New & Noteworthy

Archive for September, 2013

27 Sep 2013

New Game Encourages Learning Taxonomy

The Encyclopedia of Life has created a new game for mobile phone users that mimics global exploration and the discovery of new species.  Users explore species classification and develop an understanding of each species through descriptions, images, and the IUCN conservation status.  The game is available on iTunes and Google Play.

27 Sep 2013

Deadline Approaching for NSF Digitization Grants

The National Science Foundation is accepting proposals for the Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections program.  This initiative seeks to enhance and expand digital data documenting existing vouchered biological and paleontological collections.  The deadline for full proposals is 18 October 2013.  More information is available at

23 Sep 2013

Secretary of Smithsonian to Retire

Dr. Wayne Clough announced last week that he will step down as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in October 2014.  He will have served more than six years as head of the Institution.  Previously, Clough served as president of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“When I became Secretary in 2008, I believed strongly that the Smithsonian had enormous untapped potential, especially in digital technology, to reach millions of people and serve as a resource for those who cannot visit Washington,” Clough said.  “I am confident that with our initiatives underway in bioconservation, education, digitization and fundraising, this is the right time to announce my plans for next fall so that an orderly transition can begin.”

The Smithsonian’s Board of Regents will form a search committee to identify Clough’s replacement.

03 Sep 2013

Scientists Meet with Congressional Policymakers

In August, biological researchers and educators participated in the 5th Annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event.  This nationwide event, sponsored by the Natural Science Collections Alliance, enabled scientists to meet with their members of Congress in their local area rather than in Washington, DC, and allowed elected officials to learn first-hand about the science and research facilities in their district.

Scientists participating in the event discussed the importance of life sciences research with the individuals responsible for casting the votes that shape the nation’s science policy.

Highlights of the event include:

  • U.S. Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL) will visit Ordway-Swisher Biological Station in September.
  • U.S. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) will visit the campus of the University of Central Missouri.
  • Representative Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-CA) will tour a lab at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
  • Participants met with five other members of Congress at district offices, including Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Mike Honda (D-CA), Bill Foster (D-IL), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and Scott Peters (D-CA).
  • Meetings with five state elected officials from Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Virginia.
  • Tours of research facilities were organized for staff of Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and staff of Representatives Ann Kuster (D-NH), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Austin Scott (R-GA), and Filemon Vela (D-TX).
  • Meetings were also arranged with staff for Representatives Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Ron DeSantis (R-FL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), George Holding (R-NC), Patrick Kennedy (D-MA), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Sean Maloney (D-NY), Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Scott Perry (R-PA), Bill Posey (R-FL), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Mark Takano (D-CA).

Over 100 scientists took part in the event.  Individuals from 34 states signed up to meet with their elected officials.  Participants ranged from graduate students to senior researchers and educators.

Individuals in the 2013 event participated in an interactive training webinar.  The program provided information about how best to communicate science to non-technical audiences, tips for conducting a successful meeting with an elected official, and information about trends in funding for research.

The 5th Annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits were made possible by the American Institute of Biological Sciences and Entomological Society of America, with support from event sponsors: American Society of Naturalists, Botanical Society of America, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, Natural Science Collections Alliance, Organization of Biological Field Stations, and Society for the Study of Evolution.

The 6th annual event will be held in August 2014.  More information will be posted in spring 2014 at

03 Sep 2013

Two Upcoming Workshops on Digitization

iDigBio will host two workshops in September on digitization of biological specimens.  Both training events will be accessible online.

Fluid-preserved Invertebrate and Microscopic Slide Imaging

This workshop focuses on imaging techniques for fluid-preserved invertebrates and microscopic slides. The primary goal is to prepare participants for imaging these difficult to record collection objects. More information is available at

To be held 17-18 September 2013

Link to webinar access:

Digitizing Paleo Collections

This workshop is the fourth in a series of preparation specific workshops focusing on organizing, launching, maintaining, and enhancing a biological collections digitization program. The primary goal is to prepare participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to launch or maintain a digitization program individually, through collaboration with an existing Thematic Collections Network (TCN) or Partner with an Existing Network (PEN), or through collaboration with iDigBio. More information is available at

To be held 24-25 September 2013

Link to webinar access: