History and Practice of Citizen Science Through a Personal Account of an Earthwatch Project
The practice of "citizen science" is not new, for it can be traced back to the 17th century. Until the late 19th century, nearly all "scientists" were actually citizen scientists. To trace the history of citizen science to the present, Bob Ladendorf, chief operating officer of the Center for Inquiry-L.A., will talk about it through the lens of an Earthwatch Institute field research expedition in which he participated last year.
For the week-long field research project tracking wolves and fire through the Canadian Rockies, Ladendorf helped to measure aspen trees and study the tracks of animals such as wolves and bears to better understand the impact of these elements on the environment. The years-long, ongoing project, which is being conducted by scientist Cristina Eisenberg (subsequently named the Chief Scientist at Earthwatch, a non-profit organization) and her colleagues shows how wolves, a primary predator, can make the environment greener by preying on and creating an "ecology of fear" in elk that otherwise would browse aspen stands to death.
Ladendorf has worked for the Center for 10 years and was a co-founder of a Springfield, Illinois, skeptics' group in the 1990s. He has been a free-lance writer, associate editor of a public affairs magazine, and deputy director of a state governmental communications office. Ladendorf also co-founded a theater production group that staged Steve Allen's Meeting of Minds teleplays as live theater. He has a master's degree in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His first citizen science project was an archaeological dig at Cahokia Mounds near St. Louis.
Joining Ladendorf during the Q&A session will be one or two other members of the field research team from the L.A. area. A few copies of the project director's books will be made available.
One autographed copy of Cristina Eisenberg's book, "The Carnivore Way," will be given away at each location.
This talk will also take place earlier in the day at CFI-L.A. at 11 a.m.
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