Meet the NatSCA Committee – Patti Wood Finkle

Written by Patti Wood Finkle, Collections Manager at the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery at the Pennsylvania State University, in State College, Pennsylvania, USA.


Patti Wood Finkle

What is your role on the NatSCA committee?

I am an ordinary committee member and have volunteered to lead the conference planning committee next year.

Job title and institution

Collections Manager at the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery at the Pennsylvania State University, in State College, Pennsylvania, USA

Tell us about your day job

In my current roll, I work with rocks, minerals, fossils, meteorites, man-made composites, industrial paintings and prints, as well as historic scientific instruments and equipment. We have a wide-ranging collection and there are always things to do, whether it is updating the current database with images and information, accessioning an incoming collection, or writing exhibit text (and I’ve done all three this week). A large part of my job is collections based, but with a staff of two, it is important to manage our time wisely and both of us take on tasks such as tours, guest lectureships, exhibit planning and development, supervising our student workers, and working with our parent institution. I also work with students and facilitate partnerships with faculty and student organizations whenever possible.

Natural science collections are very popular with museum visitors. Why do you think this is?

Because natural science is amazing! To see, in person, how large a whale is, how brilliantly a gem may sparkle, how beautiful a beetle can be is exhilarating. Screens and computers can only show you so much, but to see the things for yourself is authentic and tangible. It fuels our curiosity and our wonder. The number of times I have heard both children and adults walk into a natural science gallery and exclaim “WOW!”, sometimes under their breath and sometimes out loud, is affirmation of the power of these collections to continue to awe and educate visitors of all ages.

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Digital Digest – April 2022

Compiled by Milo Phillips, Assistant Curator of Entomology for Leeds Museums and Galleries.

Welcome to the April edition of NatSCA Digital Digest.

A monthly blog series featuring the latest on where to go, what to see and do in the natural history sector including jobs, exhibitions, conferences and training opportunities. If you have any top tips and recommendations for our next Digest please drop an email to

Sector News

SPNHC / BHL / NatSCA Conference 2022

This summer will see the return of the physical NatSCA Conference – a partnership with the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections and the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Early Rate registration has now closed but a Late Rate registration fee is still available, with NatSCA members eligible for the Standard Member rate. The programme of events is now available to view.

NatSCA Lunchtime Chats

The new lunchtime chats are for members only and run on the last Thursday of every month. In our last session we heard from Mike Rutherford, Curator of Zoology and Anatomy at the Hunterian in Glasgow all about their investigation of a sperm whale that washed up in Thailand.

In this month’s talk we’ll be having a discussion about upcoming openings on the board of trustees for NatSCA (i.e. the committee), so please join us if you’d like to learn more about what we all do. There will be specific roles opening up so departing trustees will be explaining in more detail what those involve, but there will also be general positions available. Any NatSCA member is eligible to become a trustee; no previous experience or length of time as a member is a requirement, just an enthusiasm for supporting the work of the association. We welcome and encourage all applicants and we are particularly keen to receive nominations that help us represent the diversity of our membership, at trustee level.

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Meet The Committee – Laura Soul


Laura Soul

What is your role on the NatSCA committee?

I am new to the committee, so I am helping out wherever I am useful, which to start off with has been assisting with planning training and our approach to diversity and inclusion.

Job Title and Institution

I’m the Manager of National Learning Programmes and Partnerships at the Natural History Museum, London.

Twitter Username


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Meet The Committee – Laura McCoy

Note from the editor: Following on from the NatSCA AGM 2021, we now have two new members on the committee. So let’s introduce the first of them.


Laura McCoy

What is your role on the NatSCA committee?

As I’ve benefitted from so much training with NatSCA I’d really like to give something back and support this role, but I’m happy to get stuck in and help where needed.

Job title and institution

Curator of Natural History for Manx National Heritage.

Twitter username


Tell us about your day job

I live and work on the Isle of Man, a small island in the middle of the Irish Sea, about 30 miles long and 15 miles wide with a population just shy of 85,000. As the Isle of Man is independent from the UK, we have our own central Government and part of my role includes sitting on committees discussing Government policy development, partnership working with environmental NGOs, land management, ecology and conservation. For the most part though I manage the natural sciences collections at the Manx Museum, including (the other) conservation, preparation, IPM, exhibitions, education and outreach, loans, enquiries, etc. As I work for an organisation that encompasses the role of a national trust and national museum, the job is varied and I work with a great team of people who all support each other. One day I may be working with an intern on reboxing and relocating the Geology collection, the next I’ll be learning how to traditionally thatch a cottage using locally grown materials, and when an unusual cetacean washes up on our shores I get to attend the beach autopsies recorded by the local Wildlife Trust (pro tip: strandings in winter tend to be a LOT less smelly…).

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The Political Platypus And The Colonial Koala – How To Decolonise The Way We Talk About Australian Animals

Presented by Jack Ashby, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge.


Decolonisation is about breaking down systemic hierarchies, where European narratives have been considered superior to any others. In this talk, I will be asking whether this can be applied to the way we talk about Australian mammals.

My argument is that the ways in which museums and other sources represent Australian animals today are often fundamentally pejorative, and reflect an ongoing subconscious colonial bias. This attitude begins with the colonists and explorers of the 17th and 18th centuries, but remains detectable in the ways that Australian wildlife is interpreted today, in museums, TV programmes and in the popular zeitgeist. This may sound extreme, but I will be asking whether the zoological and socio-historical stories of marsupials, platypuses and echidnas may intertwine to have severe impact on global politics.

I will explore some common tropes for how Australia’s wildlife appears in our museums, and propose language and narratives to avoid perpetuating colonial narratives in museum interpretation.

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