Citizen Science, Smartphone Apps and a $10,000 Prize

by |April 20, 2016
The Leafsnap app helps users identify trees from photographs of leaves—an example of a growing number of science and environment-related apps.

The Leafsnap app helps users identify trees from photographs of leaves—an example of a growing number of science and environment-related apps.

Smartphones are revolutionizing the collection of scientific data and helping thousands of people become citizen scientists. If you think you can combine an interest in the environment with a little savvy about smartphone apps, listen up. You could win $10,000. The Earth Institute is calling for two-page proposals that focus on the development of smartphone applications that could be used by citizen scientists to record and monitor the environment.

Three grants of $10,000 will be awarded. The deadline for proposals is noon on April 29. Anyone interested in the competition is encouraged to pitch their idea at a workshop this Friday (details below)—but you have to submit your ideas by 5 p.m. today. Send a descriptive title for the idea and the developer’s name to Lex van Geen at avangeen@ldeo.columbia.edu or Patricia Culligan at pjc2104@columbia.edu.

The winners will be chosen by a panel to be convened by Culligan, co-director of the Urban Design Lab and professor at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science; and van Geen, a Lamont research professor of geochemistry at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and associate director of the Superfund Research Program at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network. The two have organized an ongoing series of workshops that has been exploring examples, concepts and needs for collecting data in various environmental areas, including air, water and soil monitoring. (For a glance at past presentations, look here.)

The competition is open to any team involving at least one Columbia University student of faculty member. Winners will be announced July 1.

The fourth workshop—with presentations and discussions of proposals—will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, April 22, in Room 555, Alfred J. Lerner Hall, at Columbia. An RSVP is required to attend the workshop. To RSVP, click SMARTPHONES.

For complete proposal and award guidelines, click GUIDELINES.

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