Wednesday, December 14, 2016

December 14, 2016 Update - United Nations Office, Geneva Switzerland - 2016 Scientific Research Conference

This morning was super busy in Geneva as our focus was “Participatory Research, Citizen Sciences and Fab Labs for Peace and Development”. In more simple terms, today’s theme was involving citizens in meaningful projects to help scientists. Nature Abounds, my nonprofit, currently has three citizen science opportunities – Watch the Wild, IceWatch USA, and our Senior Environment Corps’ water quality monitoring program.

Some presenters for the day shared information about their specific projects. We heard from folks from Germany, France, Switzerland, Cameroun, England, Australia, United States, Hungary, Spain, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, and Bolivia.

Five presenters, including myself, got into more of the development and management of citizen science programs. For example, how do you match a volunteer with an opportunity, how much training do they need, how do you keep your volunteers engaged, how do you make your data credible so that it’s actually used by scientists, making data being collected standard across programs and countries, etc…

Once the presentations were concluded, we broke into five subgroups based on the presentations. In the subgroups, we discussed the aspects of various topics presented. For example, what’s the difference between data and information, and how to make sure our data collected becomes meaningful information for scientists. My group consisted of participants from France, Belgium, Peru, Germany, United States, and Switzerland.

Just before breaking for lunch, I was approached by a couple from Tunisia, and they told me they really enjoyed my presentation as they were looking to design a new citizen science program, and they’d like my help with the design. We exchanged contact information and will stay in touch.

For lunch, I dined with Becky, a vibrant teacher from England and Claire, who lives not far away from France. Most of our conversation centered around Donald Trump, and how they were in shock how we was elected, especially after England experienced something similar not long ago. By the end of the conversation though, Claire became my tour guide for this Saturday, where she will be taking me to CERN, which is not far from my hotel.

CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research where physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. At CERN, they use the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter – the fundamental particles and provide insights into the fundamental laws of nature. So Saturday, I’ll be in geek girl heaven.

This afternoon, we are concentrating on crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, basically funding efforts to involve volunteers in scientific research. Until the next update...

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