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

Greater one horned rhino (C) E-L Nicholls

Greater one horned rhino (C) E-L Nicholls

Jobs and Traineeships

Post Doctoral Research Assistant- Origin of Land Plants, at the Natural History Museum. Applications for this externally funded two year project close on 7th December 2015.

Education Assistant; Bookings Administrator and Family Programming Officer, at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. The position is for 3 years and deadline for applications is 12pm on 16th December.

Events and Exhibitions

Call for papers for the April 2016 conference Objectively Speaking at the British Museum. The conference is set to explore four main themes:

  1. How can museums connect collections with classroom and academic teaching?
  2. How can objects facilitate creative teaching practice?
  3. What is the impact and opportunity of digital technology for object based teaching?

The deadline for proposals is 12pm on 15th January 2016.

A day conference on 11th December called Conservation Matters in Wales – ‘Conservators in Action’ is taking place at the National Museum Wales, in Cardiff. It will include presentations, short tours, and drinks in the pub afterwards (optional!)

Around the Web

Got literary inspiration to find or time to kill? Check out 100 Best Museum and Curator Blogs.

Rachel Petts graces the PalaeoManchester blog with beautiful sharks teeth (I’m not biased) (that might be a lie) as she introduces us to a collection of Eocene Chondrichthyan fossils, found in the UK, and recently donated to Manchester Museum. Hooray!

NatSCA Digital Digest

(Image by Ton Rulkens, in public domain)

(Image by Ton Rulkens, public domain)

 

Your weekly round-up of news and events happening in the world of natural sciences

News

The BBC just posted a down to earth (or sea) article called The man who swims with sharks, by Melissa Hogenboom, feature writer for BBC Earth. Combined with beautiful images, it talks about swimming with and photographing sharks and summarises some very interesting facts about these majestic animals.

Exhibitions

If you haven’t seen the Natural History Museums’ exhibition Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea, you should definitely go this weekend. If you have seen the Natural History Museums’ exhibition Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea, you should definitely go this weekend. It will be your last opportunity to see (or re-see) the exhibition as it closes on the 13th September. There are fantastic specimens, cool interactive games and a video of the only coral spawning ever to have occurred in captivity. I personally recommend it to you.

Opened just last week is the new exhibition In the Footsteps of Elephants. This two and a half week exhibition is only open from the 3rd to the 20th September, so if it’s up your street you need to get a wriggle on. The exhibition is being held at the Nature in Art Museum and Gallery in Gloucestershire, which looks really worth too.

Jobs

If you are looking to move, or move into a, role in natural sciences the Naturejobs Career Expo in London on Friday 18th September should be a great place to meet others in the field, attend workshops and conference talks, schmooze with potential employers, and even get your CV looked at.

If Brachiopods are your thing, then the Natural History Museum in London is currently looking for a curatorial assistant to join them in the Earth Sciences Department. The contract is for a year, and the deadline is the 14th September. Sounds like a shell of a good opportunity (!)

As ever, if you would like to write a blog for NatSCA on anything natural sciences related, give us an online shout blog@natsca.org.

NatSCA Digital Digest

natscaYour weekly round-up of news and events happening in the world of natural sciences

Jobs

Curator, Grant Museum of Zoology, UCL I can tell you from three years of first-hand experience (pseudo-first-hand; as curatorial assistant) that this is the job all curators should be applying for. The Grant Museum of Zoology is an amazing place to work and in this role I know you will have the opportunity to spread your curatorial wings and make a real difference in the natural history sector. The kind of job where you don’t mind getting up in the morning. Closing date for applications is 3rd August. Good luck!

If only for the superb job title, anyone with experience of learning programmes for families and children with ASC (Autistic Spectrum Condition) should definitely take a look at the current vacancy for the Dawnosaurs Programme Co-ordinator at the Natural History Museum. This looks like an amazing opportunity for the right person. The closing date for applications is the 22nd July.

See the job page of the NatSCA website for more exciting opportunities.

News

The next Museums Association exhibition and conference is due to take place on 5th and 6th November, in Birmingham. There is still time to register as an early bird who gets the cheaper worm rates. Early bird registration ends on the 7th August, click here for more.

Around the Web

Sun bear, fox, hippo or pangolin. What tickles your natural history bones the most? Choose your favourite to be the new museum mascot for Derby Museum and Art Gallery! If you are on Twitter, you can whip up some support for the sun bear, errr, I mean, your favourite using: @DMNature and @derbymuseums. The winning specimen will be announced on the 7th August. I’ve already chosen mine, can you guess what it is…?

The Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs have been working up a storm of support lately, with ongoing events at the park complemented by a very dynamic talk at the Grant Museum by the master of science comedy- Prof Joe Cain, from UCL. These incredible statues are a vivid reminder of the evolution our concept of dinosaur appearances has gone through. They are also an important part of our British cultural heritage, that helped shape the palaeontological world in the mid 1800s. Find out more about these iconic statues that are in desperate need of conservation on the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs website.

 

NatSCA Digital Digest

Chameleon

Events

Now that the 2015 NatSCA Conference is over, the next conference for your diaries is Refloating the Ark: Connecting the public and scientists with natural history collections on 17th – 18th June at Manchester Museum. The full programme, abstracts, and booking information can be found here.

Developing Skills for Collection Managers – 28th May 2015, NHM. An afternoon seminar and workshop run by Nick Poole of the Collections Trust, providing tips on putting collection competency frameworks into practice and improving collections skills.

Jobs

Keeper, Science and Technology – National Museums Scotland. Applications close 31st May 2015.

Learning and Events Assistant – NHM, Tring. Applications close 31st May 2015.

As always, do keep an eye on the jobs page of the NatSCA website!

Around the Web

Watch the team at the Museum of Zoology, Cambridge decant their carnivore case in 2 minutes! Also check out this blog for a conservator’s-eye view of their current redevelopment project.

A good article about how the current financial crisis has left the natural history museum in Dublin in dire straits. A very sad story.

The International Institute for Species Exploration has released a list of the Top 10 New Species of 2015! The list is released on 23rd May each year, to coincide with the birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy. Happy birthday Linnaeus!

How ‘The Beetles’ Changed my Life

Beetles are one of the most successful groups of organisms on the planet. In the UK there are over 4000 species, compared to fewer than 600 wild bird species and around 90 mammal species. Beetles are critical to the health of many habitats, through their roles as feeders on plants and fungi, recyclers of animal and plant debris, and as predators.

When I first began volunteering with natural science collections at Plymouth City Museum, I occasionally assisted local entomologist Peter Smithers of Plymouth University, who regularly ran ‘Bug Hunts’ with schools around the Devon and Cornwall area. It was here that I came across some of my first beetles. In 2010, whilst walking along the South West Coast Path near the chalk cliffs at Beer, I found a black beetle with a vinyl-like sheen. It was beautiful, but unlike anything I had seen before. I later discovered that it was from a distinctive group called Oil Beetles (Meloidae), which possess one of the most extraordinary life cycles of any UK insect: they are nest parasites of solitary mining bees such as Andrena, Anthopora, and Lasioglossum.

After a female Oil Beetle lays her eggs in a nest hole, the larvae (known as triangulins) wait on a plant until they can attach themselves to a passing bee, using hooks on their feet. The larvae then eat the stored pollen and nectar in the bee’s nest. The strategy means minimal effort from the adult female in raising her young, and the larvae have all the food they need.

Black Oil Beetle (Meloe proscarabaeus)

Black Oil Beetle (Meloe proscarabaeus)

At the time of my discovery, Buglife was leading the way in trying to understand the state of Oil Beetle populations in the UK, which had suffered severe declines over the past 100 years. With four species believed to be extinct already, there was an urgent need to understand the distribution of the remaining Black, Violet, Rugged and Short-necked Oil Beetles. Buglife launched an Oil Beetle Recording Scheme to map their distribution and engage people of all ages through citizen science.

The survey results have enabled Buglife to learn more about the habitat preferences and hosts of the remaining species, and gain a better understanding of the health of the UK landscape, as Oil Beetles are restricted to wildflower-rich habitats, unimproved coastal grasslands, and woodland edges. Two species of Oil Beetle that were believed to be extinct in the UK have been re-discovered. The Short-necked Oil Beetle was found in South Devon in 2006, before a much larger second population was found on the Isle of Coll in Scotland in 2010. The rare Mediterranean Oil Beetle was found on the same Devon site in 2012, having been last recorded in Kent in 1906.

The efforts of Buglife, local recorders and naturalists have produced valid records to create time series of biodiversity data. Museum collections can also provide useful time series data for conservation efforts, based on specimen label data in terms of location and distribution in a given year. Where a species has been recorded in a particular place and time, we can perhaps find relic populations or sites for reintroduction.

Interior of the Angela Marmont Centre, NHM

Angela Marmont Centre, NHM

It was my interest in Buglife’s Oil Beetle recording scheme that led me to recently join the Natural History Museum’s Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity (AMC) as an Identification Trainee. The AMC provides world-class facilities in the museum’s Darwin Centre for citizen scientists, as well as expert and amateur naturalists, to enable them to identify UK species using the AMC’s extensive reference collections. Working here is brilliant, and I hope to be trained to identify the key UK biodiversity groups, gain more practical experience of surveying UK wildlife, assist the AMC team in developing citizen science projects based around museum collections, and continue to develop collections management experience through curatorial projects.

 

Anthony Roach
Skills for the Future Trainee & Science Educator
NHM

 

Uses of Natural History Collections – NatSCA2014 Meeting

20140714-084406.jpg

Day three of SPNHC2014 kicked off with the NatSCA conference! Clare Brown introduced the session with a brief account of the importance of NatSCA. Many non-specialist museums do not have access to staff with an understanding of science, and so NatSCA can provide support to these institutions as well as demonstrate the importance of advocating collections and the many different uses that can be made of them.

The NatSCA conference continued with a series of (strictly!) five minute presentations.

Henry McGhie, of the Manchester Museum, discussed how natural history collections are under-appreciated and underused, and how an informal partnership of museums in the North West has formed in order to aid advocacy.

Rob Huxley, Natural History Museum, London, showed that museums could be used much more by a range people, such as molecular biochemists, vets, geneticists or medical practitioners. We need to think of strategies for reaching out to many more people that could make use of the collections.

David Schnidel from the NMNH Smithsonian Institution suggested we focus on what others might want from the collections, and the new uses that could be discovered for data. Scientific collections could hold answers for research in a range of fields such as the food shortage crisis, disease research and climate change. In addition to scientific research, collections could be used for inspiration for artists, fashion designers, or even architects. With millions of objects across the UK, the opportunities for expanding the usage of our collections could be endless!

Glenn Roadley, Natural Science Curatorial Trainee

20140714-084334.jpg