The main goal of the citizen science project Obtectus Finders is to analyze the genetic variability of natural populations of seed beetles, which go by the scientific name Acanthoscelides obtectus.
Additionally, results of this project will contribute to development of new biocontrol techniques, which will improve the field of agriculture.
To accomplish this aim we want to partner with public in order to collect beetles from large number of different locations. The involvement of volunteers in collecting beetles will help us uncover the distribution of this pest insect at broad geographic scales and understand their population genetic structure.
Citizen science projects actively involve public in scientific research that generates new knowledge. The citizens collaborate with professional scientists in gathering, analyzing and interpreting the data.
Citizen science can improve science literacy of volunteers by helping them better understand scientific methodology (how science is done) and enhance a bidirectional flow of information between the public and scientists. Also, citizen science can answer local community questions of concern like air or water pollution. Moreover, active participation of volunteers and scientists in citizen science projects contributes to democratization of science and decentralization of science promotion.
For scientists, citizen science provides an opportunity to gather information that would be impossible to collect because of limitations of time and financial resources. Moreover, it can often operate at greater geographic scales than conventional science.
The focus of my Ph.D. dissertation at the Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade was coevolution of the two genomes – mitochondrial and nuclear, and their role in ageing of seed beetles. My current research at the Institute for biological research “Siniša Stanković” is based on better understanding of the effects that mitochondrial mutations have on beetles’ life history traits. These specific mutations are the result of the evolutionary process known as “mother’s curse”. I am one of the coauthors of science popularization exhibitions “From cells to domains – evolution of life on Earth” and “ZooBrainology”. Outside of the lab, I like being a citizen scientist myself.
I received my Ph.D. at the Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade studying the impact of different hosts on the seed beetle behavior. This is still my research topic and I want to understand evolutionary consequences of this host shift. Also I am involved in several projects that are focused on popularization of science and evolutionary biology. In my free time I enjoy long walks, short coffees, good music, S.F. and Harry Potter pub quizzes.
I finished my Ph.D studies in 2019. at the Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade studying morphology of the Iris pumila flower in the context of evolutionary biology. My current research focuses on the morphology variation and integration, sexual dimorphism and phenotypic plasticity in seed beetles. In my spare time I enjoy my hobbies: reading, fitness and creating the YouTube contents.
I am a Ph.D. student at the Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade where I also teach as an assistant on evolutionary-based subjects. I am interested in understanding interactions between mitochondrial and nuclear genes, and their interplay with environmental factors using seed beetle as a model system. During breaks from my research, I enjoy spending time with my friends, watching TV shows and I am very passionate about board games (and proud owner of 17 of them).
Obtectus Finders in the Media
Obtectus Finders is attracting more and more public attention. The media have a big role in popularizing the project. Thanks to them, many citizens learned about our project. Below is a list of selected media items:
- RTS: Little bug, big problems – seed beetles targeted by a team of scientists in Belgrade
- Poljosfera: Obtectus Finders– Let’s look for a seed beetles
- Simbioza Magazine: We are talking to Lea Vlajnić
- Espreso:These Serbian scientists are doing something that could mean a lot to our country – get to know them!
- RTS Science: Science alarm clock
The number of interested citizens is growing, as well as the number of collected and sent samples of seed beetles, which can be followed on the map. The map of collected samples indicates the places from which the samples have been sent so far. We expect your name and place to be on the map soon!