Deploying the Citizen Army: Building Powerful, Purposeful Datastreams
Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)
Citizen scientists – those who voluntarily contribute their time, effort, and resources toward scientific research – have the potential to provide a rich vein of data to inform resource management. Leveraging this citizenry requires data collection methods that resemble recreation, infrastructure to manage the data and volunteer base, and a model to maintain the long-term interest and funding required to sustain a perpetual monitoring program. I will discuss approaches for developing successful citizen science programs, and the perils and pitfalls likely to be encountered along the way. I will also discuss current and future avenues for leveraging citizen science data in research and management. Throughout my talk, I will rely on experiences and examples from the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) Volunteer Fish Survey Project, one of the largest and longest-running ocean citizen science programs in the world.
Dr. Christy Pattengill-Semmens is the Director of Science for Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF; www.reef.org). Christy regularly advises on developing scalable citizen science programs, and has worked with the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council citizen science framework, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Government of the Azores, among others. She has spent over 2 decades facilitating the incorporation of citizen science data into resource management and the scientific literature, having authored or co-authored 18 peer-reviewed papers on the subject. She received her undergraduate Biology degree from University of Southern California and doctorate from Texas A&M University in Zoology. For the last five years she has maintained a visiting scientist position with the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.