Become a Volunteer Distributed Developer with CitSci

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At CitSci, we don’t just support citizen science projects, we are a citizen science project. The platform, website, apps and communications you get from CitSci have all been created by a combination of paid professionals and a network of amazing volunteers. After all – we love volunteers and know you do as well!

As we’ve grown, we’ve been approached by a number of talented programmers and web developers (professionals, retirees and graduate students) wondering how they can volunteer their time and expertise to make CitSci better. We are honored to work with each of these individuals. Now, we have a formal way to welcome new developers into the CitSci community – our Volunteer Distributed Developer program.

Who are Volunteer Distributed Developers?

Volunteer Distributed Developers (VDDs) are people who love the mission of citizen science and community science. Some support specific citizen science projects and are interested in becoming a VDD so they can create tools and widgets to help further their project’s efforts while simultaneously contributing to the platform as a whole. Others just want to make the platform work better for everyone.

Many developers prefer to specialize in a particular area of development: front end, backend, UX, or mobile development. When you apply to be a volunteer, please indicate which of these areas you’d most like to start with and we’ll pair you up with someone on our team with skills in that space. You can choose to change to another area down the road, but we find focusing on one area really makes your volunteer experience better.

We’re all about collaboration

Developing and maintaining a platform like ours necessitates a collaborative environment. We value the disparate needs of both the volunteer community using the website and mobile apps, as well as the volunteer community working behind the scenes to develop these tools. Volunteer Distributed Developers should be open to listening to the disparate needs of the citizen science community, be excited to tackle challenging problems, and be willing and able to work in a collaborative team environment. 

What do VDD’s do?

VDDs have the opportunity to add cool new capabilities to and our mobile apps. To do this, VDDs install a local instance of our containerized web application (we use Docker containers) and then make code changes on a local copy of our code base on their own computers. Once they make these code changes to add new stuff, they commit these changes to our Git repository for subsequent review and incorporation into the final production codebase underlying CitSci.

How you can become a Volunteer Distributed Developer

Interested? Want to join our team? Fill out our online Volunteer Distributed Developer application. We review applications on a rolling basis and currently have space for 3 new VDDs. If accepted, we ask VDDs to commit to working with us for a minimum of 6 months (preferably a year) to provide sufficient time to interact with our team, get to know the system, and contribute to the CitSci platform.


Because of our limited organizational resources, we ask that you use your own computer for local development work. We also require that you use the following open source tools to make contributions to CitSci:

  • Docker
  • GitHub
  • Mobile apps
    • a Mac computer
    • knowledge of react-native
    • knowledge of github

For our mobile app, note that we deploy code from a single codebase to both the Apple iOS and Android OS native apps. For our web platform, our containerized web application relies on Node.js. You can use any integrated development environment you choose as well your operating system of choice (Linux, Windows, iOS). The containerized web application automatically installs all required open-source libraries.

Preferred Volunteer Qualifications

Front End


VueJS (2.x)


API Platform


Symfony PHP Framework

SQL (Postgres)


Graphic Design


Mobile Apps

React Native

1 comments on “Become a Volunteer Distributed Developer with CitSci”

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