Citizen Science Club

UC CAHS’ first ever Citizen Science Club!

What is Citizen Science?

 “Citizen science” is scientific work or research that members of the general public of all ages do with the help of professional scientists. 

Citizen science based research can be community-driven research or global investigations; can involve a variety of disciplines including sociology, nutrition, applied science, botany, ornithology, astronomy, ecology, meteorology, marine biology, microbiology, zoology, and both environmental and public health.

Activities that Citizen Scientist might do include:

  • Assess walkability of sidewalks; inquire about their feelings of safety

  • Survey students about their dietary habits or observing salad consumption in the student union

  • Survey chronic disease suffers about their successes and challenges with specific treatments

  • Photograph and classify specific bird, animal, insect, plant etc.

  • Collect water or urine samples; test samples using a testing kit or mailing to a lab

  • Recruit families with children with a rare disease and collect biological samples for DNA testing

The University of Cincinnati's Citizen Science Club would be a chapter of the Citizen Science Association (CSA).

What is Scientific Research?

Research is a way to make new observations, test new ideas, prove a theory, contribute to developing knowledge, develop new tools for solving problems and inform action. Undergraduate research can be unpaid or paid, be a part of an internship or cooperative program, or be part of a class, volunteer experience, or club.

Undergraduates should consider participating in research because it is:

  • A tool for gaining useful knowledge; for facilitating learning relevant to their health and career 

  • A means to understand and become aware of important and relevant issues 

  • A means to build transferable skills and enhance resumes for graduate school and beyond 

  • A means to find, gauge, and seize new opportunities while exploring career opportunities

  • A seed to love reading, writing, analyzing, and sharing valuable information while possibly impacting the world 

  • A way to learn a method to prove lies and to support truths

Possible Initial Research Studies to Explore

Undergraduates experience a lot of changes when they come to UC – it’s often their first time being away from home, learning how to live with roommate(s), managing their schedule, eating well and exercising, performing well academically, meeting new people, finding new groups to be involved with, and so forth. During their first year at UC, students are often required to take several basic science courses simultaneously. While there are resources that can help students do well, not everyone uses the resources equally. Here are three example scenarios that students could research to ask and answer questions relevant to UC students:

  • You are concerned that you and/or other students struggle in basic science courses and wander about how to help students be more successful in these classes
  • You are concerned about how all the changes you and others experience as a first year UC student at UC potentially leads to changes in stress levels and mental health and you wander about how students can better manage these during their first years and beyond. 
  • You are concerned that changes in structure in the first year at UC affect your diet and lifestyle choices, particularly in the first year, but also throughout your time at UC.  

Interested in learning about research by exploring studies related to these scenarios or others? Join our new Citizen Science Club!

Here is what our Student Citizen Scientists will learn in a fun and engaging way!

  1. Observe and Question: Make an observation and recognize a problem. While defining the problem and determining the research question, the citizen scientists should consider appropriate background information in the published literature, what information is still needed (the gap in knowledge), and exactly how it will be utilized in decision making.

  2. Plan and Design: How will you solve the problem identified. Is an observational or experimental design appropriate? How many observations are needed? What resources are needed? How will human subjects be protected?

  3. Collect Information and Analyze: Data are individual units of information. It can be qualitative (descriptive) or quantitative (numerical). In analytical processes, data are represented by variables and associations between variables are assessed. Can data be collected by making observations or surveying people? By using existing data or information?  Who will collect and analyze the data? How will the data be collected and summarized to ensure quality? What statistics are needed?

  4. Create, Interpret & Share Stories: Not only the results must be interpreted into action but the report should also be conveyed to others in an easy to understand way. The results can be displayed in tables, figures and charts so that they can be easily utilized in the decision making process. Oral presentations can share the story of the research and highlight its’ impact. 

  5. Plan to Intervene or Ask More Questions: Many times studies lead to more studies, while others help people to decide or act. You decide!


Headshot of Melinda Butsch Kovacic, PhD

Melinda Butsch Kovacic, PhD

Associate Dean of Research


Headshot of Susan Kotowski, PhD

Susan Kotowski, PhD

Associate Professor, Rehabilitation, Exercise, & Nutrition Sciences