of educational opportunities around citizen science. For instance, the Jumping Spider Shake Down activity, you can both listen to and try to match spider courtship displays with the right vibration signals.
North County Public Radio
Over the summer, North County Public Radio covered the FrogWatch project and interviewed a citizen science volunteer for the segment. Listen along as the producer and volunteer embark on trying to spot one.
BBC Radio 4
This episode of ‘Saving Species’ series reports on citizen science efforts around species monitoring. Many scientific communities, such as an academic study by Jeremy Thomas (Professor of Ecology at Oxford) and colleagues acknowledge that without the input from these amateur wildlife watchers much of today’s understanding of the natural world would be impossible.
Are your ears tingling yet? Although I am acutely aware of my own biases, I hope that public radio does more with citizen science, and I hope that citizen science does more with public radio. There is potential for much, much mutual benefit in these kinds of collaborations.
For now, happy listening!
Lily Bui is a researcher and M.S. candidate at MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program. She holds dual degrees in International Studies and Spanish from the University of California Irvine. She is also the STEM Story Project Associate for Public Radio Exchange (PRX) in Cambridge, MA. Previously, she helped produce the radio show Re:sound for the Third Coast International Audio Festival, out of WBEZ Chicago. In past lives, she has worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; served in AmeriCorps in Montgomery County, Maryland; worked for a New York Times bestselling ghostwriter; and performed across the U.S. as a touring musician. In her spare time, she thinks of cheesy science puns. Follow @dangerbui.