Dr. Bishé explaining an experiment to a classroom of 8th graders.

Dr. Bishé explaining an experiment to a classroom of 8th graders.

Creating a new funding stream for science through public engagement

Our main goal is to get enough people interested in backing a research project to replace a government grant. This means expenditures on staffing, equipment, supplies, and travel to scientific meetings. Instead of a government agency progress report, the public will get reports on how the studies are going. In order to maintain grant funding, pubfund.scienctists will have to provide reports - blog posts, videos, scientist interviews, podcasts, cartoons - to their backers. This will incentivize scientists to communicate their work in a more relatable way. Our first goal is to fund our pilot projects to provide a proof-of-concept for the funding model. Our long-term goal is to recruit a team of scientists who are able to make the scientific process fun and accessible through social media outreach.

Goal: Pilot Study - $30,000

 High school lab volunteers

High school lab volunteers

By generating $30,000 for our pilot program, we'll show that crowd-sourcing short-term research funding is a reachable goal. This would fund the further development and distribution of our algae bio-prospecting kits and nationwide experiment to schools and backers across the country. This will also allow the training of 1-2 high school interns to learn lab techniques and help in the experiment.

 

 

 Dr. Bishé looking very seriously at some agar plates

Dr. Bishé looking very seriously at some agar plates

Stretch Goal #1: pubfund Fellowship - $77,779 - 1 year funding

If we can raise $77,779 for our pilot program, we can create a fellowship, where an organization funds an academic research position. This level of funding compares to a federal government grant, for a short-term project, as this amount can fund a postdoctoral researcher and the costs of experiments for one year, and extended training for lab internships.

Funds will also be used for lab supplies and necessary equipment, travel to conferences for presentations, and the creation of original scientific content in the form of follow-up videos. Once we reach our funding goal, our first follow-up video will explain the scientific techniques, materials, and methods we will use in our study. Another follow-up video will be released as a yearly update on the progress of the experiments.

 Agar plate growing cyanobacterial colonies

Agar plate growing cyanobacterial colonies

Stretch Goal #2: 

$254,351 - Substitute for a Government Grant

Good science results are often the result of years of study of a particular topic. If we can raise the money for our stretch goal, we can demonstrate that crowdfunding can be a replacement for government funding for a long-term project. Many government grants provide for three years of funding to work on a particular subject, which is often necessary for complicated research topics. If we reach this level of funding, we can continue research for three years, with additional video releases each year as progress reports. Any publication of results will also be accompanied by a video explaining the methods, results, and conclusions of the paper.

Projected Budget (3 years)

Reaching this stretch goal will also indicate that public support for this concept is strong enough to attempt subsequent campaigns. We will solicit further applications and choose additional projects to develop into campaigns. To show we can do this more than once.

 

Stretch Goal #3: Additional Website Features, and Platform Development

With such generous support from the public, we can not only show that this method can work as an alternative to government support, but to build this site into a platform. This platform would serve as a hub for raising money and for communicating science, allowing us to develop more features such as better educational videos, researcher blogs and interviews, open data reporting and analysis, and more. Such deep and widespread support will be used to profile and recruit new researchers for subsequent funding campaigns. Using our experience from our first funding campaign, we can give these scientists new ways to communicate the results and purpose of their research to new audiences.