The semester’s first biocolloquium: Using citizen science to study regional impacts of climate change


SC Staff Writer

On February 28, Diane Husic, professor of biological sciences at Moravian College, will be presenting her research on climate change. Specifically, she will be discussing how climate change impacts ecosystems on a regional scale, as opposed to a global scale.

Dr. Husic is an expert on ecological assessment and restoration. She is the president of the Council on Undergraduate Research at Moravian College and serves on the boards of Lehigh Valley Audobon Society and the Lehigh Gap Nature Center. The latter two organizations are dedicated to conservation in Pennsylvania.

Her expertise also covers the ethics of science, technology, and the environment. As technology becomes more sophisticated and humans increase their influence on the planet, ethical concerns about what is “too much” arise.

Dr. Husic takes science into consideration when asking what is too strenuous on the environment. This issue is particularly pertinent when discussing climate change.

The effects and science of climate change are fairly well known; greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, ozone, etc.) trap solar radiation in the atmosphere, leading to a gradual rise in global temperatures.

While rising temperatures garner many of the discussions, it is not the only factor. On a regional scale, typical moisture patterns and wind patterns are also altered. “Global warming” is generally a layman’s term for climate change, which is more appropriate.

Dr. Husic studies the regional effects of climate change, which can be much more immediate and damaging than overall global effects. Each region, due to its unique climate and environment, has been affected in a distinctive way.

Dr. Husic is not the first to study climate change, but has implemented an interesting way to research it; citizen science.

Citizen science involves research conducted by amateur scientists (scientists without a degree). “Amateur scientist” is a wide-ranging term, and can include anyone in the general public. Citizen science can be an efficient way to involve people who may just have an interest, rather than an extensive education, in a given field.

For Dr. Husic’s purposes, employing citizen science allows those who have contributed to climate change to assist in its research. It is a way to educate people and give them experience, and it allows Dr. Husic to study ethics while conducting her research.

Ethics is an important consideration when working with climate change. Controversy surrounds the issue, which in many cases prevents creations of new ways to combat it. Climate change has elevated from a purely scientific issue to a personal and political debate, and the ethics topics follow suit.

Dr. Husic will be presenting in Kurtz Lecture Hall in the Moore Biology Building on Friday, February 28 at 4:00 PM. All majors, faculty, and members of the community are encouraged to attend. Anyone interested can join Dr. Husic following the presentation, and she will answer questions on a more personal basis.

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