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Citizen Science Soil Collection Program

Raised toward our $15,000 Goal
107 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on June 16, at 11:00 PM CDT
Project Owners

Citizen Science Soil Collection Program

dirt photo

The keys to discovery are right below your feet.

“Wouldn’t it be amazing if the cure for cancer is literally in our back yard?” - Citizen Scientist from Fort Myers, FL

The soil is teeming with microscopic life including many types of fungi. While most soil fungi are impossible to see with the naked eye, they are adept at producing new drug-like compounds called natural products. These remarkable molecules hold promise for impeding the growth of cancer cells, stopping the spread of infectious pathogens, as well as treating many other human diseases.

The Citizen Science Soil Collection program is an initiative designed to bring together biomedical researchers with citizen scientists in an effort to find new soil fungi that produce natural products from across the United States. Participation is simple; we are asking citizen scientists to send a scoop of soil from their own backyards. With dozens of fungi occupying a single handful of soil, this simple act helps our group explore the vast uncharted potential of fungi and their natural products to fight against many types of diseases.

Citizen scientists are already participating from across the country, including school groups, home-school groups, scout troops, families, and individuals. By providing hands-on experience in learning about the value of soil and microbes, this project supports educational curriculum for school-aged children and gets the public involved in science! Anyone can be a citizen scientist and help to further our potential life-saving research.

Fungi Plate Photos

What's in your backyard? Teaming up with the University of Oklahoma Library, the Natural Products Discovery Group is making data from this program accessible in an open access archive. Citizen scientists can now easily follow their samples online, discover how many fungi came from their sample, as well as view pictures of these amazing organisms!

Click here to learn more about the Citizen Science Soil Collection Program.

Who We Are

NPDG photo

The Natural Products Discovery Group (NPDG) at the University of Oklahoma is composed of a team of scientists including principal investigator, Dr. Robert Cichewicz, research scientists, post-doctoral fellows, and students, dedicated to finding creative solutions that transform the chemistry of nature into products that improve lives.  

How You Can Help

OU NPDG citizen science soil collection kit

We need your help to keep this program alive. This potentially life-saving research cannot continue without new samples from citizen scientists. You can help us provide collection kits to schools, troops, families, and community groups!

Your generous donation will help us keep the collection kits going out across the nation by directly supporting the cost of materials and shipping. Your support will help ensure that we can continue this worthwhile public research initiative. You can make a difference by actively supporting research focused on creating lifesaving medicines for use in the fight against pediatric cancers, breast cancers, fungal infections, and other debilitating diseases.

What is your citizen science story?

Quinn and Ainsley

Quinn (12) and Ainsley (11) from Lakeland, FL participated in the Citizen Science Soil Collection Program as part of their home school science lesson.

"This type of program is important for cancer researchers, so they might be able to discover new treatments to help people with cancer." -Quinn

"It's good that kids and scientists can work together to find new cures, and kids can see what kinds of things can happen if they put their curiosity to use." -Ainsley

Here's what some of our other citizen scientists are saying:

“The chance that there is something in my yard that will help develop a cure for any number of the illnesses out there is worth taking the time to do this small task.”  -Citizen Scientist from Kalamazoo, MI

“I'm a homeschooling mom to two budding scientists! We would be honored to be a part of contributing to this field of research. This will be a great learning opportunity!” -Citizen Scientist from Running Springs, CA

Spread the word!

The Citizen Science Soil Collection provides the distinct opportunity for the public to get involved in this important and exciting research. Please encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to join us in the discovery process! Learn more at

Choose a giving level


Student of Science

Provide support for two collection kits.


Lab Technician

Support collection kits for a small family or group.


Research Assistant

Support collection kits for a scout troop.


Lab Manager

Support collection kits for one school class.


Research Professor

Support collection kits for a summer reading program.


Principal Investigator

Support collection kits for an entire school!

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