The First #SciFund Fully Funded Featured Project: Support Zombie Research! and a little Q&A

The First #SciFund Fully Funded Featured Project: Support Zombie Research! and a little Q&A

[youtube] Today’s we wanted to feature a really great project to close out week one of the #SciFund challen- WAIT A MINUTE?

Hold on.

Checking the website. What?!

Well then!

Today’s featured project is FULLY FUNDED! Oh, no, that’s not the name of the project. The project is Support Zombie Research!

[youtube] The scene in the Weinersmith lab right now

I could yammer on all day about how much I like her work (You got your zombies in my salt marsh fishes! You got your salt marsh fishes in my zombies! Yum!) But, since she’s funded, and we happened to both be on skype as I was pondering what to do about this featured post, I thought I’d do a little Q&A with Kelly about her proposal, it’s success, and crowdfunding for science in general. So read on, and go help us finish fully funding more projects!

So, you’re funded. Fully funded! How’s that feel? A little like this video?

Exactly like that!….well…maybe even better! I definitely did a little dance when I found out!

What’s your favorite part of your project proposal? (besides your cat, of course)

S*Bert actually got a lot more attention than I had imagined! He seemed to be the lead-in for the PZ Myers post.

Anyway – my favorite part of the proposal has definitely been the chance to interact with people and share my love of parasites! I just sent out my first reward e-mail with parasite facts and people have been responding really well! I can’t believe how awesome it is that I get to share my love of parasites AND get my research funded at the same time!

Have you been getting a lot of parasite love?

I have! Lots of people have been telling me how they feel about parasites, and how they are maybe getting convinced that parasites are really cool, rather than just being totally gross.

Total win! So, what do you think helped you rocket ahead in the funding?

To be honest, I think that the biggest help I had came from the fact that Zach has a huge audience of nerds reading his comic. When he posted about my project on his website I was able to really target an audience that was highly likely to find my research exciting. Zach’s post also generated buzz elsewhere (e.g., I know PZ Myers reads Zach’s comic, and so he likely found out about my SciFund proposal through Zach), which also helped out a lot.

I’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes too to try to generate buzz about the project. I e-mailed Ed Yong (Not Exactly Rocket Science blog) about my project because he writes a lot about parasites, and he was nice enough to tweet about my project.

I think my biggest help was from exploiting the pre-existing network that I’ve hooked myself in to over time (SMBC comics, SMBC Theater, etc), and searching out people who already love parasites to help me spread the word. That being said, I have an N of 1, so I don’t really know what works for everyone. Just what might have worked for me.

Do you feel like your social network has expanded due to buzz about your research?

YES! I’ve acquired a LOT more Twitter followers, a lot more YouTube subscribers, and the video about my research has been watched thousands of times. ALSO – Let’s not forget that I have now networked with all the AWESOME SciFund participants! Zen Faulkes and Kristina Killgrove are going to be on my podcast (The Weekly Weinersmith) in upcoming weeks, and I’m totally excited to be getting to know them too!

I’ve met a lot of really awesome people, and hopefully have enhanced my ability to share information about the awesomeness of parasites! I’m really loving interacting with the people who have funded my project. They’re asking great questions and I’m having so much fun with them.

This whole process has been amazing for me as well to uncover the secret exploding world of socially networked scientists. The support and interest has been incredible.

I’ve been really impressed by how many of the #SciFund participants have really awesome science blogs! Yes, the support and interest really has been incredible. I feel extremely lucky, and have been having so much fun.

So, along those lines of fun and group effort – this whole crowdfunding thing is a little different than the other pots of money you’ve applied for in the past. Did you like it more? Less?

This has been at least one hundred times more fun than applying for traditional funding. It’s much more of a group effort, and you get so much amazing input throughout the process.

Putting grants out there can be frustrating because the grant seems to go into a black box and comes back months later. With crowdfunding you can see your grant’s progress and get input about it along the way. It’s a lot more engaging. Perhaps most importantly, you get to reach out to a lot of people who would not know about your research otherwise.

Grants have an extremely low funding rate in general, but if you don’t hit your goal when you crowdfund you’ve at least had the opportunity to share information about your project with the general public. It’s cool, yo!

Would you do it again?

YES!! Absolutely!

That’s great! I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately – if this became a regular part of the science funding ecosystem, how do you think it would change Science?

Great question. I think it would really depend on how the crowdfunding system was set-up. For example, all of the SciFund participants did a lot of behind-the-scenes work together to help each other prepare proposals and videos. I think this was really important, and it would kind of be a shame if this aspect of the process was lost. But then again, there will now be examples of successful proposals out on the internet, so perhaps those could act as templates.

More exciting, though, is that I really feel like this process has connected me to scientists and members of the general public that I would not have been connected with otherwise. I have really been amazed by how much my funders and people considering funding have interacted with me, and so I love the idea that crowdfunding could regularly be putting scientists in touch with the general public. What an awesome way to get people excited about science! So I don’t know how it would change Science per se, but I think it would make a huge difference in the way scientists interact with the public, and perhaps make a huge difference on the public’s perception of Science in general.

I think we’ll wrap up there – thanks to Kelly for her time, and congrats. If you want to further Zombie research even more, feel free to check out her project or completely fund other great #SciFund Projects!

6 comments on “The First #SciFund Fully Funded Featured Project: Support Zombie Research! and a little Q&AAdd yours →

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  1. We’re pondering a #SciFund V2, Alexander. More info once we wrap up V 1.0 and regroup! Thanks for your enthusiasm!

  2. Great article and usuefl not only where you seek funding! I particularly liked the mention of transparency. Many promising projects that are based on a supportive crowd underestimate the importance of opening up where possible.