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A popular science writer and advocate from Philadelphia, Pa., is playing a prominent role in the growing Citizen Science movement.
Darlene Cavalier, who has contributed for Discover magazine for 15 years, is the founder of SciStarter, a web-based platform that helps non-traditional or amateur scientists participate in or organize studies and experiments. Cavalier also writes and speaks frequently about Citizen Science to help raise awareness about it.
While non-traditional or amateur scientists have contributed to scientific discovery and knowledge for centuries, the idea of Citizen Science – which also is known as Volunteer Science or Crowd-sourced Science – has been defined and identified more formally in the past decade. The term “citizen science” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in June 2014.
“We want to help people recognize that they are as entitled as anyone else to play active roles in science and technology,” Cavalier said in a published interview. “In the process, we’ve [also] been able to help a lot of researchers and other people organizing participatory research and civic engagement projects recruit skilled participants.”
Cavalier, who holds a Master of Liberal Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania and is a former cheerleader for the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, also is the founder of Science Cheerleader – an organization of nearly 300 current and former National Football League (NFL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) cheerleaders who are pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Along with challenging stereotypes in a lighthearted manner, Science Cheerleader works to inspire young women to become interested in STEM subjects and careers.