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Citizen Science: Get Involved

A portal to citizen science resources and opportunities at Carnegie Mellon, around Pittsburgh, and online.

Top Reasons to Get Involved

Whether you’re a professional scientist, a science enthusiast, a concerned citizen, or just an occasional dabbler, there are lots of great reasons to engage in citizen science. 

Reasons to volunteer as a citizen scientist include:

  • Learn, without pressure, about new areas
  • Develop new skills
  • Network, professionally or casually
  • Try a potential new career path
  • Feel good while volunteering, doing something for the greater good


Reasons for organizations and professional researchers to involve citizen scientists in their projects include:

  • Achieve more participation in research
  • Leverage the "wisdom of the crowd" to make breakthroughs and unlock new insight
  • Facilitate research on a bigger scale by adding additional people
  • Tap into new sources of information, knowledge and perspectives
  • Increase citizen engagement in scientific research and build stronger connections between citizens and scientists
  • Develop new methods
  • Improve openness and reliability of research
  • Ensure that citizens understand scientific research even better
  • Ensure that scientists and knowledge institutes understand current issues in society even better
  • Focus research on more relevant subjects and on citizens’ priorities
  • Improve scientific literacy among the general public (RIVM Magazine)

Citizen scientists dipnetting a mountain stream


NPS Photo by Ivie Metzen (CC BY 2.0)

Opportunities in Pennsylvania

Projects in Pittsburgh


Projects in PA



Opportunities Online

There are many resources online for finding citizen science opportunities. Below is a small sampling of those resources. (Click the logo to visit the site.)

Staff Picks

This list contains a selection of hand-picked favorites recommended by former OSDC Project Coordinator and resident Citizen Science expert, Patrick Campbell. If you're just getting started with citizen science, this list will expose you to some of the most important and innovative experiments in citizen science!

  1. Galaxy Zoo - Galaxy Zoo is a crowdsourced astronomy project which invites people to assist in the morphological classification of large numbers of galaxies. There have been 15 versions as of July 2017.
  2. Humanitarian OpenStreetMap - Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) is an international team dedicated to humanitarian action and community development through open mapping.
  3. Foldit - Foldit is an online puzzle video game about protein folding. It is part of an experimental research project developed by the University of Washington, Center for Game Science, in collaboration with the UW Department of Biochemistry.
  4. SETI@Home - SETI@home is a scientific experiment, based at UC Berkeley, that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data. (This project is currently in hibernation mode, but still worth checking out!)
  5. Rosetta@Home - By running Rosetta@home on your computer when you're not using it you will speed up and extend our efforts to design new proteins and to predict their 3-dimensional shapes. 
  6. Polymath Project - The Polymath Project is a collaboration among mathematicians to solve important and difficult mathematical problems by coordinating many mathematicians to communicate with each other to find the best route to the solution. 
  7. InnoCentive - InnoCentive is an open innovation and crowdsourcing company with its worldwide headquarters in Waltham, MA and their EMEA headquarters in London, UK. They enable organizations to put their unsolved problems and unmet needs, which are framed as ‘Challenges’, out to the crowd to address.
  8. Citizen Science 101: How Anyone Can Contribute to Scientific Research and Development - an overview of what citizen science is and how you can get involved. (While learning about citizen science, a group of students at Lakeville Nature Conservancy found our guide useful and shared this resource with us - thank you!)


Check out our Citizen Science Featurettes workshop series to get a guided introduction to these projects and others in a low-stress, beginner-friendly environment. 

Project Databases and Platforms


nature's notebook

citizen science center adventure scientists Cornell Lab of Ornithology
nature conservancy iNaturalist Scientific American Citizen Science


Governmental Agencies with Citizen Science Projects

Smithsonian NASA


This work created by Rebekah Miller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license; CC BY-NC 4.0