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Sociologist Uses Crowdfunding to Fund Antarctica Research Trip
Melissa Haeffner's crowdfunding campaign will pay part of her research trip to Antarctica next December

Utah State University researcher, Melissa Haeffner will be joining 77 other women next  December in a research trip to Antarctica. The trip will be funded partially by the public through crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is a way of getting money for a project via the internet by raising small amounts of money from lots of people.

So far Haeffner has reached about 12 percent of her overall goal. She has raised enough through GoFundMe, a crowdfunding website, to pay the initial deposit of the expedition.

Although she doesn’t think national grants for scientific research will ever go away, Heaffner said crowdfunding is a great way to involve non-scientists in her research.

“From doing this, I see a demand from the public who want to see results of science and what scientists are doing. You know, they’re very interested in that,” Heaffner said. “And even though if they might not understand hypotheses and factor analysis they really want to know that people are doing science, what kind of questions people are asking, how they’re going about it and what’s coming from that research.”

Most of the researchers on the trip will be polar scientists who study ice cores, penguins and climate change. But because Heaffner is a sociologist, she will be studying the other researchers and how they work together.

“I want to collect more data from researchers in different disciplines of what they see are the barriers,” Heaffner said. “Where do they see that social science can play a role in their science and how we can think of other different research questions together to tackle climate change?”

Heaffner is currently studying similar questions at USU with iUtah.