Diary of a Citizen Scientist

Diary of a Citizen Scientist

by Sharman Apt Russell
Reflections on Nature
Oregon State University Press
Paperback, 224 pages
$18.99

A top candidate for the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, this book is an eye-opener into the citizen scientist movement. Seemingly out-of-nowhere hundreds of thousands of volunteers are reshaping how scientific research is done. They are accumulating millions of data points beyond the reach of formal scientists – on weather, wildlife migration, cosmic mapping, new species, etc. – and sharing them with laboratory and other partners. Russell recounts her year-long quest to fill in a “blank spot on the map of tiger beetles.”  She ranges along the Gila River in southwestern New Mexico – butterfly net in hand – observing, studying and reporting on the red-bellied Tiger Beetle to her scientist colleagues. And, it’s new, interesting, and important stuff! Along the way she brings to life the emergence and reach of citizen scientists like her who are engaged in this fascinating development. Nicely written, too.