ASU partners with public libraries to advance citizen science


September 13, 2017

Arizona State University aims to position public libraries as key facilitators of citizen science, a collaborative process between scientists and the general public to spur the collection of data.

Through a new grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), researchers from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and ASU Library will develop field-tested, replicable resource toolkits for public libraries to provide to everyday people contributing to real research, from right where they are. ASU Citizen Science grant project ASU’s 2016 Citizen Science Maker Summit: (from left to right) Narendra Das, a research scientists at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Dan Stanton, associate librarian for academic services at ASU Library and co-investigator on the grant; Darlene Cavalier, professor of practice in ASU’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society and principal investigator on the grant; Catherine Hoffman, managing director of SciStarter; Micah Lande, assistant professor and Tooker Professor at The Polytechnic School; and Brianne Fisher, former ASU graduate student. Download Full Image

Despite growing interest from public libraries to incorporate citizen science programming into their role as go-to community hubs, Dan Stanton, associate librarian for academic services at ASU Library, says there are no documented road maps, best practices or models to follow.

“Our project team is well equipped to address this need, as there is substantial expertise in the area of citizen science here at ASU,” said Stanton, co-investigator on the grant. 

Led by Darlene Cavalier, a professor of practice in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, the grant brings together an interdisciplinary team of faculty and librarians to build on previous work around citizen science — a practice rapidly gaining in popularity, particularly at ASU.

In 2016, ASU hosted the Citizen Science Maker Summit, organized by Cavalier, who is also the founder of SciStarter, an online platform and ASU research affiliate, where more than 1,600 citizen science projects are registered online and open for support and participation. The projects include everything from observing or recording natural phenomena to developing software or instrumentation.

Cavalier also serves on the National Academy of Sciences committee on citizen science and is the co-founder of the Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) network.

“We know from previous research that too frequently the lack of access to low-cost instruments, coupled with an unmet desire to feel part of a community, creates a barrier to entry for would-be citizen scientists,” Cavalier said. “We are grateful to IMLS for supporting our effort to understand how the characteristics and capacities of librarians, their local communities and the scientists who need help from those communities can be supported through public libraries.”

As part of the grant, ASU will partner with six Arizona public libraries representing a mix of urban and rural and youth and senior populations.

The toolkits that will be developed for the libraries will offer multiple entry points that acknowledge varying library capacities and diversity of patrons.

Risa Robinson, coordinator of the grant and the assistant director of learning services at ASU Library, says libraries are ideal conduits for citizen science.

“Citizen science represents the kind of low-cost but impactful programming public libraries have always provided,” she said.

“With the increasing demand for science literacy, the growing interest in citizen science and the library’s strong community anchor, this partnership makes sense.”

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

ASU students create organization to support health majors

A new Arizona State University student group seeks to help health majors identify ways to put their degrees to work.


September 14, 2017

Service, professionalism and mentorship. Those are the three principles of the CONHI Health Initiatives, or CHI, a new student-led organization at Arizona State University's Downtown Phoenix campus.

“This is the first student organization that is focused on students who are non-nursing,” said Rachel Tomlinson, co-founder and vice president of the group. CHI Logo Logo courtesy: Maria San Andres Download Full Image

CHI is the brainchild of Tomlinson and her fellow co-founder and organization President Maria San Andres, both are pursuing non-clinical health degrees. 

After recognizing a need for support dedicated specifically to ASU's College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI) students pursuing health majors outside of nursing, the pair created CHI as an innovative solution. 

“We are really trying to focus on providing a holistic view of what is available to students, as far as, opportunities in their career and the workforce,” San Andres said.

The organization’s focus came into view after both San Andres and Tomlinson worked as first year success coaches. They said through that experience they discovered the nursing college's students had a hard time figuring out what type of job their health degree could lead to. (Degrees include: community healthhealth care compliance and regulationshealth care coordinationhealth innovation and integrative health.) 

“We saw this kind of behind-the-scenes administrative and one-on-one advocacy component of the health majors which is something really interesting, so we don’t expect freshmen to know it, it's something we just want to help explore with them,” Tomlinson said.

With meetings held every other Friday during the academic year, the plan is to bring in guest speakers, connect students with mentors, volunteer opportunities, and delve deeper into the innovation side of the healthcare profession.

“The health care industry is growing and we’re all kind of learning where that’s going, so I think that’s the fun part but also the really challenging part to kind of explain to students,” San Andres said.

Given that they are a new organization, both Tomlinson and San Andres are all ears when it comes to feedback and what students would like to get out of the experience.

CHI is open to anyone pursuing a health-related degree. They are actively recruiting members, mentors and guest speakers.

“Slowly and steadily the population of health majors in CONHI is growing so we just want the organization to kind of grow to meet the demands,” said Tomlinson.

For more information on CHI including meeting dates and times check out their Facebook Page or website.