Scientific research is often motivated by a desire to improve the livelihoods of targeted communities. However, researchers often work divorced from potential stakeholders, making it challenging to design, implement, and communicate beneficial research. In contrast, the Citizen Scientists Program helps connect researchers with the public to allow for a steady knowledge flow from both parties, increase participation in scientific ventures by the public, and creating more valuable educational opportunities.
Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay’s lab team has been collaborating with oyster aquaculture farmers in Rehoboth Bay, DE, to achieve just that. The first shellfish plot in Delaware was leased in 2017 and since then, several aquaculture farmers have grown oysters in Rehoboth Bay as a sustainable food source. As a relatively new venture, there are a lot of questions about the viability of rearing oysters in the Bay and the potential environmental impacts. The Ozbay Lab first reached out to oyster farmers in the summer of 2019 to promote collaboration efforts for research purposes. The team has seen, firsthand, that members of the public are very interested in learning about water quality that may affect their leased areas and businesses.
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