October 14, 2019

Introducing Susanne Hecker

We are pleased to announce Susanne Hecker as one of ECSA’s new board members, along with Uta Wehn. Here, Susanne tells us a little about her research career and involvement in citizen science.

How did you get involved in citizen science?

Mosquitos: that’s what drove me deeply into citizen science. Working as a science communicator for the German Mosquito Atlas, I was initially thrilled by the media interest in the project – yet over time, I became even more excited by the interactions between members of the public and scientists.

We identified several key factors behind why this volunteer engagement made the project a success scientifically, while also raising awareness of it in the media and at the policy level. Ever since, I have dedicated my professional life to citizen science in various forms.

Which projects are you currently working on?

Currently, I am involved in a feasibility study on citizen science insect monitoring with car nets, which is a country-to-country collaboration with Denmark and the USA. We are working with citizen experts and I learn a lot about insects. I am thrilled by the collaboration with authorities, which at first were a challenge yet turned out to be very fruitful.

On a meta-level, I research the interactions in citizen science between science, society and policy, to understand better what drives its development and which challenges need to be overcome (see Hecker, Wicke and Haklay et al, 2019). I am developing ideas for future research at the interface of science communication and citizen science.

Since 2014, I have actively supported the development of the citizen science community worldwide. In 2016, I led an international survey on the European citizen science landscape; in Germany, I supported the development of a capacity-building programme (Hecker, Garbe and Bonn, 2018) and co-authored the ‘Citizen Science Strategy 2020 for Germany’ (Bonn, Richter, Vohland et al, 2016). Since 2015, I have been a member of the scientific advisory board and expert panel for the ‘Top Citizen Science’ funding initiative of the Austrian Science Fund and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy.

In 2016, I enjoyed organising the first European International Citizen Science Conference as part of a strong international conference committee and fabulous local organising team (Hecker, Bonney, Haklay et al., 2018). From this, we started compiling a book which was published in October 2018 (Hecker, Haklay, Bowser et al., 2018); 121 authors from 21 countries contributed and it has, to date, been downloaded more than 18,000 times in 142 countries.

How do you see ECSA developing in the coming years?

As a charter member of ECSA, and as a European citizen, I have closely supported its development from the beginning. It makes me proud to see how it has developed in the last five years. Over the next five years, I see ECSA becoming:

  • the established reference point for citizen science in Europe, at the scientific and policy level
  • a reliable and competent partner – and an accelerator – for the development of citizen science among the global community
  • a facilitator and knowledge broker for science, policy and society
  • an active player in the implementation of citizen science approaches in Europe.

At the same time, I hope it will continue to be the vibrant, creative, transdisciplinary community that it is today.

And what will you bring to ECSA as a board member?

I would like to support the further implementation of ECSA’s plans and advise the executive board as much as requested. As an active, long-term member, I can secure knowledge transfer; as a science communicator, I can advise on communication issues. 

Colleagues and friends describe me as being open-minded, creative, highly organised and with the skills to implement ideas and overcome challenges. I am also a team player and perform best when I have the room to manoeuvre and make decisions for the benefit of the purpose. As an ECSA board member, I will bring these strengths to the development of the association.

References

Bonn A, Richter A, Vohland K et al. (2016) Greenpaper Citizen Science Strategy 2020 for Germany. Leipzig & Berlin, Burger Schaffen Wissen.

Hecker S, Bonney R, Haklay M et al. (2018) ‘Innovation in citizen science – perspectives on science-policy advances’, Citizen Science: Theory and Practice 3(1):1-14, http://doi.org/10.5334/cstp.114

Hecker S, Garbe L and Bonn A (2018) ‘The European citizen science landscape – a snapshot’, in: Hecker S, Haklay M, Bowser A, et al. (eds) Citizen science: innovation in open science, society and policy. London: UCL Press, pp. 190-200, DOI: 10.14324/111.9781787352339

Hecker S, Haklay M, Bowser A et al. (eds) (2018) Citizen science: innovation in open science, society and policy. London: UCL Press

Hecker S, Wicke N, Haklay M et al. (2019) ‘How does policy conceptualise citizen science? A qualitative content analysis of international policy documents’, Citizen Science: Theory and Practice 4(1): 1-17

 

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