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Citizen Science Zurich

General Assembly: Review of the year 2023

Citizen Science Zurich held its General Assembly (GA) on 16 January, 2024. The team gave a review of the past year and an outlook for the upcoming year. In addition, 20 new members and one new member for the Board of Directors were confirmed.

It has been an intensive past year at Citizen Science Zurich. With the merge, which was completed in fall 2023, the organizational structure was adapted, the strategy realigned and the corporate design redesigned. The implementation took time and resources. Olivia Höhener informed the members about the most important changes, in particular the new composition of the team and our services.

Project support and assistance

In addition to the extra work caused by the merge, the Managing Office continued to operate normally in 2023. We continued to offer practical support in the planning and implementation of Citizen Science projects and were involved in a total of 16 projects. We also advised researchers on their project plans, with a specific focus on impact, ethics and open science as well as community management and communication. Furthermore, we successfully carried out the fifth Seed Grant call. Thanks to the support of the Mercator Foundation Switzerland, a total of six new pilot projects were funded. This means that Citizen Science Zurich has supported a total of 34 projects through Seed Grants since 2019, which corresponds to a total of CHF 1,220,000. The current call for proposals for 2024 is still open until 3 March, 2024.

Collecting and analyzing digital data made easy

Rosy Mondardini then presented our Digital Tools. Citizen Science projects that want to collect and analyze digital data often require an app or a web interface. Creating these or having them created is often a major cost and additional effort for projects. Our two tools address precisely this issue and offer a simple and cost-effective solution for creating an app or launching and running a data analysis project on our platform. In 2023, a total of 28 projects used our tools and we provided intensive support for four of these projects. One of them is the Wild Rivers project, which categorizes pristine rivers and is carried out by the ETHChair of Ecosystems and Landscape Evolution.

Citizen Science skills of 611 people improved

Melanie Brand presented an overview of all our course formats and last year's highlights. At the beginning of June 2023, for example, we organized the Citizen Science Summer School for the third time in collaboration with the UZH Graduate Campus. Over the course of a week, 31 young doctoral students and postdocs gained new skills and knowledge about Citizen Science. We also organized a new series of the Methods on Mondays, in which a method for the co-production of knowledge is presented and applied intensively on the first Monday of each month from September to February. Melanie Brand is currently planning a CAS in Citizen Science and Public Engagement. The CAS will be designed as a modular blended learning course. The first pilot modules are expected to be offered this year already.

Citizen Science Zurich is growing continuously

As the supreme body of our organization, the members approve the annual budget and decide on the admission of new members at the GA. We warmly welcome 20 new members to Citizen Science Zurich! Our Board of Directors has also grown. In addition to the existing four directors, Prof. Dr. Nora Maria Raschle was newly elected. She works at the Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development at UZH and is specialized in developmental neuroscience. Together with her team, she studies typical and atypical processes of brain development of children and adolescents with a focus on socio-emotional and cognitive development. She is also involved in various science communication and public relations events. For example, on topics such as the human brain, brain development, the importance of early childhood or how science actually works. We also warmly welcome her!

Outlook for an exciting year 2024

Looking ahead to the coming year, exciting projects are once again on the agenda. In addition to the CAS mentioned above, we will be testing a new format, the "Ideas Laboratory", to bring researchers together with representatives of civil society and the administration on pressing social issues, initiating new partnerships and generating ideas for participatory research projects. Together with partners from the University of Geneva, we are also organizing the SDG Olympiad, which enables students from UZH and ETH to tackle global environmental and health issues at a local level as part of a summer school in Geneva. To this end, the students use Citizen Science approaches to work on challenges set by UN organizations and other Swiss NGOs. And we are going on tour – we want to make Citizen Science Zurich better known within UZH and ETH and make better use of synergies with other competence centers. So you can look forward to the new year with great excitement!

Ursina Roffler