Citizen Science

Chris has been the head of citizen science for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences since 2012 and the majority of her current work is focused on researching and educating the public about citizen science.  Her research in this area has covered a wide range of topics and her publications so far include work on camera trap footage of mammals, counting and identifying insects on tree leaves available to leaf-gleaning birds, and the effectiveness of a large-scale public biocollections data transcription event.

Chris has presented her work and the work of the NCMNS at dozens of conferences and her expertise is often sought during development of new citizen science projects, production of media related to citizen science, and development and implementation of citizen science educational activities by teachers and environmental educators.

She is the project leader or co-leader of the following projects.


Current Projects

CitSciScribe is a data transcription project of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences that engages the public in the important work of digitizing the written records associated with orphaned collections acquired by the Museum.  She is a co-PI on a $500,000 National Science Foundation Collections in Support of Biological Research grant that supports CitSciScribe and the incorporation of several biological collections into the Museum’s holdings.

Dragonfly Detectives is the citizen science project that forms the focal point of the Dragonfly Detectives educational program for youth in grades 4-8.  The program provides transportation from schools or other afterschool facilities to outdoor spaces and gives children research experience outdoors once a week for six weeks.  An alternate version of the program is available for use in a 5 day summer camp format.  Dragonfly Detectives participants help collect data for a greater project examining the influence of weather on the common whitetail dragonfly, but they also develop their own hypotheses, collect the data they need to address their hypotheses, and present their findings to thousands of public visitor’s at the NCMNS’ BugFest event.  This program is funded through a $178,000 Burroughs-Wellcome Student Science Enrichment Program grant.

The Dragonfly Swarm Project examines dragonfly swarming behavior, how it works, and the role it plays in our environment.  This project focuses on a rarely observed behavior that is very difficult to study using the traditional method of a handful of people working together to answer a question in a lab, so it is an ideal candidate for using the citizen science approach to data collection.

Natural North Carolina is a biodiversity survey of North Carolina that seeks to document all life in the state.  The project is built within iNaturalist and takes advantage of the smartphone app and image recognition features available through iNaturalist.  The goal is to build a database of species so that environmental change, whether natural or anthropogenic, can more easily be monitored.


Past Projects


Wading for Water Sticks

Wading for Water Sticks engaged the public in research about the distribution and habitat preferences of the water scorpions (Hemiptera: Nepidae) across North Carolina.