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#SciFund Puts YOU in Charge of Funding Science!

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Funding science has always relied on public support. Traditionally, scientists at research institutions are awarded money from government agencies and sometimes private foundations. The money from government agencies though, such as NSF and NIH is derived from taxpayer dollars. So, in effect YOU are the one paying out the funds to support a wide array of projects all over the spectrum of research and engineering. But, as Dr. Jai Ranganathan – one of the cofounders of #SciFund – wrote here on the Sci-Am Network Central Blog, “All of the traditional sources of cash for science – government agencies and private foundations – are getting harder and harder to access. So what is a scientist to do?”

Well, why not let the people themselves decide exactly what scientific research they would like to see done! To accomplish this, #SciFund uses a crowdsourcing approach to funding. Partnering with RocketHub, they launched the #SciFund Challenge. This partnership allows scientists run their own crowdfunding campaigns to fund their research. Scientists put out their proposal and do everything they can to get people as excited about it as they are. This has the unique effect of creating a scientific proposal that appeals to a general audience and not a panel scientific experts. So, successful proposers need to make it and make it relevant, creating a plethora of entertaining proposals using videos, images, colorful text and throwing in research swag and other rewards for different levels of donating. What is great about this system is that scientists can accept micropayments, much as non-profit organizations do, and build up to their research goals.

The #SciFund challenge contains 49 fantastic research projects that span a huge variety of topics. You can scroll them all and see for yourself, but here are the projects with an evolutionary focus:

As you can see there are no shortage of worthy, fascinating research out there that needs YOU to participate in it. Even with $5 or $25 you can make this work a reality.

Kevin Zelnio About the Author: Kevin has a M.Sc. degree in biology from Penn State, a B.Sc. in Evolution and Ecology from University of California, Davis, and has worked at as a researcher at several major marine science institutions. His broad academic research interests have encompassed population genetics, biodiversity, community ecology, food webs and systematics of invertebrates at deep-sea chemosynthetic environments and elsewhere. Kevin has described several new species of anemones and shrimp. He is now a freelance writer, independent scientist and science communications consultant living near the Baltic coast of Sweden in a small, idyllic village.

Kevin is also the assistant editor and webmaster for Deep Sea News, where he contributes articles on marine science. His award-winning writing has been appeared in Seed Magazine, The Open Lab: Best Writing on Science Blogs (2007, 2009, 2010), Discovery Channel, ScienceBlogs, and Environmental Law Review among others. He spends most of his time enjoying the company of his wife and two kids, hiking, supporting local breweries, raising awareness for open access, playing guitar and songwriting. You can read up more about Kevin and listen to his music at his homepage, where you can also view his CV and Résumé, and follow him twitter and Google +. Editor's Selection Posts on EvoEcoLab!

Follow on Twitter @kzelnio.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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