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EU announces winners of citizen science awards

 Image: EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER, via Getty Images

Awards went to projects covering agricultural diversity, mental health and sea pollution research

The European Commission has announced the winners of its 2024 citizen science awards, which are intended to encourage public engagement and trust in research.

The top prize, worth €60,000, went to a project designed to identify and preserve genetic diversity in four important agricultural crop species: chickpeas, beans, lentils and lupins.

Titled Increase (Intelligent Collections of Food Legumes Genetic Resources for European Agrofood Systems), the project was funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. It aims to involve civil society bodies and citizens from rural areas in projects to identify characteristics in the four crops that are needed to produce better varieties.

Another prize, for Digital Communities and worth €20,000, went to another Horizon 2020 project, CoAct for Mental Health. This aims to use digital technologies to develop personalised approaches to improving quality of life for people with mental health problems.

A third prize, for Diversity and Collaboration, also worth €20,000, went to a project called SeaPaCS, which brings together scientists and volunteers from local communities in investigating the impacts of plastic pollution on marine environments around the Mediterranean Sea.

EU R&I commissioner Iliana Ivanova congratulated the three winning teams. “Your initiatives address some of our most pressing challenges and showcase the transformative potential of citizen science. They improve the excellence and impact of our research, and also deepen the relationship and trust between science and our societies,” she said.