PCOC - Fall 2013 - (Page 18)

Help wanted: Public needed to Uncover Clues in Natural History Collections By Sarah Yang, Media Relations, University of California, Berkeley Like bugs? Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at natural history museums? Interested in helping scientists understand our changing environment? These are just some of the reasons why people should join a project led by UC Berkeley’s Essig Museum of Entomology. Through Calbug, any volunteer with Internet access can help read and transcribe hand-written field notes accompanying a million insect specimens, many dating back more than 100 years. Along the way, participants are getting a peek into history and the treasures held in museum collections. Among the many scientifically valuable objects in the Essig collection is at least one – a ground beetle from Tierra del Fuego, Chile – that UC Berkeley graduate student Joan Ball holds a display of specimens at the Essig Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Marek Jacubowski) was collected in 1833 by none other than Charles Darwin. Calbug teamed up with two other natural history collections – one focused on plants and the other on birds – to create Notes from Nature, a citizen science project that draws on the public to tame the voluminous records stored in drawers, jars and bookshelves in natural history museums throughout the world. Almost 3, 500 registered users are participated in the project since its May 22 launch. With an average of more than 1,000 transcriptions per day, as of late August, the total transcriptions were more than 248,000, according to Calbug coinvestigator Kipling Will, associate professor of Environmental, Science Policy and Management. “What really turns people on is knowing that they are contributing to science in a meaningful way,” he said. “These citizen science projects speak to the importance of public engagement in science.” “Without the help of citizen scientists, processing the sheer volume of records held in natural history collections – estimated to be well over 2 billion worldwide  – would take generations,” added Rosemary Gillespie, director of the Essig Museum and principal investigator of the Calbug project. Notes from Nature is among the many projects that fall under the umbrella of Zooniverse, a highly successful Web-portal www.pcoc.org / Fall 2013 18 where citizens can help answer a diverse array of scientific questions, such as how stars form, what whale calls mean, and what life was like in the ancient Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus. “Our projects help answer research questions that can only be solved by a significant amount of human attention – they require people, not computers,” said Arfon Smith, director of citizen science at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago and the technical lead for Zooniverse. “People have responded in a way that is truly great. There is an appetite for contributing to something real.” In addition to insects, Notes from Nature participants can help digitize plant records from the Southeast Regional Network of Expertise and Collections (SERNEC). The SERNEC collections include thousands of specimen images, labels and ledgers from hundreds of herbaria in the Southeast United States. The Calbug project originally began with support from a 2010 National Science Foundation grant to digitize the fi rst 1 million – out of 6.5 million total  – specimens from California’s eight major entomological collections. Besides UC Berkeley, Calbug includes insect collections from the California Academy of Sciences, UC Davis, UC Riverside, UC Santa Cruz, the California State Collection of Arthropods, Santa Barbara http://www.pcoc.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PCOC - Fall 2013

President’s Message
Martyn’s Corner
PCOC Expo 2013: A Pictorial Highlight
Expo 2013 Bed Bug Presentation: Control and Management Updates
Overview of NEW California Aeration Plan (CAP)
Calbug Project: Public Needed to Uncover Clues in Natural History Collections
Your Guide to Social Media Startup
Federal Update
Insurance Small Employer Responsibilities under Health Care Reform Act
State Capitol Report Back to Business
Firm Profile Round the Clock Pest Control
Index to Advertisers
Advertiser.com

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