Ali hanging out in the Serengeti
Ali hanging out in the Serengeti


We have this running joke at the Zooniverse that nobody really actually leaves. Once you’re in, you’re hooked for life. I hope it’s true, because I don’t really want to say goodbye.

This fall, I’m heading back to the US to start a science policy fellowship. Every year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) places ~150 PhD scientists into government policymaking and regulatory agencies – everything from the Department of Defense, to the Environmental Protection Agency, to the National Science Foundation. The goal of the fellowship is to raise the role of science in the policymaking process. In particular, I’ll be joining the Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Science to negotiate international environmental issues. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m pretty excited to be doing it – even if it does mean taking a break from Zooniverse for a while.

Just because I’m taking a new position in something completely different, don’t think this means I’m going to completely disappear. I plan to stay involved with Snapshot Serengeti, and I hope to pop onto the Talk boards from time to time, but will no longer be the point person for technical and project related questions.

You’ll have to forgive me a moment of sentimentality as I sign off. I’ve been putting off writing this post for weeks because, as excited as I am about my new position, I’m also incredibly sad to say leave my role on the team. I really do think that what we are doing can change the way that science is done – but as wonderful as the core Zooniverse development team is, none of this would be possible without YOU, our volunteers. I am consistently blown away by your drive and dedication to contribute to research and discovery. I feel so grateful to be part of this community. Thank you, for making The Zooniverse and all we do possible, and remember, nobody really actually leaves, so it’s just a “goodbye for now.”

– Ali Swanson