Fig.1. Citizen scientists participating in the National Park Service’s Cascade Butterfly Project at Mount Rainier National Park (Credit: Kevin Bacher, 2012, via Flickr)
So you want to be a scientist? Not all science is done by people in lab coats holding pipettes. With so much research to be done, data to be analyzed, and places to visit - scientists are harnessing the power of the public’s curiosity. Citizen science is a great example of mutualism: scientists are able to gain assistance with research tasks, while the public participates in projects which interest them.
Citizen science is also a creative way for a scientist to expand their collections without having to travel around the world. Many physical samples sent in for studies often wind up in temporary collections, destined for consumptive sampling, but some efforts improve the breadth and depth of permanent collections. SciColl took part in the Natural Products Discovery Group (see below) and sent in a soil sample from the wilds of Washington, D.C.
Here are a few of our favorite citizen science projects at the moment. There are far more out there, so tell us about them. Leave a description of your favorites in our comments section or tweet about it with #CitizenScience @sci_coll!
Fig.2. A completed kit for the Natural Products Discovery Group, with instructions in the top right corner, a filled soil sample bag and used scoop at the bottom, and an envelope for returning the sample (Credit: Author)
drug resistance on the rise in pathogens, these researchers will study their collection of soil samples for microbes that have the potential to form novel cures and antibiotics.