Re-packaging Research for the Public
Ethan O. Perlstein is changing the way people interact with his research. He is an evolutionary pharmacologist at Princeton… no I didn’t really know what that was either. But you should after watching the film he made to explain it!
Most scientists fail at two things:
1) Presenting research to a wider community and to the public
2) Translating it to language or media that the general public can understand.
They speak and collaborate with other scientists in the field, they do the research, they write a paper… and then other scientists read that paper etc. Often this is the end of it, i.e. rarely does research make it beyond this cycle unless it is for a specific product or information for an industry.
Ethan O. Perlstein is trying to break away from this trend by trying something different. Not only does his lab have its own website and blog at http://www.perlsteinlab.com/; designed to allow open exploration of his research for anyone who is interested, but he is attempting to crowd-fund his research. That is; instead of funding his research by grants… he is giving the public the power to contribute and fund his research.
He calls it Crowdsourcing Discovery (there’s a video on this too)
Though I’m not convinced crowed-funding would work for all research. I think his use of the Internet and opening up his research to the public is amazing. It allows you to check in on his lab and what they’re doing – like you’re a part of it. Involving the public in this way may be an important step in bridging that gap between them and the scientist.