FREE outreach class for scientists is back!

 

Just like Doctor X, the SciFund outreach class is returning to a (computer) screen near you.

Just like Doctor X, the SciFund Challenge outreach class is returning to a (computer) screen near you.

The SciFund Challenge outreach training class is back, by popular demand!

Scientists, do you want to tell the public about your science? At a time of slashing cuts to science funding, maybe you want to explain to the public why your field deserves public support. Maybe you want to set the record straight about misconceptions the public holds about your field. Or maybe you just want to finally be able to explain to your friends and family what it is you actually do at work.

But how do you, dear scientist, get started with your outreach? After all, most researchers don’t have any experience or training in connecting the public with their science. That’s where SciFund Challenge comes in.

Join the SciFund Challenge community for our online course aimed at helping scientists get started with outreach. Over 5 weeks, we’ll demystify the business of communicating science and equip you with the tools and confidence you need to get started.

[Read more...]

Sci-lamanaders: the latest #SciFund supported paper

Denton et al. 2014Rob Denton, participant in Round 2 of #SciFund, has just published the latest peer-reviewed scientific paper to be supported by the #SciFund Challenge! (Click to enlarge the acknowledgements.) It’s published in Molecular Ecology, but Rob has a nice, plain English blog post describing the work in his scientific paper here.

That makes six papers from three labs that have been supported through #SciFund! You can find the list by clicking on “Coverage” above. It’s wonderful to start seeing the papers emerging from #SciFund. Ultimately, what can help convince skeptics of science crowdfunding is how many papers start to pile up that were made possible with crowdfunding.

Reference

Denton RD, Kenyon LJ, Greenwald KR, Gibbs HL. 2014. Evolutionary basis of mitonuclear discordance between sister species of mole salamanders (Ambystoma sp.). Molecular Ecology 23(11): 2811-2824. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mec.12775

External links

First publication from SciFund support

The big analysis is up as a PeerJ pre-print

PeerJA  preprint of our manuscript detailing what we learned from the first three rounds of #SciFund is up at PeerJ!

Much of the analysis you will have seen already here, and the manuscript is in peer review (fingers crossed!) right now. But we’re happy to have pulled everything together. Enjoy, and let us know if you have feedback!

External links

To crowdfund research, scientists must build an audience for their work

#SciFund round 4 analysis

#SciFund round 4 has concluded. I’m kind of excited to crunch the numbers to see how this round did in comparison. I’d already compared the goals of round 4 to the previous three here.

The total amount of money committed across all 23 projects in round 4 was $55,272, bringing our total across all four rounds of the #SciFund chellenge to $307, 825.

Without a doubt, this is my favourite graph (click to enlarge):

Round_4_Percent_Projects_Funded

We saw a big jump in the percent of projects completed. This is wonderful. This bodes well for some kinds of research projects to be supported through crowdfunding fairly consistently. A lot of the projects were ecologically oriented, so the full proposal success rates from NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology (dashed line) are a way to compare crowdfunding to traditional federal funding.

We still have to work on the dollars value of the individual projects (shown below), which is still low compared to federal grants. (Reminder: Dot is average, horizontal line is median, box is 50% of data, whiskers are 95% of data, stars are minimum and maximum.) Still, while I am disappointed in the amount, I am very happy with the trend. We are seeing steady growth, particularly in the top half of projects.

Round_4_dollars_raised

The growth is also apparent when we look at how close projects got to meeting their goal (indicated by dashed line). The average in this round of #Scifund was… 100%, or fully funded! Also note that this round saw the greatest overachievement we’ve ever had, with one project raising almost three times its project goal. I’ll discuss this particular rousing success in a later blog post.

Round_4_Percent_of_Goal

In previous rounds, we’ve seen that the amount that people give tends to be pretty constant, meaning success is all about the number of donors you have. This trend continues, as we see the average donation is about the same as round 3, or even a little lower:

Round_4_Mean_donation

While the number of donors each project is attracting is, as expected, up a little bit from previous rounds.

Round_4_donorsOne of the slight surprises for me is how consistent this round in with the previous three. This surprised me because we switched platforms (from RocketHub to Experiment). These are two very different platforms, with different funding schemes (especially in how they deal with unfunded projects), and presumably different audiences. And yet the net outcome was not dramatically different.

If you want to play with the data yourself (and see a few measures I haven’t discussed here yet), they are deposited over at figShare.

Lucky last!

Lee Stanish

We are not done yet, my friends!

While most #SciFund projects closed out yesterday, Lee Stanish’s project, Can microorganisms help protect our groundwater from contamination by hydraulic fracturing?, is still running, with a few days left on the clock. Lee is past the halfway point, so her project could make its target with a little effort. And it’s on a topic very much in the news these day: fracking.

Read more about Lee and her project in this interview, posted a month ago! And as a teaser, here’s an out-of-context quote about a favourite story she has from her research:

Turkeys would gather around us while we sampled, including a young male who was ready to mate…

After you’ve read about her project, you should go to Experiment and back her project!

Three in one day!

three_a_daySeemingly from out of nowhere, Amanda Bachmann’s project, Discovering Backyard Biodiversity in South Dakota, has become our sixteenth fully funded #SciFund project. That’s officially just over two thirds of all projects funded in this round!

This is turning into a fantastic round of #SciFund! Go to Experiment right now and join the fun! Let6s see how many projects we can close out, and end this round on a high note!

Two out of three ain’t bad

Congratulations to Jason Finley for having his #SciFund project, How Does Technology Affect Our Memory?, hit its funding target!two_out_of_three

With this success, we have funded two out of three projects this round. Well, okay, 65%, but forgive a teensy bit of premature celebration. It’s still a lot of projects that have been successful this round.

We have a little under 48 hours to go, which is when things often get frantic and exhilarating! Stick around to see how many more projects we can fund! Remember, projects are funded either for the full amount, or not at all. Keep that in mind when you go to Experiment, and as you share projects by tweeting them, liking on Facebook, and giving them +1 on Google Plus!

I love fourteen!

i_love_fourteen

Gareth Lock has passed the post on his SCUBA project, making it project number 14 to be funded in this round of #SciFund.

That puts us to 60% of #SciFund projects meeting their goals this round, which is a big step up from our last two rounds. It’s very exciting.

How many more projects can we fund with two days to go? Jason Finley’s project on how technology could affect memory is has jumped from the halfway point yesterday to over 85% today.

Kirk Kalani Hausman’s project, Exploring the Depths with the OpenROV submarine robot, is perhaps in the best position to make great gains in the last two days: it has the smallest target of any remaining project. And it’s a project to let kids explore the ocean with a robot! How cool would that be?

More challenging to finish (but also more exciting) is Lee Stanish’s Can microorganisms help protect our groundwater from contamination by hydraulic fracturing? project: it’s has one of the higher goals, but is now past the 50% mark. A big push at the end could do it!

Don’t just sit here! You should go to Experiment and support your favourite project! And share #SciFund on your social media networks! We need to spread the word!

Lucky 13

lucky_13Brian Clark is the participant who has become the thirteenth scientist to join #SciFund’s 100% club!

Brian’s project, “Sex in the sea: Uncovering the mating behavior of Giant Sea Bass” is notable for being the largest project we have successfully funded in this round – about 50% higher goal than the next biggest funded so far. In fact, it’s one of the largest amounts raised in #SciFund history. We’ve had over 150 projects in three rounds, and only four have raised more money and hit their funding targets than Brian’s project. Well done, Brian!

We have three days left. How many more projects can hit their targets? JasonFinley’s project on how technology could affect memory is past the halfway mark. So is Gareth Lock’s SCUBA project. Funding those two projects would mean 65% of participants reached their funding goals in this round!

You should go to Experiment and help this become the most successful round of science crowdfunding ever see!

Half and half (plus one!)

Congratulations to Jessica Rohde, who has become the twelfth person to have her #SciFund project become fully funded in this round!Two-Face

Jessica’s achievement is a big one for #SciFund, because it marks the first time fully half of our projects have reached their goals. In an age where over and over we read about the decline in the number of projects supported, #SciFund has seen an increase in the percent of projects supported. Every round.

It’s important to remember that Experiment uses the “stand or fall” model of crowdfunding. With four days left to go, it’ll be exciting to see how many more projects we might push past the finish line! We have three projects past the 50% mark. Currently, Brian Clarke has one of the bigger goals in this round, but is the closest to achieving his target. Other projects close to their goal include Gareth Locke’s SCUBA project, and Jason Finley’s memory and technology project.

You should go to Experiment to see all the great #SciFund projects in this round!

We have a new record!

new_record Earlier today, we noted:

In round 3, we funded 45.7% of projects. The next two projects in this round would put us at just under 48%, with the halfway mark – 50% of projects funded – tantalizingly close…

And now, Craig McClain’s woodfall project and Christopher Pincetich’s sea turtles project have made their targets! Congratulations to both!

One more fully funded project will put us over the halfway point. Could we fund Jessica Rohde’s science communication project? Or maybe study some deep sea lovin’ with Brian Clarke? Or memory with Jason Finley? You should visit Experiment and see!

Doing fine with number nine

Congratulations to Claire Regan! nineHers is the ninth #SciFund project to reach its funding target: Where is pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay watershed?

We may have to write another post about the latest 100% Club members. Craig McClain’s woodfall project and Christopher Pincetich’s sea turtles project have less than 10% of the way to go! If we fund those two projects, we will have a new #SciFund record for the highest percent of projects funded. In round 3, we funded 45.7% of projects. The next two projects in this round would put us at just under 48%, with the halfway mark – 50% of projects funded – tantalizingly close…

Don’t you want to be part of breaking a record? You should go to Experiment! Donate! Spread some link love!

#SciFund Challenge Round 4 with Laura Deighan

https://experiment.com/projects/how-can-ngos-guide-fisheries-to-ecological-sustainability

Each day we are going to highlight one of the amazing research projects seeking funding in Round 4 of the #Scifund Challenge. Today we get to speak with Laura Deighan as she speaks about how fisheries can be more ecologically sustainable. She also was the first project fully funded in this round, so just sit back and enjoy a good conversation!

Tell us about yourself, where you are from, and where you see yourself going.

I have lived in Delaware, Massachusetts, Florida, Virginia, and Washington – never too far from an ocean! I did my Bachelor’s at Florida Institute of Technology in marine biology. After graduating, I worked for a few years as an aquarist, taking care of fish, turtles, and invertebrates at an aquarium while I figured out what my next step was. I have always loved biology and science, but I believe that science is most meaningful when it is shared. Improving the state of our oceans requires the cooperation of people from many different roles – scientists, policy makers, the media, industries working on and in the ocean, consumers, etc. For this reason, I decided to pursue an interdisciplinary Master’s in Marine Affairs to add knowledge of social science to my biology background.

After graduating, I hope to work on the issues plaguing our oceans at a job that integrates science and policy in a way that is accessible to policy makers, industry, and/or the general public. Ideally, this would involve working on issues of sustainability within the seafood industry.

lauradeighan

How did you get involved in your research project?

I started interning with FishWise, a non-profit working in sustainable seafood consulting, over the summer. In that role, I research and report on different fishery improvement projects (FIPs) that industry partners are involved in, which helps those companies evaluate and report on their participation in those FIPs. When I started out I didn’t even know what a FIP was! They are a pretty new tool just starting to gain traction in the realm of seafood sustainability, so little research has touched on their use. I decided that this was an area I wanted to focus on while working on my Master’s and chose it as my thesis topic.

Why is your research important to you? Why should others fund it?

I am really excited about the idea of FIPs. I am a big proponent of collaborative solutions to sustainability that involve industry. The people in the industry are the ones on the water doing the work and potentially impacting the environment, plus they have a wealth of knowledge that you don’t get from research. FIPs utilize this approach because the process is meant to be stakeholder driven and collaborative. If FIPs are going to be a viable option, we really need to understand them better- if they work, how they work, and why they work. My research is taking a small step toward this understanding, focusing on how they work.

 

Why did you decide to participate in the SciFund Challenge?

I knew participating in SciFund would push me to communicate more about my research. I know that there are people out there that care about sustainability in the oceans, and I want to help inform that audience. However, as a graduate student, life can be pretty busy, so it is nice to have the extra push to share my research.

What was the most difficult aspect of building your SciFund Proposal? What was your favorite?

It was difficult for me to figure out how to best present and talk about my topic in an accessible way. Not because I didn’t think people would get it, but because after being in a specific field for so long you start to lose touch with reality. Being in school, you are constantly surrounded by people talking about similar topics and using the same terminology as you, and you start to think everyone talks about those things. With all the terminology that comes with FIPs, it was difficult to know how to translate that.

At the same time, that may have also been my favorite aspect. It was exciting to think about how I could share the information with people that may not already be familiar with the topic and how to do so. I learned a lot from it.

Tell us something random. Something funny. Something borrowed. Something blue.

I am a huge marine turtle and iguana fanatic. I feel the same way about them as Kristen Bell feels about sloths and how that kid in Despicable Me feels about stuffed unicorns, minus the fluffy part (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt6FPKyQamk).

I don’t eat seafood. I never really liked the taste and found out I was allergic to shellfish while prepping it as food for aquarium animals, but sometimes feel a little self-conscious about this. I got into this field because I am passionate about marine life and find the fishing and seafood industries fascinating.

You can read more about Laura’s research here.

The great eight

Congratulations for Monica Tydlaska are in order! Her project, How can we better protect the biodiversity of the rocky intertidal zones?, is the eighth in this round of #SciFund to be fully funded!Eight We now have funded over a third of projects in this round! Six are past the halfway mark, with a little over a week to go! Most projects of those projects only need a few hundred dollars to reach their targets.

Meanwhile, several of our completed projects continue to bring in backers, with David Shiffman and Erin Eastwood’s projects going well over their goals.

You should go to Experiment to see how your favourite projects are doing!

 

#SciFund Challenge Round 4 with Amanda Bachmann

https://experiment.com/projects/discovering-backyard-biodiversity-in-south-dakota

Each day we are going to highlight one of the amazing research projects seeking funding in Round 4 of the #Scifund Challenge. Today we chat with Amanda Bachmann about how the people of South Dakota can become backyard scientists!

Tell us about yourself, where you are from, and where you see yourself going.

I’m originally from Pennsylvania, and I moved out to Pierre, South Dakota for my job with SDSU Extension. I’ve been interested in insects ever since I learned to identify a bunch of orders and families for the Science Olympiad event ‘Don’t Bug Me.’ When I was looking at grad school options, I realized that I could make a career out of entomology. My PhD work at Penn State focused on migratory pests of vegetable crops (I spent a lot of time with soybean aphids and striped cucumber beetles). My job focus is consumer horticulture, which means I interact mainly with homeowners about their plant problems and pest questions, and I develop related educational content for our extension website (iGrow.org).

How did you get involved in your research project?

Backyard Biodiversity in South Dakota is something that had been proposed by a few of my colleagues at SDSU, but they didn’t have the time to get it off the ground so they passed it on to me. While I was at Penn State, I did a few side projects that involved pollinators so I had some knowledge of the area.

Why is your research important to you? Why should others fund it?

I think citizen science projects are a great way to involve the public in research and teach them more about how science works. I’m really proud of this project and the impact it’s having in South Dakota. Most of the 2013 participants have already told me that they’re planning on collecting data again in 2014. We have a very invested group of Master Gardeners and new volunteers who are excited about participating in 2014. If my crowdfunding is successful I will be able reach a wider audience including some of the youth and community gardens in the state. Also, in relation to pollinators, this project is something that people in South Dakota can participate in (by taking data and/or contributing to this campaign) and know that they are doing something concrete to help these beneficial insects.

Why did you decide to participate in the SciFund Challenge?

This is a project that can move forward with a small-ish amount of funding. Being in Extension, I also don’t have a lab in the traditional sense or a research appointment, so that eliminates quite a few traditional funding options. Also, I contribute to a lot of Kickstarter projects and I wanted to see what the experience would be like.

What was the most difficult aspect of building your SciFund Proposal? What was your favorite?

The most difficult aspect was definitely translating my science-y writing to regular English and extrapolating enough to make it make sense to someone who’s not me. My favorite part was seeing the finished project page and how everything came together.

Tell us something random. Something funny. Something borrowed. Something blue.

My first research project in college involved mapping parts of the east branch of the Chagrin River in Ohio for sea lamprey larva habitat.  I never encountered a baby sea lamprey, but I learned how to use surveying equipment, put my canoeing skills to good use, and only filled up my waders once. The next summer, I was in Adams County, Ohio for a month helping a PhD student with her field work and getting eaten alive by chiggers. After all of that, doing field work in an agricultural setting was comparatively very cushy.
 amandabachmann
The picture is from the 2011 Great Insect Fair. I’m with some of the Centre County Master Gardeners, and their work with the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden at Tom Tudek Memorial Park (http://www.snetsingerbutterflygarden.org/) was definitely an inspiration for what I’m doing in South Dakota.

You can find Amanda’s project here.

Double sevens

diceOur first lucky seven goes to Lindsay Aylesworth, whose project Searching for Seahorses & Sustainability is our seventh project in this round of #SciFund to be fully supported! We now have just under a third of our projects to have met their goals, – and exceed them. All our funded projects have more than 100% funding. On this point, a special congratulations goes to David Shiffman, who has raised more than double his original goal!

Our second seven are the seven projects that have passed the halfway point in their funding! With eleven days left to go, we have a good shot at fully funding several of these. If we do, it would make this the most successful round of #SciFund to date in terms of percent of projects funded! The seven that are closest to their goal are:

You should go to Experiment and check out these projects! Support the ones you like. And remember, if you can’t support it with dollars, support it with a little social media love. Share the link, share the videos, spread the science!

#Scifund Challenge Round 4 with Brian Clark

https://experiment.com/projects/in-the-bedroom-with-giant-sea-bass-investigating-mating-behavior-of-an-endangered-megacarnivore

Each day we are going to highlight one of the amazing research projects seeking funding in Round 4 of the #Scifund Challenge. Today we learn about Giant Sea Bass from Brian Clark. (Author’s note: no matter how badly you want these to be deadly monsters from the bottom of the sea, that you need to get in a giant mech suit to defeat, it is not going to happen…)

Tell us about yourself, where you are from, and where you see yourself going.

Hey I’m Brian, a grad student in my first year at California State University, Northridge. I’m from southern California but I’ve lived all over the state: San Diego, Orange County, San Francisco and now Los Angeles!

My current plan is to continue on to a PhD program at Scripps and continue in a life of research. I also hope to start an educational outreach program where kids of all ages get exposure to California Oceans and get them as stoked about marine science as I am.

brianclark

How did you get involved in your research project?

During my undergrad I was given the opportunity to do a research project out on Santa Catalina Island, where I was looking at dominance behavior of Leopard sharks, Triakis semifasciata. One of the professors who came to my talk was so excited that I decided to do behavior research afterwards offered me a spot in his lab. Once I agreed to come check it out he proposed this awesome project where I would get to study the behaviors  of this super charismatic megafauna and I was sold.

Why is your research important to you? Why should others fund it?

Nobody really knows much about Giant Sea Bass. Studying their behavior is great way to learn about them and get others interested in doing research on them as well. Behavioral research basically disappeared when molecular biology “hit the scene.” This research is part of the revival of behavioral studies and organismal behavior is something that I have always been curious and passionate about. I want to aid in the preservation of this endangered fish and prove that behavioral ecology is still a relevant science. I would love for kids to be able to see the same fishes I got to see growing up in the wild and not just in aquaria.

Others should fund it because they want to learn more about Giant Sea Bass, they want to conserve a species that was almost fished to extinction. Or they think behavioral ecology is as cool as I do :)

Why did you decide to participate in the SciFund Challenge?

A professor at my school sent out an email about it and I’ve seen so many people raise money through crowdfunding. I figured it was worth a shot and regardless of reaching my goal, that it would be a great learning experience for myself.

What was the most difficult aspect of building your SciFund Proposal? What was your favorite? 

The most difficult for me was putting together the video, but at the same time it was my favorite. I have such a hard time being in front of a camera, I just get super nervous and forget what I’m trying to say. My lab partners and I sat around on a Friday night going around the lab trying to find the best places to shoot and every time I started to get nervous, they would say and do things that would make me laugh. It ended up being a really cool bonding experience for us and I plan on making a couple more to further inform and promote my research.

Tell us something random. Something funny. Something borrowed. Something blue.

I have to thank my mentors for inspiring me to push on in my field. They have done so much to help me get where I am today. Each one has their own catch phrase that  me that will stick for the rest of my life and I feel like everyone in research should live by these words.

“Science never sleeps.” –Dr. Karen Crow

“If science was easy, everyone would be doing it” –Dr. Peter Edmunds

You can find Brian’s project here.

The story behind Experiment’s new name

Cindy WuIn this round of #SciFund, we have partnered with the science crowdfunding site Experiment. Some of you may know that Experiment used to be Microryza. But have you wondered how the transition came about? It’s a great story, told by Rohin Dhar. Here’s a snippet…

Denny surfed the web, wistfully looking at domains that would not be theirs. On a whim, he typed in Experiment.com. … The owner of Experiment.com wrote Denny back within 30 minutes. A few minutes later, they were on a Skype video call, even though it was around midnight. The owner of the domain loved the team’s mission. He had a masters in physics and had bought the domain in 1996 hoping that one day it would be used for some noble purpose.

You should go read the rest. And then, of course, hed to the sweet new website with the sweet, easy to remember name, and support your favourite #SciFund project!

Podcast! Get yer podcast!

microbe_postOn the Society of General Microbiology podcast, Lee Stanish does a little chittin’ and chattin’ about her #SciFund project, “Can microorganisms help protect our groundwater from contamination by hydraulic fracturing?

Go have a listen.  After listening, don’t forget to head back to the Experiment website to support Lee’s project or one of our many other fine projects!

Six makes a quarter

prisoner_number_6You know Erin?  You should. We profiled her yesterday.

Today, Erin tweeted:

MA summer research is officially a go! YESSS! Thank you #SciFund and all who contributed so far – on to the stretch goals!! #itneverends ;)

Congratulations to Erin for being the sixth participant in this round to become fully funded! This means that a quarter of our projects are fully funded after ten days in this round. Who will be our next finisher? Could it be Jessica? Or Lindsay? Or will a dark horse spring from the back of the pack to surprise us?

You should go to Experiment, watch some videos, find a favourite, and support it!