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I’ll be spending the next 31 days trying to raise money for my research using the crowd funding model on the RocketHub platform, where contributors exchange small donations (in the 10-100 dollar ballpark) in return for ‘rewards’. As a microbiologist who makes glow-in-the-dark bacteria for a living, my rewards are things like sending donors a picture of their name written in glowing bacteria or naming one of my bacteria after them.

Your name in lights!

Your name in lights!

The challenge came about partly as a result of the lack of funding for basic science (success rates stand at about 20% in the USA, while for New Zealand’s only blue skies research pot, the Marsden Fund, they are about 8%). But perhaps more importantly, the SciFund Challenge is also about getting the public more interested and involved in science.

So why did I get involved? I want to tell the world how amazing bacteria are. They are masters at adapting to their environment, rearranging their genetic material or gaining new genes from their surroundings. This has allowed them to colonise pretty much every conceivable environment. From boiling hot geysers to human beings. While many are harmless or pretty beneficial, plenty have evolved to cause us serious harm. Bacterial adaptation is how we get antibiotic resistance and new diseases emerging.

So what I want to know is, how do bacteria evolve to cause disease? And that’s where my SciFund project comes in. I need your to help unravel how these amazing microbes keep outsmarting us. For more information, check out my project, Evolution in Action. Wish me luck!

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For those unfamiliar with RocketHub:
• RocketHub is a legitimate site, used mainly by artists and musicians to launch their projects.
• RocketHub is not an investment or charity. It is a site that allows the project owner to exchange rewards for contributions.
• RocketHub is based in the USA so all the rewards are listed in US dollars. For those outside of the US, 10 US dollars are roughly equivalent to: 6.20 UK pounds/ 7.60 EUROs/ 10 AUS dollars/ 12 NZ dollars/ 10 Canadian dollars. For an up to date currency conversion check here.
• RocketHub is an ‘all and more’ funding mechanism. If I don’t reach my financial goal I get to keep what I raise. And if I raise more than my goal I get to do even more cool science.
• RocketHub take a 4% cut of whatever I raise if I make my target, and 8% if I don’t. In addition to this, there is a 4% credit card transaction fee.
• All contributions are handled by RocketHub, and the money raised (minus fees) will not be sent directly to me, but to the University of Auckland like a traditional science grant.