Underfunded Scientists Hit Up the Web for Cash (Successfully)

Crowdsourcing is nothing new, but as a way of funding investigative research at a public institution of higher learning, well, it does constitute a somewhat marked departure from the traditional path to financing. The New York Times is claiming to have found the first example of such an occurrence.

The scientists (biologists) in question have so far raised $4, 873 through crowdsourcing. One, Dr. Jennifer Calkins, teaches biology at Evergreen State College as an adjunct professor; Dr. Jennifer Gee is the second biologist and she’s the Robert J. Bernard Biological Field Station’s interim manager.

The biologists pointed out to would-be donors where the pooled money would be spent: “By contributing to this project you will support a study of this little known species as we examine its behavior and evolution in its natural habitat, a space encroached upon by both urban sprawl and tension surrounding narcotics trafficking.” That would be under-studied quail species of the Callipepla genus: Callipepla douglasii (pictured at right).

Kickstarter.com was the site used to get the money together. The site is usually host to endeavors that lean heavily toward the visual and (non-explicitly scientific) creative arts, but the quail research project was embraced and funded.

The two scientists reported that although they were offering, among other things, trading cards, postcards, and T-shirts for the donations, most people who donated money requested a signed copy of their upcoming volume, “The Quail Diaries.”

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