Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction, authored by Mary Ellen Hannibal, attempts to rekindle the notion that science is available to all citizens, not just the experts. Charles Darwin, was a so-called citizen scientist, with no degree or training, he is now considered the ‘father’ of Evolution.

With modern technology, it’s easier than ever to collect data and share it with anyone on the planet to create mass collections of data. Hannibal says we are currently in a mass extinction of plants and animals, and argues it’s crucial that citizens come together to share their observations. She explains observing and recording different species of plants and animals, like Darwin did, can lead to the same kind of groundbreaking analysis that led to the theory of Evolution.

The director of Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, Geoff LeBaron, says average citizens can be the eyes and ears of big data collection. LeBaron shares many scientist were apprehensive to use data collected by citizens, but because of the techniques created scientists now accept the findings of studies like the Christmas Bird Count. If you’re interested in getting involved in citizen science, go to the Nature’s Notebook webiste: to become part of an observational science team.


  • Mary Ellen Hannibal, author, Citizen Scientist: Searching for heroes and hope in an age of extinction
  • Geoff LeBaron, director of Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count

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