Good News Bad News

So there’s good news and there’s bad news. Which would you like first? Good news?

The good news is that the pictures from Season 5 are being processed at the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute right this minute. There are about 900,000 images total, so it will take a few days to process them all. (What are we doing? We’re resizing them, extracting the place and time they were taken, and grouping those that need it into groups of 3.) Then we’ll need to upload them to Zooniverse’s servers. That might take another day or so. If everything goes without a hitch (fingers crossed), we’ll be ready to unleash Season 5 by the end of next week! (So for those of you who wanted some warning, this is your warning. Clear you schedules. Get your work done early. Set up an ‘away’ message on your email…)

Sneak Preview of Season 5 (July to December 2012)

Sneak Preview of Season 5 (July to December 2012)

The other news is bad, I’m afraid. We just found out that the grant proposal we wrote to the National Science Foundation back in January got turned down. Our grant would have funded Snapshot Serengeti and the Serengeti Lion Project for another five years, and included money for scientists to continue to analyze all the data you’ve been generating by identifying animals in the Snapshot Serengeti images.

Our proposal was reviewed by three other scientists independently and then talked about by a group of scientists who had our proposal and the three reviews to look at. Our three reviews varied. One person thought that our proposal was the most exciting project s/he had read yet this year. But the others were a bit concerned about exactly how we would analyze the data. This proposal was a “pre-proposal,” meaning that we only had a few pages to explain what we wanted to do, how we would do it, why it’s important, and the broader impact we would have. I guess we didn’t manage to get in enough of the “how” for these reviewers.

We were all taken by surprise by the rejection. The Lion Research Center has been reliably funded by the National Science Foundation for decades. But things are changing. Firstly, this “pre-proposal” system is new; it’s only in its second year. And everyone — both proposal writers and proposal reviewers — are still figuring out what exactly should go in the new shorter pre-proposals. And secondly, the Sequester is still in place, so the National Science Foundation has less money to give out this coming year than usual.

In any case, we’re now regrouping to come up with a new funding plan. We’ll be able to apply again to the National Science Foundation in January 2014 to fund camera trapping starting in 2015. And we’ve got several papers that we plan to write in the next six months using Snapshot Serengeti data that we’ll be able to point to to show reviewers that we can properly analyze the data. Meanwhile, we’re going to try to keep the cameras rolling by looking for other funding sources to cover our year-long funding gap. Suggestions welcome.

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About Margaret Kosmala

I am an ecologist exploring the complex dynamics of plant and animal systems. I am especially interested in understanding how species communities change over time and how humans impact them.

9 responses to “Good News Bad News”

  1. Keith Hearn says :

    Where can I donate?

    • Margaret Kosmala says :

      Hi Keith. Thanks for your generosity. Right now we’re just getting organized on the fundraising, but I guarantee you’ll have the opportunity to donate directly to our project in the next few months.

  2. Parsfan says :

    I second Keith’s impulse to donate! I’m sure that many of the thousands of people who have enjoyed this project would be willing to chip in a bit of money; it might help to carry you over any gaps between grants. Good luck!
    The good news is excellent! My only worry is that I may be working in the remotest part of the Scottish Highlands next week. No internet 😦

    • Margaret Kosmala says :

      Sorry about the lack of internet! It took about three weeks to work through Season 4, so hopefully you’ll be back online before Season 5 is all done.

      And yeah, we’re looking into crowd-funding. If lots of people each contribute a little bit, it can add up…

  3. Lifesart says :

    Definitely crowd funding! I know I would contribute. Snapshot Serengeti is still the most fun I have ever had online.

  4. Daniel Cornwall says :

    Reblogged this on Alaskan Librarian and commented:
    Only commenting on the good news here. Really, really looking forward to having more pictures to classify. As of 5/30/2013, they had not been posted. Hope they secure more funding for their project.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Mug? Keychain? What? | Snapshot Serengeti - June 26, 2013
  2. Crowdfunding Snapshot Serengeti | Snapshot Serengeti - July 15, 2013
  3. Alaskan Librarian - July 29, 2013

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