The Sciences

SciStarter: Announcing Nine Recipients of the First Annual SciSTARter Boost Awards!

Citizen Science Salon iconCitizen Science SalonBy SciStarter TeamDec 15, 2022 12:15 AM
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Citizen science is powered by millions of unsung people from all backgrounds who are curious and motivated to make a difference. SciStarter wants to sing their praises.

After nearly a decade of grassroots, bootstrapping, and volunteering efforts, SciStarter is in a position to support others in our wake. In an effort to do this, SciStarter searched the galaxy far and wide for nine stars in the field of citizen science. These nine individuals are influential in helping others engage in science in a meaningful way. To show our appreciation, SciStarter has awarded each of them with a $2,000 SciSTARter Boost, no strings attached.

Without further ado, we introduce the 2022 recipients of the SciSTARter Boost!

Kathy Balman

Kathy Balman is the director and the environmental educator at Educating Children Outdoors (ECO). ECO is dedicated to connecting children and their families to citizen science initiatives. Kathy believes that community science can help grow and foster young scientists’ love and dedication to the environment.  After experiencing a tragic accident in November that took the lives of her two children (deeply involved and committed citizen scientists themselves), she will be using the boost to help relaunch ECO to ensure that she can continue to do what she loves.

“My environmental education programs are currently cancelled and they most likely will not look the same. The SciSTARter Boost will help me relaunch my business when I’m ready, so that I can can continue doing what I love which is teaching youth about the natural world.”


Nicole Colston

Nicole is a STEM Education Specialist for the Oklahoma Water Resources Center. As the director of the Virtual Citizen Science Expo (VCSE) hosted in Mozilla Hubs, she helps bring citizen science to a fun virtual environment for everyone. Nicole encourages SciStarter users to grab an avatar and come hang out with real scientists in a virtual world for Citizen Science Month in April!

“I am so motivated by and thankful to receive a SciStarter Boost to promote the Virtual Citizen Science Expo in Mozilla Hubs. This boost has encouraged me to seek out more citizen science programs to host presentations and build virtual exhibits.”


Holly Rosser

Holly is a graduate student at The University of Nebraska at Omaha. Holly has led the development and operations for Phish Finders, a cybersecurity citizen science project. Her work with Phish Finders has led to the identification of novel phishing cues that were not previously documented in the cybersecurity literature. 

“I want to thank SciStarter for this award. I didn’t even know my advisor nominated me for this honor, and it means so much that others are as passionate about citizen science as I am. SciStarter is an irreplaceable resource for me as I investigate how volunteer learning can be supported through technology.”


Jocelyn Palomino

Jocelyn is an environmental policy institutions and behaviors senior at Rutgers University. While in school, she has worked with the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership (LRWP) where she is currently the Spanish Language Pathogens Monitoring Outreach Coordinator. By engaging the Spanish-language community, she has been influential in helping to advance social and environmental justice through the use of citizen science.

“For future purposes, I intend to use the resources from SciStarter to make connections with other organizations who have similar goals of promoting community education and involvement, so that we can work together to achieve a healthier environment for future generations.”


Amanda Vilchez

Amanda is currently studying to earn her PhD in communication at Cornell University. Her research focuses on science communication in Latin American attempting to understand how the inequalities in the access of science excludes minorities in activities like citizen science. She believes that it is necessary to increase the efforts to diversify the theory and practice of citizen science by considering all perspectives and experiences. 

“The Scistarter Booster means an acknowledgment for all these years of voluntary work, made only with the passion of promoting citizen science as a way of including everybody in science.”


Marisa Rodriguez

Marisa is the mind and machine behind Ancient Odysseys. Ancient Odysseys is a portal that connects citizens and travelers to active paleontological and archaeological digs that they can participate in right alongside the researchers. Her site has helped bring citizens onto dig sites across the United States, Australia and Peru. She plans to have sites in Columbia, Spain, Tanzania and Belize in near future.

“Ancient Odysseys is proud to have been recognized by Scistarter.org for our work promoting opportunities for citizen scientists who want to take part in paleontology and archaeology digs around the world.”


Kent McFarland

Kent has spent the last 20+ years designing and implementing citizen science projects, managing data to be open-sourced, and finding creative ways to motivate and mobilize community participation in conservation science. Kent has had many of his projects, such as eButterfly and Vermont Atlas of Life, on SciStarter, and he plans to introduce libraries across Vermont to SciStarter and citizen science.

“I plan to use the boost funds to build a traveling exhibit for libraries to get people interested in contributing to the Vermont Atlas of Life through either our crowd sourced projects like eButterfly, iNaturalist Vermont, or Vermont eBird; or via some of our specific atlas projects we have going on.”


Jill Townley

Jill is a writer and musician that became involved in citizen science through Eterna. Since being a player on this RNA design project, she has grown into being the primary connection between Eterna and citizen science. She has been influential in developing Eterna and helping spread the project to new audiences.

“Our RNA research projects change frequently and SciStarter enables us to announce new projects to the citizen science community quickly. I appreciate this acknowledgement of my efforts to spread knowledge about the exciting field of RNA science.”


Joshua Boyle

Joshua Boyle is the executive director of We Become. Josh established We Become to help build more environmental science programming to the Mahoning River Valley. Josh plans to reach the most people by supporting local after-school conservation corps through We Become and the 7th -12th grade students at Boardman Schools. 

“The SciSTARter Boost will give the non-profit I run some flexibility in offering unique experiences to communities in the Mahoning River Valley.  I plan on using the SciStarter website and platform to bring our work into the middle school at Boardman Local School District.”

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