Never Home Alone @ NCSU

Never Home Alone @ NCSU is the spring 2019 Wolfpack Citizen Science ChallengeThis project will engage the NC State campus community in a quest to find and identify indoor arthropods on a college campus– a biodiversity measure that has never before taken place. 

Never Home Alone @ NCSU is an outgrowth of an existing project called “Never Home Alone,” a citizen science initiative started by the Rob Dunn Lab at NCSU meant to document indoor biodiversity all over the world. In just a few months the project has already accumulated over 4,000 observations from all over the world and has been featured in all kinds of media, including a book and an article in the New York Times.

Never Home Alone book cover

The scientific goal of Never Home Alone @ NCSU is to learn about arthropod biodiversity in NC State’s indoor living spaces. For example, are college dorms, which have different layouts and cleaning regimens than homes or apartments, home to different kinds of life? Past work has found that homes in more affluent neighborhoods in Raleigh have higher arthropod biodiversity. It is possible that some aspects of dorm living might similarly influence arthropod biodiversity.

The Wolfpack Challenge

The Wolfpack Citizen Science Challenge is a part of a larger initiative to implement citizen science across the NC State campus. The Wolfpack Challenge engages students, faculty, and staff as collaborators in ongoing research on campus. The goals of the Challenge are to encourage growth in citizen science, increase the visibility of citizen science, and track changes in participant attitudes and learning.

What is Citizen Science?

Citizen science is the active participation in research by non-scientists, or non-experts. For example, citizen science projects like eBird allow anyone in the world to take photos of birds and upload them to a database, allowing researchers to study how climate change is affecting migration patterns. In this way, citizen science can allow researchers to access types and quantities of data that they would never be able to gather on their own, making it a powerful tool. Participating in citizen science projects can also have an impact on participants through the achievement of learning outcomes, science efficacy, self-efficacy, skills development, and improved  sense of place.

Citizen science also includes projects initiated and led by non-scientists, but which utilize researchers and/or scientific principles to further a project’s goals. This includes environmental justice movements that study the impact of, for instance, industrial air pollution on a community’s health.