James Sprinks - Earthwatch

James Sprinks

Senior Researcher


James Sprinks is a Senior Researcher in Citizen Science at Earthwatch Europe, based in Oxford, UK. His research considers how citizen science platforms can be designed and implemented to both ensure that the data generated is in a usable format and scientifically robust, while still maintaining a user experience that results in volunteers enjoying and learning from the process. This process encompasses elements of environmental science, remote sensing, Human-Computer Interaction, GIS, ergonomics and human factors research. James obtained his PhD in HCI and citizen science from the University of Nottingham, with a thesis considering how task design influences both user motivation and performance when taking part in online citizen science initiatives. He has also obtained a BSc in Physics with Astronomy from the University of Southampton, with a thesis investigating the light curves of dwarf novae systems; and an MSc in Geographical Information Systems from the University of Leeds, considering the mapping of sand dunes on the Martian surface.

Before taking up the role at Earthwatch, James has been part of several European projects as a research fellow at the University of Nottingham (2012-2017) and Nottingham Trent University (2017-2020). Combining his background in astrophysics and planetary science with HCI and human factors, these projects include i-mars.eu and provide-space.eu, where James has taken on the position of project coordinator for two citizen science platforms; Mars in Motion and Planet Four: Craters.

James’ other interests include scientific outreach and education and how novel display and interaction techniques in public spaces can be used to facilitate the process. To this end, he is a Co-PI of the MarsCAPE project, an engaging and informative display that communicates key aspects of the Martian landscape to the public, including the nature and scale of landscape forms, using a unique combination of physical landscape models and synchronised 3D perspective views.

Research interests

  • Citizen Science
  • Human Factors
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • GIS (Geographical Information Systems)
  • Task design


MICS (Horizon 2020)
James is a senior researcher on citizen science as part of the MICS project (2019-2021).

EU-Citizen.Science (Horizon 2020)
James is a senior researcher on citizen science as part of EU-Citizen.Science (2019-2021).

COS4CLOUD (Horizon 2020)
James is a senior researcher on citizen science as part of COS4CLOUD (2019-2023).

MONOCLE (Horizon 2020)
James is a senior researcher on citizen science as part of MONOCLE (2018-2022).

MarsCAPE: Mars communicated through an augmented, physical environment (UK Space Agency).
James is co-investigator of the MarsCAPE project, looking at how engaging and informative displays can communicate key aspects of the Martian landscape to the public in an exhibition setting (2018-present).

iMars (FP7)
James was lead coordinator of the citizen-science project Mars in Motion, tasked with identifying changes on the Martian surface through 40 years of remotely-sensed Martian imagery (2014-2017).

James was lead developer of the PRoGIS web application, allowing users to access imaging data and associated products with a unique spatial context (2013-2015).

PRoVisG (FP7)
James was co-developer of a web application providing state-of-the-art computer vision products collected both from Europe and beyond to better exploit the data gathered by robotic space missions (2008-2012).


  • 2020: Member of the working group to “Improve data standardisation and interoperability” of the COST Action “Citizen Science to promote creativity, scientific literacy, and innovation throughout Europe”


Creating positive environmental impact through citizen science. In: Vohland, K., Land, A., Ceccaroni, L., Lemmens, R., Perello, J., Ponti, M., Samson, R., & Wagenknecht, K. (Eds.). The Science of Citizen Science. Springer.

van Noordwijk, C.G.E., Bishop, I., Staunton-Lamb, S., Oldfield, A., Loiselle, L., Geoghegan, H., & Ceccaroni, L., 2021.

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Planet Four: Craters – Optimizing Task Workflow to Improve Volunteer Engagement and Crater Counting Performance, Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 54 (6), pp 1325-1346

J. Sprinks, R. Houghton, S. Bamford, J. Morley (2019).

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User experience of digital technologies in citizen science, JCOM, Vol. 18 (01)

Skarlatidou, M. Ponti, J. Sprinks, C. Nold, M. Haklay, E. Kanjo (2019).

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A sociotechnical system approach to virtual citizen science: An application of BS ISO 27500:2016, JCOM, Vol. 18 (01) A01

R. Houghton, J. Sprinks, J. Wardlaw, S. Bamford, S. Marsh (2019).

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Citizen science and the professional-amateur divide: Lessons from differing online practices, JCOM, Vol. 18 (01) A06

L. Dowthwaite, J. Sprinks (2019).

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The Psychological Basis of Motivation to Take Part in Online Citizen Science, SSRN

L. Dowthwaite, C. Lintott, R. Houghton, J. Sprinks, G. Miller (2019).

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Comparing Experts and Novices in martian Surface Feature Change Detection and Identification, International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, Vol. 64, pp 354-364

J. Wardlaw, J. Sprinks, R. J. Houghton, J.-P. Muller, P. Sidiropoulos, S. Bamford, S. Marsh (2018).

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Task Workflow Design and its Impact on Performance and Volunteers’ Subjective Performance in Virtual Citizen Science, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Vol. 104, pp 50-63

J. Sprinks, J. Wardlaw, R. J. Houghton, S. Bamford, J. Morley (2017).

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