NatSCA Digital Digest – April

Colobus monkey © E-L Nicholls

What Should I Read?

I came across a very entertaining blog by Lily Nadine Wilks which looks at the frustrations of museum documentation in Mysteries of the Past. She has been working on the Charles Lyell digitisation project at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Having noticed lately that there are more harlequin ladybirds in my house than there are Lego sets*, I was interested to come across A decade of invasion – a story of Harlequin Ladybird in the UK. I can’t believe THAT many ladybirds exist in the UK having only arrived in 2004. They are clearly a prolific species, if only I could teach them to write research papers.

What Should I Do?

The long awaited 2017 reopening of the Cambridge Museum of Zoology has been put back slightly, and they are still trying to raise funds to get their iconic whale skeleton conserved and remounted. So you may not be able to visit (yet) but what you can do if you’d like is to help fund the whale through the delightfully named Help us #RaisetheWhale fundraising project. Plus you can reap a whaley reward to boot. You can also get the inside scoop on progress if you’re coming to the NatSCA conference later this month!

It is currently Hippo Week at Leeds City Museum. Having popped by yesterday I can say with authority it’s a great museum if you haven’t visited yet, with the ex-rug tiger taxidermy a particular highlight! Until the 9th April, you can also see the entries to the Armley Hippo & Friends drawing and story competition.

What’s Can  I Apply For?

The senior management teams of all natural history collections appear to have got together and declared a moratorium on vacancies at the moment. Don’t despair though, something will come along.

In the mean time, there are two positions at the Horniman Museum if you prefer your collections alive to dead, and quite a few at Kew if your preferred subjects are both alive and botany-shaped, details here.

Before You Go…

If you have seen an exhibition, visited a museum, or want to tell us about your work, do get in touch as we are always looking for material from external authors. Email us with your ideas at blog@natsca.org.

* Several hundred

It’s all in the subconscious

Biologically speaking, women (in general) are built lighter than men and with less physical strength. In the past this has been used to decide that women are therefore weaker in all ways, including in intelligence, and even worse, in worth. Putting aside those people whose brains are wired a little strangely and believe it’s genuinely ok to be racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, etc, society at large, full of good, caring and wonderful people, still has a curious way of putting men first.

It is often by accident and sometimes it’s even in an errant attempt to put women first; for example I recently read a headline that said ‘Top Female Scientist Discovers…’. Great! But if it had been a male scientist, it wouldn’t have said ‘Top Male Scientist Discovers…’, it would have said top scientist. This perpetuates the idea that a scientist is a man unless otherwise stated. Another example aimed at a more general audience is that infuriating feminine hygiene product advert that has a sassy DJ jumping up and down saying ‘As a woman, I can step aside or step up’. Erm actually, men have the choice of whether to step aside or step up too. Being trod down and overlooked is not just for women.

For me, International Women’s Day is about two main objectives:

  • Reversing the damage done to any and every woman’s subconscious about what they are capable of, how seriously they should be taken, and how high up the career ladder they should be able to go. To name a few examples. We can do this by celebrating women’s achievements, encouraging our female colleagues to push harder, and mentoring younger generations to succeed.*
  • Reversing the gender stereotyping that still leaks its way into the minds of good people, men and women, and alters their subconscious beliefs. A random example, and not to point fingers, is WhatsApp who only recently brought out male and female emoticons for scientists/astronauts/runners, etc. This is a great step in the right direction but up until their release, it was another subtle, if accidental, way in which women are made second best in the subconscious of everyday people.

The new and improved range of emoticons

 

So, to start/continue the celebrations of International Women’s Day, here is a number of amazing natural history related articles and blogs for your enjoyment and dissemination:

ZSL Celebrates Dr Joan Procter for International Women’s Day, by Zoological Society of London

International Women’s Day; ARKive

IUCN Celebration of International Women’s Day; International Union for Conservation of Nature

Raising Horizons: Portraits of women in science; British Antarctic Survey

RSPB celebrates its female founders; Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (from 2014)

Namesake Minerals #3; Pangeology

* Obviously we should all do this for men too!

Top Ten Most Read Blogs of 2016

Blogs to shout about (Dakshin, 2013, image in public domain)

Blogs to shout about (Dakshin, 2013, image in public domain)

2016 was a busy year for the NatSCA blog, we published 27 blogs from a super range of authors on an exciting variety of topics. When looking at the analytics of the blog to see what’s popular, it became apparent that people don’t just read what’s current in terms of publication date, they read what’s relevant to them at the time. This means that on top of the 27 blogs published last year, a further 102 blogs dating back to 2012 were also viewed from our archive, in 2016.

Since its inception in August 2012, there have been 182 blogs published on the NatSCA website, and so with such a large number, it’s really interesting to see what grabbed people’s attention, or search engines, the most.

The top ten most read blogs in 2016 are as follows:

1- Project Airless (2016)

2- Micromuseum: The slide collection of J T Quekett (2016)

3- Cold Case Curation (2016)

4- Vote for the NatSCA Editor (2016)

5- Curators of the Caribbean (2016)

6- How to Store Taxidermy (2016)

7- Margaret Gatty’s Algal Herbarium in St Andrews (2013)

8- Bournemouth’s ‘New’ Museum (2016)

9- Art, Nature, Engagement, and Rural Life (2016)

10- Handle with Care: Bringing Museum Egg Collections to Life (2016)

Of course, the top ten most read blogs in 2016 is different from the top ten blogs OF 2016. As you can see from the dates, only eight of the above ten were published last year. If we discount this archival material, then in ninth place would be Meet the NatSCA Committee: Paolo Viscardi and in tenth place, I was overly excited to see, is the NatSCA Digital Digest; October 2016 (smug face).

2017 has already seen the publication of four blogs posts (five including this one), and a host of exciting goodies are awaiting your perusal in February. You lucky, lucky people.

As editors, my colleagues and I are always looking for new content and avenues of excitement to merrily skip down. So if you would like to get in touch, please email us at blog@natsca.org.

NatSCA Digital Digest- January

Colorado potato beetle, Chalupský 2004, Image in public domain

Colorado potato beetle. Chalupský 2004, Image in public domain

It’s the first NatSCA Digital Digest of the New Year, a time when everyone feels new, fresh, and fully motivated to read everything and do everything… yippee!

 

What’s New to Read?

In the prettiest blog I’ve ever seen, the science education whizzes at ARKive bring you ‘The Magical, Mystical World of Bioluminescence!‘.

In a beautifully written article called Hidden Sea Dragons: Discovering new species of ichthyosaurs in museum collections, guest writer to Earth Archives Dean Lomax writes about recent Ichthyosaur discoveries that are bringing him fame and fortune. Maybe just fame, there are no fortunes to be had in palaeontology… but fame is good enough for us.

 

What’s New to See?

The Horniman Museum is getting ready to blow your mind with an exhibition called Robot Zoo. It has a rhino so you need to visit, but in less ungulate-biased reasoning; the exhibition toured in London a few years ago and was one of the most popular and well-attended exhibitions at the Horniman in 100 years. If proof is in pudding, then this pudding looks tasty.

 

What’s New to Apply For?

Wow, it’s January Job City… if you’re an entomologist. There are three insecty positions going right now, how often does that happen eh? Plus, a very exciting post at the Grant Museum to apply for:

The Natural History Museum in London is looking for two natural history positions. The first is a Post Doc working in the evolution of sensory systems in moths, and the second is a Curatorial Assistant position focusing on Coleoptera from Africa. Full details for both positions here.

The Tanyptera Trust and National Museums Liverpool are in need of an entomologist to promote insect and other invertebrate conservation within North West England. Full details here.

And finally, the Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL, is advertising for a full-time Curatorial Assistant. Full details here.

NatSCA Digital Digest

Three-toed sloth (C) Horniman Museum and Gardens

Three-toed sloth (C) Horniman Museum and Gardens

The October NatSCA Digital Digest is here already, where does the time go?

What’s New to Read?

Dana Andrew recently went to Jamaica to track down the original location of some museum specimens, and has reported back to ICOM. She was funded by a WIRP international travel grant, and you can read about her blustery adventures, so far, here.

Eighty full years of mourning have now taken place for the Thylacine, since it was deliberately driven to extinction in 1936. Thylacine expert, Jack Ashby, makes sure it’s not forgotten and talks about how it feels to be in the area where it happened in a tribute blog here.
What’s New to See?

On the 19th October the Grant Museum of Zoology will bring you some sex, some creativity, and some trickery. A new exhibition looks at the colourful world of reproduction in nature.

Two days later, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition opens at the Natural History Museum on the 21st October. Always a crowd pleaser, I’ve had some sneak peeks which prove this year will be no different.

And just one day after that, the Horniman Museum will also be ready to entertain with a new exhibition. This one, called Memorial: A Tribute to Taxidermy, exhibits historic Horniman Museum taxidermy specimens alongside Jazmine’s modern day interpretations. Elegant and beautiful, this exhibition is a must-see, and comes complete with a fascinating timelapse film of how she did it.
What to do with your Sawfish

If you have any sawfish rostrums in your collection, particularly if they have locality data, there is something important you really need to do! The Sawfish Conservation Society, the Shark Trust, and The Deep (aquarium) have begun a joint venture to research museum specimens and data with the aim to protect wild populations. If you can help, please get in touch with any of the aforementioned lovely people, and to thank you for your efforts, your institution will be acknowledged in any scientific papers that get published. Double win.

Sawfish rostra (Wikimedia Commons)

Sawfish rostra (Wikimedia Commons)

NatSCA Digital Digest

natsca

Jobs and Traineeships

If, like many, your world will never be the same again once Dippy the Diplodocus retires from his position adorning the entrance hall to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, you can at least help secure him a happy future by going for the job of Corporate Partnerships Manager- Dippy the Dinosaur on Tour at the NHM. The deadline is the 25th January so there’s still time to affect the life of this semi-retired much loved icon.

If digital engagement is more your thing then the University of Cambridge Museums (UCM) are currently looking for a Digital Engagement Specialist. The deadline for this post is also the 25th January, with interviews on the 8th February.

Events and Exhibitions

The London Transport Museum is holding an interesting half day symposium on 7th March 2016 called Contemporary Collecting. The symposium is free and includes an evening reception at the Museum. There are six areas of focus listed on the website, ranging from risks of collecting to acquisitions that ‘are inherently, and/or overtly, political’. Sounds exciting!

Around the Web

The project of digitising the Charles Lyell Fossil Collections is well underway at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. The blog (link above) is a fun and interesting read but more importantly, if you have any Charles Lyell specimens in your collection, Sarah Joomun and Eliza Howlett at the OUMNH would love to hear from you.

 

NatSCA Digital Digest

Firstly and most importantly…

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE!!!

Secondly, everything else…

Jobs and Traineeships

With the period known as the ‘run up to Christmas’ well underway it is slim pickings for new vacancies in natural history. However a number of posts still open in areas such as Norwich, Aberdeen and Sheffield, that have been previously advertised through NatSCA, can still be found here. Deadlines for applications begin early January so perhaps write yours out before you start to suffer from excess-turkey-consumption lethargy.

Events and Exhibitions

Fans of natural history have a great reason to visit the British Museum at the moment thanks to a new temporary exhibition called Scanning Sobek: Mummy of the crocodile god. Open until the 21st February, the exhibition is just inside the main door and is completely free. It couldn’t be easier!

If you are in or able to get to Berlin any time soon, the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found is now on display at the Museum für Naturkunde in a special exhibition called Tristan: Berlin bares teeth. Tristan has only been baring his teeth to the public since 17th December 2015 and I for one am going to visit him asap.

Around the Web

There’s a rather festive Underwhelming fossil fish of the month blog, complete with santa hat and palaeofied lyrics to a well known Christmas favourite, over on the Grant Museum of Zoology blog.

Now I’m going to go to sleep (yes I know it’s only 11am) so that Christmas comes sooner. That’s how time works.

!!MERRY CHRISTMAS!!