Snapshot Team Update

Apologies for such sporadic blog posts recently. We’ve all been quite busy. I successfully defended my dissertation last week. And then I enjoyed the true spirit of Minnesota for the next couple of snowy days, getting to catch up with friends and colleagues whom I haven’t seen in quite some time. But I’m not quite done! I need to make some minor revisions to the dissertation text before submitting it, and this has been occupying much of my time this week, as I need to get it all done before the end of the month – and preferably earlier if I want to enjoy the holidays.

Ali, meanwhile, is deep in analyses of the Snapshot Serengeti data gathered to date. We’re still working on the time issues. If you’ve got crazy Python and/or SQL skills and some free time in the next few weeks, drop us a note. A little help would accelerate Ali’s research while I’m busy finishing up my dissertation work.

And Craig’s diving into the next round of National Science Foundation proposals. The preliminary proposals are due in mid-January and an accepted proposal would restart long-term funding for Snapshot Serengeti starting in 2015. The preliminary proposals are relatively short, but in some ways that makes them harder than the longer ones – we not only have to concisely describe the research, but also convince the reviewers that citizen science yields high-quality data.

While some ecologists are still skeptical of citizen science, more and more are coming to accept it as a valid and valuable way to gather and analyze science data. The astronomy field may be a bit ahead of ecology in this respect, but we’re glad they’re paving the way. And did you hear? The Zooniverse was awarded a $1.8 million Global Impact Award by Google that’s going to allow them to scale up their citizen science platform to host many more projects. I only wonder what citizen scientists will do in the (perhaps not too distant) future, when they have hundreds of citizen science projects to select among. How will you choose which ones to try?


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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.

6 responses to “Snapshot Team Update”

  1. elfinelvin says :

    Congratulations on your successful defense and good wishes for continuing success. And $1.8 million, wow. Thanks, Google.

  2. Lifesart says :

    Hurrah for a successful defense! And the google award could not have been better placed.

  3. Barbara says :

    well deserved culmination to a tremendous amount of hard work.

  4. Adam Synergy says :

    Many congratulations Margaret !
    You are a true champion of Citizen Science and something of a trailblazer who’s work will no doubt inspire future generations of scientists to make use of crowd sourced data. It is very pleasing to know that the scientific worth of all of your hard work has been recognised by your peers. I would be interested to know when and where your dissertation is being published and if it will be easily accessible ?
    As a keen amateur astronomer I first became involved in citizen science projects like Planet Hunters and Galaxy Zoo, but one day in late 2011 ( and perhaps on something of a whim ) I thought I would check out some of the other projects.
    I was immediately struck by the incredible beauty of many of the Serengeti camera trap images and have been addicted ever since. My knowledge and ability to recognise the various species that inhabit this very special habitat has developed tremendously and this has genuinely enriched my life.
    Long Live Snapshot Serengeti and thank you !

    • Margaret Kosmala says :

      Hi Adam. Thanks for the congrats, and I’m glad you’ve had such a good time with Snapshot Serengeti.

      My dissertation will be available for free through the University of Minnesota’s “digital conservancy”: When? I don’t know exactly; my best guess is that it will take a couple months, at least. You should know, though, that there’s no Snapshot Serengeti content in my dissertation. The project started too late in my program (five years through a six year program) for me to include it.

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