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Crowdfunding science: Give a gift to research

Crowdfunding science: Give a gift to research

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Dec 20, 2011
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08/24/2014

 
Crowdfunding science: Give a gift to research
19 December 2011 by
Melissae Fellet 
 
(Image: Peter Dazeley/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images)
 
Thinking about donating to a charity this Christmas? Considercontributing directly to your favourite scientific project.Scientists have joined the ranks of those asking the public to help fundtheir work .Their research projects hide among the art, video and book proposals on large crowd funding sites likeKickstarter, RocketHub and IndieGoGo. 
 
You can find a neat project here, but choose carefully: not every scienceproject here is run by scientists, nor has it been reviewed by scientificexperts.Two websites -SciFlies andMy Projects - showcase science and technology projects which have been reviewed by experts.Projects onSciFlies includemeasuring brain activity in people who are compulsive horders and developing a way totest the effects of toxic chemicals in cells as an alternative animal testing. My Projects is a division of London-based charity Cancer Research UK.This sit
e sorts their research projects by cancer, letting you “choosewhich cancer to beat.”
Projects on these sites are looking for an injection of cash to continue aspecific project. But other scientists have turned to the crowd for helpwith long-term costs: salaries.NeurobiologistAdam Gazzaley,of the University of California in San Francisco, and his team study how multitaskingreduces our attentionand memory especially as we age
.Now he’s working on creating video
games that help prevent this memory loss. But to continue his research,Gazzaley needs help paying the bills.
“I have all these amazi
ng young folks [in my lab] who are getting paid
such a small amount compared to their friends,” says, Gazzaley says.“And I can barely pay them that.”
Gazzaley considers the lab successful -they published 12 papers this year. Yet formerly reliable funding sourcesfrom industry, foundations or government grants are disappearing asbudgets shrink. Maintaining financial security in a lab is challenging, hesays.
 
Last year he startedasking for donations to help pay the salaries of his students and research assistants. He has had little success so far, but he
remains undeterred. “I will do what I need to do to keep the moneyflowing for them,” Gazzaley says.
 Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols prefers to work with many different organizations, rather than being affiliated with one university. As anindependent scientist, his salary is uncertain. Last year he started his 100Blue Angels project, asking supporters to pay his salary through monthlydonations while he continues his sea turtle research and ocean awarenesscampaigns. 
 New Scientist 
“People said they
wanted to support my work, so I directed them to do
so through existing organisations,” he says. “But I misunderstood them.
They wanted to support me because they like the way I approach things.
So I set up a way for them to do that.”
 Nichols uses social media to update his supporters about his work and
 provide live feeds of his lectures when possible. “My only regret is notsetting up [the project] five years ago,” he says. “It works.”
 Should your interests tend more heavenward, two organizations supportastronomy research. ThePale Blue Dot Project lets youadopt a star  under the gaze of theKepler telescope.Your donation funds research that helps measure the size of new exoplanets. In return, the team willsend you email updates about your star and any planets found orbiting it.SupportingSETIStars helps continue the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Public donations helped restart the telescopes at theAllen Telescope Array,which the SETI Institute uses to search for radiosignals from aliens.

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