At one point, I could never imagine having anything remotely worth blogging about. However, I love science and nothing would make me happier than sharing science with others. So that is what I'm going to do.
Specifically, the impetus for this blog is my participation in the SciFund Challenge, a crowdfunding initiative organized by Dr. Jai Ranganathan and Dr. Jarrett Byrnes.
So what is crowdfunding? Well, for a scientist like myself, it is a way to directly interact with anyone who is interested in supporting my research. Traditional avenues for scientific funding such as the National Science Foundation have funding rates lower than 15%, and these types of grants are especially difficult to obtain as a graduate student. If I think up an interesting research project, I can't rely on obtaining a large sum of money from a government agency to make it happen.
Crowfunding asks the question, "Why can't I get funding from anyone who thinks that my work is interesting instead?"
Beyond the nickels and dimes of funding a research project, a potentially greater impact of crowdfunding is the connections that can be forged between a scientist and his or her supporters. Unlike the highly technical, jargon-filled grant proposals that are reviewed by a committee of peers for a standard funding opportunity, a SciFund proposal is for the public and includes pictures, video, and incentives for funding (check out some of last year's SciFund projects here). Communicating is such an important part of being a scientist, and the opportunity to explain why your research is interesting to the general public is essential for both justifying your work and promoting the public awareness of science.
This year's SciFund projects go live on May 1st!