„Citizen science”, in Australia, benefits in the time of coronavirus

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Public participation and collaboration in scientific research is possible in the time of coronavirus.” Citizen science”, in Australia, offers a unique opportunity.

Anyone is welcome to contribute, even without expertise and there are many online platforms to do it. As an example, Foldit is an online game that challenges players to fold proteins to better understand their structure and function. Citizens are asked to design antiviral proteins that can bind with the coronavirus. The highest scoring designs will be manufactured and tested in real life. This can help to find a vaccine for the virus. The online surveillance project FluTracking helps track influenza but also coronavirus across Australia and New Zealand.

The project Folding@home is a computing project. The computer having it installed becomes one of thousands running calculations, all working together. Another program, PatientsLikeMe, empowers patients who have tested positive to a disease to share their experiences and treatment regimes with others who have similar health concerns. This lets researchers test potential treatments more quickly. There’s a plethora of other options for citizen scientists. Some sites ask volunteers to digitise data from ongoing environmental monitoring programs. The data collected through citizen science apps are used by researchers to explore animal migration, understand ranges of species, and determine how changes in climate, air quality and habitat affect animal behavior.

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