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Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Maureen McConnell

Senior Exhibit Developer at the Boston Museum of Science

Maureen McConnell is a Senior Exhibit Developer at the Boston Museum of Science, where she has worked for over 20 years. Her exhibits include Natural Mysteries and A Birds World, two exhibits which were conceived as training areas for GIS and Citizen Science. Most recently, Maureen has been working with E.O. Wilson of Harvard University on creating a model of bioblitzes run by science centers and other museums that would be true citizen science events. An NSF planning grant for this purpose, submitted by the MOS and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology is currently under review.

The Diversity of Bioblitzes

(co-authored with Mary Raczko)
A Bioblitz is a rapid assessment of what lives in a particular area at a given point in time. It a tool for biodiversity exploration and education and can bring together scientists, educators, students, naturalists and the general public in a scientific endeavor. Once defined as an intensive 24-hour survey of all species, the term Bioblitz is now often used for a range of events of different time durations. Some events target a specific species; say a hunt for a specific invasive crab. Certain events may focus on a particular order of organisms, such as a 'Beetle Blitz' where only members of the Coleoptera order are studied. Other events may target just one or more classes of organisms, like birds and mammals; or, it may be a survey of all species, including Microbes!  A Bioblitz can be structured along a spectrum between educational outreach and scientific results.  Some events are structured for adults, others for students as curriculum projects, some to include a variety of ages and abilities. Each type of event presents its own benefits and challenges to the organizer.  It is important to define goals and desired outcomes clearly before structuring the event. Creating a balance between public outreach and scientific results is often a tricky endeavor. Choosing the best type of event to meet the goals and directing it to the appropriate audience improves chances of success. Our poster will show visuals of different types of blitzes, and highlight some of the key features of each and the benefits and challenges of organizing each one.  

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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