New & Noteworthy

Archive for November, 2010

23 Nov 2010

SPNHC Seeks Guidance on Best Practices and Ethics Policies

The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) is working to produce practical guidelines to help develop best practices and ethics policies for natural history collections.  With this goal, SPNHC is reaching out to museums, universities, and discipline-specific societies to request copies of their best practices and ethics documents.  It is from this broad perspective that a toolkit will be crafted with the goal to be useful to the natural history community with regards to Best Practices and Ethics.  If any institution or sister society has such a document, the SPNHC Ethics Committee would sincerely appreciate receiving a copy (electronic preferred), which can be sent to the chairperson, Linda S. Ford at

18 Nov 2010

Taxonomists Plan for Big Push to Describe All Species on Earth

Taxonomists are pushing for a large scale mission to find and describe all of the species on the planet.  Lead by scientists at Arizona State University, the effort was launched at a recent meeting of taxonomists, informatics experts, ecologists, sociologists, and computer scientists.  The meeting was organized by Quentin Wheeler, a member of the NSC Alliance Board of Directors.  The group hopes to increase the number of species formally described each year to 200,000, a tenfold increase over the current rate.

18 Nov 2010

Scientists Express Concern for Peruvian Science Collections

Biologists are expressing concern for the preservation and appropriate curation of specimens held in the Museo de Historia Natural of San Marcos University in Lima, Peru.  On 19 November 2010, university officials are scheduled to consider plans to develop new space for the university’s graduate school and new facilities for the museum.  The problem, according to some scientists who are familiar with the process, is that the plans do not address the need for appropriate temporary space for the preservation and curation of the museum’s specimens.  Several scientific organizations, including NSC Alliance, have encouraged the President of the University of San Marcos to work closely with museum curators to ensure that no specimens are lost or damaged.

Letter from Natural Science Collections Alliance

Letter from American Society of Mammalogists

Letter from Museum of Texas Tech University

17 Nov 2010

NSC Alliance, Nine Other Science Groups Ask Congress to Pass FY 2011 Science Appropriations

On 17 November 2010, the Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance) joined with nine other scientific societies and organizations to request that Congress pass an FY 2011 appropriations bill that would provide the National Science Foundation with $7.424 billion.

The text of the letter follows (the same letter was sent to Representatives Obey and Lewis, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee):

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16 Nov 2010

Meeting of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee will meet on June 21-22, 2011, in Syracuse, NY, at the Grant Auditorium of the Syracuse University College of Law. The agenda for this meeting will include discussion and adoption of the draft Review Committee Report to the Congress for 2010; discussion of the scope of the Review Committee Report to the Congress for 2011; National NAGPRA Program reports; and the selection of dates and sites for the spring 2012 and fall 2012 meetings. In addition, the agenda may include requests to the Review Committee for a recommendation to the Secretary of the Interior in order to effect the agreed-upon disposition of Native American human remains determined to be culturally unidentifiable. The agenda for this meeting will be posted on or before May 30, 2011, at http://  For more information, visit

04 Nov 2010

Encyclopedia of Life Selects New Executive Director

The Encyclopedia of Life, a collaborative project that aims to gather and share knowledge about all species on the planet, has a new executive director, Dr. Erick Mata.  Mata is currently the Director of Biodiversity Informatics and Education at the National Biodiversity Institute of Costa Rica.  Dr. Jim Edwards, who previously held the position, retired on May 30, 2010 and now serves as a Senior Advisor to EOL.

Dr. Mata served as the chair of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility’s (GBIF) Outreach and Capacity Building Scientific Subcommittee from 2001 to 2005 and as the chair of GBIF’s Science Committee from 2007 to 2009.  He has worked as the Coordinator of the Inter American Biodiversity Information Network Species and Specimen Thematic Network from 2006 to the present.