November 15, 2019, by jicke

Boost for behavioural science research with Chan Zuckerberg grant

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have been awarded a prestigious grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) to further develop a software package designed to make access to experiments in behavioural science easier.

PsychoPy is an open-source software package developed at the University of Nottingham to facilitate reaction-time experiments in behavioural sciences. The free to access software was created by Dr Jonathan Peirce to help with the study of the brain and behaviour. It allows scientists to run a wide range of neuroscience, psychology and psychophysics experiments.

Leveraging technology to solve tough challenges

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, CZI is a new kind of philanthropy that is leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. This is the first round in a new program funding essential open source softwarefor the biomedical sciences. The call received over 293 submissions from a total of 475 open source projects, and PsychoPy is amongst the small number that were successful.

Open-source software development, typically done by scientists, is hugely important for the scientific community, but it is very time-consuming and there are very few grants where such developers can request dedicated funding to work full-time on these critical packages. The commitment from an organisation like CZI aims to strengthen the computational foundations of biology.

Dr Peirce said: “Initially developed just for my lab, PsychoPy has become a very popular package with tens of thousands of users from all over the world.The PsychoPy project is currently making a transition to have a financially sustainable funding model that will allow it to continue making the software free and open source forever, but supported by a team of professional, full-time developers. The CZI funding will play a hugely important role in making that transition a success.”

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