by Mary Ellen Hannibal
Citizen Scientist is award-winning environmental journalist and author Mary Ellen Hannibal’s story of becoming a citizen scientist – and finding more than she bargained for at every turn. She knew she was joining a flourishing community of volunteers who help conserve nature, but she was surprised to learn how this new and tech-enabled movement continues a rich tradition of amateur observation established by writers and naturalists over centuries. And she knew, in the midst of an unprecedented mass extinction, that she would find a shrinking number of species, but she couldn’t know how her father’s sudden passing would tear open her quest to confront loss.
Ultimately, to be a citizen scientist is to intimately examine all the life that still finds a way. So as Hannibal, alongside an inspiring cast of fellow citizen scientists, discovers a wealth of species – by wading into tide pools, tracking hawks, scouring mountains – she also rescues herself from an odyssey of loss, and finds a hopeful and practical way forward.
Mary Ellen Hannibal is an emerging voice in environmentalism and a sought-after speaker connecting the scientific community to the concerned public. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Esquire, and Elle, among many others. She is an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellow and a recipient of the National Society of Science Writers’ Science and Society Award. She lives in San Francisco.