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J. Nichols '89 Uses 'Crowdsourcing' to Continue His Independent Research

J. Nichols '89 Uses 'Crowdsourcing' to Continue His Independent Research

March 25, 2011

75385March 25, 2011, Greencastle, Ind. — Wallace J. Nichols, marine biologist and 1989 graduate of DePauw University, found that "It's difficult to make it as an independent scientist," according to a Fast Company article. "You have the freedom to study whatever you want, but don't have the financial security that comes with employment at a large institution," writes Ariel Schwartz. Dr. Nichols, founder of Ocean Revolution and research associate at the California Academy of Sciences, is able to continue his independent research and pay his bills with the help of "100 Blue Angels."

The project allows Nichols "to continue his work, which includes documenting ocean disasters, organizing viral ocean awareness campaigns, and organizing ocean-related conferences. The project is simple: Anyone who supports Nichols' work can become one of his 100 Blue Angels by offering up a monthly contribution. Different contribution levels come with different rewards ... Since launching in December, the 100 Blue Angels project has been wildly successful. Nichols already has 76 people signed up, giving him a monthly salary of approximately $4,000 (and the financial security to keep his house). The scientist estimates that he is ten times as productive as when he worked inside a larger organization, simply because he doesn't have to deal with bureaucracy."

Nichols tells the publication, "The idea is that if you have intellectual and financial independence, you don't need a big 77793organization. I can collaborate with colleagues in El Salvador who can only pay me El Salvadorean wages or take a speaking gig that only offers $50."

Access the complete article at Fast Company's website.

Nichols, who goes by his middle initial, is responsible for pioneering research on the migration of sea turtles. His work has been featured in National Geographic, Scientific American, TIME and Newsweek, and he was seen in Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary, The 11th Hour. He returned to DePauw last May 23 to deliver the principal address to the University's Class of 2010, "You Are Lovers and Fighters."

Read more in this recent story.