Proposed Project Outline

Lab Note #8
Mar 24, 2015

Phase 1: Spread word about the citizen science program

  1. Participate in recreation—identify suitable national parks or forested areas and identify possible locations for sample submissions.
  2. Offer question and answer sessions—multiple webinars and seminars will be held to discuss this project, brainstorm, solve problems, and answer questions. Additional outreach will be conducted through forms of media such as radio programs.
  3. Website development—This site will allow citizens to develop a profile, perform online training, request a handbook, suggest a sampling site, donate, and join in on local events. This site will also manage equipment loans, sample submissions, and allow participants to view their submissions and results.
  4. App development—The mobile app will enable sample data and location submissions, view videos, and provide information identifcal to the handbook.
  5. Additional social media development
  6. Seek sponsorship
  7. Handbook development—see below sample
Handbook Sample: Below is a collection of images that represent common symptoms caused by Phytophthora ramorum, the species responsible for Sudden Oak Death. For our survey in South Africa, we will sample plants that show similar symptoms as well as plants that look completely healthy.

Twenty percent of the proposed budget will be dedicated to the production of a handbook that includes the following sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Chapter 1: What to look for
  3. Chapter 2: Collection Instructions (details and examples for information collection)
  4. Chapter 3: Resources
  5. Appendices: Glossary of terms, species lists, etc.

Phase 2: Establish citizen field sampling program

  1. Host workshops—More than 20 workshops will be hosted in the first two years of the initiative. Workshops will be held in surrounding communities to recruit volunteers, introduce scientific significance, teach basic microbial process and demonstrate proper sampling techniques and treatment.
  2. Travel to partner agencies to establish sample drop-off/mail-in locations.
  3. Create mailing lists—mailing lists will be created through the workshops, website and mobile app.
  4. Provide sampling materials—sampling materials (e.g. sample bags, ice-packs for mailing samples, stamped envelopes, etc.) will be provided at workshops or sent to citizens that request them by mail.
  5. Lead sampling parties—Sampling parties are essentially organized hikes with the purpose of educating small groups and encouraging sampling.
  6. Create sample collection locations at trail heads—for example, if a mountain biker wants to submit soil from their tires, provide a station for brushing off the soil into a sample bag, filling out paperwork, and depositing the sample.

Phase 3: Data compilation and species identification

  1. Compile all submitted samples—record data submitted by citizens to a single database.
  2. Isolate species from samples—conduct laboratory work to isolate Phytophthora species (e.g. isolation, culturing, DNA extraction and amplification, etc.)
  3. Identify species using bioinformatics—use DNA sequence data to classify species found or distinguish as new species.
  4. Describe any new species using genetic and morphological data.
  5. Statistical analysis—identify relationships between samples (i.e. determine if there are patterns between species and sampling locations or patterns within the citizen scientist demographics—did children find more species than adults, etc.).

Phase 4: Information dissemination

  1. Publication of results in open-access journals
  2. Distribution of spatial data (e.g. maps)
  3. Presentations at international conferences
  4. Travel to surrounding communities to share results
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