The Center for Community and Citizen Science is a home to programs and partnerships that revolutionize how—and with whom—science gets done. Based on a foundation of research excellence, the Center helps scientists, communities, and citizens collaborate on science to address environmental problems as a part of civic life.
What are Community and Citizen Science?
Community Science and Citizen Science engage members of the public to collaborate with professional scientists to conduct research-based investigations, engage in monitoring activities, collect data and interpret results, and produce new knowledge used for natural resource management or basic research. This includes community science, which is community-driven research or monitoring in partnership with scientists.
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On September 7th, 2019, several
members of the CCS team, including Chris Jadallah, Mackenzie
Carter, Maryam Ghadiri, and Peggy Harte, participated in the
2019 California Biodiversity Day bioblitz. We joined at the
Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, located between Davis and West
Sacramento. Biodiversity can be thought of as all of the
different types of life on earth, from the largest mammals all
the way to the smallest bacteria. California is a biodiversity
hotspot, due to the wide range of habitats and climates across
the state. As part of the celebration of California’s
biodiversity, the California Natural Resources
Agency and the California Academy of
Sciences conducted 10 bioblitzes across the state.
Bioblitzes are events where members of the community,
naturalists, and scientists come together to record as many
species as possible in a given area during a specified time
The Yolo Basin was once an 80,000-acre wetland and home to a
tremendous variety of species, many of which remain today. In the
early 1910’s, the floodplain was converted into a bypass using a
system of weirs aimed at preventing flooding in the Sacramento
area. Human intervention dramatically changed the landscape,
affecting wetland species and prompting
ecological restoration projects. Today the Yolo Bypass
Wildlife area encompasses 25 square miles of mixed-use
land, including nearly six square miles of restored wetland
and related habitat. For the bioblitz, participants explored the
area, documenting species using cameras and cell phones.
Two and a half years ago, during winter quarter of my freshman
year, I approached the professor of my Introduction to the Oceans
class after lecture. “I like sailing,” I said. “Do oceanographic
expeditions ever take place on sailboats rather than motorized
ships? That would be something I would be interested in.” My
professor’s answer was a gentle no; larger, engine-driven vessels
are a must for the sorts of multidisciplinary cruises that define
modern marine science, she said.
In hindsight, her answer makes perfect sense. Maybe it was stupid
of me to ask. Nevertheless, I look back on that question now as a
sign of burgeoning enthusiasm for the field that, a year later, I
would declare as my major.
On October 1, the Center’s CCS Innovator Fellow, Peggy Harte, traveled
with DeAnn Tenhunfeld to Sacramento to present at a California
Expanded Learning Summit for after-school educators and
administrators. Their talk, “Engaging Students in STEM through
Citizen Science,” discussed citizen science’s growing role in
elementary classrooms, and was attended by nearly 50
Deadline Extended: We will be accepting
applications for this position through November.
The Center for Community and
Citizen Science (CCCS) and the Center for
Environmental Policy and Behavior (CEPB) seek an accomplished
quantitative social scientist to lead a project focused on human
use of coastal and ocean resources. The postdoctoral scholar will
conduct analyses of data generated by MPA Watch, an innovative
citizen science project in which volunteers collect data about
onshore and offshore human activities along the California Coast
(learn more at mpawatch.org). The position
requires high-level statistical methods in R, including spatial
models and the capacity to estimate models that include missing
data and data that is only partially observed across geography.
The role also involves working with state agencies and non-profit
partners involved in the adaptive management of California’s
network of marine protected areas.
With support from the Open
Rivers Fund, a program run by the Resources Legacy Fund, our
Dams and Watershed
Health team, Heidi Ballard, Ryan Meyer, and Chris Jadallah
traveled to Missoula, Montana in July 2019 to observe and
participate in the environmental monitoring associated with the
removal of Rattlesnake Creek Dam. Through meetings and hands-on
experience, we got an up-close look at both the promise and the
challenges of monitoring collaborations focused on dam
What was your path to where
you are today, and when did you first become involved with
community and citizen science?
During my years in higher education, I became fascinated with
ethnobotany—the study of cultural uses of plants—as well as the
emerging fields of conservation biology and sustainable
development. Across all these fields, I was most drawn to studies
that involved collaborative monitoring, where different groups of
stakeholders—environmentalists, resource-dependent communities,
scientists, and agencies—all came together to collect data.
What can universities bring to citizen and community science?
What can citizen and community science bring to
We have been talking to
colleagues all over the world about this double-sided question.
As the field of citizen and community science continues its
astounding growth, we believe there will be a continual need for
reflection, research-based insights, and a space to nurture
exciting new ideas about how individuals and communities can make
participation in science a part of their lives. And how we can
make interaction with diverse publics a regular practice of
Universities at their best are engines of creativity and
discovery, pushing the limits of our understanding and
capability. Citizen science and community science are providing
exciting new tools and approaches in that vein. Low-tech or
high-tech, global or local, we are seeing new ways to advance
knowledge and address environmental problems through science that
welcomes many forms of participation. From that perspective, it
is easy to see how universities can contribute to, and benefit
from, this field. We aim to play a role in both its intellectual
and practical development, based on a foundation of useful
research and innovative collaboration.
The postdoctoral scholar will conduct analyses of data generated
by MPA Watch, an innovative citizen science project in which
volunteers collect data about onshore and offshore human
activities along the California Coast.