Adler Collaborative Zooniverse Awarded Google Global Impact Prize

Adler Collaborative Science Initiative Zooniverse Awarded Google Global Impact Award Zooniverse, a nonprofit collaboration led by the Adler Planetarium and the University of Oxford, is a world leading ‘citizen science’ platform that has already given more than 900,000 online volunteers the opportunity to contribute to science by taking part in activities including the discovery of planets, classification of plankton and researching old ship’s logs for observations of interest to climate scientists. The unique initiative has been awarded a $1.8 million Google Global Impact Award that will enable Zooniverse to make setting up a citizen science project as easy as starting a blog. It could even lead to thousands of innovative new projects around the world, accelerating the pace of scientific research. The award, which supports the further development of the Zooniverse, will net the Adler $400,000 in support of the Zooniverse platform.

“We are entering a new era of citizen science,” noted Michelle B. Larson, Ph.D., Adler Planetarium president and CEO. “This effort will enable prolific development of science projects in which hundreds of thousands of additional volunteers will be able to work alongside professional scientists to conduct important research – the potential for discovery is limitless.“

The Zooniverse platform is a global collaboration across several institutions that design and build citizen science projects. The Adler is a founding partner of the initiative, whose volunteers have participated in projects from mapping the surface of Mars to detecting solar flares. Adler-directed citizen science projects include: Galaxy Zoo (astronomy), Solar Stormwatch (solar physics), Moon Zoo (planetary science), Planet Hunters (exoplanets) and The Milky Way Project (star formation). The Zooniverse ( also includes projects in environmental, biological and medical sciences.

Google’s investment in the Adler and its Zooniverse partner, the University of Oxford, will further the global reach, making thousands of new projects possible. “By removing technical barriers to producing a first-class online citizen science project, science teams worldwide will be empowered to undertake projects they couldn’t otherwise complete without engaging the public directly with their research,” said Laura Whyte, Ph.D., director, Adler Planetarium Citizen Science Department. “Here in Chicago, the Adler will also extend the Zooniverse to schools, youth organizations and community groups to provide unique, authentic science experiences.”

The Google Global Impact Award supports organizations using technology and innovative approaches to tackle some of the toughest human challenges. They are awarded annually to nonprofit organizations with a specific project that tests a big game-changing idea.

As a leader in public learning, the Adler’s addition of the Zooniverse platform to its own platform of learning is just another branch of its robust science education initiatives developed to inspire young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. For more information on the Zooniverse platform or to sign up and participate in your own citizen science project, visit the Adler online at