Gaining Wings to FLY: Using Drosophila Oogenesis as an Entry Point for Citizen Scientists in Laboratory Research

Dara M. Ruiz-Whalen, Christopher P. Aichele, Ebony R. Dyson, Katherine C. Gallen, Jennifer V. Stark, Jasmine A. Saunders, Jacqueline C. Simonet, Erin M. Ventresca, Isabela M. Fuentes, Nyellis Marmol, Emly Moise, Benjamin C. Neubert, Devon J. Riggs, Ava M. Self, Jennifer I. Alexander, Ernest Boamah, Amanda J. Browne, Iliana Correa, Maya J. Foster, Nicole HarringtonTroy J. Holiday, Ryan A. Henry, Eric H. Lee, Sheila M. Longo, Laurel D. Lorenz, Esteban Martinez, Anna Nikonova, Maria Radu, Shannon C. Smith, Lindsay A. Steele, Todd I. Strochlic, Nicholas F. Archer, Y. James Aykit, Adam J. Bolotsky, Megan Boyle, Jennifer Criollo, Oren Eldor, Gabriela Cruz, Valerie N. Fortuona, Shreeya D. Gounder, Nyim Greenwood, Kayla W. Ji, Aminah Johnson, Sophie Lara, Brianna Montanez, Maxwell Saurman, Tanu Singh, Daniel R. Smith, Catherine A. Stapf, Tarang Tondapu, Christina Tsiobikas, Raymond Habas, Alana M. O'Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Citizen science is a productive approach to include non-scientists in research efforts that impact particular issues or communities. In most cases, scientists at advanced career stages design high-quality, exciting projects that enable citizen contribution, a crowdsourcing process that drives discovery forward and engages communities. The challenges of having citizens design their own research with no or limited training and providing access to laboratory tools, reagents, and supplies have limited citizen science efforts. This leaves the incredible life experiences and immersion of citizens in communities that experience health disparities out of the research equation, thus hampering efforts to address community health needs with a full picture of the challenges that must be addressed. Here, we present a robust and reproducible approach that engages participants from Grade 5 through adult in research focused on defining how diet impacts disease signaling. We leverage the powerful genetics, cell biology, and biochemistry of Drosophila oogenesis to define how nutrients impact phenotypes associated with genetic mutants that are implicated in cancer and diabetes. Participants lead the project design and execution, flipping the top-down hierarchy of the prevailing scientific culture to co-create research projects and infuse the research with cultural and community relevance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-444
Number of pages46
JournalMethods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


  • Citizen science
  • Diet
  • Equity and inclusion
  • Genetic screen
  • Oogenesis


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