SciStarter Robot with Robin on hand

About SciStarter

Mission | Team | Join Us

SciStarter is the place to find, join, and contribute to science through more than 1600 formal and informal research projects, events and tools. Our database of citizen science projects enables discovery, organization, and greater participation in science. This is also the place to track your conributions, bookmark things you like, and access the tools and instruments needed to get started. Learn more about citizen science and check out these Ten Principles of Citizen Science.

SciStarter grew out of a graduate school project Darlene Cavalier was working on at the University of Pennsylvania. In late 2010, SciStarter was formerly launched and in 2014 SciStarter was adopted in part by Arizona State University's School for the Future of Innovation in Society. In 2015-2017, with support from the National Science Foundation, Arizona State University's Center for Engagement and Training in Science and Society and SciStarter launced SciStarter 2.0:

  • An identity management system and open integrated registration for participants to more easily engage in multiple citizen science projects, even across platforms and disciplines
  • GIS implementation so would-be participants can find opportunities near them
  • Ability for participants to track their projects, contributions, and volunteer hours to science
  • Participants can create privacy-protected profiles and find people and projects of interest to them

If you are a scientist or a representative of a citizen science organization or community: SciStarter is the organization and community to  tell eager people about your work and get them interested in helping out.  Make sure your project is listed and up to date so we can help you. And use the free tools we've created for one-click sign ups, volunteer management, enhanced promotions, and to enable your awesome volunteers to track their contributions to your project (and the 3-5 other projects they are *very* likely inolved in). You'll benefit from the access to our analytics. What other projects are your participants bookmarking and joining? Find out once you use the Participant API and companion web snippet. It's all free!  AND, thanks to support from the Simons Foundation, we share the database with anyone interested through global partnerships, media partnerships and open APIs with PBS Kids, Discover Magazine, and others...including you!?

Our Mission

SciStarter helps bring together the millions of citizen scientists in the world; the thousands of potential projects offered by researchers, organizations, and companies; and the resources, products, and services that enable citizens to pursue and enjoy these activities. We aim to:

  • Enable and encourage people to learn about, participate in, and contribute to science through both informal recreational activities and formal research efforts.
  • Inspire greater appreciation and promote a better understanding of science and technology among the general public.
  • Create a shared space where scientists can talk with citizens interested in working on or learning about their research projects.
  • Satisfy the popular urge to tinker, build, and explore by making it simple and fun for people—singles, parents, grandparents, kids—to jump in and get their hands dirty with science.

Our Team

Darlene Cavalier Darlene Cavalier Bio Photo

Darlene Cavalier is a Professor at Arizona State University's Center for Engagement and Training, part of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. Cavalier is the founder of SciStarter. She is also the founder of Science Cheerleader, an organization of more than 300 current and former professional cheerleaders pursuing STEM careers, and  a cofounder of ECAST: Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology, a network of universities, science centers, and think tanks that produces public deliberations to enhance science policymaking. She is a founding Board Member of the Citizen Science Association, a senior advisor at Discover Magazine, and a member of the EPA's National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology. She is the author of The Science of Cheerleading and co-editor of The Rightful Place of Science: Citizen Science, published by Arizona State University. Darlene hold degrees from Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania and was a high school, college and NBA cheerleader. Darlene lives in Philadelphia with her husband and four children.

 Shuttleworth Funded logoCavalier is the proud recipient of a Shuttleworth Foundation Flash Grant to support people with brilliant ideas and she is investing that grant in the development of a series of media partnerships to help bring more citizen science opportunities to more communities. Follow Darlene on Twitter @SciCheer


Catherine Hoffman Catherine About Us
Managing Director

Catherine Hoffman views citizen science as a way to engage people in the process of real science. She has contributed to a variety of science outreach endeavors in museums, classrooms, and aquariums as both an educator and program coordinator. She holds a Masters of Science from the University of British Columbia where she became passionate about connecting researchers with educators and students. Catherine oversees the strategic development of SciStarter's 2.0 tools and provides leadership for the editorial team. When not pouring over her computer, you can find Catherine exploring new neighborhoods, reading a book, or cooking delicious food. 

Dr. Caren Cooper Caren Cooper Bio Photo
Director of Research Partnerships

Dr. Caren Cooper is an associate professor in Forestry and Environmental Resources at NCSU in the Chancellor's Faculty Excellence program on Leadership in Public Science, and assistant head of the Biodiversity Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. She is co-editor-in-chief of Citizen Science: Theory & Practice, a journal of the Citizen Science Association. She has authored over 50 scientific papers, co-developed software to automate metrics of incubation rhythms, and co-created NestWatch, CamClickr, Celebrate Urban Birds, YardMap, and Sparrow Swap. She is a blogger with SciStarter, and author of Citizen Science: How Ordinary People are Changingthe Face of Discovery. She likes to propel herself on one wheel, two wheel, and eight wheel devices. Follow her @CoopSciScoop. She hosts periodic Twitter discussions with panelists at #CitSCiChat and runs @IamCitSci, a Twitter account with rotating weekly guest hosts.

Alycia Crall Alycia Crall
co-Managing Editor of SciStarter syndicated blog network

Alycia Crall is a science educator and evaluator at the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). She leads strategic planning and evaluation for all the project's education and outreach programs and serves as an associate editor for Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.  Prior to coming to NEON, Alycia developed and evaluated a national invasive species citizen science program for her dissertation research while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She also served as the Director of the Virginia Master Naturalist program where she trained and engaged approximately 2500 volunteers in citizen science, environmental education, and stewardship projects throughout Virginia. 

Jenny Cutraro Jenny Cutraro bio picture
co-Managing Editor of SciStarter syndicated blog network

Every report card Jenny brought home from elementary school included the comment "Is too talkative during class," a comment she translates as "enjoys communicating with her classmates." Today, she’s channeled that love of talking, combined with a lifelong love of science, into a career as a science communication and engagement professional. As an Editorial Project Director at WGBH in Boston, Jenny created resources for the Emmy-nominated PBS KIDS ecosystem science program Plum Landing. She also led numerous workshops and presentations on integrating digital resources into informal and outdoor learning settings. She is an active member of the National Association of Science Writers and former director of their internship program at the AAAS annual meeting, as well as member of theCOPUS (Coalition for the Public Understanding of Science) Advisory Council

Carolyn Graybeal Missing Bio Photo Robot Holding Image
Projects Editor, Contributor

Dr. Carolyn Graybeal holds a PhD in neuroscience from Brown University. She is a former National Academies of Science Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellow during which time she worked with the Marian Koshland Science Museum. In addition the intricacies of the human brain, she is interested in the influence of education and mass media in society's understanding of science.


Eva Lewandowski Missing Bio Photo Robot Holding Image
Newsletter Editor and Coordinator

Eva Lewandowski is the Citizen-based Monitoring Coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, where she coordinates a statewide citizen science network. She has a PhD in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota and is an active volunteer.


Jill Nugent jill about us
Social Media Manager

Jill Nugent works in higher education where she teaches and serves as an administrator in online STEM programs. Her undergraduate degree is from Texas A&M University and her master’s degree is in biological sciences where she studied animal behavior and conservation biology. She holds teacher certification in science and life science/biology and is a Ph.D. candidate at Texas Tech University where she is investigating locally engaged, globally connected citizen science. Jill authors a monthly citizen science column in the NSTA Journal, Science Scope and was a contributing author on the NSTA Press book, “Citizen Science: 15 Lessons That Bring Biology to Life”. Outside of teaching, writing, and engaging in citizen science projects, Jill enjoys volunteering with ManeGait, a therapeutic riding equestrian center in North Texas. You can connect with Jill on Twitter @ntxscied.

Sheri Potter Sheri Potter bio picture
Program Director

Sheri is the director of community and stakeholder engagement for the Association for Women in Science. She is also a project director for SciStarter working on NASA's GLOBE initiative and National Wildlife Federation's Eco-Schools program. Sheri has a strong commitment to developing more effective strategies to connect people to science. She launched the Leadership in Biology initiative, Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science, and Year of Science 2009. Sheri earned an Executive Certificate in Social Impact Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania and has a bachelor's degree in biology.

Dr. Anne Bowser Dr. Anne Bowser Bio Photo
Research Associate

Dr. Anne Bowser is coDirector of the Commons Lab at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a Washington, DC think tank. At the Wilson Center, Anne supports cross-cutting research agendas on topics including data and metadata, privacy and ethics, and the role of citizen science in shaping public policy. She also supports similar projects through the US Citizen Science Association, for example by leading an international working group on data and metadata standardization. Anne found citizen science through two entry points: personally, through the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, and professionally, through cooperative technology design. She envisions a world where citizen science is the new social media. Anne is leading SciStarter's efforts to organize and implement data tags for projects and observational data, and exploring pilot projects to improve volunteer's experience on and off the SciStarter platform. 


Steve Gano Steve Gano Bio Photo
Strategic Advisor

Steve has been trying to make computers do interesting, beautiful, useful things that help people learn since the days of punched cards. Most recently that was at the American Museum of Natural History where his technical and user interface designs for the museum's websites won many awards. There, Steve developed new ideas for citizen science projects like the Urban Biodiversity Network, sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, which produced a mobile app to help kids discover and document the biodiversity in their neighborhoods. He's very excited to be working with SciStarter to help innovate new ways to connect citizen scientists with rewarding projects, and better ways to manage their activities across projects. Back in the day, Steve was lucky to experience first­hand the heady days of the birth of the digital era as a researcher at MIT's Architecture Machine Group, Atari's Sunnyvale Research Lab, HP Labs, and the Apple Multimedia Lab, and still holds out some hopes that we'll learn how to make these digital tools truly enrich our lives.


Jonathan Brier Jonathan Brier Bio Photo
Strategic Advisor

Jonathan Brier is citizen science enthusiast from Michigan now living in the Washington D.C. area who enjoys working with Internet connected technologies a little too much. He is a PhD student at the University of Maryland, College Park in the College of Information Studies advised by Andrea Wiggins. He holds a M.S. in Information and specialized in social computing from the University of Michigan School of Information and a B.S. in Media and Communication Technologies from Michigan State University's Department of Media and Information. His interest for science was fostered by a father, an engineer and mother, a teacher which took the time explain the pesky "what if" questions to the level that would make any scientist proud. Jon’s citizen science passion began with his discovery of the SETI@home distributed computing project after watching the movie Contact. This branched to all things citizen science as he learned of more ways research could be magnified when harnessing community participation. Outside his Graduate Research, he works with GridRepublic on BOINC powered distributed computing projects and scours the Internet for anything and everything related to citizen science. He brings added enthusiasm and information management expertise, and coding skills to SciStarter. Follow Jonathan on Google+ +brierjon or Twitter  @wolfgang8741.

Daniel Arbuckle
Lead Developer

Daniel holds a doctorate in computer science from the University of Southern California, where he specialized in robotics and was a member of the nanotechnology lab. He now has ten years behind him as a consultant, during which time he has been helping an assortment of businesses from clothing manufacturers to realtors. He's been with SciStarter from the start!


Our Contributors

Kristin Butler Kristin Butler Bio Photo

Kristin is a freelance journalist and Outreach and Communications Director for the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory. She holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from Whitman College and an M.S. in Mass Communications from San Jose State University. Kristin has worked as an environmental reporter for The Argus Newspaper and was a monthly contributor to Bay Area Businesswoman News. She's also directed communications and fundraising initiatives for a number of environmental and youth serving organizations, including Earthjustice and Girls Inc.


Melinda T. Hough Melinda T. Hough Bio Photo

Dr. Melinda T. Hough is a freelance science advocate and communicator. Her previous work has included a Mirzayan Science and Technology Graduate Policy Fellowship at the National Academy of Sciences (2012), co-development of several of the final science policy questions with (2012), consulting on the development of the Seattle Science Festival EXPO day (2012), contributing photographer for JF Derry’s book “Darwin in Scotland” (2010) and outreach projects to numerous to count. Not content to stay stateside, Melinda received a B.S in Microbiology from the University of Washington (2001) before moving to Edinburgh, Scotland where she received a MSc (2002) and PhD (2008) from the University of Edinburgh trying to understand how antibiotics kill bacteria. Naturally curious, it is hard to tear Melinda away from science; but if you can, she might be found exploring, often behind the lens of her Nikon D80, training for two half-marathons, or plotting her next epic adventure.


Ashley Rose Kelly Ashley Rose Kelly Bio Photo

Dr. Ashley Rose Kelly is an Assistant Professor at Purdue University in the Brian Lamb School of Communication (Fall 2014). Ashley studies how emerging technologies may be changing science communication. She holds an M.A. from the University of Waterloo and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. You can find Ashley on twitter as: @ashleyrkelly


Karen McDonald Karen McDonald Bio Photo
Contributor - Citizen Science in the Classroom Series

When not writing her blog The Infinite Spider, Karen McDonald is a guest blogger, curriculum developer, science content editor, and outdoor educator with over thirteen years in informal science education. She has an MS in Biology and a BS in Environmental Science and Philosophy. Currently she works for Smithsonian and contracts for Discovery Channel.


Join Us

We're looking for volunteer contributors and interns! If you interested in science, Web publishing, and being part of an exciting, creative new venture, send a note describing your qualifications to