Citizens Helping Scientists

Citizen Science: Armies of Volunteers Aid Research

By MARY ESCH Associated Press

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. May 8, 2011 (AP)
"...Besides being a researcher in the state's Hudson River Estuary Program, Bowser leads citizen projects that collect reams of data for scientists and resource management agencies while engaging volunteers in hands-on science and teaching them something about the world around them. His Steve Irwin-style exuberance and enthusiasm for his subject matter make Bowser an ideal leader in the rapidly expanding world of citizen science.
Once restricted mainly to counting birds — most famously, in Audubon's 111-year-old Christmas Bird Count — citizen science has expanded rapidly in recent years, both in number and variety of projects. Some projects count things — fireflies, ladybugs, frogs, herring. Others record data on water quality, weather, flower budding and other phenomena. Still others already have the data but need a lot of people to sort through it.
Darlene Cavalier, whose ScienceForCitizens website brings together volunteers and research projects, said she started the site when she was a graduate student writing a thesis on promoting citizen science. The site's growth from a blog listing about 40 projects in 2006 to a busy portal with more than 400 projects in its database today mirrors the expansion of citizen science in the U.S., Cavalier said..."