This week many people across the country are celebrating ‘Citizen Science’. What is citizen science? Are there local citizen science programs? Who do you contact if you want to become a citizen scientist?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines citizen science as: “scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions.” “Many citizen science projects are aimed at improving our understanding of life of Earth and how ecosystems are changing over time” says Dr. Hilary Swain, Director at Archbold Biological Station. In the era of ‘big data’, the Internet and ‘real time data’, citizen science is undergoing a revolution. Professional scientists only have their eyes and ears directly on a few places at any one time, limiting the number of places at which scientific data are collected and how often data can be collected. By adding the observations of well-trained citizens, science is expanding its reach. Scientists including those at Archbold, now engage the general public by developing straightforward protocols, providing training, and using powerful computer analytical tools to verify the quality of the data submitted.