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Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Jennifer Shirk

Manager of Professional Development for Citizen Science, Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Public Engagement in Science Program

Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk works to advance the field of public participation in scientific research through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Public Engagement in Science Program and the Citizen Science Association (CSA). In her position as Director of Field Development for CSA, she aims to broaden and enrich a community of practice for all who lead, manage, implement, and research citizen science projects. Through CSA and the Lab of Ornithology, she provides workshops, resources, and networking opportunities to facilitate effective citizen science project design, implementation, and sustainability.

Jennifer also pursues research related to the effective use of citizen science for scientific research and conservation, particularly in complex social-ecological contexts. She has explored how scientists use citizen science as part of their professional work for conservation take up new and unexpected roles in engaging with the public. And she investigates the social and relational dynamics that play out when scientists, managers, and diverse stakeholders engage in the production of new, collaborative knowledge for resource management.

Jennifer has helped coordinate major networking events for citizen science practitioners, including field-wide conferences in 2015 and 2012, the 2011 Workshop on Engaging and Learning for Conservation, and the 2007 Citizen Science Toolkit Conference. She has also contributed to landmark documents including the 2009 inquiry report on informal science education outcomes of Public Participation in Scientific Research (funded by the National Science Foundation's Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education), and the subsequent 2012 Ecology and Society article, Public Participation in Scientific Research: a Framework for Deliberate Design.

Before her arrival at Cornell in 2001, Jennifer worked in both scientific and educational capacities for the Smithsonian's Conservation Biology Institute, USGS and Shenandoah National Park, Catalina Island Marine Institute, and Penn State University. Jennifer has a BA in Conservation Biology from Bard College, and an MS and PhD in Natural Resources from Cornell University.