News & Events

UCD citizen science community of practice knowledge sharing

Published: Tuesday, 05 December, 2023

The UCD citizen science community of practice established by Jane Nolan (UCD Library) and Liz Bruton (UCD Earth Institute) in autumn 2022 has shared the 2023 programme of events recordings on the UCD citizen science community of practice events page and on the Earth Institute YouTube channel.

The aim of the citizen science community of practice is to provide a central hub for UCD academics, staff, researchers, students doing or interested in doing citizen science for research, teaching or public engagement.

Through our community of practice, discover how citizen science can:

  • Advance knowledge, research and innovation
  • Benefit staff, students, research, as well as the citizens involved
  • Be a powerful tool for engaging people in research and addressing important research and societal challenges


Our community of practice provides a forum for citizen science at UCD through our active programme of events where UCD and external speakers share their knowledge and practical experience of running citizen science projects and our mailing list which provides the opportunity to connect with citizen science practitioners and those interested in citizen science at UCD and externally.

Our community of practice delivered seven events during our 2023 programme, beginning with our launch event in February 2023 where Professor Francesco Pilla (Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy) and Professor Mary Kelly-Quinn (Biology and Environmental Science) had an engaging conversation on what citizen science can do, chaired by Dr Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain (Mathematics and Statistics).  We heard first-hand about the impact of their citizen science projects and their use in research and teaching at UCD and discovered how citizen science can advance knowledge, research and innovation.

A month later in March 2023, we heard from Dr Karen Keaveney (Head of Subject for Rural Development and an Assistant Professor in the School of Agriculture and Food Science) and Dr Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh (Director of the National Folklore Collection) on Citizen Science and the rural place in Ireland where they discussed two UCD citizen science projects which use digital technologies to enhance our understanding of rural places, populations, and culture – past and present.  Karen described the Citizen Rural project investigates how rural populations can harness digital technologies to enhance participative democracy in the planning and policy formulation for local sustainable development.  Dr Críostóir explored the National Folklore Collection’s project transcribing local folklore and tradition recorded by primary school pupils in rural Ireland in the late 1930s, which was in itself an early form of citizen science or public participation project.

In May 2023, Martin Brocklehurst, co-founder of the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) and the Citizen Science Global Partnership (CSGP) gave a talk on "The Decade of Citizen Science is here: Be part of it" outlining how citizen science can provide meaningful democratic and economic input and buy-in to deliver a liveable future.

In September 2023, UCD's Dr Mark Pickering and Niamh Burke described their innvoation, the Enderscope, a low-cost, open-source and easy to build microscope that can automatically scan filtered seawater samples to detect microplastics.  The micropscope is a globally accessible and scalable methods to measure microplastic and can be to know more about how much microplastic pollution is in the sea.  Mark and Niamh want to get this tool into the hands of local libraries, environmental groups and maker spaces in Ireland and encourage citizen science and engagement with microplastic pollution in the sea.

In October 2023, SFI's Ciara Cotter and Ali Boyle were introduced by UCD Librarian Dr Sandra Collins and told the story of what Creating Our Future achieved and how researchers and policy makers may use the findings in their work.  In autumn 2021, the Government of Ireland initiative Creating Our Future invited the people of Ireland to consider how research can contribute to the creation of a better future for themselves and their communities.  Over 18,000 submissions were received, analysed and synthesised into 16 thematic areas. The response demonstrated that the people of Ireland want their voice to be heard and that they have confidence in the promise and potential of research to transform lives and create sustainable societies.

In our final talk of 2023, Niamh Moore Cherry & Gerald Mills (UCD School of Geography) described citizen science aspects of the Mapping Green Dublin collaborative research action research project led by UCD’s School of Geography in collaboration with arts organisation Common Ground (Siobhán Geoghegan and Ger Nolan), artist Seoidín O’Sullivan and Connect the Dots (Naomi Murphy and Marisa Denker) and funded by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Mapping Green Dublin project used the CURIO tree app alongside a number of community co-creation events to empower the local community in Dublin 8 to learn about and contribute to knowledge-building about private and public trees and to develop a greening strategy for the Dublin 8 area. Mapping Green Dublin has established a process for effective engagement with neighbourhoods that allows residents to be participants in the design of their own spaces.

All of our citizen science community of practice talks have been hybrid as this facilitates and encourages participation and makes the talks as open as possible to the UCD and wider community. Recordings of our talks are also available on the UCD citizen science community of practice events page and on the Earth Institute YouTube channel.  The UCD Citizen Science Community of Practice is supported by the UCD Library and UCD Earth Institute.