UKRI launches £1.5 million citizen science project

Members of the public will work with universities to explore topical issues including plastic pollution and mental health

Universities will be working closely with members of the public as part of a £1.5 million citizen science project.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is awarding the funding to five research projects involving members of the public.

The research and innovation funding body will encourage people from across the UK to work directly with researchers on issues such as plastic pollution, mental health and the history and legacy of slavery.

The public will be directly involved in the research process from the outset, helping researchers identify priorities and deciding how to approach them. The five projects will see universities collaborating with museums, arts organisations, city councils, mental health charities and grassroots community groups.

The UKRI citizen science awardees:

Ancient history, contemporary belonging

Young people of refugee background working to increase our understanding of ancient historical objects in the museum’s collections and challenge exclusionary narratives about refugees in the UK. In collaboration with:

  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Manchester Museum
  • Sheeba Arts

Citizen science to achieve coproduction at scale

People living with mental health problems working to drive innovation in the treatment of mental health issues, and the support available to enable people to live as well as possible. In collaboration with:

  • University of Nottingham
  • Kings College London
  • Health, wellbeing and community engagement charities, networks and organisations

HOMEs under the microscope

Citizen scientists in Bradford and Bristol working to investigate the extent of the microplastic crisis. They will be investigating the presence of airborne microplastics in people’s homes to get a better picture of where these particles come from. In collaboration with:

  • University of Leeds
  • University of the West of England

We are Bristol: Reparative justice through collaborative research

People in Bristol, including African Caribbean communities, will address the history, and contemporary legacies, of transatlantic slavery in the city. In collaboration with:

  • University of Bristol
  • Bristol City Council
  • Cultural and community networks, charities and organisations

Youth LIVES: youth LIVed experience in evidence synthesis

Young people with mental health problems will identify priorities for mental health research and design research that addresses any gaps. In collaboration with:

  • University of York
  • Citizen science group, The Parenting Science Gang
  • Charities, such as The Mental Health Foundation


UKRI is committed to breaking down the barriers between research and society – Tom Saunders, UKRI

Tom Saunders, head of public engagement at UK Research and Innovation said: “In the last year, science, research and innovation have become something that people talk about every day, as we have seen how research directly affects our daily lives.

“UKRI is committed to breaking down the barriers between research and society and involving the public in research is one way we aim to do this.

These exciting new projects will see researchers and communities collaborate on a range of issues that affect our societies, from plastic pollution to mental health, supporting people from outside of the research and innovation system to bring their unique experiences and perspectives into the research process, helping them to develop new skills and knowledge which they can use in their own lives.”

The chosen projects came through an open call for multidisciplinary research collaborations that spread citizen science methods into new fields of research and involved citizens in addressing societally-relevant challenges. Applications went through a two-stage assessment process, reviewed by experts in citizen science and public engagement.

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