Over 20 scientists have already signed up!

Jai Ranganathan

Houston, the #SciFund Challenge has cleared the tower.

Less than four days after the #SciFund Challenge launched, over 20 scientists (21 as of this morning) have already signed up to participate. I am so excited! Before we launched, I hoped that we might possibly get 20 people at the end of a month. It seems like we have tapped into something here and we have only started to get the word out. Who knows how far this goes? (We can find out if you sign up.)

A very big thank you goes out to those who have already signed up. The Challenge participants are a very diverse bunch, ranging from graduate students to professors to independent scientists. They are spread out across a huge swath of science: ecology, geology, radiation physics, materials science, computer science, and on and on.

We wouldn’t have been able to get nearly this far without the efforts of Bora Zivkovic and Kevin Zelnio, who have really helped to spread the word about the Challenge.

On a different topic, Dario Ringach wrote a really interesting comment to yesterday’s post about the motivations behind this Challenge. The Challenge is really about encouraging scientists to engage with the public by providing financial incentives to do so. But, Dario notes:

Well… I am ready to sign up a pledge to engage with the public, but not based on potential monetary rewards. Instead, I think we ought to do it because it is part of our duty to explain the work we do to those that fund it. And because, as you correctly point out, many important public policies depend on science (or at least should depend on it). What would the public think of scientists if the only ones they want to talk to them do it due to potential financial gain?

I completely agree that scientists should engage with the public, not because of financial rewards, but simply because it is the right thing to do. But scientists conducting crowdfunding campaigns for their research will ultimately lead to greater overall engagement between scientists and the broader citizenry, by chipping away at those institutional barriers that currently discourage researchers from doing so. That’s the idea anyway.