You can be a star—on science's stage

November 14, 2012

The rapid growth in "citizen science" projects during the past decade is enabling more and more science enthusiasts, hobbyists, students and other ordinary people to participate in the excitement of real-world scientific research and help solve serious scientific mysteries. That's the topic of the cover story in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Deirdre Lockwood, C&EN contributing editor, traces the growth of from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count of 1900 to a recent in which volunteers collected rainwater from Hurricane Sandy to help researchers analyze the storm. Today, chemists are getting help from the public by crowdsourcing research projects and distributing tasks, like data collection, to large groups of people. This citizen science movement has gained momentum in the past decade through funding, enthusiasm and technology. Lockwood reports that National Science Foundation funding of citizen science projects has grown from a handful each year in the early 2000s to at least 25 per year today.

The article notes that people can browse hundreds of projects for citizen scientists on websites like SciStarter.com, citizenscience.org and zooniverse.org. Chemistry projects include helping to curate the chemical structure database ChemSpider, monitoring water quality in local waterways or playing the puzzle game Foldit, whose users figured out the structure of a complex molecule that had stumped professional scientists for years. One chemist designed a kit using Legos that has allowed students at 70 high schools and colleges to join a search for compounds that could help make hydrogen gas—a potential green fuel—from sunlight and water.

Explore further: Enlisting more nonscientists can boost confidence in research

More information: "Crowdsourcing Chemistry", cen.acs.org/articles/90/i46/Crowdsourcing-Chemistry.html

Related Stories

Enlisting more nonscientists can boost confidence in research

May 4, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- In an era of public skepticism about science and high-stakes decisions based on it, involving more nonscientists in research projects can boost public acceptance, understanding and the quality of the scientific ...

Citizen scientist: Helping scientists help themselves

September 20, 2010

We are all scientists now, thanks to SETI@home, Galaxy Zoo, The Great Sunflower Project, Folding@home and counltess other projects that allow individuals to take part in scientific research directly or indirectly. In the ...

Citizen science: Armies of volunteers aid research

May 8, 2011

(AP) -- Besides being a researcher in New York's Hudson River Estuary Program, environmental scientist Chris Bowser leads citizen projects that collect reams of data for other scientists.

New crime-fighting tools aim to deter and nab terrorists

February 8, 2012

Fingerprints, ballistics, DNA analysis and other mainstays of the forensic science toolkit may get a powerful new crime-solving companion as scientists strive to develop technology for "fingerprinting" and tracing the origins ...

Chatterbox whales say what?

April 23, 2012

Scientists studying the calls made by killer whales and pilot whales have a big problem: these whales talk too much.

Recommended for you

Pigments, organelles persist in fossil feathers

August 27, 2015

A study provides multiple lines of new evidence that pigments and the microbodies that produce them can remain evident in a dinosaur fossil. In the journal Scientific Reports, an international team of paleontologists correlates ...

Political polarization on Twitter depends on the issue

August 27, 2015

Twitter offers a public platform for people to post and share all sorts of content, from the serious to the ridiculous. While people tend to share political information with those who have similar ideological preferences, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.