I love working in natural history museums because of the biodiversity trove that they hold, and because there are always surprises. You never know what hidden treasures you may find (see “The Bone Dagger Discovery“), and you can’t anticipate all of the ways that collections may be used. Museums are also great places to provide hands-on, active learning about biodiversity science to students.

As Staff Curator at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ), I manage the museum’s bird, egg, and sound collections, and co-manage the archival collections. I also mentor many students through the MVZ Undergraduate Program and the UC Berkeley Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program. I find this one of the most rewarding aspects of my job.

I also spend a fair bit of time preparing specimens such as those that are found dead and donated to the museum (listen to podcast of me preparing a Peregrine Falcon that was in the first clutch to nest on the UC Berkeley Campanile, and unfortunately died after hitting a building on campus). If you find a dead bird in California, we’ll take it! Visit the MVZ website to learn more about donating specimens.

I am active in the broader collections community, especially with regard to facilitating online access to biodiversity data (mostly specimen-based). Projects include:

  • Arctos – A shared collaborative, community-driven collection management information system
  • VertNet – A portal for aggregated biodiversity data
Comparing Sagebrush and Bell’s Sparrow specimens in the MVZ with Dr. Peter Pyle.
Tour to prospective students in the UCB Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program.

Featured image: Specimens of Barred Owls (Strix varia) in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology.