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“What’s in bloom?”

Have you enjoyed contributing to scientific research by transcribing plant specimen labels in Notes from Nature?  If you like this, you may also be interested in the UVA Mountain Lake Biological Station’s “What’s in bloom” volunteer, citizen science wildflower bloom monitoring project.  You can find out details about it here: .  This is another great opportunity to contribute to science, interact with researchers, and enjoy nature.


Profile of Notes from Nature Citizen Scientist: “jaymoore”

Name: Jonathan Moore (user jaymoore)

Country of residence: UK

What sort of science background or interest do you have? I work in scientific research using Bioinformatics looking at plant, microbe and human gene expression. I’m particularly interested in the herbarium records, as I’ve used the Kew Gardens herbarium in the past and found it a fascinating place.

What do you find most exciting about Notes from Nature? I love reading the careful notes and imagining the collector in the middle of nowhere, in the sun or rain, finding their plant and taking their samples and data.

What’s the most exciting aspect of citizen science work from your point-of-view? I think it’s great that the work of people over the years is being brought into the digital age, so the data can be analysed using modern methods, and I think it’s exciting that people are getting exposed to these different kinds of data sets. It’s exciting to be part of new discovery!

What other citizen science projects (including beyond Zooniverse) have you participated in? I did quite a lot of the exoplanet scoring in Zooniverse, and enjoyed that as a rather addictive game. I was one of the participants among those who spotted 4 exoplanets, and enjoyed that experience. I completed a few of the ship’s weather log records and I’ve also participated in a Kaggle data mining competition so far and came 177th. I’m working on getting a citizen science project off the ground into exploring gene expression.

Profile of Notes from Nature Citizen Scientist: “El_Lion”

Name (or userid if you prefer to remain more private): Eliane Escher (userid: El_Lion and I have no idea how my friend came up with that!)

Country of residence: Switzerland. Born and bred. 🙂 Sorry in advance for my English!

What sort of science background or interest do you have? I’m a lab technician at a molecular biology lab at the university. The span of species I worked with range from woody plants to fruit flies. I was always interested in sciences. Probably, I’m curious (no, I didn’t say nosy!) and interested in the “how” and “why” of stuff going on out there.

What do you find most exciting about Notes from Nature? There’s so much arduous work done by so many people to collect all those species. I know how it is to work in the field. It can be fun sometimes but often enough you get to the point where you ask yourself “what am I doing here??”.   Especially, when you’re cold, wet, and feel miserable. And then you need this certain persistence to meticulously investigate and determine the species. I think it’s great that Notes from Nature honors this work by preserving the data and making them available in a digital form, easier to use for nowadays (and future) scientists.

What’s the most exciting aspect of citizen science work from your point-of-view? The “swarm technology” (can I call it that?). I like to compare it to an ant which alone doesn’t get very far but together with thousands of others can build an ant hill. It’s exciting to be part of such a “swarm”. Maybe one day I can proudly say “I contributed to those new results”.

What other citizen science projects (including beyond Zooniverse) have you participated in? I participated only in the ones from Zooniverse. I got to know about Zooniverse through a TV docu in the BBC. However, the Mars project they had portrayed seemed a bit boring to me, so I tried out other ones. So far, I participated in the Serengeti picture project (which turned out to be a bit addictive :-)), in the Seafloor Explorer project and in the Cancer Cell Slides project.

Profile of Notes from Nature Citizen Scientist: “SandersClan”

Name:  Maggie (my userid is SandersClan).

Country of residence:  I live in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

What sort of science background or interest do you have?  I really don’t have a science background to speak of. I have always been fascinated by repeating patterns in nature, though. My family and I are fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful hiking areas, so we spend as much time outside as we can. We spend lots of time looking for and collecting fossils and interesting things.

What do you find most exciting about Notes from Nature?  I am so excited by Notes from Nature mainly because it’s not really repetitive. Each sample is unique, as is the description of where it was found and when. While I type, it’s easy to picture the area I’m transcribing, and it’s never the same as the one before.

What’s the most exciting aspect of citizen science work from your point-of-view?  I love citizen science because it’s an easy way to feel involved in something outside of my home and regular life, something ‘bigger’, if you will. I’m a homemaker, which means things feel the same from day to day. With citizen science I can participate in these projects at my leisure. I can invest as much time as I want, when I want, and my children can see that I have eclectic interests.

What other citizen science projects (including beyond Zooniverse) have you participated in?  I’ve participated mainly in Sea Floor Explorer, Ancient Lives, SETI Live and Cell Slider, but have dabbled in a few other projects as well. I have to say that I would love to see Zooniverse create kid-friendly projects, especially with summer coming!   Thanks for the opportunity to share!








What to do about insufficient information?

Today’s post is going to highlight a recent conversation amongst Notes from Nature citizen scientists regarding what to do when a specimen doesn’t seem to have most of the necessary information.  Is it best to just leave fields blank?  Is it better to just skip it?  Is it a “Top Secret” specimen?  These are great questions, and ones which will likely come up over and over again throughout the life of Notes from Nature.  Here’s the conversation.  How would you deal with this?

  • by carolely

    The label has only the scientific name and a question about that. Should I create a record and leave all the other fields blank?

    Posted 4 days ago
  • by SandersClan

    I vote yes.

    Posted 4 days ago
  • by ghewson

    Yes, then it’ll be flagged as needing more information.

    Posted 3 days ago
  • by carolely

    Thanks for the help. It seems I lost this page when I started this discussion so I never got to enter it. However, I’ll know what to do next time.

    Posted 2 days ago
  • by nosenabook

    I’m glad to know what to do as well, when I saw one like this, I passed on to the next specimen.

    Posted a day ago
  • by nosenabook in response to ghewson’s comment

    Responding to ghewson, it sounds like it is better to leave a field blank than enter “none given” say, for the reference. I started doing that because it was easier than arguing with the form – YES skip this field – and because R. K. Godfrey rarely gives a reference.

    I’ll leave that field blank from here on out, unless or until I hear different.

    Posted 21 hours ago
  • by xairbusdriver

    I seem to have found a “Top Secret” specimen, twice! 😉 If you come across Image ANN000039x, you’ll see what I mean. The ‘Location’ info seems to te a test site for White Out(r)! “…N side of _ Creek Road (S of Rte _), ca. air mi ESE of _. __________ of Sec ” I sure hope L. C. Anderson didn’t get into any trouble finding that specimen! 8) LOL!

    Posted 18 hours ago
  • by ghewson in response to xairbusdriver’s comment

    Ah yes, I had that, and tagged it #redaction. But if you search for that tag, there are 0 results! Spookyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

    Posted 17 hours ago
  • by SandersClan in response to xairbusdriver’s comment

    I can’t decide whether this is a Roswell, thing, the MIB, or what!

    Posted 16 hours ago
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