Library Element Book and Thesis

Citizen Science - How Ordinary People are Changing the Face of Discovery

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 23 October 2017

Citizen Science - How Ordinary People are Changing the Face of Discovery. Caren Cooper. Overlook, 2016.

The engaging history of the people whose contributions to scientific pursuits make us rethink the meaning of the word "scientist."

Think you need a degree in science to contribute to important scientific discoveries? Think again. All around the world, in fields ranging from astronomy to zoology, millions of everyday people are choosing to participate in the scientific process. Working in cooperation with scientists in pursuit of information, innovation, and discovery, these volunteers are following protocols, collecting and reviewing data, and sharing their observations. They are our neighbors, our in-laws, and people in the office down the hall. Their story, along with the story of the social good that can result from citizen science, has largely been untold, until now.

Citizen scientists are challenging old notions about who can conduct research, where knowledge can be acquired, and even how solutions to some of our biggest societal problems might emerge. In telling their story, Cooper will inspire readers to rethink their own assumptions about the role that individuals can play in gaining scientific understanding and putting that understanding to use as stewards of our world. Citizen Science will be a rallying call-to-arms, and will also function as an authoritative resource for those inspired by the featured stories and message. 


“[An] engaging exploration of citizen science . . . Speaking to educators at all levels, curious individuals hoping to get more involved, and groups planning community programming, this work is an excellent recommendation.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“Cooper provides that rarest of things: a hopeful road forward. Cooper’s road is one in which science is democratized. It is a road on which we know more about ourselves and the world around us. It is also a road on which millions, perhaps billions, have the tools necessary to empower themselves. Read this book if you care about the future.”
—Rob Dunn, award-winning author of Every Living Thing and The Wild Life of Our Bodies

“From monarchs to protein structure, from ladybugs to toxic waste, and from breeding birds to galaxies, Cooper weaves amazing tales about thousands of unsung heroes: those citizens who voluntarily contribute to global science advancement. Cooper is not only a brilliant scientist in her own right, but also a compelling storyteller. This book is a must-read for both scientist and citizen alike.”
—Meg Lowman, Director of Global Initiatives, Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability, California Academy of Sciences, author of Life in the Treetops

“In every part of science, from mapping the tides to mapping the breast cancer genome, ordinary people have been making extraordinary contributions. Caren Cooper tells their remarkable stories here for the first time. Prepare to be inspired.”
—Steven Strogatz, Cornell University, author of The Joy of x


Caren Cooper is an associate professor of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University, part of the Chancellor's Faculty Excellence Program in Leadership in Public Science, and assistant head of the Biodiversity Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. She studies bird ecology, conservation, and management through the use of citizen science. She served as an advisor to the public television documentary mini-series The Crowd & The Cloud. She is a blogger at the Public Library of Science (PLOS) and Discover and guest blogger at Scientific American, and she is director of partnerships at


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