A perhaps unexpected challenge facing scientists is the public’s perception and understanding of our enterprise. In part, it falls to we the scientists to remedy this problem. One avenue for communicating that we are actively working to solve real world problems is to engage the public in the scientific method itself. A bonus of enlisting such citizen scientists in a research project is that they can generate useful data in addition to gaining experience and insight into the research process. This brief presentation will highlight one example of how citizen scientists can generate otherwise difficult-to-obtain datasets and how that same data can have substantial impact on a research program as a whole. In this example, citizen scientists received bioprospecting kits through the mail and used them to prepare samples of plants with rare but visible chemical characteristics which they return to the laboratory for mass spectrometric analysis. By interacting with more than one hundred citizen scientists across the country, we have together discovered nearly 100 plant species with unique abilities in chemical synthesis. These plants have in turn impacted multiple aspects of our plant chemical research program.
Friday, October 30, 2020; 3:00 p.m. Remote; Dr. Lucas Busta, Assistant Professor, UMD Chemistry & Biochemistry; Host: Dr. Venkatram Mereddy
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Busta, Lucas; University of Minnesota Duluth. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Using Citizen Science to Communicate and Catalyze Plant Chemical and Genomic Research (2020-10-30).
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