2024 CAPS Symposia June 4

Symposia Details:

Tuesday, June 4th at 12:30 EDT (UTC -4)

Turning data into impact

Logo for the 2024 Conference for Advancing Participatory Sciences

Participatory sciences can create a wealth of data, but it’s what can be done with the data that inspires participation for scientists and the public alike. Realizing big-picture project goals–whether for discovery, corrective action, learning, conservation, or otherwise–can sometimes feel out of reach, and can also bring up new challenges. These Symposia offer insights and strategies for ensuring projects can yield real impacts.

The 2024 Conference for Advancing Participatory Sciences (CAPS 2024) will feature multiple speakers on this topic across two concurrent symposia, addressing the following questions:

Both virtual sessions occur on Tuesday, June 4th, at 12:30 pm EDT (UTC -4) and will be open to all CAPS 2024 attendees. 

Participatory Science Conference 2024 Symposia poster

Tuesday symposia session A:

What richness is added by involving participants beyond data collection?

From the outside, participatory sciences can look simply like a data collection tool–but many projects have the greatest impact when doors are opened to other means of engagement. This panel highlights cases where participants define project goals, contribute to scientific manuscripts, and delve into data analysis, and how this can strengthen connections between data and project outcomes.

Speakers will explore how deeper participation can yield impacts for individual participants, for communities, and for science, and will share insights and strategies for opening up the research process.


Aaron Meisner is an astronomer at NSF’s NOIRLab in Tucson, Arizona. He co-founded the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 participatory science project and more recently launched the Backyard Worlds: Cool Neighbors participatory science project to search for cold, nearby neighbors of our solar system.

Megan Poole
Megan Poole

Megan Poole spent four years at the University of Louisville, where she helped co-create and lead the Environmental Health Literacy Group, a coalition of community leaders, grassroots activists, and academic scholars making the science of air pollution more accessible for residents in South and West Louisville. Their "Air Justice" project has been awarded nearly $353,000 in grant funding. In August, Dr. Poole will join the Department of Rhetoric and Writing as an advanced assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

A climate justice activist and leader in driving the development of a sustainable blue economy in The Bahamas, Nikita is dedicated to driving climate action and social justice for those from marginalised and vulnerable communities. Nikita believes that planet earth is our home, nature is the lifeline for future generations, and that It is up to us, to show up, take pride and ownership in the ecosystems and communities that support us, and remember that when we invest in what sustains us, we thrive. Nikita is a 2020 Bahamas National Trust Conservation Champion, the 2015 Bahamas Icon Award Winner for Youth Development, a former zoological Society of London EDGE Fellow, and a recipient of numerous awards and scholarships. Nikita holds an MSc in Biodiversity Wildlife and Ecosystem Health from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Marine Affairs & Policy from the University of Miami.

Tuesday symposia session B:

How can we ensure the data that is collected has the impact we want?

In this field, participants and scientists alike are motivated by the opportunity to make a difference. We work together to collect data that matters — whether that be for science, policy, or action. This symposium will look at how different groups are turning data into real change in the world.

Speakers will explore ways that project data is being used for environmental justice litigation, conservation decision-making, and community planning, and will provide insights into how to design your project to ensure your goals can be met with the data that is collected.


Anna Berti Suman is a researcher, lawyer and activist on civic environmental monitoring. She is the founder and principal investigator of “Sensing for Justice – SensJus,” a participatory science project exploring how volunteers can gather evidence for environmental justice litigation.

Kris Vanherle is the co-founder of Telraam, a company that uses AI-powered devices to allow volunteers to monitor traffic, and submit their data to local authorities to help local mobility and infrastructure planning. The goal is to gather data and create a participative process involving both residents and authorities to analyze and interpret the data and come up with collaborative solutions.

Paco López

Francisco (Paco) Lopez coordinates Arrecifes Pro Ciudad, a community-based nonprofit in Puerto Rico that empowers the public gather to water quality observations from coral reefs near populated areas, which provide many ecosystem services. The project has a comanagement agreement with the DRNA in Puerto Rico to protect the Isla Verde Coral Reef Marine Reserve and collects data on water quality and maritime conditions to help locals and tourists enjoy beaches safely.