Citizen Science 2019: Designing technology to maximize cultural diversity, uptake, and outcomes of citizen science


DSCN3339This blog post was written by Michelle Neil of ACSA with edits by me (yay! collaborative note taking!) (apologies for getting names wrong!) 

The session was structured in the following way: first, each person presented their issue, and then they answer questions that were presented by other panel members. The questions that we managed to get through are:1)  What changes have you made to your design in order to be more inclusive or reach out to people beyond your “usual suspects”?

2)  How can we promote stronger partnerships between HCI/UX design & citizen science in order to produce technology that encourages inclusion?

3)  How do we begin to engage communities in the design of technologies and technology-based learning experiences, particularly within diverse communities and with diverse participants?

The session was organised by Jessie Oliver (Queensland University of Technology)Jessie’s research in about engaging people with acoustic citizen science particularly birders.  what are the barriers and challenges about looking at acoustics?

A1 What do people want to do? Be inside or outside? Musicians may be the key for acoustic citizen science more then birders.  Showed birders spectrographs of the bird sounds and they are not interested – they want to see birds!

A2 get it recognised as something that is worth looking at. Then keep diversifying. Then ask more / different groups.

Jonathan Brier (University of Maryland) Looking at how we do the science of citizen science and bug people about security and privacy. working on national portals of citizen science. interested in what we do on larger systems and how they change.
A1 Site needs to be compliant so people of all abilities need to be working

Q2 ask.  Go to the uni students! Also, go to the lowest level of technology.

Muki Haklay (University College London) in the context here, focus on research with non-literate groups on data collection and analysis but highlighting how paper-based prototyping in the field (including a chicken that walks on the prototypes) can help in effective design. Namibia - Map Visualisation Session2_Moment2
A1 how do we include train-spotters in citizen science? why?  Plane spotters used to be mocked until a database was needed about illegal planes….. the moment you start thinking about not your regular community but those that are more detail-oriented then we have inbuilt citizen scientists.

Q2 how he started in HCI – got into the area without knowledge from undergraduate computer science studies, so only learned it during PhD (with the help of Angela Sasse at UCL), and therefore know that need to collaborate with mainstream HCI experts on different projects, or working with MSc students.

Jenny Preece (University of Maryland) interest in citizen science on biodiversity of data collection.  Book  – Interaction Design that will come out soon in 5th edition and include 5 citizen science case studies.
Citizen science and human-computer interaction are both interested in humans. cit sci wants people to participate while HCI wants to see how people interact.

A1.  Don’t ask people to give you their design ideas. They don’t know what they are or they are scared to do so. Need to ask it differently

A2.  After hurricane Katrina libraries were a huge sanctuary so most people went to libraries to give people a centre of focus with a community and talking to the outside world.

Tamara Clegg (University of Maryland) new to citizen science. try to help people scient-ize in their everyday lives through designing technology and make learning experiences. NatureNet project is trying to reach communities that are underrepresented to do projects that better sustain their communities by using technologies.

A1. Titles can alienate people. come and help us make our technology better works better. Make it practical and relevant and communicable.

A2 Used HCI undergraduates as part of their assignment to do usability studies on tech as part of their degree. Also created the standards in accessibility. Have more conversations.  Also, (questions from the audience about hurricane Katrina aftereffects) equity social justice as started to take shape in the community.
Grant Miller (University of Oxford – Zooniverse)  Helped build over 100 citizen science projects in citizen science. engaged over 2 million people so far. PenguinWatch. The barrier to entry couldn’t be lower. Remove the barrier or get it as low as humanly possible.  Provide pathways for deeper engagement and connect with researchers. use plain language increases engagement.

A1 volunteer translation app in zooniverse so anyone can do projects.  Don’t ever ask anyone to be a citizen scientist on your project! Keep the barrier to entry as low as possible.

A2 ask for people who do have broadband to help those who don’t. e.g. directing first responders to help those who are in trouble from the other side of the world.


Andrew Robinson

A1 If people were recording pokemon go but actually doing biodiversity that would be huge! We went for gamers with questagame. we are taking them outdoors. its an example of a non-traditional citizen scientist.<

Maryan Misouri

A1 Ended up working with people who were blind. very challenging. took more time, differently set up.

A2 Petra (Barcelona).  Explore hackerspaces, makerspeaces etc.

A2  Take a more basic approach. 80 rural counties in NC where broadband is not even accessible. Primarily done via telephone line so can’t assume good data transfer. Most affected people don’t have broadband. how do you do citizen science when you don’t have broadband? or you’ve had a hurricane?

Muki answer:  there are persistent digital divides. In some low-income communities, they leave school at 16 years old and don’t touch a computer. Have to re-learn after 5 years how the technology works again due to advances in interface design so don’t assume that everyone knows how to use computers. Need to look at south-north innovations – e.g. Ushahidi Brck.  local-mesh networks. .

Jennifer shorts-valler (?)

no communication. Recently taken over a Citizen Science project. How do we make it the best it can be? HCI folks were not on the radar. How do we connect the researchers and the HCI together? (Jessie to connect)

Daniel Powell uni of Maryland

Undergrads want to make an app for everything. what else is out there? Who else do we go to? How do we find these partnerships?

Muki – consider an empathy project. force student to deposit smartphones and use a function phone for a week.  In my field, there is a problem that most people don’t know how to read maps but the people in GIS think that everyone can read them. Issues of empathy between communities and those that design tech for them. Latest technology gets you into the top conferences but you can innovate on the function form. Get the empathy in.

Jessie created workshops and paid to bring citizen scientists plus brought in HCI people to co-create and was very fruitful

Jenny suggested developing an INTERACTIONS article and something similar with citizen science journal

Mark Handrichaw uni Ottowa

timing of the relationships and partnerships. need to have everyone together at the start. so you don’t go down rabbit holes.

yourong veee uni Washington

we are the best people to understand the users not the web designers. a difference of the partnership.

JESSIE: partnership doesnt exlude money.

Grant: get ownership and buy-in so get them interested (designers etc) treat them in the same way as volunteers but pay them.

Julie Sheerd Natural history of Denmark

Asking people to do an experiment and ask them to fill into a database. most said too hard and filled in the hard copy sheet instead. what about all these places online.  need an advocator in each country.

Jessie: need someone paid to collate and enter data. Privacy issues. need to make a clearinghouse that we can all use.

Tammy: the challenge in entering information into computers is a common one. If you are with family it is always easier to do something on a paper rather than entering onto the phone.

Vinny vandee design laboratory of san Diego

know the best practices but not everyone does. need a basic tutorial which describes<

JONATHAN we could add these ideas and FAQ on the associations’ websiteGuidelines are only general. number rof different guidelines.  A question of people being able to find it. Needs to be customisable to the community.

Ortez  (?)

wants to create a game that is super connected but it is super expensive. Paris has BirdLab. Costs $50k Euros. I don’t know how to find the money. How do you find the money? (Talk to Andrew from Questagame or Zooniverse but depends on what type of engagement you want).  Do you want it to actually be a game? explore all possibilities.

Can use the principles from community engagement of going where people are – in physical space but also online. need to go to where people are. the example is #RimFire01 observation spot on the way to Yosemite . Check the hashtag #Rimfire01

Using twitter or facebook (Andrew) we have a tendency that our motivations are everyone else. What motivates citizen scientists? Financial? gamers? Repercussions of using twitter and facebook for citizen science. A lot of people aren’t aware of this”


Flip the conversation. Citizen science work is getting kids outside. How do we include audiences who are disabled / too scared to go outside involved? how can we do it in a way that brings everyone in?

Brian Brown at Standford (TAMMY) – VR – count the healthy options in the community.

JOHNATHAN: Google hangouts used to engage others who can’t get there.

ALICE SHEPPARD:  Potential for soundscapes in citizen science. SoundScape, Project Soothe. Have you heard this bird?

HUSH City app.

MICHELLE _ sometimes HUSHCity app is used by parents who have kids who can’t handle loud noises. motivations.<


How do we engage?

MUKI starts from failure.  Coming into the area long after there were racial tensions. Somalis were not included and realised that at the end of the project. Needed to check the gov census first before you go into an area. Passive inclusiveness vs assertive inclusiveness.

GRANT; try to realise that your failing at it. Go and talk to diverse communities. Sitting with 6 blokes in Oxford asking the question means you haven’t started right.< VINNET PANDEY: Anytime I go into a formal meeting and pitch my project I went first into a kombuchaHUSH workshop. made friends. got into the community. JENNY:  be prepared to be very persistent and just keep trying. Ideally,  spend 1 to 2 years with a community so I know them really well before writing the grant proposal TAMMY:  Best one yet has been with my church. JESSIE:  buy-in is so important. started as a participant observer. So thrilled when I realised that they valued my work. FIND THE RIGHT PERSON IS TO GO IN AND WHO THEY HAVE TO SEE> DO THE RESEARCH!


Need to trick the organisation to get money? Include funds in your budget for community involvement / interns.


Citizen Science 2019: Citizen Science in Action: A Tale of Four Advocates Who Would Have Lost Without You

DSC_1533.JPGJessica Culpepper (Public Justice), Larry Baldwin (Crystal Coast Waterkeeper), Matt Helper (Appalachian Voices),  Michael Krochta (Bark). 
Jessica – there can be a disconnect between the work on the ground and how it is used in advocacy. On how to use the information to make the world a better place, and hold polluters to account.
DSC_1534.JPGFirst, Michael Krochta (Bark) from Portland, OR – NGO focusing on restoring forests about Mt Hood. Doing volunteer surveys.  They carry out ground truth by volunteers to inform management but also litigation in case of logging – a project about an old growth forest that was suggested, but volunteers identify rare species habitat which stopped the logging. The Mt Hood provide drinking water, but also an area of commercial logging activities. There are programmes of logging from the forestry service – an area is going through EIA according to NEPA, and if it is suitable, it is auctioned off. The national forest management act requires them to have a forest management plan, especially concerns over spotted owl from the 1970s. At each time, there is a large area that is being analysed for exploitation, and they don’t analyse it well enough. The ground truthing is to train volunteers are checking the information and demonstrating, for example, that an area that is the map indicated as only 30-year growth is actually an old growth one. Ground truthing include taking images, checking a diameter of a tree, and assessing the canopy cover. The forest service (USFS) have limitations and they do very simplistic analysis and apply an analysis of a small area over a large area – e.g. an area of 11,742 acres that through an effort by the NGO they dropped 1531 by demonstrating that aspect and slope are greater than 30%. There is a requirement to use more complex equipment.
The forest service is describing “desired future conditions” and demonstrating that the conditions are already there. Another evidence is “survey and manage” – the forest service require to survey and manage trees that are over 80 years old. There is an example of the Red Tree Voles (which the Spotted Owl) and because it’s hard to find the next of the voles, they don’t climb trees – once people are trained to climb Douglas Fir, they can collect evidence – the forest service is doing only ground-based surveys. A detailed map of the area helps in removing places that are within a radius from identified nests. There are also protected plant species that they identified by volunteers. Existing legal hook – National Forest Management Act on land allocation and current ecological conditions, NEPA in terms of baseline conditions and cumulative impacts, Endangered Species Act, “Survey and manage” from Northwest Forest Plan.
Volunteers demonstrate misclassification of an old growth area
Surveying Red Tree Voles nests

DSC_1538.JPGMatt Hepler – Appalachian Voices – part of Appalachian Citizens Enforcement alliance, is doing engagement with people about the Clean Water Act to monitor their watershed and bringing local knowledge to the front. People feel disempowered and don’t interact with state agencies – gave up hope or don’t know how. Holding state agencies and coal companies accountable. The sites that they are researching are hot spot – word of mouth on local knowledge, use of Google Maps and Google Earth and also use QGIS, and they look at Discharge Monitoring Reports – the mines are supposed to produce DMRs for each stream, and these can be examined and can also grab location so they can carry out their own analysis. Spending as much time analysing the maps to decide where to take samples as much as doing in the fields. Mapping is important – but not every community members are not good with computers or explaining how to use GPS and coordinates. The maps are important for not trespassing so to find places that it is possible to properly sample. There can be intervening sources that can impact the sampling site. They are using equipment in a library – using a pH buffer bottle, using instruments and people monitor pH, temperature, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and Conductivity. If there is low pH or high conductivity they do further tests for heavy metals and sulfates and lab methods. It’s important to have QA – training on how to calibrate, how to not trespass and upload the data. There is limited editing access for data so it can be controlled. Calibration of probes before landing them. Using Virginia Tier II water quality data standards – checking that it’s good enough for state-level monitoring and evidence. There is also polaroid justice – provide photographic evidence for the work that they do so it can be submitted “Polaroid Justice”. They have a website and now considering replacing it with smartphones with EpiCollect and ArcGIS Online, as it allows offline data collection. ArcGIS online can pull data from the EPA, state agencies and other sources and that are useful. Some successes – in specific streams (Kelly Branch and Penn Virginia) for illegal discharge of selenium and that led to Supplemental Environmental Project that bring money to remedy, reporting water quality violations, also found abandoned mines locations, and increased knowledge and awareness. Data have been used by academics who are interested in water quality in Appalachia.

DSC_1541.JPGLarry Baldwin – talking from multiple organisations that he involved in: crystal coast waterkeeper and coastal Carolina riverkeeper. The issue is Coal Ash and CAFO – the residue for coal that is used in power plants, and CAFO is concentrated Animal Feeding Operations from pork and poultry (turkey and chicken) because of industrial farming. They got information from a farmer about coal ash spill in the Dan River and took to the air, showing a spill from coal and CAFO sources. They had volunteers who recognise the discharge and people took photos for weeks. There are quite a few sites like that. The issue with CAFO that come from factory farms that got a “lagoon” which is a cesspit – a hole in the ground that include the sewage from the swine and then sprayed on the ground as a “fertilisers”. There are issues of discharge from CAFO – you find it out from neighbours who are checking the information, Trespassing is an issue, and they allow the organisation to go and sample. There are big mountains of poultry waste – with nitrate, bacteria and all sort of other things in it. There are 2400 swine “lagoon” mostly near low-income communities and black and Hispanic communities. So they provided tools to allow communities members to collect evidence from aerial monitoring with volunteer pilots – who have their own aeroplane who are willing to fly over the property, with attempts not to allow flying a drone over a facility because that is not allowed by law. After hurricane Florence, when it hit on Saturday, they flew for 8 days, to document the impact of the storm. Used a sign on the board of the local airport and recruiting pilots this way (covering the fuels). Also doing campaigns which get people involved – including billboards. The industry got upset about the billboards that they put their own campaign. Use an innovative way to engage people – they pay for themselves in terms of participation. Going to lawsuits only as last options – using clean air act or legislative actions to campaign and change things. Lobbying, campaigning, the court of public opinion is also important – using the information from volunteers to put it in front of the public, conventional media (print/radio/TV), documentaries – bringing people from Russia, China and other countries to avoid the problem in their own country, and finally social media. Training people to take samples and teaching people to use equipment to prove the point in a specific issue. If it is not part of the volunteers who step up to be part of the solution.
DSC_1546.JPGJessica Culpepper  – Public Justice is a national advocacy organisation and they have lawyers and been doing it for 7 years. There are environmental lawsuits that are based on citizen science and it is important to use it in these cases. There are also gag laws that are being put even to block access to public land (the Wyoming law). These laws are there to stop citizen scientists to identify problems. Public justice is to identify the problems in the energy and agricultural sector – coal ash, water. The Food Project try to support dismantling industrial agriculture towards a regenerative form of animal agriculture. Believe in deep partnership with communities and representing farmers, rural communities, consumers, and workers. Focusing on communities that don’t have clean water because of nitrates. Poultry has issues of working rights and other issues. The Burton et al v Mountaire Poultry – in a Milsbrough they experience water pollution that a community of colour was exposed to without knowing. There is row poultry waste sprayed on the field, and when the incident happened, the environment agency sample 11 wells and just sent water softener without explanation how it will help the situation. A group at the Sussex County Del. , with a group keep our wells safe, and explain to community members that their water is not space, and stepping up is very scary – losing a job, excluded from a local church, children being bullied etc. There is a disposal field not far away from the community. There was a child who died from asthma, limb loss for diabetic patients – all associate from nitrate. They start by community well sampling project -and went door to door to do onsite nitrate and discovered that a lot of wells are contaminated. Used Google Earth to map Nitrate and also got evidence through freedom of information. As a lawyer, she can demonstrate that it is a facility that can be blamed It is possible to demonstrate the link – without citizen science and community science that enabled data collection. They also show that the trend is going up since the farm happened. The chart was created by one of the citizen scientists in the community. The data enabled to collaboratively create a groundwater flow map through a hydrogeologist – and they could prove that could bring a lawsuit on behalf the community – and there was a question of what they want to get out of it. They also did media blitz in USA Today and asked why senators don’t show up  in the communities, and that influenced the advocacy – it led to the America Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 to get a grant to monitor and if the polluter is identified, they need to cover the costs – that despite the link between Tom Carper link to Poultry industry in Delaware. You need a positive vision, show up and document, willingness to be out in the media by the community, work with a wider network – work of citizen scientists is amazing. Burnout is real, and you need to work with different groups – an effort by communities and fighting for 25-30 years, and there is a personal price that they pay, with threatening family members.
Mapping with tools such as Google Earth is valuable in EJ legal cases as it shows the vicinity of pollution sites to houses
Analysis by a community member provides evidence linking the development of the facility with pollution

Citizen Science 2019: Environmental Justice and Community Science: A Social Movement for Inpowerment, Compliance, and Action

DSCN3340The session was opened by Na’Taki Osborne-Jelks, Agnes Scott College (CSA board) – the environmental justice movement have used methods of community science we need to include in the tent of citizen science. There are 60 participants in the conference that are supported by the NSF to participate in the conference. There was a special effort to ensure that Environmental Justice is represented in the conference.

Ellen McCallie (NSF), which provided a grant to support EJ activists to join the conference, noted that the NSF Includes got a specific focus on those that are under-represented in STEM and that are underserved by NSF projects. There are about 150 projects by NSF that include citizen science and crowdsourcing, and all of them push boundaries in knowledge or help people to learn about science.

The panel was moderated by Sacoby M. Wilson, Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health (CEEJH), University of Maryland-College Park. The chair set three questions:

First question: how you got into citizen science/community science?

Second question: what were some successes?

Third question: what your message to the CSA?


Viola “Vi” Waghiyi, Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), St. Lawrence Island, Alaska.

Located in the north Baring Sea, shes have 4 boys and the community. They are close to Siberia, and the Air Force established two bases in the Cold War. The people in the area continue to leave in the land and they wanted to keep the way of life and not separate themselves from the land and sea. It’s an Island the size of Puerto Rico, but TB, starvation and other impact reduce them to 1500 people. The bases established at each end and stay there from 1940 to 1970, and the contamination impacted cancer and health defect. They were ignored about the impacts and pleaded to help. An executive who was a scientist and they started a community based participatory research and they know that they have a higher PCB and one of the most contaminated community because they rely on traditional food – chemical releases end in their environment without chemical factories. They have a crisis in their community. She took a position to learn about chemicals and the impact on her people and been doing it for 17 years – taking samples, doing research, train local people.

Success – the institutional barriers that a small non-profit has challenges in addressing the PCB and the state is pro=developement of energy sources. So the state agencies don’t look after marginalised communities. There are also issues of funding, with a refusal of funding as their expertise are not valuable. The success – there are so many chemicals that are being created and all that impact you and your body. Companies that don’t take human health into account. The indigenous group is part of the human right convention and trained to use their voice to influence the process – work at the international level helps everyone.

Traditional knowledge, song, dances, creation stories, and we need to have sound data that scientists need to use to help communities in health and disparities.

Margaret L Gordon, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, Oakland, CA – dealing with dirty diesel project. Connected her community to improve the air near the port for over 25 years

How got to the field? Got involved in citizen science because she got tired of the state agencies and local agencies and lack of response. The organise to demonstrate that the city, the county, to EPA to demonstrate that they can collect information and measure their own air quality. They started in 2008 in Oakland and Berkeley, and researcher came to them. They started to use dust measurement, and a community measurement technician and really understood how to use the equipment and keep it accurate.

Success – part of creating an equitable solution, and problem-solving mechanisms to solve the issues. An understanding of problem-solving and bring people from the city, but need an equitable process and she was also the board of the port of Oakland and that was useful to address issues. Some people in citizen science, who didn’t learn how to be community engaged should not come to communities – they had to teach researchers how to work with them, and there are also issues with universities who want to collaborate and don’t share funding with community organisations. Relationship of trust and good communication can work.

We need cumulative impacts that need to be carried out in impacted communities and there is not enough academic research in the communities that are exposed to pollution. Better impact science.

Question about Climate change: we need to talk about Climate justice, and that need to be discussed about the impact on poor communities to deal with floods, and other impacts.

Omega R. Wilson, West End Revitalization Association (WERA), Mebane, NC – doing a Community Owned and Managed Research – the gold standard for community science.

EJ movement and activity started 70 years ago (he is 69), before they were bord – it was passed from their mothers. Issues of toxic free soil, good water, good air – there is a continuum. Moved after university to the Mississippi and in NC develop a new understanding of EJ issues and with the support of NIH helped to develop research in the area of North Carolina.

Successes – community groups deserve recognition in books and publications. There were intimidations of family members of activists by state officials. The use of the law is a way to get things working and to achieve.

The Citizen Science Association should be about dealing with problems, not just studying them. Push universities to actually fund pollutants use – the CSA should encourage growing education of Hispanic, Black and Indigenous groups education in science. The association need to support where there are getting the resources. Science for people, as science for action.

The issues are about terminology and changing citizen science and use community-based science and community-based research: everyone has a right to clean water.

Vincent Martin, Community Organizer Against Petroleum Refineries, Detroit, MI – push issues of air quality around Detroit and active at the national level. Got his company to assist the community with EJ issues.

The basic right for air, water, and climate change will get worse in poor communities. His community got coals, roads and highways, and a lot of hazardous material is released to their community.  When they started all the “white crosses” on a map of each person that died from an environmental related disease was unbearable and they had to stop. Experienced that with a brother who died from that impact. There was a proposal to bring Tar Sands for processing to their area, and the pointed that the zoning laws are incorect, and that was ignored – but then when the authorities check, they show that this was correct but the city authorities approved the expansion. Started to learn about toxics and about issues and how communities are being treated in such a situation. The community need to provide oversight and “hey, we don’t want that” and get some transparency and equity.

Beverly Wright, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and Dillard University, New Orleans, LA – influenced at national policy and influenced EJ issues nationally.

Got her PhD in Buffalo, as a sociologist working with the trauma of the love canal and the impact on the community. In the Missisipy Industrial Corridor they could see the chemical impact on the community and while people could see the evidence on fish, insect, and because there was only one chemical at the time, they couldn’t show link. In a community that she worked with, they took their own sample. Fell into citizen science through “we don’t trust you” and recruited toxicologist, and set out environmental sociology to work with a community. They create the first GIS map that shows the spatial distribution by race and income to TRI facilities and there were clusters of black communities.

Success – one of the only PhDs that are not being kicked out of community meetings. They made a community university model in 1992 and they use that model for a Community University Partnership by the EPA. Louisiana there were issues of working with communities – most environmental organisations that are typical (white, middle class – Big Green) bring students from the outside who then go away and don’t leave anything behind. So brought researchers to teach communities how to use the processes and collect data – and that is the creation of the Bucket Brigade. The White Crosses were used to demonstrate strange cancer rates in the chemical corridors. It took 18 years to win a case, but with the effort of the bucket brigade effort and capturing white steam that goes through the community and it was sent to EPA. Once it was captured, the EPA change the approach and organise the community in Diamond Plantation who got funding for relocation.

The level of pollution that is allowed by EPA – permits are set by the first company that was allowed to pollute, and the licences are about poisoning people, in effect.

Science not leading to action – most of the time. Need political science: science and advocacy.

There is an internalised racism and that is real and black people who are working for everybody, and there is an issue that someone is speaking for them. The black people are the only group that was enslaved by this country and that is persistent even in EJ, and other ethnic groups are not supporting black group – e.g. Latinos, Native American etc. It is an issue of racism that carried over to other minorities group. But black people learned to stand for themselves.

Climate change: the EJ movement pushing that the Green New Deal includes justice element and equity, and not to allow carbon trading that will leave pollution to poor communities. Need to think about how to have a just transition to a green economy. That is an effort towards the election of 2020.

Carmen Velez Vega, PhD, MSW, Tenured Full Professor, University of Puerto Rico – Medical Sciences Campus – addressing public health issues, and involved in the recovery of Porto Rico after Hurrican Maria.

Became involved in EJ because before that she was activists in the LGBT: e.g. the same-sex adoption, and that experience opens up other experiences. Puerto Rico is an Environmental Injustice Island – one phenomenon is the same people fighting on everything. As a social worker started to learn and in the school of public health. She was involved in a project that was funded by the NIH and looked at someone to do community engagement with a known researcher, and use the text of Phil Brown and through that, she was exposed to the risk that women in reproductive age are exposed to. There is an issue of contaminated water and toxic products. She learned that not all women are exposed equally – the more poor and brown you are, the more exposed you are. After Hurricane Maria, they were abandoned by the authorities and that added to the injustice. The injustices would not disappear.

The CSA should promote policies that push towards environmental justice and impact at a larger scale. Promoting young people and leaders in the area of environmental justice. Need to work with the communities.



Citizen Science 2019: Citizen Science: Creating Authentic Learning Opportunities for Students

The second day opened with an introduction to Kenan Fellows which is a programme to link teachers and provide STEM experience, and therefore they integrate citizen science in schools. Following this, Rachael Polmanteer, who is marine biologist turned 8th-grade science teacher, gave a keynote. Rachael is from Bath, New York (state) and she grows up near nature, with walks to the woods, and lake etc. She was always interested in science – her parents took her to science museums and supporting her interest – driving through zoos, visiting natural history museums, watching whales and were very supportive. In high school, she had to decide between earth science and biology – and Mr Ryan, her earth science teacher who was making it exciting – she hated rocks originally, but her teacher made it alive for the students. He invested in his students so they get a very high mark – 94% as a class average. He made a huge difference and helped each student. When she finished schools, she went to study biology, and got a job in Hawaii working with endengered birds, and continued to share information on Facebook to Mr Ryan, and the linkage was “hey, Mr Ryan, you wouldn’t believe what I’m doing now” and made the connection. So – who is YOUR Mr Ryan?

Teachers matter – they change your path, where you’re going. Education was aligned with what she was doing – in the zoo, and in Hawaii, she created a community outreach day which is a single day for the local community to learn about the endangered birds. She moved back to New York state because of wanting to be close to her family and created a not-for-profit – In 2015 she thought about becoming a science teacher – she knew the science, but the teaching was scary. Your first-day teaching: the life of kids dependent on me and you don’t want to mess up with it. She also wanted to do real science with the students. She was told to apply for the Kenan Fellowship. She was interviewed at the point that she had 8 months of experience and got the fellowship in 2016. She was paired with Dr Schuttler and embarrassed Rachael and was sitting at the museum, setting a curriculum so the students can do citizen science.


With the students, she set a camera trap and share the data and that led to 140 students that engaged in the eMammal programme. One of the students, Troy, was not interested but once a best friend was doing it, she wanted to do it too – and she joined science in high school and in college as a result of her involvement in eMammal. She then found herself presenting in the CSA conference in 2017, but the conference changed her – she developed appropriate ways to teach students and use iNaturalist to ensure that data is good quality. Have done bioblitz with 14 years old that got very committed to nature. Another example is an opportunity for students to participate in digs, and as students analysed shark teeth, they discover new information and the students continued to talk about their discovery for a week. With 36 kids to analysing information, there is plenty of work that can be done. With eMammal programme, she extended the effort or a bioblitz to the whole state with over 2000 students carrying out data collection on the same day. This year, created pollinator boxes in school.

In terms of outcomes – there is a clear growth in the success of students as a result of participating in citizen science and being successful in their exams. Now she went for 90% of classes as citizen science: it changes the student thinking, it changes their engagement.


Reyna Martinez, a student of Rachael, talked about her love of science, and interested in the fact that we don’t know about the ocean, and is interested in learning about nature and science. Making a difference and making the world a better place is something that excites her about science.

Yechielle Sabally, another student, talked about the growth of a bean in a bag, but in school also learn about water sampling, bacteria behind the ear, and learn about real science and helping scientists in their work.

Kaden Braye talked about the experience of doing citizen science – doing good in the world, and helping scientists in their work.

Favourite projects include Rob Dunn sourdough project, and eMammal because it allows students to see animals from all over the world.

The combination of citizen science project into the curriculum is done by sharing information between teachers and building the teaching around the project. She has the experience of how to link projects to the curriculum.

The next stage is to move from contributory projects to projects that are designed by the students and creating your own questions is a challenge, but once students learned how to do science, they can do it.


Citizen Science 2019: Citizen Social Science for Environmental Public Health Research


There are specific challenges for citizen social science – e.g. personal information, ethics Lisa Lundgren (NCSU) and Steve Prince (EPA).

DSCN3306Steve Prince – behavioural economist, and covering the SmokeSense app. Smoke Sense is about wildfire Smoke exposure. The problem that is addressing is thick smoke that blanket an area – different people might react differently to the issue. There is an increase in mortality but also impact across the population with more people impacts at the bottom of the pyramids. So they wanted to understand the behaviour and the impact of people – from a runny nose to asthma. They wanted to understand how people react and therefore to think about heuristics and biases to decide what to do. People use information that is available, and the EPA want to understand how people understand this information. Want to have Smoke Sense so it gives the feedback in the hand of many people – a smartphone app for people who are interested in smoke pollution and health, and want to contribute and understand the health impacts. They wanted an iterative impact – download and use it once is not helpful, and the repeated use is helping. The interface explains to people the air quality index and what it means. The EPA tries to link numerical levels to information. People are interested in things next to them, but also give the indication across the USA. But by showing a map it is possible to visualise that the impact of west coast smoke is going nationwide. Users need to interact with their health but also share this information with the EPA – DSCN3307from scratchy throat to Wheezing. They are looking at Symptom Mitigating Behaviour and Exposure Reducing Behaviours (ERB) – e.g. leaving the area, or using a mask. There is in the app information about other people – providing a weekly summary of the symptoms. They are trying to consider personalised messages vs. more generic messages – they are also considering what are the nudge-able moment for people in terms of behaviour change, so they are asking the users to provide information about estimating what other people do, and do you think that other people are supposed to do it – e.g. changing the circulation of air in the car when passing smoke. Smoke Sense got motivated participants – high education participants and not representative of the whole population. In terms of the health profile, they try to understand the context. Also, want to consider if it is a serious concern. What tools are available to reduce smoke exposure? what happens when smoke hits? The circular goal is for users to leverage the tool and use it in their community.

DSCN3308Lisa Lundgren – Sound Around Town (by Caren Cooper). When we listen to different sound set the mood of people even before we process sight. There are questions – what kinds of noise exist in the US? What sounds people here? So Sound around Town is about using sound in environmental justice – the noise paradox: noise that is annoying: machines, aeroplanes can be below the thresholds. The request of the project is to have listening sessions, while accurate listening devices collect objective measurement. The project meld citizen science and social science. Sound is subjective – the perception of sound is personal. There are ethical issues – the devices might pick up a conversation, also who should consent to the participation. The ethics require third-party consent in terms of the volunteers. There is a new classification of the privacy issues in citizen science projects according to the type of issues with participants in the Cooper et al. paper in the new issue of Citizen Science Theory and Practice. Project collect Private information and we have to consider the impacts. There are questions about how IRB should proceed and who should deal with the oversight.

Liam O’Fallon – NIEHS – like the link between citizen science and environmental justice. Looking at citizen science from environmental health and justice. Looking at such issues across the country. It is one approach in the wider context of community engagement in EJ. In this type of partnerships, people bring something unique in terms of skills and knowledge. There are different levels of engagement in terms of community ability. Motivation is important – how we motivate people? They have lived experience, and they want to understand the questions of how things impact their health. How they can collect data and visualise the evidence about the impact. In citizen science, there is a potential for developing equitable relationships with communities. The grant part on NIEHS is providing funding to enable communities to participate in health issues: citizen science is part of education and learning about soil, air quality etc. Community groups manage to achieve change in their area and inform decision-making practices. There is a community air monitoring network in California that impacts the operation and lots of other communities. Work in Rutgers helped communities in understanding the impact of track routes. There is also local histories and knowledge – the role of anthropology and the challenge of data collection. Collecting local knowledge require special skills and ask who own this. Also how it is used. We need to think about the purpose and what is the goal. Social Science issues are an important area in environmental health.

Rebecca Jordan (MSU) asking questions about citizen science from an academic perspective. When people are engaged, there is an authenticity to the data that is not there is other forms of engagement with science – there is gathering information that will have consequences. Something happens with this information and that really matter. Adding a layer of collecting data with people, and we have an interplay between human and natural systems. The data about humans – there are questions about who is the scientists in citizen social science with the participants analysing the information. We can be gathering social data from humans – e.g. Likert scales. We now have people that play a role in the data that was collected around them. There are parallels with Facebook social experiments that raise issues about trust and the consent to dealing with the data. We need to help society and human psychology – we conflate what we think is happening and what they observe and we need to pay attention to it. We need to deal with consent, and it relates to the ownership of information.

Bethany Cutts (NCSU) there is confusion between citizen science and community-based participatory research, not only because in participatory research there are differences in perceptions of citizen science. In EJ, there is a clear use of citizen science but their scientific results were dismissed regularly and we need to consider the societal changes that are required to achieve the change. We need to think about knowledge extraction and traumatisation – it can inflict a new trauma on participants. Anthropology and other social science dealt with that for a long time. We need to think about collecting data about people and the collection social data – e.g. in Sound around Town to pay attention to notice the individual experience and disregarding the experiences. We see move away from regression to describe the wider range of experiences. She’s doing a storytelling project but it included recording e-coli in the soil was an important element to move people beyond traumatisation,

Mary Clare Hano (EPA) social scientists at the EPA and there are very few social scientists at EPA. Asking the question about citizen social science is significant. Coming from action-oriented and leadership work, and had to make sense of citizen science and how it differs from CBPR. There is a wider range of views with people bringing different views. So consider what are the impacts of citizen science and how it can influence organisational change. There are other research projects that ask questions about how we motivate organisations to get involved in citizen science projects? Will they have a bigger impact and change?

DSC_1516.JPGAl Richmond (Community Campus Partnership for Health) based in NC and – – looked at 5 distinct communities and checked the process of engagement and protection of individuals. However, we have minimal assurances for individuals but not for communities. In the communities that they looked at, they have seen how community organised themselves in a community review process – for the very early stages of the project to the final part of the project. They are not competing with IRBs but how the community is being described in the publications about the project. Do we describe communities as distress or as the soundscape of the community? How do we tell the story of communities that won’t re-traumatise the community? Think about how a specific place is associated with historical issues.

Digital divide issues of using apps and smartphones – actually a need to engage with the researchers in a way that take into account the limitations and characteristics of the people that you work with.

Need to think about activism – trying to lead a change, and how we create jobs and change ecosystems within communities. There is burnout from communities that are being researched and explore – academic institutions are thinking in silos. If you do research in eastern North Carolina, map who is there, work with them and collaborate with them



Citizen Science 2019: opening talk “The Power (Relations) of Citizen Science.”

The first day of the conference started with Angel Hjarding, the conference chair opened the conference, with over 800 participants. The conference was strongly supported by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Welcomes addresses came from the North Carolina Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources, Susi Hamilton who highlighted the state support to the natural sciences museum and its citizen science activities, and from the Dean of the College of Natural Resources in NC State University Mary Watzin. NC State publicly engaging with citizen science including 6 faculty positions. There was a recognition of the ownership of the land by American Indians – many local tribes lived in the area of North Carolina – there are 8 recognised tribes.

A keynote from Max Liboiron, from Memorial University in Saint Johns, Newfoundland, “The Power (Relations) of Citizen Science.”

Her version of the keynote talk is available here.

As a Marine Scientist she is running a laboratory on marine micro-plastic, and running a lab that is feminist and anti-colonialist, the lab is doing environmental justice work without appropriating it. A very diverse lab and the issue is how you do it. Also doing research with people who are not involved in science in a way that matter to them. The values are being from Mary O’Brien (1993) on the politics of science – Being a scientist means taking sides. She points out that political decisions are being made in science: who you work with, where the money come from etc. Science is not value free. It got elements of politics – getting data at all costs, entrepreneurial activities etc. Her focus is on humility and equity. Everything is about power – making scientific questions, deciding who to work with or not, some ways of doing thing flourish and some not – power is in the infrastructure. Power is noticeable when you disagree with comments. We need to think of the difference between equality and equity – the first is about treating everyone in the same way, and equity is about paying attention to different people. For example, there is a very specific protocol from the UN Environment on how to collect data – which, for example, assume sieving sand, but that doesn’t work in New Foundland. There are different things that don’t work – you can’t rely on delivery. Need to consider new protocols that are locally relevant. Need to consider technologies that can be built from available material in the rural area. Can’t rely on electricity or cell phone, Need to be less than $50. Equity is not universal and they won’t necessarily move to other places and fit other communities. The guidelines are also that anyone can do it, and don’t need to check with the scientists – make yourself obsolete. In action – the usual instrument for checking for marine microplastics which costs $3500, and therefore not relevant for other places. Instead, they build an instrument for $12. In terms of capacity thinking about communities, many people assume that deficit model and it is lots of times a category mistake – understanding things in the way that they are. Her first participatory citizen science experience was when she worked for the first time and started with fisherman (prefer term for man and women) and on the island that she researched, people want to see the temperature changes. At some point, the fisherman wanted to see the data, and looked at the data and started to tell things. Fishermen are very good judgement loggers, and they know how to understand the information including the catches and others. The fishermen are knowing what the data. We can say that “how western science is finally catching up to indigenous knowledge”. Equity is contextual.

Humility – modesty and humility are confused. Modesty is about not stating how important you are. Humility: people are looking over our place, doing the work, cleaning and humility are about recognising the networks and the contributions of these people. In the area of science, it can express itself in papers such as the paper Liboiron et al. “Equity in Author Order” (2017) and that came from. Understanding the full network of people that are contributing to scientific work will end with very large – noticing the effort of cleaning the lab. It is possible to have papers with 300 papers. Or a paper with 900 undergraduate students who done crowdsourced DNA sequencing. But something is being lost in the process and this creates tensions. A principle that she had is that she feels that everyone need to be paid, whenever they do science – e,g, Virginia Eubanks who pointed – democratizing [science] is an endless meeting, so pay me for my time”. The reason that she doesn’t associate with citizen science is that it is based on sacrifice economy where the benefits accrue to the more privileged people. When she works with a community, she hires someone from the community as a fully paid member of the lab that will be involved in the project in a completely fair way. Engaging with local people, when working locally, the local connection was also helping the people who contributed fish to know what was discovered. Having local people that are involved in the project making it a full packed meeting, and the community meetings are community peer review. The community have the right to stop the publication. This happened in anthropology where there is refusal – ethnographic refusal is allowing people to object to the research in their area. The scientist has a stake, but the community have rights. So far, haven’t been told not to publish. We don’t know what are the harms and benefits to communities and they have the right to decide what happen to the knowledge. Some knowledge is not best going to academia but should go to the fisheman union or maternity wards.

Citizen science has a special place and potential to make things different in science. It can be its own thing to do humility better, equity better, and engagement. The sacrifice economy of citizen science is understood mostly as volunteering and doesn’t mean that it can’t be used in different contexts.

There are already set methods and projects and framework, need to think what is the domain and how you are able to change the system.