Website poised to helpresearchers receive donations

To yield meaningful results, scientific researchers need sufficient funding to help their findings gain steam in academic circles.

That’s the idea behind, a new website that allows the public to make direct donations to researchers, said David Fries, co-founder of the site and research faculty member of the USF College of Marine Science.

“The way it works is the website allows for researchers to post their findings if they meet a certain criteria of credibility,” he said. “They should have some prior evidence of completing a project. Publication records, those types of things, will help validate them. We really don’t want to limit it.”

Individual donors can then review each project on the website and decide which one they would like to donate to, regardless of the amount, Fries said.

Currently, each project can earn up to $100,000, but Fries said the total will eventually grow.

“SciFlies and its researchers will also be able to report back to everyone who donated, so they will really get to learn about the progress that their project is making, and also the final result,” he said.

The website, which was launched three weeks ago, has published seven research projects that are awaiting contributions.

“What we’re really doing in this stage is just content, data display and recruiting scientists and researchers. In November, we’ll open it up to the general public and post more research, and there will be elements of improvement to look into,” Fries said.

USF researcher James Mortimer was contacted by the site via e-mail to learn whether he would be interested in posting his research.

“I responded that I thought it was a very unique concept,” Mortimer said. “The idea is a good one, but it is really unclear where this is going. They are starting out from ground zero. I think that accepting any type of research may pose a problem. Another site like this one is more focused and has an individual in mind.”

Mortimer said he was curious and consented to post his Alzheimer’s research on, setting a goal of $10,000 from the public.

Fries said a lot of time went into planning the site and that the site is receiving significant backing from government officials concerned with establishing a strong foundation for its future.

“The concept of SciFlies is one that we’ve been working on for over a year,” Fries said. “We’ve interacted with congressmen and agencies such as the National Science Foundation to build partnerships and support that will help enrich the website for individuals and also government organizations.”