STEM & Citizen Science

Environmental Science

The use of amateur ecologists to further the scientific research process in ecological studies is a powerful tool aimed at the conservation of biodiversity.  In combination with the use of the internet, citizen science participants provide the capability to track the ecological and social impacts of large-scale environmental change.  Particularly, monitoring and managing natural resources, tracking species at risk, conserving protected areas, agriculture, and food science. 

Agriculture & Food Science

Citizen science projects are addressing many grand challenges facing our food systems and identifying emerging opportunities in the existing infrastructure of our agriculture and food science.  One of the grand challenges in agriculture is building local and regional capacities to detect and respond to plant pest problems (insects, diseases, and weeds).  Citizen science offers the potential to supplement existing pest/pathogen monitoring efforts by encouraging a culture of sharing observations of pests and beneficial organisms to improve plant health and crop management.  

Citizen science is already helping to document novel pathogens and pests.  Most notably in the case of Sudden Oak Death where a citizen first reported the pathogen.  In addition, citizens are also assisting in documenting the movement of pests and pathogens, as in the Cape Citizen Science project where citizen scientist in urban areas monitor plant pathogens in South Africa.  These efforts have been concluded by researchers to improve the model predictions of future spread.  Also, citizen science projects like the Mildew Mania Project are able to monitor for pathogens such as powdery mildew disease by growing barley as bait for the disease with the assistance of 975 students from 94 schools. 


Conrad, C.; Hilchey, K.; “A Review of Citizen Science and Community-Based Environmental Monitoring: Issues and Opportunities.” Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 2011, 176, 273.

Dickinson, J.; Zuckerberg, B.; Bonter, D. “Citizen Science as an Ecological Research Tool: Challenges and Benefits.” Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 2010, 41, 149.

Green, S.; Rees, J. “Innovations in Camera Trapping Technology and Approaches: The Integration of Citizen Science and Artificial Intelligence.Animals, 2020, 10, 132.

Ryan, S.; Adamson, N. “The Role of Citizen Science in Addressing Grand Challenges in Food and Agriculture Research.” Proceedings of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences, 2018, 285, 20181977.

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