Citizen science & society


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The importance of citizen science, what we can learn from it - as human beings and our relationship to the planet.

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  • Thanks for inviting me to speak, excited to be hear, hope you’ve enjoyed the festival –did anyone go to the teddy bear session? Our Teddy bears know everything about us

    I’m Erinma – I trained originally as a neuroscientist – for the past year and a half I’ve been exploring citizen science, where the public get involved in scientific research. I’m going to tell you a few stories about that, including what it means to the people who get involved and what we can learn about ourselves, our bodies, the planet and the other species we share the planet with.

    But before we get carried away with what I want to tell you – lets find out who the human beings are in the room – like music, gardening, babies, pets, the planets, maps, birds, worms, drawing, wild animals

    Citizen science
    The public get involved in research everything from collecting and analysing data to interpreting the results and even shaping the research questions.
    Wisdom of the crowd to collect and find things out
    Relies on technology
  • About me – trained originally as a neuroscientist – applied neuroscience – several stints working in drug companies – and that yielded most of my publications as an undergraduate – I fell into a PhD by accident exploring cell suicide in parkinson’s disease and how we might target that.

    My real interest in the brain was in understanding people, what motivates them and the sometimes strange things that we do as a species
  • At the end of my PhD I got into science TV and communicating science as well as writing lay articles for the people with Parkinson’s disease.

    I realise these were two big steps into citizen science… firstly working behind the scenes at the Xmas Lectures delivered by my supervisor, Professor Nancy Rothwell and making props that would convey a scientific idea, usually as an experiment in front of lots of kids, who would get involved as volunteers.

    Secondly – writing lay articles for patients and carers – realised I didn’t really understand what it was like to live with parkinson’s disease until I was working alongside people who lived with it everyday.
  • About Wellcome Trust - established in 1936 as an independent charity funding research to improve human and animal health. established to administer the fortune of the American-born pharmaceutical entrepreneur, archaelogist and collector of medical objects, Sir Henry Wellcome.

    – Wellcome Collection – houses the library, café and event spaces
    - Trust Building –
  • relatively new term… but an old practice - darwin – amateur scientist – crowdsourcing information for his theory on the evolution of species through the letters he wrote to people

    Early citizen scientists - DARWIN & FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE

    Community problem solving

  • mircobiome – mapping the gut bacteria – providing samples from every orifice – your gut and your butt

  • Complex problem benefits from power & wisdom of the crowd to solve it collectively

    Contributes to neuroscience research & players have fun

    Eyewire – play a game to map the brain

    Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging – Help Neuroscience research while playing fun games on your smart phone

    22,000 users and 100,000 datasets

  • Playing games – to recognise patterns in DNA.

    Genes in Space.

    In the game, you take the helm of a spaceship to collect valuable and powerful ‘Element Alpha’. By playing the game gamers are helping scientists to analyse real life data & spotting patterns in gigabytes of genetic information from thousands of tumours. Using the accuracy of the human eye to spot changes.
  • Co-designed citizen science – working with smaller groups of people to solve a social challenge.

    I worked on a project like this at Lancaster University – interdisciplinary – solving real world problems encountered by homeless people, people on the autism spectrum.

    ‘Clasp’, a hand-held digital anxiety management tool, controlled by sensory response. On squeezing, the tool connects to a digital peer support network, that is safe and secure, to help reduce isolation and gain immediate support. The tool also provides an anxiety tracking system, including a GPS-based locator facility, enabling users to monitor and self regulate their behaviour.
  • Extreme citizen science
    takes into account local needs, practices and culture and works with broad networks of people to design and build new devices and knowledge creation processes that can transform the world.
  • IMAGE… Recognition

    Also exploring what motivates people to participate

    People who do it for fun
    People who do it for a higher purpose – to help society or to help science

  • Whilst citizen science could be described as the new rock and roll – there are some important things to balance to get it right

    Recognising contribution – eye wire has a leader board, foldit too – but also co-publishes papers with it citizen scientists
    Facilitating community – people like to talk and share and be creative – having channels to support that.
    Faciltiating learning/ education
    Encouraging action and change
    Data quality, ethical implications
    Measuring impact – what difference did you make

    Citizen science as an instrument for social or citizen-led change – do people make better decisions, can it inform policy?

    Learning, social bonding, policy
  • The Turing’s Sunflowers project team. Professor Jonathan Swinton, Computation Biologist came up with the idea and approached Natalie Ireland at MOSI as director of Manchester Science Festival. Science communicator and digital producer, Dr Erinma Ochu, produced the project working with Natalie, Jonathan & a range of other partners.

    These figures show the scope for wider participation in terms of events outside of Greater Manchester. For our next citizen science project, Hooked, we want to better involve other Science Museum Group venues.

    A CALL TO ACTION – short video telling people how to get involved & how to film
    Web instructions on how to film and upload to youtube
    Fortnightly questions for people to respond to with a video
    Videos blogged & tweeted
    Final short film that included some of the videos – played at Manchester Science Festival
  • The partnership with the BBC meant it was easy to get content straight to news rooms at media city. The results were reported online for example by BBC Manchester and included a selection of the video diaries.
  • Just a few examples of what people did, and not just digital…. Artists’ spear fish were inspired by TS to create a giant baby with a sunflower headress for the day parade
  • Choir sung a specially composed fibonacci song so people could hear what the number patterns sounded like
  • Additional partners that put on events, spread the word and supported the project. Key to the social media strategy was the partnership with BBC Outreach… who helped us with the crowdsourcing campaign.
  • Example from a project I am working on at the moment – Hookedonmusic – all about what makes music catchy
  • Began with this research group in Amsterdam – Ashley Burgoyne and Henkjan Honning – side project from a bigger research project that could only be answered with lots of contributions
  • Familiar songs and asks people to say which fragments they find catchiest. Imagine songs you’ll never forget – it will tell us something about musical memory.

    Just to give you a flavour – see if you recognise any of these tunes.

    Play song mix.

    Great challenges for us – getting the songs right in the playlist – the design for the audience – being able to show people how they compare.

    The big challenge for me is how it translates into benefits for people with short term memory loss, but music can also have benefits for younger people – enhancing mood.

    So its thinking about the wider context of your work – not just the data collection.

    Challenges with song data – commercially.

    Publishing findings – will preliminary findings be shared ahead of peer review?
  • Social bonding – dancing to results
    Research outputs – new research proposals
  • Thinking about the future of citizen science –

    Rapidly changing technology
    Some without access or only mobile access
  • On the policymaking front – lance weiler is making inroads – storyteller & experience designer – designing experiences to get a feeling of what its like to live in foster care through a game.
  • Salvatore Iaconesi – an artist crowdsourced a cure for his cancer – along with get well cards, art works and different opinions
  • NYU Environmental health clinic public health clinic – professor at NYU – Natalie Jeremijenko
    Designing health interventions- tackling the problem from an environmental perspective

    What’s important is to recognise all of these efforts – and different ways to achieve the same goal – put aside challenges you might have and consider what ideas or innovations might come from this?
  • Citizen science & society

    1. 1. Erinma Ochu #citizenscience
    2. 2. Brain by _DJ_ via Creative Commons
    3. 3.
    4. 4.
    5. 5. @citizenbrains @eye_wire Crowdsourcing neuroscience
    6. 6. Genes in Space: spotting patterns in genetic information from tumours
    7. 7. Professor Muki Haklay
    8. 8.
    9. 9. Social vs scientific value Principles • 1. Mutual respect • 2. Equality and inclusion • 3. Democratic participation • 4. Active learning • 5. Making a difference • 6. Collective action • 7. Personal integrity Professor Sarah Banks, Durham University
    10. 10. 1. Crowdsource number patterns in nature dataset 2. Engage 3000 people from Greater Manchester 3. Learn about Turing & how number patterns work in sunflowers 4. Provide media stories
    11. 11. Open Voice Community Choir
    12. 12. Music Cognition Group
    13. 13.
    14. 14. Lance Weiler
    15. 15. Salvatore Iaconesi
    16. 16. Natalie Jeremijenko
    17. 17. Vinay Venkatraman
    18. 18. Carolyn Kagan – fostering an ecological edge Two Cultures
    19. 19.