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 GoforthDragonfly 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 deereMammal 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!).

FrogWatch USA

Green tree frog - Chris GoforthWe've teamed up with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to bring FrogWatch USA to the Museum!  As a participant in this fun citizen science project, you will help scientists learn more about amphibians throughout the US by listening for frog and toad calls at night.  The data gathered is used in conservation efforts, policy decisions, and a variety of research projects, so your contributions can help lead to the protection and greater understanding of the huge diversity of frogs and toads that call North Carolina home. Training is required before participation in this project, so search for FrogWatch on the events calendar to find the next training session and get started!

Learn more about FrogWatch USA on the ASA website or on our chapter's site (coming soon!).

Meet Your Mites

Demodex mite - Your Wild Life team photoScientists know a lot about some of the things we see everyday, such as birds, mammals, and butterflies.  They know a lot less about some of the tiny things that live around us, in us, and on us.  Help Museum scientists learn more about the tiny mites living in the pores of your face by participating in Meet Your Mites! Attend a sampling event at the Museum or hosted by the Your Wild Life team from NCSU and a team of expert mites hunters will sample the pores on your face for mites. If they find any (and surprise! - nearly every adult has mites), your mites will help us learn more about the diversity of Demodex mites among humans, track their evolution, and study the purported link between mites and certain skin disorders. We've already learned a lot about these amazing creatures thanks to the help of our citizen scientists, so look out for mite sampling events at some of the Musuem's special events and Your Wild Life outreach events.

Learn more about Meet your Mites.

Natural North Carolina

Prairie - Chris Goforth photoNorth Carolina is an amazingly diverse state!  We've set out to document all of the plants, animals, and fungi in the state for our Natural North Carolina project, and we need your help to do it. Simply sign up for a free account, snap photos of the natural things you see anywhere in North Carolina, and submit your photos to the project via the website or the iNaturalist smartphone app for iPhone or Android. Your sightings help scientists at the Museum and around the world learn more about the biodiversity, timing, and abundance of organisms throughout North Carolina - and it only takes a few seconds of your time to help.

Learn more about Natural North Carolina

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.

Turtle Trax

box turtle with tracker - photo by Chris GoforthDo Eastern Box Turtles use different habitats at different times of the year?  We're trying to find out in partnership with researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, MO! With the help of a corps of citizen science volunteers and other members of the public, we're radio tracking turtles at Prairie Ridge to learn more about how they move and the types of habitats they use throughout the year.  Want to get involved?  Look for upcoming public turtle tracking programs on the events calendar, or become a citizen science volunteer for the Museum and join the turtle team!

More information about Turtle Trax will be available online soon.

Wading for Water Sticks

Wading for Water Sticks sampling - photo by Chris GoforthThere 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

Students Discover

The Museum is proud part of an innovative multi-institutional, $7.3 million National Science Foundation project aiming to bring citizen science to middle school students and get them involved in authentic science in their classrooms.  The Students Discover project will kick off in North Carolina in 2014, but the project is expected to bring citizen science to over 10,000 classrooms worldwide.  Students Discover brings together a stellar group of collaborators, including Museum researchers, researchers from NCSU's Your Wild Life team, the Kenan Fellows Program, the Science House, and Wake County Schools.  Look for new citizen science projects and fun and informative educational modules coming out of this project over the next few years!

Learn more about Students Discover

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 bacteria that live in soils 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.