New season of CNS-ASU Science Café starts Thursday, Sept. 19

September 5, 2013

Mark your calendars! CNS-ASU's Science Café series is back for another year. 

Science Cafés are free, informal public events designed to give the public an opportunity to explore contemporary science issues with a practicing scientist or researcher. The events are one hour long, giving the speaker 20-30 minutes to present a topic, with the remaining time devoted to questions and discussion.

The theme for this year's Science Café series is “Citizen Science”. Citizen Science is the practice of science that involves the general public, but not simply as survey respondents or poll-takers. Rather, participants of citizen science are actively engaged in the scientific process by collecting and analyzing data. Citizen science projects range from wildlife observation to 3D-printing to folding proteins using a computer game.

CNS-ASU's interest in citizen science lies in its power to transform the way science is conducted. Though some types of citizen science projects have been around for many years, recent technological developments have made involving citizens in the scientific process faster and easier. From providing new opportunities for data analysis, all the way to offering new sources of funding, citizen science brings up many interesting societal questions.

Some questions that we'll ponder throughout the year include:

  • Who chooses to participate in citizen science projects? What are the social, educational or political barriers, if any, to entry? 
  • Are citizen science projects equitable? Who is excluded from these projects?
  • Does involving non-professional scientists in the research process compromise scientific integrity in any way? Can the public actually enhance a project's scientific merit?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of involving the public? If a project is dependent on the public to move forward, what happens if no one's interested?

The first Science Café of the year, "Executing an Effective and Ethical Citizen Science Study," is on Thursday, September 19, from 6-7 pm at the Arizona Science Center and features Dr. Michael McBeath from the ASU Department of Psychology. We hope to see you there!

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