Looking for citizen science-y projects to join!

I’m looking for opportunities to collaborate on crowd-funded ecology/evolution-related science! And given that SciFund project 4 was just announced, I figured that now is be a good time to write about this. I’ll repeat this at the bottom of this post, but if you have any idea for a project that has a strong citizen-science component and need some supporting manpower, please do let me know.

IMG_2284I’ve been thinking a lot about crowd-funded science quite a lot in the past few weeks (many thanks to my brother Gautam for starting a lot of discussions with me about this that got me to seriously think!), so I was very excited to read about the freshly-announced 4th round of SciFund. There’s a lot of good writing about the role of crowd-funding in science, especially in ecology/evolution (e.g. this article in TREE and this blog post at the Perlstein lab), so I won’t attempt to write about its virtues in general. I will just say that I am interested in doing some crowd-funded science for a couple of reasons:

  • There’s a lot of “non-scientists” who are deeply interested in scientific research. My father is a prime example of this: despite being far away from the ivory tower, he is
    constantly reading about basic scientific research, and has contributed a lot to citizen-science initiatives like the Zooniverse Notes From Nature herbarium sheet digitization project. Engaging with these people in any way possible is a no-brainer for me.
  • I think there’s a lot of good projects that can be done using data that is already publicly available data. The cost of these projects is probably pretty low given that the data collection can all be done using just a computer with a reliable internet collection, so why not do it crowd-funded instead of developing cumbersome grant applications that probably take forever to get processed?
  • As Dr. Perlstein wrote (see above), there’s a lot of “academic conservatism” and “ideological resistance” among established scientists to the idea of crowd-funded science in the current academic community. I fancy myself a rebellious trend-bucking anti-institutionalist (…), so this is reason enough for me to embrace crowd-funded science.

Anyway, enough justifications…

I’m really into this concept, I am not close to being able to lead anything alone right now. I have no institutional backing, my plans over the next few years aren’t concrete, and most importantly, I don’t have the experience it takes to develop a strong research project. BUT, I do have a lot of energy, am excited about bringing science out of the lab, and want to embrace the new era of science as much as I can. I am always happy to put a lot of energy into projects I think are worthwhile, so if you have an idea but need an excited young go-getter to put some energy into it, do let me know!! You can contact me at gaurav.kandlikar@gmail.com.

I am hopeful but not confident that something comes out of this!