Citizen Science: A bridge between scientists and the public

Involvement of volunteers in scientific research is a broad definition often used to describe citizen science. Many citizen science projects incorporate science communication elements within their platforms by providing scientific information, exchanging scientific knowledge and experience, and engaging the public with science. Although citizen science and science communication have many similarities and mutual goals, the relation between the two fields is not well established. This talk will delve into the concepts and models of both fields, making the connections and providing examples for such a relationship, using Sensing the Air project.

Sensing the Air is a public participation project for involving non-experts in local air quality monitoring and research. It aims to facilitate air-quality research through active involvement of volunteers and through the collection and interpretation of meaningful air-quality data. The development of the project, which applied a user-centered design approach will be discussed, alongside findings about public interests and needs in presenting complex scientific information.

Ultimately, combining element from citizen science and science communication can increase mutual trust, and contribute to the understanding of scientific research, its importance and relevance to life, and directs the course of the study to the needs and benefit of society. Providing opportunities for personal research within citizen science can supports personal scientific inquiry, data analysis and conclusion drawing in a personalized fashion. Consequently, transforming citizen science into what citizens want it to be and increasing public engagement with science.

Yaela Golumbic is finishing her Ph.D. at the Faculty of Education in Science and Technology, and the Faculty of Civil & Environmental Engineering, at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. She is leading the citizen science initiative "Sensing the Air" for engaging citizens in air quality research.  Her research focuses on enhancing public engagement with science through implementation of citizen science projects.