In the this edition of our Who’s who in the Zoo series, meet Adam Taylor, Professor in Anatomy at Lancaster University, and lead of the ‘Where are my body organs?‘ project.
Project: ‘Where are my body organs?’
Researcher: Adam Taylor, Professor in Anatomy
Location: Lancaster University, England, UK
What are your main research interests?
Anatomy, Human Body, Public Engagement, Medical Education
Who else is in your project team? What are their roles?
Dr Quenton Wessels, Senior Lecturer in Anatomy. Professor Peter Diggle, Distinguished Professor of Statistics.
How do Zooniverse volunteers contribute to your research?
We asked volunteers to add numerous structures to the outline of the body, so that we could analyse what they know and use this to inform how we educate medical professionals and design public health campaigns. We asked for some demographic information to help us understand if there are certain things that make individuals more or less knowledgeable about the body.
What have been the biggest challenges in setting up your project?
The biggest challenge setting up our project was making sure we were getting the best utilisation of volunteers time by asking them to perform tasks that were going to give us the most valuable data set to analyse. It would have been easy to ask vast numbers of things but being selective about the things that would be most useful to everyone involved going forwards. One of the most unexpected challenges was the initial response we got, originally planning for approximately 20,000 responses which we surpassed in the first few hours. This was a welcome unexpected challenge as it meant we had to think about how to much more data we could analyse and utilise in our project.
What discoveries, and other outputs, has your project led to so far?
At the launch of the project we received global media coverage which helped bolster our participant numbers. We are incredibly grateful for this. We had a number of local radio interviews. We have just begun analysing the data points and demographics, which has given us over 4.5 million data points to look at.
Once you’ve finished collecting data, what research questions do you hope to be able to answer?
We are hoping to answer what organs and structures the public know about. This should help us to educate medical and allied health professionals about organs that the public are less aware about, enabling clearer education about the health or pathology of that structure. We will be able to give indication of association of knowledge of structures with demographic information. We also hope to be able to inform public health campaigns around each of the structures in the study and design appropriate materials to help understanding.
What’s in store for your project in the future?
We hope to publish multiple papers and already have multiple ideas for follow-on projects.
What are your favourite other citizen research projects and why?
Anything relating to wildlife.
What guidance would you give to other researchers considering creating a citizen research project?
Get involved as a citizen scientist before creating, it is important to look at it from a participant perspective before designing.
And finally, when not at work, where are we most likely to find you?
With family, doing some form of contact sport or something aviation related.