By Angus R. Chen October 17th, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Comment
Loss of the Night – NASA
ZomBeeWatch – US Geological Survey
Bat Detective – National Park Service
By Darlene Cavalier October 15th, 2014 at 5:36 pm | Comment
The Knight Foundation today announced the latest winners of its Knight Prototype Fund. Eighteen projects will receive $35,000 to help them bring their concepts closer to fruition and one of the 18 projects is ours:
SciStarter ‘s project will connect data journalists and researchers with citizen scientists who are interested in helping them collect data about specific issues (i.e. water quality in a particular neighborhood).
The fund, launched in 2012, also gives winners a support network and the opportunity to receive human-centered design training in an effort bring early stage media ideas to a formal launch.
We are very honored to be in such great company and will post developments here.
Learn more about the other winners and the Knight Prototype Fund.
Image Credit: Knight Foundation
By Arvind Suresh October 7th, 2014 at 11:44 pm | Comment
In our latest newsletter we’ve picked citizen science projects where you can collaborate with scientists and use sounds and radio waves to track environmental health, understand our solar system, and even search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
And don’t forget to tune into NPR/WHYY’s Citizen Science radio series, produced in partnership with SciStarter.
And without further ado, here’s science you can do!
SETI, or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is a scientific effort seeking to determine if there is intelligent life outside Earth. Radio SETI listens for artificial radio signals coming from other stars. SETI@home is a radio SETI project that lets anyone with a computer and an Internet connection participate. Get started!
NASA’s Radio JOVE project enables students and amateur scientists to observe natural radio emissions from Jupiter, the Sun, and our galaxy. Learn about radio astronomy first-hand by building your own radio telescope from an inexpensive kit and/or using remote radio telescopes through the Internet. Get started!
Frog Listening Network
Amphibians are considered “sentinels” of environmental health. By knowing where in our environment frogs are flourishing and where they may be vanishing, researchers can direct their efforts to protect key habitats. Learn how to identify amphibians in Florida, by their sounds! Get started!
Citizen Weather Observer Program
Join thousands of ham radio operators and other people with personal weather stations around the country volunteering their weather data for education and research. Get started!
Interactive NASA Space Physics Ionosphere Radio Experiments (INSPIRE)
Use build-it-yourself kits to measure and record very low frequency radio emissions. Help advance our understanding of how they interact with the Earth’s ionosphere and magnetic fields. You’ll work with NASA space scientists on real scientific problems! Get started!
Image Credits (In order)
SET@Home, NASA, Josch13 / Pixabay CC0, CWOP, INSPIRE
By Lily Bui - Executive Editor October 6th, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Comment
Listen. Let’s get one thing straight: I am an unabashed public radio nerd.
So, when citizen science and public radio come together, I am nothing short of ecstatic. But it’s not just my public radio nerdiness for its own sake. Rather, this convergence speaks to a larger narrative (for me, at least) — that of citizen science being a form of public participation in science and public radio playing the role of representing public discourse.
In conjunction with SciStarter’s current audio/radio citizen science theme, I’ve put together a “playlist” of some examples of how public radio can engage citizen scientists and vice versa.
WHYY the Pulse
Producer Kimberly Haas features various citizen science projects, in partnership with SciStarter, on The Pulse on WHYY. She has covered projects like Old Weather, Tiny Terrors, IceWatch, and other projects in order to (1) report on research findings and (2) recruit volunteers for the projects themselves.
Encyclopedia of Life podcast
If you haven’t listened to the EOL’s ‘One Species at a Time‘ podcast, go do it now. Producer Ari Daniel walks listeners through various species — from bees to raptors to head lice (and much more) — and their traits. You can also help contribute to the Encyclopedia of Life with your own findings.
There might not be any on-air pieces about citizen science yet, but Science Friday certainly has a lot of educational opportunities around citizen science. For instance, the Jumping Spider Shake Down activity, you can both listen to and try to match spider courtship displays with the right vibration signals.
North County Public Radio
Over the summer, North County Public Radio covered the FrogWatch project and interviewed a citizen science volunteer for the segment. Listen along as the producer and volunteer embark on trying to spot one.
BBC Radio 4
This episode of ‘Saving Species’ series reports on citizen science efforts around species monitoring. Many scientific communities, such as an academic study by Jeremy Thomas (Professor of Ecology at Oxford) and colleagues acknowledge that without the input from these amateur wildlife watchers much of today’s understanding of the natural world would be impossible.
Are your ears tingling yet? Although I am acutely aware of my own biases, I hope that public radio does more with citizen science, and I hope that citizen science does more with public radio. There is potential for much, much mutual benefit in these kinds of collaborations.
For now, happy listening!
Lily Bui is a researcher and M.S. candidate at MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program. She holds dual degrees in International Studies and Spanish from the University of California Irvine. She is also the STEM Story Project Associate for Public Radio Exchange (PRX) in Cambridge, MA. Previously, she helped produce the radio show Re:sound for the Third Coast International Audio Festival, out of WBEZ Chicago. In past lives, she has worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; served in AmeriCorps in Montgomery County, Maryland; worked for a New York Times bestselling ghostwriter; and performed across the U.S. as a touring musician. In her spare time, she thinks of cheesy science puns. Follow @dangerbui.
By Ian Vorster October 1st, 2014 at 10:15 am | Comment
I hate the smell of a mall. Everything reeks of that seemingly incurable lust for stuff—‘buy me, buy me’ is the cry. It’s as if the building is overdosing on the smell of money, and perspires that sickly-sweet perfume. You can lick it off the air. But that’s just me—my daughter loves it.
It’s not accidental. There are firms who research and provide signature scents for companies like Tommy Hilfiger. Marketplace.org recently reported on this. And if you didn’t know that, consider this: scientific papers have been published that actually test the impact of ambient odors on mall shopper’s emotions, cognition and, wait for it… spending!1 The authors concluded that the cognitive theory of emotions explains the influence of ambient scent best, and they went on to discuss managerial implications. I guess if LL Bean could manage that I would become more entranced with the idea.
Recently, the Smell Experience Project, a citizen science project that tested volunteers for a change in odor perception, published its findings. Imagine that you walked into Macy’s and smelt something like dog vomit, but it was the actual signature scent—you would know that your nose is misleading you—that would be a give-away. Dolores Malaspina, MD the researcher at The Institute for Social and Psychiatric Initiatives who is using this information is particularly interested in what a change in olfaction or odor perception actually tells physicians and psychiatrists. She says, “We have a large amount of publications showing that olfaction is related to symptoms and cognition in schizophrenia and that there are strong sex differences in cases and controls. In the disease we have appreciated olfaction as an indicator of higher cognitive control, in addition to olfactory specific mechanisms and regions. We can use profiles of olfactory function to address the heterogeneity of schizophrenia, that is, to find different subgroups of cases.”
Another question that can’t be ignored is whether the deficits in olfactory perception could be a cause of behavioral distress or disorders. To address this question Malaspina and colleagues conducted an Internet based study of 1000 people reporting a change in olfactory function2. She says the results were intriguing, “They showed that olfactory dysfunction substantially impacts a person’s quality of life, despite being of little concern to treating physicians.” The results show that olfactory stimulation and processing may help maintain a healthy brain, and people who loose their sense of smell may experience emotional consequences.
While there may be less practical problems associated with impaired or distorted odor perception than with impairments in visual or auditory perception, many affected individuals report experiencing olfactory dysfunction as a debilitating condition. Smell loss-induced social isolation and smell loss-induced anhedonia (the inability to experience social enjoyment) can severely affect quality of life.
I might mention that Discover has published a long list of Malaspina’s work, and she notes that, “Discover was also one of the first magazines to take my findings on paternal age and psychiatric illness seriously. They published this in an article by Josie Glausiusz entitled Seeds of Psychosis in the 2001 edition.”
Changes in odor perception can be a symptom of a condition, such as depression, head injury, dementia, or allergies, or a side effect of medication. Because the changes are subjective and difficult to measure, medical professionals often do not ask patients about changes in their sense of smell. As a result, there is little documented information about these changes. With the Smell Experience Project researchers successfully turned to the public for their help to better understand how changes in sense of smell can serve as an important and useful health indicator.
- Impact of ambient odors on mall shoppers’ emotions, cognition, and spending – A test of competitive causal theories Jean-Charles Chebat, Richard Michon, Journal of Business Research, 2003.
- Hidden consequences of olfactory dysfunction: a patient report series Keller and Malaspina, 2013