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Trust and a Bucket

A bucket drifter is pretty much what it sounds like: a five-gallon plastic bucket that you might find at a home improvement store, kitted out with a waterproof container holding a GPS device. When sent adrift on the tides, the contraption’s data can help researchers chart tidal flows. 
Citizens in the town of Waldoboro, on the coast of Maine, wanted to understand how tidal patterns influenced the water pollution that sometimes required closing mudflats to clamming—putting as many as 175 people temporarily out of work. Researchers from the University of Maine worked with clammers and other townspeople to understand what information would be useful to achieve their goals and slowly built trust with the community. In fact, when one of Waldoboro’s bucket drifters was stolen (its GPS signal showed that it had been pulled from the water and was rapidly moving down the highway), local clammers, the town manager, and even the police department scrambled to recover the bucket.
David D. HartBridie McGreavyAnthony SuttonGabrielle V. Hillyer, and Darren J. Ranco relate this story as an example of the trust that can—with time and effort—develop between communities and university researchers. “On the face of it,” they write, “the story of the missing bucket might not seem like it has much to do with trust. But it does. Trust is the connective tissue that motivates people to show up for each other—in this case, for a bucket that had come to mean a lot to this group.”

Read more about how building trust in community-university partnerships can strengthen deliberative and democratic practices.

Joe Feddersen's artwork
The Story Is Yours, Too
“How should someone from outside Native cultures ... engage with and understand works by Native artists?” Brandon Keim considers artwork from Joe Feddersen.
Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Finding My Future Beyond the Bench
Taking part in interdisciplinary research on Valley fever changed the way Anh Loan Diep conducts research, collaborates with communities, and engages with policy.
Plus: The European Union faces a number of challenges in realizing its ambitions to be a research and innovation powerhouse. As Jakob Feldtfos Christensen, Lachlan Smith, Martina Hartl, and Adrian Korhummel write in their responses to Daniel Spichtinger’s essay, these challenges include reforming its academic research institutions and the uneven investment capacities of member states.

Playing a song can emphasize an emotion, evoke a memory, or prompt a singalong. It’s also a data point. Spotify released its Wrapped feature this week, providing users of the music streaming platform with details—sometimes surprising, embarrassing, or confounding—about what they’ve been listening to over the past year. For The Ongoing Transformation podcast, we spoke with David Beer about how the algorithms of platforms such as Spotify and Facebook increasingly mediate users’ memories, affecting what and how we remember.

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Header photo courtesy Gabrielle Hillyer.
Issues in Science and Technology is a publication of Arizona State University and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
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