Good news today! It seems that the Aquarius Reef Base mission has secured funding… enough funding to keep it alive anyway, if not actively doing science. Full story from BoingBoing here, self-promoting links to where I’ve talked about this before here, flickr photostream of pictures of Aquarius so that you can spend too much time dreaming about diving on an awesome undersea lab here.
Recently Scientific American came out with a list of ten potential World Changing ideas in science for 2012. On the list among such lofty ideas as DNA free organisms, data mining smartphones, and electronic tattoos, is the idea of crowdfunding science. This is a topic I’ve been interested in for a while now, after all I managed to fund an entire field season this way, and I strongly believe that crowdfunding represents a new paradigm for funding science.
Besides my own research, I’ve plugged other research projects on this blog in the past. Checking up on the Project Aquarius ReefBase finds the project out of time and far short of their goal. However, a graduate student here at Florida State just raised more than her goal in less than 48 hours! So what lessons are to be learned from these examples? Well, for one I don’t think that crowdfunding is an adequate substitute for public funding. Aquarius ReefBase had to turn to crowdfunding because their sponsoring agency, the National Underwater Research Program, was cut completely from the federal budget (you can read up here on why I think this is a bad thing). The micro-donation model just won’t work to fund a $3 million per year project, however it seems to be perfect for funding smaller projects, like the ones that graduate students take on. If you care about science and think it is important, please consider joining the growing crowd and donate to a struggling scientist!
You can donate to Althea’s project here, or check out a list of other crowdfunding groups that focus on science:
Indiegogo (these guys fund other projects too but they consistently feature science projects)
So all Bob does is float around in the Florida Keys counting fish, how expensive could that be? Well, I can assure you, it ain’t cheap. Here’s a little rundown on what it costs me to do my research each summer:
- Everyday that I spend on the water costs approximately $100. This includes boat rental, gas, ice, and bait if we need to catch fish. Last summer I was down in the Keys from mid-May through June and used the boat 30 total days.
- Travel to and from the Keys, a 2600 mile round-trip from north Florida, costs about $250 each way.
- Every other day we have to refill our SCUBA tanks at $4 a pop. Last summer we filled up 95 SCUBA tanks.
- Lodging runs about $250 per week. This summer I hope to stay in the field for at least 6 weeks.
- Other miscellaneous supplies (e.g. dive gear, fishing gear, slates, jars, etc.) usually costs another $300-$400 every summer.
At the end of the day, a full field season can cost me as much as $5K! Last year I was awarded two grants to pay for my research: one from the PADI Foundation and the other from the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society. This year I will be paying for my research trip myself, mostly from a stipend I got from a research cruise I went on last fall (you can check out pictures from that trip here) and I’ll supplement that with whatever I can raise through SciFlies. If you’d like to sponsor my research, maybe buy me some SCUBA tank fills or a day on the boat, you can do so by clicking here.
So now you know what it to do research. Even though it is expensive, and can be difficult, stressful, and even painful at times there is nothing else I’d rather be doing!
Currently I am involved with a very exciting new fundraising initiative called SciFlies. This group is bringing science to the people and allowing for scientific research projects to be directly funded by the general citizenry.
My project can be found here. Please take a look and consider donating.