Press release about Karyn’s side of the project

D.I.Y. Scientists Fuel The Future Of Research With Crowdfunding

In less than one week, participants in SciFund Challenge 2 have raised nearly $50,000 for their research projects. The month long challenge pulled in more than $76,000 in donations during its previous round, which means current fundraisers could match their previous success in half the time. Of the participating scientists, four from the University of Washington (UW) have raised nearly $6,000.


SciFund scientists may be revolutionizing the way research gets funded. Today’s tough economy and skyrocketing tuition costs demand a creative and entrepreneurial attitude in the modern academic world, but this flies in the face of the way research has typically been funded – through grants, loans and contracts with very little public participation.


The SciFund Challenge allows the public to get a glimpse at science from its conception, providing individuals all around the world with the opportunity to help projects come to life.


“People want to know what it’s like inside the ‘ivory tower.’ The Internet and some creativity allow that to happen,” said Karyn Boenker, one of the UW SciFund participants.


Boenker is attempting to raise donations for a documentary-style research project about community perceptions about energy technology in Hawai’i. For the next year, she will record and publish her experience living off-the-grid with communities on the south side of the Big Island. This is just one exciting example of the kind of projects that turn to alternative means of funding.


Can crowdfunding offer an alternative or even a replacement for the granting process? The answer lies in the hands of those who choose to donate and support modern research. This early in the game, it is hard to make predictions. Crowdfunding could end up the academic equivalent of a bake sale, but it also holds the potential to provide a fast paced funding mechanism for scientists on the edge.


#SciFund projects at the UW;


Karyn Boenker, MS, is about to graduate from the UW’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. She is raising donations for a documentary-style research project on public perceptions about peak oil and energy in Hawai’i. Email: Project link:


Dr. Greg Crowther, otherwise known as the “rapping professor,” is an infectious disease researcher at the University of Washington’s medical school. He is attempting to raise funds for his educational database of songs related to science. His work has been featured on KING5 and KOMO-4. Email: Project link:


Lauren Kuehne MS, is a freshwater ecologist at UW’s Aquatic & Fishery Sciences program. Her research uses inexpensive soundscape data to monitor impacts of urbanization on species diversity and freshwater environments. Project link:


Emma Timmins Schiffman, is a PhD student at UW’s Aquatic & Fishery Sciences program.  Her research investigates how ocean acidification will impact Pacific oysters and other shellfish. Her work has been covered in the The Seattle Times. Email: Project link:


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