A word from Chris Lintott

For greater than a decade, I’ve been ending talks by trying ahead to the wealthy information that can quickly start flowing from the Vera Rubin Observatory. The observatory’s magnificent new telescope, nearing its long-awaited first gentle on a mountaintop in Chile, will conduct a ten 12 months survey of the sky, producing 30 TB of photographs and possibly ten million alerts an evening, overlaying all the things from asteroids to distant galaxies. 

A starry sky illuminates a hillside with a long building on the top. At one end is a square-ish telescope dome, which houses the telescope of the Vera Rubin Observatory.
The Vera Rubin Observatory Constructing, prepared for motion.

The Observatory has – from actually early on – seen citizen science, and particularly working with the Zooniverse, as an essential a part of how they intend to benefit from this firehose of information. We’ve been working laborious on issues like making information simple to switch throughout, designing instruments for serving to scientists constructing good initiatives and extra. 

All of which is to say I’m very excited – as a Zooniverse individual, and as an astronomer – in regards to the alternatives forward. To permit time for me to focus on benefiting from it – and particularly, in studying the way to discover odd stuff alongside Zooniverse volunteers – I’ve determined it’s time for me to step down as Zooniverse Principal Investigator, a place I’ve held since…effectively, since earlier than the Zooniverse existed. 

Chris Lintott, wearing a collared shirt, jumper and jeans, poses on a giant tardigrade throne.
Giving up the Principal Investigator’s Official Throne might be a hardship, nevertheless it’s time.

After 15 or so years, it’s effectively previous time for different folks to steer. Laura Trouille from the Adler Planetarium has been my co-PI since 2015, and might be taking on as Principal Investigator. Laura is sensible, and has been the driving drive behind a lot of what we’ve been doing for a very long time. I’m assured in her, and alongside along with her fabulous crew, I’m excited to see the place she leads this marvellous platform and undertaking. With a rising partnership with NASA, new concepts in the way to use Zooniverse in training and reaching new communities, and – in fact – new initiatives launching every week, I genuinely suppose that we’re in a robust place to maintain permitting everybody to take part in science. 

When it comes to stepping down from this position, I’ll be extra Joe Root than Stuart Broad (Be aware to People: This can be a cricket reference) – there’s a long-standing ‘joke’ that no-one truly leaves the Zooniverse – sticking across the crew to function Senior Scientist, giving recommendation the place wanted and persevering with to steer particular initiatives and efforts. The crew in Oxford will work extra intently than ever with the remainder of the collaboration, and our plans for Rubin and the Zooniverse might be unaffected.

It’s, nonetheless, unusual to be considering a change in spite of everything this time. I’m immensely pleased with the truth that as soon as we stumbled onto the success of the unique Galaxy Zoo (a narrative instructed in a really moderately priced guide…), we had the creativeness not simply to construct one other Galaxy Zoo (which we did – classifications nonetheless wanted!) however a platform that covers such all kinds of fields, and thru which volunteers have contributed three-quarters of a BILLION classifications. Because of the assist of all method of organizations, I’m additionally very proud that we haven’t needed to cost researchers for entry to the Zooniverse; the one standards which have ever mattered has been  whether or not a undertaking will contribute to science and be welcomed by our volunteers. 

I’m so grateful to those that have lent their effort, vitality and experience to creating a Zooniverse which is grander than I’d ever have dared alone. Specifically: Arfon Smith, who created the unique Zooniverse with me and took over from me as Director of Citizen Science at Adler, and Lucy Fortson, who has been the very best grant-writer and collaborator I may want for in addition to placing up with my stresses greater than anybody ought to should. I’ll cease right here, else I’ll find yourself itemizing all the builders, researchers and volunteers who’ve made this distinctive undertaking what it’s.

Onwards! Allow us to make, and set the climate truthful.

See you within the Zooniverse.

Chris Lintott

September 2023

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