Online software helps citizen scientists solve real-world problems

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A community group in Virginia uses Gray's approach to study water pollution. (view larger image)

With proper training and recently launched online software and web-portal, citizen scientists can follow scientific-based practices to improve environmental decision-making and even secure funding to help solve environmental problems, says a new study.

Michigan State University (MSU) researchers who led the research, featured in the current issue of Biological Conservation, showed that recent advances of online modeling tools and a web-based portal not only help bolster citizen science but the field of conservation biology as well.

“The nature of citizen science is changing; citizens aren’t simply used solely for data collection,” said Steven Gray, MSU assistant professor of community sustainability, MSU AgBioResearch scientst and the study’s lead author. “They are designing the protocols, conducting the experiments, securing funding and implementing the plans. They may not have the credentials of scientists, but they have the capacity to engage in the same approaches.”

For the full story, please visit MSU Today.

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