Archive for the ‘crowdsourcing’ tag

Your Computer Can Volunteer, Too

By January 4th, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Comment

By: Caitlin Larkin

You probably remember when the Ebola virus became news in 2014, after it killed thousands of people. Erica Ollmann Saphire (pictured above), a structural biologist at The Scripps Research Institute, and one of the world’s foremost experts on Ebola, understood the molecular structure of the disease—and she knew its weak spots. She had a plan of attack to find an antiviral drug. Her first step was to study millions of chemical compounds to determine their potential as the basis for this drug. Testing just one compound in a laboratory, however, could take years. Computer-based simulations would help reduce the time needed for this testing by predicting the lab outcomes, but Saphire didn’t have access to computers powerful enough to run these simulations. Read the rest of this entry »

Mobilize hundreds of years of biodiversity information with WeDigBio!

By October 12th, 2017 at 5:59 pm | Comment

By: Dr. Libby Ellwood

Each year, millions of people flock to natural history museums to see examples of plants, animals, gemstones and more from places around the world. But what those visitors *don’t* get to see are the countless additional specimens behind the scenes.

These specimen collections, housed at museums, universities, and other institutions, are an invaluable resource for understanding biodiversity around the world over long spans of time. Yet billions of these specimens lie tucked carefully away in cabinets and shelves, largely inaccessible to all but the few researchers with the means to view these collections in person. This makes the valuable data contained in and on those specimens difficult to search for, compromising their usefulness in research and education.  Read the rest of this entry »

Capturing the Total Solar Eclipse, One Photo at a Time

By June 21st, 2017 at 9:00 am | Comment

By: Alexei V. Filippenko and Hugh Hudson

Diagram of a solar eclipse. Credit: Google

On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will trace a shadow over a narrow band of the United States from Oregon to South Carolina.  And if you own a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera*, you can become a part of scientific history by joining hundreds of other photographers to make the first crowdsourced image archive of a total solar eclipse from coast to coast.

The “Eclipse Megamovie” project aims to capture many types of solar phenomena with images taken along the path of totality of the August 21 eclipse by over 1,000 trained volunteers, as well as photos from many more members of the general public through the use of smartphones and simple cameras. This first-of-its-kind citizen science project is a partnership between Google, UC Berkeley, and many others. Our primary goal is to collect as much imagery as possible and to hold it in a vast public-domain archive for future study.  Read the rest of this entry »

Engaging the public to tackle climate change

By April 20th, 2017 at 10:59 am | Comment

Public engagement is critical to address the challenges of climate change, a complex issue with environmental, social, political and economic ramifications. Common forms of public engagement include public events such as science festivals or café informal settings for experts to share their knowledge with the community. Or public policy forums where community members voice concerns to government representatives and other decision makers.

While useful, these approaches to public engagement maintain a separation between those with expertise and power and community members. This failure to tap into the knowledge and experience within the community is an unfortunate oversight. In reality, these so called ‘non-experts’ bring valuable insight with the potential to identify overlooked problems and generate novel and at times surprisingly simple solutions. Read the rest of this entry »

New Hope for Autoimmune Disease Treatment with Citizen Science

By January 28th, 2017 at 9:00 am | Comment

Screen images from the Autoimmune Citizen Science app.

Nearly 50 million Americans live with one or more of 80 recognized autoimmune disorders, conditions in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells or tissues. Though widespread, the search for treatments for these conditions can be convoluted and frustrating.

Autoimmune Citizen Science founder Vivek Mandan experienced this frustration first-hand as he struggled to deal with his own autoimmune disorder.

“I spent a lot of time translating my health into data, conducting experiments on myself, combing through forums for ideas, Facebook discussion groups, blogs, and scrolling through the hundreds of articles I reflex-bookmarked trying to figure out whichever obscure theory I was experimenting with,” he said.

“I knew there had to be a tool that could help me understand my health and unified resources for combatting autoimmunity. In fact, there wasn’t, so I decided to make one.”
Read the rest of this entry »