Want to get to know the people behind the curtain a little bit better? Tune in to our “team member spotlight” series! You’ll meet the people who make SciStarter work and learn what makes them tick. One thing we all have in common? A love for citizen science. This week, we’re featuring Caroline Nickerson.
Title at SciStarter Managing Editor of SciStarter’s Syndicated Blog Network
Contact email CarolineN@SciStarter.com
Twitter Handle @CHNickerson
Role at SciStarter I help get our blogs out into the world. SciStarter’s blog network has three platforms: SciStarter’s website, Discover Magazine, and the Public Library of Science (which we lovingly refer to as PLoS). I view this job as a huge privilege and very important work. Anyone who writes these blogs helps tell the story of citizen science, thus inspiring others to get involved and do real research. Never underestimate the power of a well-crafted narrative! My philosophy for these blogs is inclusive; I believe anyone can write and anyone can tell a compelling tale. If you want to give it a try, send me an email. No prior experience necessary! We’ll work together to publish a product that you’re proud of and that honors the spirit of citizen science.
Professional Experience Currently, I’m a research assistant at The Lab @ DC (a team inside Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration), a teaching assistant for a Political Research course, and a Master of Public Policy Student at American University. My interests include civic communication, especially regarding technical and science-based information, and all things local government. As an undergraduate at the University of Florida (UF), I majored in both history and Chinese language, graduating with honors and with the College of Liberal Arts and Science Excellence Award, given to only three exceptional students in the College. I serve on the board of the Commission on Local Debates, which plans and hosts debates for local elections in Orange County, Florida. I continue my affiliation with the University of Florida through membership in the UF-VA UNESCO Bioethics Unit, volunteering with the UF Psychiatry Christensen Project to serve homeless and underserved populations, and by serving on the board of the DC Gator Club.
I’ve gotten a lot of flack over the years for “doing too much.” How I justify it: I care deeply about everything I do, and I only feel overloaded sometimes (for example, mid-terms are next week!!). I feel blessed that I can serve in roles that I truly enjoy.
Why citizen science? I find the idea and practice of citizen science inspiring. Citizen science speaks to the egalitarian, democratic principles that, to be cheesy, make my heart sing. I love democracy and I love research, and with citizen science, I think the two intersect. I also love that everyone can be involved and do real research. One day, I envision every person on earth being part of a citizen science project. We can accomplish so much together. Citizen science is for everyone!
Part of SciStarter’s Mission that resonates with you most SciStarter
truly has one of the best teams on the planet. Everyone works so hard with the shared goal of getting more people involved with citizen science. I think
SciStarter makes it easier for underserved communities to find citizen science by acting as a bridge between eager citizen scientists and the real research they can do. Without SciStarter, I think it would be difficult to seek out the smaller, more niche projects that have the potential to truly resonate with a participant.
Something people might find surprising about me Both of my parents are statisticians! What are the odds? (Ha…ha…ha…)
On a more serious note, my political activism as a student shaped me. Regarding the real, actual government, I spent a lot of time as an undergrad pleading with people to vote in local elections. Regarding my school’s student government (which is more important than you would think – UF student government has one of the largest budgets in the country), my friends and I opposed institutional interests and wrote an amendment to our student government constitution to increase voter access with online voting. Though our amendment passed in the general election, it was overturned by a biased and partisan student supreme court. I learned SO MUCH from this experience, and I hope that future UF student activists oppose voter suppression and ultimately triumph. To quote Banksy, “If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.”
Favorite place to do citizen science On a computer, usually playing a game. I also enjoy sharing citizen science with other people I encounter at conferences and professional events. Citizen science is a way to rejuvenate institutional spaces that may have become complacent and stagnant. What better space to share that revitalizing message than a potentially stuffy conference?
What do you hope to accomplish in citsci? I hope to get more people writing about citizen science and thinking deeply about the field. Storytelling is integral to the human experience, and I think the
most effective way to hearts and minds is through a good story. By writing the narrative of citizen science, we become ambassadors for the field.
Project enjoyed recently I mentioned the games earlier, and I’m also going to take this as a shameless opportunity to promote our blog posts. If you like social science, Democracy at Play is super fun (and by taking the survey at the end, you help with civic education research). If you’re interested the interplay between genetics and mental fitness, I would suggest looking into the Harvard PGP-Lumosity Memory Challenge.