Citizen science

Mon, 24 Feb 2020 11:56:00 GMT

UK citizens are set to contribute to world-leading research on air quality, plastic pollution, period poverty, farming methods and many other issues that directly affect their lives.

They will join in 53 innovative projects across the UK, including one led by the University of Manchester’s Professor Sheena Cruickshank, funded by the government via the Research and Innovation Funding Agency UK Research and Innovation.

The projects will target communities who would not normally engage with research and innovation, so they can shape research and innovation that is relevant to their lives and their local areas.

This will expand the opportunities for people from across the UK to actively contribute to publicly funded research and encourage underserved communities to share their ideas, concerns and aspirations and to get involved in decision making. The projects also aim to inspire a new generation of children and young people about the wonder and potential of research and innovation.

Twenty-five public engagement projects will support researchers, innovators, universities and other research institutions to work with community partners or organisations from communities that have fewer opportunities to engage with research and innovation.

A further twenty-eight projects focus on citizen science and will see diverse groups of people helping research teams to crowdsource and analyse data and collaborate with researchers to develop research questions.

It includes a cross disciplinary team of researchers from The University of Manchester, working with residents in the Brunswick neighbourhood of Ardwick in Manchester and S4B, who manage the redevelopment of the area, to investigate resident’s concerns about air quality and health.

Lead researcher Professor Sheena Cruickshank said: “I am very excited at this opportunity to work together with the community in this way. The residents are really concerned about how rising air pollution is impacting their health and that of their families. It’s so important we listen and act on these concerns and involve them in this process”

UK Research and Innovation’s Head of Public Engagement, Tom Saunders, said: “As part of UKRI’s new vision for public engagement we launched two new funding calls last year, one aimed at encouraging researchers to explore citizen methods, and another aimed at supporting researchers and universities to engage with communities and places and communities who have fewer opportunities to participate in research and innovation. The 53 pilot projects that we have funded represent an exciting range of ways that researchers and innovators can involve the public in their work, from games to citizens’ juries, storytelling to data crowdsourcing. In 2020 and beyond, we will build on the lessons we learn through funding these pilot projects to help us achieve our ambition of making research and innovation responsive to the knowledge, priorities and values of society and open to participation by people from all backgrounds.”