You may have noticed that we’ve been a little quiet on the blog and Twitters lately. That’s because we spent the better part of the week in Portland, Oregon, for the Conference on Public Participation in Scientific Research (PPSR for short), held in conjunction with the Ecological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting.
I’ll be writing more in the next couple weeks about the fascinating research I heard about at ESA – neat work on indoor ecology and the bacteria and fungus-amongus, diamondback terrapins crossing the runway at JFK airport, and the consequences of artificial light at night on birds, bats and bugs.
But I digress – The Conference on Public Participation in Scientific Research was a 2-day extravaganza convening over 300 uber-enthusiastic participants to share, reflect, improve and celebrate the practice of citizen science – a veritable citizen science rodeo, if you will.
I marveled at the diversity of projects represented by the participants at the meeting.
There were familiar programs like Project BudBurst and the Community Collaborative, Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) where citizens monitor and share observations about organisms and environmental phenomena, participating in long-term ecological and meteorological research.
There were projects like Galaxy Zoo and foldit that are engaging participants through their computers, harnessing the power of our collective cognitive surplus (a fancy way of describing the free time, energy and brain-power our modern lives afford us) to classify galaxies and figure out the optimal folding structure of proteins.