• Updated
14 December 2020

Roberto Casati received CNRS funding for the OOPS project

Through the "Mission pour les Initiatives Transverses et Interdisciplinaires" (MITI), the CNRS has launched a call for projects on the theme of climate change. The aim is to support interdisciplinary and innovative research on various subjects at the heart of climate change issues. It is within this framework that Roberto Casati has received a funding for the Ocean Observation and Participatory Science (OOSP) project in collaboration with the Roscoff Biological Station and Plankton Planet


The Plankton Planet project, an innovative and socially responsible oceanography to take the pulse of biodiversity and ocean health on space and times scales

Plankton Planet is an initiative born at the Roscoff Biological Station bringing together academic partners (CNRS, MIT, Stanford University, University of Maine, University of Auckland) and citizens (Tara Ocean Foundation, France-USA; Association Plankton Planet, France). The aim is to harness the curiosity and creativity of sailors and scientists to sample oceanic plankton at unprecedented scales, in order to assess the health, biodiversity and evolution of the oceans in depth. The Plankton Planet team is developing relatively simple, modular plankton observation and sampling kits that enable sailors (the "planktonauts") to obtain scientific data throughout their navigation. In 2016, the concept was validated with the recruitment of 20 planktonaut crews and the sampling and sequencing of plankton at more than 250 sites around the world. The ambition is now to provide hundreds of boats with a "Plankto-Kit", an on-board mini-laboratory that would include all the necessary elements for an integral eco/morpho/genetic measurement of plankton. The most fun and complex instrument in the kit is the PlanktonScope (PkS), an inexpensive, automated microscope that not only allows plankton to be observed, but also allows flow images to be captured to identify and quantify the biodiversity present at a given site.

OOSP, a collaborative project between a marine biology laboratory and a cognitive science laboratory

But the deployment of PkS requires training and adaptation to the diversity of user profiles. Will the user be a yachtsman, a racing yachtswoman, a coastal sailor, an offshore sailor? What is his or her relationship to the sea? Does he/she own his boat or does he/she rent it? What type of boat is it? What is the relationship between the sailor and his/fer boat? Does he/she maintain it, does he live on it? Does he/she sail alone or in a team? How are roles defined or assigned? Are there children on board? Do they preferably use instruments for navigation or do they rely on their experience and intuition? The PkS is a standardised instrument with a usage protocol, but this protocol must be adapted to the multitude of situations and user profiles. 

A collaborative project between the marine biology laboratory and the Institut Jean Nicod was born from these questions. Cognitive psychology has shown a certain number of biases in decision making and judgement such as confirmation bias. Are PkS usage situations immune to these biases, and how can the impact of these biases be mitigated? Cognitive psychology has also taken an interest in distributed cognition on offshore crews and can deploy a range of methodological and analytical tools to understand the human factor in the collaborative scientific approach. 

This project has three main goals:

  1. To study in vivo the appropriation of the PkS by a population of users at sea. This study is carried out using participatory observation methods.
  2. On the basis of this first point, to draft/produce PkS support tools (manual, video).
  3. To use the support tools as a means of raising awareness and appropriating the marine environment.