Symposium Highlights Citizen Science

logo-w-sunburstKayla Desroches/KMXT

A science symposium today through Friday brings with it talks on a number of coastal research topics, including how community members can keep such studies going strong through participation in the research itself.

The Kodiak Area Marine Science Symposium covers regional projects and collects the lectures under thematic sessions: Changing Ecosystems, Habitat and Process, Dynamic Methods, Community and Monitoring, and Marine and Coastal Systems.

The event, organized by Alaska Sea Grant, also includes training for citizen observers who would like to document bird die-off events and contribute whatever data they collect. As it turns out, citizen observers and citizens in general are proving more and more useful to researchers and their work.

Alaska Sea Grant Director Paula Cullenberg says scientists attend symposiums to speak and often end up improving in their own jobs.

“Because they talk to people that actually know the environment intimately, and I’ve seen that happen a number of different times over the last few years where a researcher will come out and make a presentation and someone in the audience will correct them or give them some new information or give them some context, and they say, oh, I didn’t know that actually, and I can work that, I can feed that into what I’m doing.”

She says residents in the scientists’ areas of study can provide insight that the researchers themselves might miss over only one trip or a handful of visits.

Members of the public can learn more about how citizen observers and community members contribute to scientific study tomorrow during the “Community and Monitoring” section of the symposium. Between 11:25 am. and 2 p.m., speakers will talk about best practices and existing programs.

The symposium lectures continue through Friday at the Kodiak Harbor Convention Center.

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