Youth-Led Citizen Science Network for Community Environmental Assessment

The Youth-Led Citizen Science Network for Community Environmental Assessment (Y-CITYSCI) is a program that provides underserved middle and high school youth with the opportunity to lead and participate in a citizen science project. In this program, students investigate issues in their community related to noise, soil, air, and land cover. The students will focus on their community and integrate technology into their investigations. These students will then use their growing technology skill to create website content and social media posts to share their findings with their community and beyond. The Y-CITYSCI student blog can be found here. And, follow us on instagram @ycitysci.

Meet Our Team

Principal Investigators

Dr. Georgia Bracey is the PI of Y-CITYSCI and directs project research and leads project management and reporting. Bracey was project director of a 3-year Illinois Math Science Partnerships grant bringing Next Generation Science Standards training to teachers in East St. Louis, is co-PI on an NSF IUSE grant, and is conducting research for Digital East St. Louis, an NSF-funded out-of-school program for underrepresented minority youth.

Dr. Ben Greenfield serves as a co-PI on Y-CITYSCI and is responsible for integrating environmental field research methods into the curriculum, with support from project educators. Over a 20-year career in environmental monitoring, Dr. Greenfield has focused on the implications of environmental contamination for human and ecosystem health. He also has experience in place-based environmental education, including with underrepresented middle and high school students.

Dr. Sharon Locke serves as a co-PI on Y-CITYSCI, co-supervising graduate students to conduct science education research. Dr. Locke has an environmental geosciences background and has led/co-led several complex NSF-funded programs that have worked with groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM. She is PI for Digital East St. Louis, an NSF ITEST that promotes computing careers among African American youth.

Dr. Adriana E. Martinez serves as Senior Personnel on the program and brings expertise in physical geography and landscape change studies using drone (sUAS) technology. Dr. Martinez served as an expert scientist in underserved middle and high school classrooms as an NSF GK-12 Fellow.

Senior Personnel

Dr. Carol Colaninno is the project director for Y-CITYSCI and helps coordinate the alignment of research and student programming. Dr. Colaninno has spent the past seven years of her career developing youth-based educational curriculum much of which has focused on human-environmental interactions.

Dr. Charlie Blake is the curricular product developer and professional development specialist for Environmental Health Investigators. Dr. Blake is an ecologists who spent several years doing field ecology and environmental education in different habitats across the country. They have an interest in citizen science and community-based participatory research.

Dr. Andreia Figueiredo Dexheimer is the research coordinator and graduate student supervisor for the Y-CITYSCI program. Dr. Figueiredo Dexheimer is a biologist with several years of experience in animal learning research, science education, and outreach.

Ms. Candi Johnson is the project coordinator for Y-CITYSCI. She coordinates and supports all youth and educator activities, including student recruitment, curriculum design, and community partnerships. As a certified science teacher and former academic coordinator for Upward Bound, a college readiness program, Ms. Johnson has considerable experience translating biological, ecological, and environmental science content into grade-level and culturally appropriate activities.

Graduate Assistants

Mr. Ozaveshe Paul Amune graduated from Ambrose Alli University in Nigeria where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. Currently, he is working toward his master’s degree in computer management and information systems at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Paul serves as a graduate assistant on Y-CITYSCI assisting with student program and data tracking.

Mr. Dwayne Ferguson graduated from Virginia State University with a bachelor’s of science degree in biology in 2019. He is currently working towards a master’s of science degree in environmental sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Dwayne helps develop and maintain our air and noise pollution monitoring network.

Mr. Josh Gifford is currently working towards a master’s of science degree in environmental sciences at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.  Josh currently works at the STEM Center helping to maintain our environmental health monitoring network which aims to collect air quality and noise pollution levels throughout southwest Illinois.

Ms. Lily Ward graduated from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with bachelor’s of science degree in geography and a minor in biology. Since then, she has worked as a field technician at the Great Rivers Field Station, Illinois Natural History Survey, in Alton, Illinois. Lily is now pursuing a master’s of science degree in environmental science from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Y-CITYSCI is supported by the National Science Foundation Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers Award No. 1850343. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation.