Over 100 people attended PUL's annual Citizen Science Month event, which uses volunteers to help complete research projects

Screenshot of Zebras in the wild with the Snapshot South Africa logo

On Apr. 22, 2020, Princeton University Library held its second annual Citizen Science Month event. Participants from the Princeton community and the general public attended the virtual event, hosted by behavioral sciences librarian Meghan Testerman and Dr. Meredith Palmer from the department of ecology and evolutionary biology. The event was sponsored by SciStarter, a platform for citizen science. 

This year, 112 attendees participated in Snapshot Safari, an online citizen science project in which members of the public help scientists identify wildlife caught in camera trap footage taken from hundreds of locations in Africa. 

Citizen Science uses the power of thousands of volunteers to accomplish what would be impossible for a single researcher: classifying hundreds of thousands of data points. Even with technological advances in artificial intelligence, researchers still rely on the unparalleled processing power of the human brain to make the most refined and accurate classifications. Several volunteers identify and ‘classify’ each data point and while some volunteers may classify incorrectly, the wisdom of the crowd will typically succeed where one person or one algorithm might fail. 

Interested in learning more about citizen science and participating from home? Zooniverse has hundreds of online citizen science projects, including several from Princeton affiliates! Citizen science is not limited to the sciences, either! Projects are available in history, literature, language, climate, biology, nature, medicine, physics, social sciences, space, and the arts, no experience necessary!

Written by Meghan Testerman, Behavioral Sciences Librarian

Media contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications