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Crowdfunding Science

Crowdfunding Science

Scientists reportedly are up against one of the toughest environments for research support in generations.

An analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded public research funding is at a low point, while the Huffington Post declared scientists face "the worst financial environment in 50 years."

In this context, scientists increasingly must connect with not just public funding agencies but also private donors and ordinary citizens. One result is a recent surge in online crowdfunding for scientific research.

The University of Texas at Austin’s new effort, HornRaiser, acts like a KickStarter especially for campus projects. Supporters can help finance cutting-edge scientific research into Alzheimer’s Disease; initiatives to decipher clues about monarch-migration habits; and cameras for biologists studying Texas insects.

Shedding Light on Alzheimer’s Disease

Interim chair of the Department of Chemistry Stephen Martin made a discovery with fellow researchers that has the potential to lead to a new treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The team, who discovered a group of novel compounds that may be capable of targeting neurodegenerative disorders, is among the groups seeking HornRaiser funds.

"We have something that works in both worms and mice. Will it work someday for people with this devastating disease?” Martin says. “If we’re right about this, we could be on the brink of a completely new way to treat Alzheimer’s disease with something that big pharmaceutical companies haven’t yet tried.”

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Tracking Monarch Butterflies

Marine Sciences professor Tracy Villarreal wants to raise the funds to develop a mobile app that would make it easier for scientists to learn what happens to monarch butterflies migrating over the Gulf of Mexico. Because evidence suggests monarchs may use oil rigs as a stopping point on their fall migration south, Villarreal’s team wants to collect data from these butterfly stopover points. Instead of sending an army of scientists to rigs, the team would equip “citizen scientists” already out at sea with an easy-to-use app in their mobile devices that would allow for capturing data that could help answer what happens when and if monarchs migrate over the Gulf.

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Insects Unlocked

The UT Austin Insect Image Lab met its initial HornRaiser goal to support the creation of thousands of beautiful, informative insect photographs for release into the public domain. In the last two days of their campaign, they hope to raise funds for more cameras to help students do fieldwork, photographing insects at diverse sites around Texas.

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You can read more about HornRaiser and other great projects looking for support here: Want to Help Change the World? New UT Crowdfunding Tool Lets You Pick How

HornRaiser isn’t the only online and crowd-targeted initiative helping to support scientific research at UT Austin. The second annual 40 Hours for the Forty Acres campaign, held on April 8 and 9, was another example. Through that campaign last week, the College of Natural Sciencesraised over $42,000 for undergraduate research over a 40-hour period.

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Monday, 20 November 2017

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