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Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Theresa Crimmins

Research Scientist and Instructional Specialist, Sr., at the University of Arizona

Currently, I am adjunct faculty with the Office of Arid Lands Studies at the University of Arizona and work on a variety of projects. I am currently developing online education modules for the Arizona Master Watershed Steward program, a citizen science program aimed at enhancing water and watershed conservation and preservation. I previously served as a Quantitative Ecologist in the Inventory & Monitoring program of the US National Park Service, leading protocol development for natural resource monitoring. My interests and technical skills bridge both ecology and

quantitative methods. I also greatly enjoy working with adults in formal and informal educational settings. One of my current side projects entails helping a retiree to analyze a 20-year phenological dataset totaling over 110,000 data records that he has collected in his free time. We hope to use some of the findings from his study as the basis for developing a regional citizen science phenology monitoring program. I received a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Geography from Western Michigan University. I completed my Ph.D. in Renewable Natural Resources at the University of Arizona in 2005.

Monitoring nonnative plants using hand-held GPS and GIS technology

As a UA/NASA Space Grant Fellow at the University of Arizona, I developed content and materials and led workshops on global positioning systems (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS) technologies for land managers and interested volunteers for the purpose of weed management across the state of Arizona. This approach has been successfully implemented by many groups across Arizona, including University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, the National Park Service, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's Invaders Program, a citizen science-based program for collecting geographic coordinates of target invasive plants in southern Arizona. The integrated system we have promoted consists of a handheld GPS unit (Garmin III, Garmin V, or similar) connected to a pocket PC (HP iPAQ or similar) running HGIS software ( The use of GIS software enabled attribute data, collected using picklists (pull-down menus), to be attached to point, line, or area geographic records. Data collected in this manner has greatly hastened and enhanced analysis and reporting. Challenges of adopting this approach have included providing training and support to participants of all skill levels geographically dispersed across the state of Arizona; making the units available to the data collectors; the cost of the system is higher than GPS units alone (~$1,200 per system); providing troubleshooting and maintenance over long distances; the units are fragile and not waterproof; and the pocket PCs must be plugged in to AC power every few days or their memory is lost and the software and base data must be reloaded. However, more recent advances in hardware technology has resulted in the development of more rugged, field-friendly, integrated units such as the Trimble Recon at a slightly higher price point (~$1,500 per unit with software), showing promise for data collection into the future.

Citizen science, volunteer monitoring, participatory action research... this site supports organizers of all initiatives where public participants are involved in scientific research.

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