Rick Bonney

Senior Extension Associate Emeritus


Citizen Science • Public Engagement in Science • Informal Science Education • Editing

My career at the Lab has spanned five decades, starting as an undergraduate volunteer in 1975. Since 1983 I have served as director of publications, director of education, director of citizen science, and from 2005 through 2019, director of the public engagement in science program.

I formally retired from the Lab in 2019. Now emeritus at the Lab, I continue to work on a variety of projects, largely focused on developing and evaluating the impacts of citizen-science programs for varied organizations including U.S. federal agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council. I also continue to advise and evaluate numerous projects throughout the world which are developing exhibits, curricula, interactive websites, and participatory research efforts focused on science.

Highlights of my career include launching several of the Lab’s current citizen science projects, including its K-12 education and urban bird studies programs; co-founding the international Citizen Science Association; founding and editing the association’s journal, Citizen Science: Theory and Practice for its first four years of publication; and receiving more than 20 awards from the National Science Foundation to support the development of the Lab’s public engagement programs.


M.P.S., Natural Resources Policy and Planning, Cornell University
B.S., Wildlife Science, Cornell University

Favorite Bird

My favorite bird is the Scarlet Tanager, partly because it is beautiful, and partly because it is the first bird that I identified on my own. The bird was also the inspiration for one of the Lab’s earliest citizen science programs, Project Tanager, which I launched in 1992.

Recent Publications

Gustina, M., E. Guinnee, R. Bonney, and H. Decker (2022). Pathways to Well-being: Public Library Service in Rural Communities. Journal of New Librarianship 7:159–189.
Bonney, R. (2021). Expanding the Impact of Citizen Science. BioScience 71:448–451.
Bonney, R., J. Byrd, J. T. Carmichael, L. Cunningham, L. Oremland, J. Shirk, and A. Von Harten (2021). Sea Change: Using Citizen Science to Inform Fisheries Management. BioScience 71:519–530.
Miller-Rushing, A., R. Bonney, R. Primack, and E. Albee (2020). The History of Citizen Science in Ecology and Conservation. In Handbook of Citizen Science in Ecology and Conservation (C. Lepczyk, O. Boyle and T. Vargo, Editors). 1st edition. University of California Press, p. 336.
Shirk, J., and R. Bonney (2020). What is Citizen Science? In Handbook of Citizen Science in Ecology and Conservation (C. Lepczyk, O. Boyle and T. Vargo, Editors). 1st edition. University of California Press, p. 336.
Kelling, S., A. Johnston, A. Bonn, D. Fink, V. Ruiz-Gutierrez, R. Bonney, M. Fernandez, W. M. Hochachka, R. Julliard, R. Kraemer, and R. Guralnick (2019). Using Semistructured Surveys to Improve Citizen Science Data for Monitoring Biodiversity. BioScience 69:170–179.
Phillips, T. B., H. L. Ballard, B. V. Lewenstein, and R. Bonney (2019). Engagement in science through citizen science: Moving beyond data collection. Science Education 103:665–690.
Phillips, T., N. Porticella, M. Constas, and R. Bonney (2018). A framework for articulating and measuring individual learning outcomes from participation in citizen science. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice 3:3.
Wiggins, A., R. Bonney, G. LeBuhn, J. K. Parrish, and J. F. Weltzin (2018). A Science Products Inventory for Citizen-Science Planning and Evaluation. BioScience 68:436–444.
Hecker, S., R. Bonney, M. Haklay, F. Hölker, H. Hofer, C. Goebel, M. Gold, Z. Makuch, M. Ponti, A. Richter, L. Robinson, et al. (2018). Innovation in Citizen Science – Perspectives on Science-Policy Advances. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice 3:4.
Pocock, M. J. O., M. Chandler, R. Bonney, I. Thornhill, A. Albin, T. August, S. Bachman, P. M. J. Brown, D. G. F. Cunha, A. Grez, C. Jackson, et al. (2018). Chapter Six - A Vision for Global Biodiversity Monitoring With Citizen Science. In Advances in Ecological Research (D. A. Bohan, A. J. Dumbrell, G. Woodward and M. Jackson, Editors). Academic Press, pp. 169–223.
Shirk, J. L., and R. E. Bonney (2018). Scientific Impacts and Innovations of Citizen Science. In Citizen Science Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy (A. Bonn, S. Hecker, M. Haklay, A. Bowser, Z. Makuch, J. Vogel and A. Bonn, Editors). University College London, London.
Sullivan, B. L., T. Phillips, A. A. Dayer, C. L. Wood, A. Farnsworth, M. J. Iliff, I. J. Davies, A. Wiggins, D. Fink, W. M. Hochachka, A. D. Rodewald, et al. (2017). Using open access observational data for conservation action: A case study for birds. Biological Conservation 208:5–14.
McKinley, D. C., A. J. Miller-Rushing, H. L. Ballard, R. Bonney, H. Brown, S. C. Cook-Patton, D. M. Evans, R. A. French, J. K. Parrish, T. B. Phillips, S. F. Ryan, et al. (2017). Citizen science can improve conservation science, natural resource management, and environmental protection. Biological Conservation 208:15–28.
Bonney, R., C. Cooper, and H. Ballard (2016). The Theory and Practice of Citizen Science: Launching a New Journal. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice 1:1.
Bonney, R., T. B. Phillips, H. L. Ballard, and J. W. Enck (2016). Can citizen science enhance public understanding of science? Public Understanding of Science 25:2–16.
Shirk, J., and R. Bonney (2015). Developing a citizen science program: a synthesis of citizen science fameworks. Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Rick Bonney
Center Engagement in Science and Nature
Email reb5@cornell.edu

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Golden-cheeked Warbler by Bryan Calk/Macaulay Library