Research & Collections

Current Projects

You can participate in a variety of citizen science projects right here at the Museum!  The following are ongoing projects that we offer.

Arthropods of Our Homes

Brown stinkbug. Photo by Matt BertoneWhat do the insects that live in our homes tell us about ourselves?  The Arthropods of Our Homes project aims to answer this question and more by gathering insects, spiders and other arthropods from homes in the Triangle area.  The Arthropods of Our Homes samples are processed in the Earth Observation and Biodiversity Lab, so you might see researchers hard at work identifying the insects collected from local homes.  The results will help us learn how we live and how the type of home we live in influences the arthropods that share our space.

Learn more about Arthropods of Our Homes.

Dragonfly Swarm Project

Dragonfly swarm by Chris Goforth

Dragonfly swarms are a rarely observed natural phenomenon and are difficult for any one person to research.  The Dragonfly Swarm Project depends on reports made by people like you who have observed swarms to answer questions about why these swarms form, the conditions under which they form, and to help explain the benefit of these swarms to the environment.  With your help, scientists now know more about this fascinating behavior than ever before and are starting to understand how a group of dragonflies benefits us all.

Learn more about the Dragonfly Swarm Project.


Camera trap photo of deer

eMammal is a project where citizen scientists work in collaboration with researchers at the Museum and the Smithsonian Institution to document mammals throughout the mid-Atlantic region, and soon, the entire country.  Citizen volunteers place “camera traps” (infrared motion-activated cameras) across the landscape in parks and other natural areas to collect photos of mammals.  These photos help researchers answer questions about mammal distribution and abundance, and scientists can use this information for conservation.

Learn more about upcoming eMammal camera trapping at the eMammal Facebook page or on the project’s website (coming soon!).

Neighborhood Box Turtle Watch

Eastern box turtle - Jeff BeaneBox turtles are under threat as expanding urbanization eliminates turtle habitats.  With your help, this project documents box turtles in rural and suburban settings so that we can learn more about how turtles and humans can coexist in the same spaces.  If you find a box turtle, snap a photo of the top and bottom, measure it, and record your location, then share your findings with us online.  Your data will help us understand habitat use by box turtles and how they are adapting to living with humans.

Learn more about the Neighborhood Box Turtle Watch.

Primate Armpit Microbiome Project

Did you know that you have tiny organisms living all over your body?  Bacteria perform all sorts of important functions that humans require to survive and there is a surprising diversity of them that live on our skin.  The pilot phase of the project is currently underway, but soon you will be able to provide a sample of bacteria from your very own armpit!  With samples collected from people like you, we hope to figure out exactly what kinds of microbes are living in our armpits, what those species might be doing in there, and if/how those species differ among people and our closest evolutionary relatives (primates).

Learn more about the Primate Armpit Microbiome Project.

Wading for Water Sticks

Volunteers for the Wading for Water Sticks project by Chris Goforth

There are thousands of species of aquatic insects in our state, and we know very little about the biology of many of them.  Wading for Water Sticks asks for your help documenting the habitat preferences and seasonality of water sticks, large stick-like aquatic insects common in the state.  Visit a pond or stream in your area, take some simple measurements, sample for water sticks, and report your findings.  With your help, we can learn a lot more about where and how these fascinating creatures live in North Carolina.

Learn more about Wading for Water Sticks

Upcoming Projects

Our researchers are hard at work coming up with new ways that you can get involved in science!  Help us learn more about the tiny mites that colonize our foreheads or map invasive crayfish throughout North Carolina — coming soon!

Other Opportunities

There are hundreds of citizen science opportunities!  Even if none of our projects strike your fancy, you’re sure to find something that suits your interest on SciStarter, the top online aggregator of citizen science projects.  Stop by the Citizen Science Center in the Nature Research Center and browse projects on the SciStarter console while you’re at the Museum, or visit the SciStarter website.  

Learn More

Want to learn more about how you can get involved in citizen science at the Museum?  Visit our Citizen Science at the Museum page for ideas, or return to our main citizen science page.