Citizen Science Association Conference Expands the Movement that Draws Everyday People into Legitimate Research

By Catherine Hoffman May 11th, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Comment

Researchers to share knowledge and best practices in establishing high standards while engaging volunteer support St. Paul, MN

Scientists, community members, and educators from around the world will gather at the Citizen Science Association (CSA) “CitSci2017” Conference to share innovations and best practices for significant research collaborations between scientists and everyday citizens. CitSci2017 will be held in St. Paul, MN, May 17 – 20.

Even as the discipline of citizen science is gaining high-profile attention, practitioners are rapidly advancing research collaborations in new directions and new disciplines. It takes dedication and ingenuity to ensure that citizen science results in relevant and useful science, as well as meaningful collaboration experiences. Leading educators, researchers, community organizations, and others will come together at this event to explore how citizen science is being used across disciplines, geographic boundaries, and scientific fields. They will discuss the latest research, projects, trends, and experiments in citizen science.

“University of Minnesota researchers have long been finding innovative ways to harness the power of citizen science,” said Karen Hanson, executive vice president and provost at the U of M, which partnered with CSA as a sponsor for the event. “I am delighted that this conference will provide our researchers an opportunity to join peers from across the nation to shape the promising field of citizen science, expanding its capabilities and driving forward our understanding of the world.”

The power of citizen science will be demonstrated during two Conference Keynotes. Dr. Marc Edwards, professor of environmental and water resources engineering at Virginia Tech, was instrumental in demonstrating that Flint, MI dangerously contaminated water. He and LeeAnne Walters, a Flint, MI citizen and mother of four, will discuss how they worked together to bring Flint’s water crisis to national, and international, attention. A second keynote by Dr. Ellen Jorgensen of Genspace, a community biolab, will explore how open spaces for biotechnology research can promote both scientific literacy and new discoveries in molecular and synthetic biology.

“Citizen science allows research to expand beyond traditional limitations, not only in terms of a project’s scope but also in its connection to the public,” said Lucy Fortson, Ph.D., associate head of physics and astronomy in the College of Science and Engineering and head of U of M’s Zooniverse@UMN citizen science initiative. “This conference will help experts from across academic disciplines embrace the best citizen science practices, cultivate new ideas for research projects, and better engage their communities in conducting scientific research.”

Session leaders include:

  • Scholars, researchers, scientists, and community organizers
  • Multiple universities, including University of New Hampshire, University of Virginia, Georgetown, University of Massachusetts, Arizona State University, Cornell University
  • Federal government representatives from NIH, NOAA, USDA, U.S. Geological Survey, EPA, NSF, and more
  • International organizations including German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, University of Quebec, Queensland University of Technology, University College London, and both the European and Australian Citizen Science Associations
  • Relevant establishments such as the National History Museum of LA County, California Academy of Sciences, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, The Nature Conservancy, PBS Television

A sampling of topics:

This event also emphasizes local engagement. On Wednesday, technology enthusiasts are invited to help create new tools and platforms for citizen science in a hackathon event called Create Together Day hosted by the University of Minnesota. A Friday evening “Café Scientifique” event, A Night in the Cloud, will feature a screening of the new PBS series, The Crowd & The Cloud, with a chance to meet stars from the show. Before the screening, visitors can mingle with leaders from over 75 different projects to see the impact of participation and learn how to get involved. On Saturday, May 20, families can participate in the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Citizen Science Festival. 25 leaders will share their current projects so the public can engage in fun and practical hands-on activities, such as monitoring monarchs, exploring the impacts of light pollution, mapping precipitation, and recording water quality.

The Citizen Science Association unites expertise from educators, scientists, data managers, and others to power citizen science, which is the involvement of the public in scientific research – whether community-driven research or global investigations. Find out more at http://citizenscience.org/. See a sampling of research projects (or join one yourself) at https://scistarter.com/. ###

 

Media Contacts: Jennifer Shirk jls223@cornell.edu Kevin Coss coss@umn.edu

Step right up and guess their age — for citizen science!

By Guest May 9th, 2017 at 8:19 pm | Comment

By Nina Friedman

For decades, fair- and festival-goers around the country have volunteered to step right up and have a carnival busker guess their age. Now, guessing someone’s age through citizen science can contribute to research in the social and computer sciences and medicine, too.

Everyday scientists and medical professionals are creating lifespan increasing technologies. Researchers across the globe are bettering our health so quickly that the average lifespan is increasing by six hours a day. If you want to contribute to that research, simply go to Ageguess.org and begin playing the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen Scientists Donate Data for Online Price Personalization Research

By Guest May 3rd, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Comment

Citizen scientists learn how algorithms affect their online shopping and help researchers break open the “black box” of price-personalization

By Chelsey Meyer

Have you ever wondered whether you see the same online prices as other consumers? If not, you may want to after hearing about price personalization. While many Internet users may understand that algorithms affect their social media feeds, few realize that algorithms also personalize their online shopping experiences. Researchers at Northeastern University’s Volunteer Science, a platform for gamified scientific research, are studying how this personalization occurs and who it affects, and they’re tapping into the world of citizen science to do it.   Read the rest of this entry »

Help accelerate biomedical research from the comfort of your couch

By Jenny Cutraro April 27th, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Comment

No scalpel required!
Learn how to identify images of clogged blood vessels to accelerate Alzheimer’s research or trace 3D images of neurons to shed light on how these structures influence behavior.
SciStarter’s editors hand-picked five, biomedical research projects we think you’ll love. You can do these free projects and contribute to research all from the comfort of home!
Find more projects and events on SciStarter, to do now or bookmark for later.
Bonus: Complete your SciStarter profile this month and we’ll send you a free digital copy of The Rightful Place of Science: Citizen Science.
Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

EyesOnALZ
Speed up Alzheimer’s research simply by clicking on video images that show clogged (or “stalled”) blood vessels. Scientists think stalled blood flow may contribute to Alzheimer’s and they need your help to identify stalls in short videos of (real!) ultrasound images. All ages are welcome to participate. You’ll view a brief tutorial before you get started.
Location: Online

The Biomedical Citizen Science Hub (CitSciBio)
Find and share biomedical citizen science resources through the National Institute of Health-supported CitSciBio. This hub is your source for resources, projects, references, methods and communities about biomedical citizen science research.
Location: Online 

Mozak: Brainbuilder
Humans still outperform computers at identifying complex shapes like neurons. Simply trace 3D images of brain neurons (on your computer) to shed light on how neuron structure influences brain function. Since Mozak launched in November, citizen scientists (like you!) have reconstructed neurons 3.6 times faster than earlier methods!
Location: Online

Mark2CureIf you can read, you can help. With Mark2Cure you are trained to identify scientific concepts and mark, or annotate, those concepts in scientific literature. Help scientists find information they need to solve complex problems.
Location: Online

Citizen Endo
Help improve the medical field’s understanding of endometriosis symptoms on daily life. You can participate (with or without endometriosis) by tracking your daily experiences using the Phendo app.
Location: Online

Celebrate Citizen Science Days through May 20th!
More than 100 events are listed on SciStarter. From BioBlitzes, to trainings, to hack-a-thons, there’s an event near you.
 

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River Keeping in New Mexico

By Sharman Apt Russell April 25th, 2017 at 9:00 am | Comment

Volunteers across the country participate in River Keeper programs. Photo: Virginia State Parks CC BY 2.0

River Keeper. Watershed Keeper. There’s something poetic—maybe a bit Celtic—about these terms, which in the world of citizen science refer to someone monitoring a waterway for soil erosion, contaminants, and loss of biodiversity. Across the United States, with sonorous names like Willamette River Keepers and Chattahoochee River Keepers, citizen scientists are keeping watch over the environmental health of our rivers, lakes, and estuaries.

Where I live in southwestern New Mexico, the Silver City Watershed Keepers are mostly teenagers—a high school class and their dedicated teacher, Maddie Alfero, organized by a local environmental group, Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP), with support from the New Mexico Environmental Department. A GRIP staff member, A.J. Sandoval, coordinates the program. A retired Environmental Department staff member, Dave Menzie, acts as their Quality Assurance Officer. Read the rest of this entry »