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Webinar Science and Life

Engaging citizen scientists: Will the walls of the ivory towers come tumbling down?

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

Engaging citizen scientists: Will the walls of the ivory towers come tumbling down?

Recorded 16 October 2019


Science is meant to serve and advance humanity. For more than 200 years, however, it has been conducted only by scientists, making it the domain of the highly (some might say over-) educated. An exclusive club, science is most often cloistered in the ivory towers of academia. While some argue that this exclusivity is critical for the success of science, we also live in a world where openness and accessibility are increasingly valued. Yet accrediting members of the public with the label “scientist” could be viewed as a threat to the closed system that keeps scientists in their privileged position. Fortunately, optimism has won the day as the scientific community, through the power of the Internet, has begun to embrace members of the public as scientific partners. Citizen scientists have been engaged to measure bird migration, the proliferation of plastics pollution, and disease outbreaks. As a scientist, are you afraid of competition from members of the public? If you are a member of the public, would you like to join this movement? Listen in as a group of citizen science gurus discusses its pros and cons. Together, let’s change the world for the better.

This webinar will last for approximately 60 minutes.

Speaker bios

Chris Lintott, Ph.D.

Oxford University
Oxford, UK

Dr. Lintott is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Oxford and a research fellow at New College Oxford, working on topics including galaxy evolution, transient detection, and machine learning. As principal investigator for the citizen science web portal Zooniverse, he leads a team that runs the world’s most successful citizen science projects, allowing more than 1 million people to discover planets, transcribe ancient papyri, or explore the Serengeti. A passionate advocate for the public understanding of science, he is best known as copresenter of the BBC’s long-running The Sky at Night program. His book The Crowd and the Cosmos: Adventures in the Zooniverse will be released by Oxford University Press in autumn 2019.

Renata van der Weijden, Ph.D.

University College Roosevelt
Middleburg, The Netherlands

Dr. Van der Weijden is an associate professor in earth and environmental science at University College Roosevelt in Middleburg, The Netherlands, and a senior researcher in water technology at both Wageningen University and Wetsus Academy, also in The Netherlands, where she also supervises Ph.D. students. After receiving her M.Sc. from Utrecht University (UU), she participated in research on radionuclide mobility in the environment at the Florida State University Department of Oceanography. She earned her Ph.D. from UU and continued as a postdoc/assistant professor at Delft University of Technology. Her current research involves water quality and treatment, water–rock interaction, and resource recovery. In 2019, she joined a multidisciplinary team in The Netherlands organizing a citizen science project that encouraged students and enthusiastic nonscientists to collect data and samples from rivers throughout Europe. Dr. Van der Weijden is a faculty member in the Bard College Citizen Science program of 2020, focusing on issues around water quality and freshwater availability.

François Taddei

Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI)
Paris, France

Dr. Taddei is the founder and director of the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI) in Paris, France, and the current director of the Frontiers of Life Science Ph.D. program at CRI. He is a researcher in evolutionary systems biology and has created Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. programs at CRI to empower new generations of change-makers by providing cutting-edge research training. He also leads the Institute for Learning Through Research, established in March 2012 by the International Scientific Committee of the National Innovative Training Program (IDEFI) of the French Ministry of Research. He holds the UNESCO Université Sorbonne Paris Cité Chair for Learning Science. In 2018, Dr. Taddei published a book entitled Apprendre au 21e siècle (Learning in the 21st Century), which came out of a 2018 report he submitted to the French government on the learning society. He has received numerous awards, including the 2003 INSERM Award for Basic Research, the 2003 Liliane Bettencourt Prize for Life Sciences, and the 2005 European Young Investigator Award.Bio to come.

Olivier Le Gall, Ph.D.

INRA Bordeau
Bordeaux, France

Dr. Le Gall is a researcher at INRA, the French organization dedicated to researching food systems and their relation to the environment, agriculture, and nutrition. A birdwatcher in his spare time and an agronomical engineer with a Ph.D. in plant biology by training, from 1986 to 2006 he studied the molecular dialogue between plants and viruses and the biodiversity of plant viruses, mostly at INRA Bordeaux, France. From 2006 to 2012, as head of INRA’s Division for Plant Health and Environment, he encouraged interdisciplinary approaches to crop protection, including utilizing the social sciences. From 2013 to 2017, as INRA’s deputy CEO for scientific affairs, he oversaw the design of INRA’s scientific strategy for the next 10 years, which included setting up a task force on open science, including citizen science and participatory research. In 2017, he coordinated the opening of the French Office for Research Integrity (OFIS) to stimulate a shared culture of good research practices nationwide. OFIS hosts the French Advisory Board for Research Integrity (CoFIS), which he now chairs.

Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Washington, DC

Dr. Sanders did his undergraduate training at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Following postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health and Georgetown University, Dr. Sanders joined TranXenoGen, a startup biotechnology company in Massachusetts working on avian transgenics. Pursuing his parallel passion for writing and editing, Dr. Sanders joined BioTechniques as an editor, before joining Science/AAAS in 2006. Currently, Dr. Sanders is the Director and Senior Editor for Custom Publishing for the journal Science and Program Director for Outreach.

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