New & Noteworthy

Archive for January, 2012

30 Jan 2012

2012 SPNHC Annual Meeting

The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections will hold its annual meeting at the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut from June 11-16, 2012.

The meeting theme is: Emerging Technology and Innovation in Natural History Collections Management.

Additional information is available at:

24 Jan 2012

IMLS Releases Strategic Plan for 2012-2016

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has released a new five year strategic plan.  The plan identifies the mission of IMLS to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, learning, and cultural and civic engagement by providing leadership through research, policy development, and grant-making.

According to a press release by IMLS: “The strategic plan establishes a clear framework for performance improvement that emphasizes evidence-based program development and evaluation and includes identifying and sharing best practices; aligning grant-making to best practices and research results; networking to build capacity; and assessing progress.”

Five strategic goals will underpin IMLS programs and investments:

  • IMLS places the learner at the center and supports engaging experiences in libraries and museums that prepare people to be full participants in their local communities and our global society.
  • IMLS promotes museums and libraries as strong community anchors that enhance civic engagement, cultural opportunities, and economic vitality.
  • IMLS supports exemplary stewardship of museum and library collections and promotes the use of technology to facilitate discovery of knowledge and cultural heritage.
  • IMLS advises the President and Congress on plans, policies, and activities that sustain and increase public access to information and ideas.
  • IMLS achieves excellence in public management and performs as a model organization through strategic alignment of IMLS resources and prioritization of programmatic activities, maximizing value for the American public.

The new plan was developed with the input of 1,400 participants.  NSC Alliance submitted comments on the draft plan in August 2011.

Read the plan at

23 Jan 2012

Head of Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum to Step Down

Cristián Samper, the director of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), will resign in July to become president and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society.  Samper has served as director of NMNH since 2003.

“It has been a privilege to serve at the Smithsonian as director of this great museum, with a team of dedicated professionals and act as a steward of the largest natural history collection in the world,” said Samper. “As a tropical biologist, I recognize the urgent need to conserve the natural and cultural diversity of this planet. It is my goal to contribute to these vital efforts as head of the Wildlife Conservation Society.”

During his tenure as director, Samper helped the museum to upgrade collections storage facilities and expand digitization of collections.  He also oversaw the renovation of several major exhibits, including the Ocean Hall, Hall of Human Origins, and Hall of Mammals.  Samper also worked to ensure that NMNH would continue to serve as a scientific leader in the long-term by recruiting and training the next generation of museum researchers.

Samper was also co-founder of the Encyclopedia of Life, an online database about life on Earth.

Prior to becoming director, Samper was deputy director and staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.


17 Jan 2012

Specimens Collected by Darwin Discovered in British Collection

A British paleontologist has found a lost set of specimens collected by Charles Darwin.  The fossils were found in a box in the British Geological Survey.  The collection contains 314 slides of fossils prepared by Darwin, John Hooker, and others.  Some of the slides were collected by Darwin on his expedition on the HMS Beagle.

“To find a treasure trove of lost Darwin specimens from the Beagle voyage is just extraordinary,” said Dr. Howard Falcon-Lang, the discoverer of the specimens. “We can see there’s more to learn. There are a lot of very, very significant fossils in there that we didn’t know existed.”

The slides have been photographed and can be viewed online at

11 Jan 2012

Action Alert: Protect the Integrity of Federally Funded Scientific Research

Legislation is pending in the House of Representatives that would require the public release of sensitive information regarding peer review of federal grants.

As it is currently drafted, the Grant Reform and New Transparency (GRANT) Act, HR 3433, would require that the government publish online grant proposals funded by federal agencies. Unlike the current government practice of releasing abstracts, this new requirement would include potentially propriety intellectual information related to the applicant’s hypotheses, novel methodology, and preliminary research findings.

Moreover, the GRANT Act would require the public disclosure of the names of the peer reviewers for each federally funded grant. Removing the anonymity of peer review would open the process to real or perceived fear of repercussions for reviewers, and could result in self-censoring by reviewers.

Please stand up for the integrity of the scientific process by asking your Representative to voice his/her disapproval of these provisions in the GRANT Act by signing a Dear Colleague letter being circulated by Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ) and David Price (D-NC). The Holt-Price letter urges Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi to remove these provisions from the GRANT Act before it is further considered in the House.

Write to your Representative today! The deadline for members of Congress to sign the letter is Friday, 13 January 2012.

Take action at

10 Jan 2012

GBIF Seeks Applications for Young Researchers Award

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is offering two research awards to current graduate students pursuing research involving biodiversity data.  The 2012 Young Researchers Award is intended to foster innovative research and discovery in biodiversity informatics.

Two awards of €4,000 will be available to graduate students in a master’s or doctoral program at a university in a GBIF Voting Participant country, such as the United States and Mexico, or Associate Participant country, such as Canada.

Research proposals must clearly demonstrate how data enabled by GBIF are being incorporated in the applicant’s work. The proposal should include a project description, a budget, literature cited, and the applicant’s curriculum vitae including contact information at the home institution.

Proposals will be reviewed by the Head of Delegation of a GBIF Voting or Associate Participant country. Students are encouraged to contact their academic advisors, the GBIF national node in their country, or members of the Science Committee regarding the deadline for proposal submissions at the national level. Contacts of the Heads of Delegation are available at

For further details, please download the full call for proposals.

09 Jan 2012

Deadline Approaching for Visiting Scholars Program at iDigBio HUB

The NSF-funded iDigBio project is pleased to announce a Visiting Scholars program available at the national headquarters (HUB), University of Florida, Gainesville, starting in 2012. Emphasis will be placed on early-career collections and informatics-based professionals with demonstrated interest in digitization, particularly those who broaden representation within this academic and professional community.

The iDigBio Visiting Scholars program is envisioned to support short-term (typically 1 to 3 months) visits and residencies, e.g., junior faculty on sabbatical or during summer leave. During this visit, the incumbent would be expected to work on a project and produce a deliverable that advances the national digitization effort in research and/or education. Examples of possible activities might include (but are not restricted to) using this focused time to develop: (1) a paper or grant proposal; (2) an iDigBio workshop; (3) an appropriate course (undergraduate, or graduate) proposal on a relevant topic that could serve as a prototype for the HUB and TCNs; and/or (4) an outreach project that communicates the importance of collections digitization to the public. During their visit, the incumbent would be expected to give a seminar and be encouraged to be involved in related HUB activities. The incumbent would be expected to submit a short final report of activities and offer input to the project evaluators.

This Visiting Scholars program includes a monthly stipend of $7,500 (up to $22,500 for an individual visit), some travel/relocation funds (up to $2,500), high-quality, shared office space at the HUB, and access to UF resources (e.g., internet, libraries, collections, etc).

Applications for the Visiting Scholars program should include a: (1) cover letter (no more than 2 pages) describing: (a) how this opportunity would help to advance your career; (b) the activity, project, and deliverable that you would work on during your time at the HUB; (2) brief budget (items and explanation), following the guidelines above; and (3) complete CV.

This program is open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The deadline for receipt of the first round of applications is 1 February 2012. This application should be sent to Jason Grabon (, iDigBo Project Manager.

06 Jan 2012

NSC Alliance Requests Discussion of Permits for Scientific Specimens

Today, NSC Alliance requested that the U.S. government pursue a discussion of how to improve the permit validation process for scientific specimens on the agenda for the sixteenth regular meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).  The comments were in response to a request for public input by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding resolutions, decisions, and agenda items for the meeting, which will be held in March 2013 in Thailand.

The comments from NSC Alliance address the problems that some researchers have had in validating import/export permits for scientific specimens, which at times has resulted in the damage or loss of specimens.

Click here to read the comments from NSC Alliance.

03 Jan 2012

Former NSCA Board Member Named ‘Tar Heel of the Year’

Dr. Betsy Bennett, director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, has been honored with the title of Tar Heel of the Year by The News and Observer, a North Carolina newspaper.  The award is given to “a strong leader who has had wide and lasting impact in North Carolina,” according to paper.

Dr. Bennett “has a high energy level and a passion for what she does,” said John Drescher, executive director of The News and Observer.  “She is a consensus-building visionary with the people skills of a politician; she was once an elected school board member in another community.  She’s been a highly effective leader of a growing state institution.”

Read the full profile of Dr. Bennett at

has a high energy level and a passion for what she does. She’s hired talented people. She is a consensus-building visionary with the people skills of a politician; she once was an elected school board member in another community. She’s been a highly effective leader of a growing state institution.Read more here:
has a high energy level and a passion for what she does. She’s hired talented people. She is a consensus-building visionary with the people skills of a politician; she once was an elected school board member in another community. She’s been a highly effective leader of a growing state institution.Read more here:
has a high energy level and a passion for what she does. She’s hired talented people. She is a consensus-building visionary with the people skills of a politician; she once was an elected school board member in another community. She’s been a highly effective leader of a growing state institution.Read more here: