New & Noteworthy

Archive for October, 2015

28 Oct 2015

Notice of Availability of Request for Information – Bioarchive Services

On October 28, 2015, NEON, the National Ecological Observatory Network will be issuing a Request for Information (RFI) to determine the interest of organizations, institutions, collaborations and consortia in providing museum services in support of the NEON mission. NEON is a large facility project funded by the National Science Foundation. Throughout the 30 year life of the NEON observatory, a range of biological and physical samples and specimens will be collected from terrestrial and aquatic systems including insects, small mammals, fish, flora, soils, as well as wet and dry deposition. These samples (collectively, the NEON Bioarchive) will require cataloging, curation and long term storage. For more information on NEON and its mission, please visit

Notices of Intent to Submit are due November 20, 2015 and submissions are due February 17, 2016. All interested and qualified parties are encouraged to provide a submission. The full RFI provides additional information and is available from the NEON Contracts Administrator, Steve McCormick at (720) 330-1668 or

26 Oct 2015

Digitization Efforts Highlighted in the News

A recent article in the New York Times highlights the efforts of natural history collections to make their specimens and associated data available online.

“Everybody knows there’s a tremendous amount of information in natural history collections,” Larry Page told the newspaper. Page is the president of NSC Alliance, the director of iDigBio, and a curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History. “But the collections are inaccessible to virtually everyone. Even scientists working on particular groups of organisms don’t know what’s contained in the other museums.”

“This is one way of documenting what we are about to lose,” said Quentin Wheeler. Wheeler is president of the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York and a former NSC Alliance board member. Digitization will reveal “irreplaceable clues needed to reconstruct evolutionary history, to understand where we and all the other species came from.”

Read the article.

26 Oct 2015

DNA Analysis Reveals Origins of Birds

A new technique for analyzing DNA has resulted in the construction of the first complete family tree for birds. Researchers discovered that all birds evolved from a group of dinosaurs and that more than 10,000 bird species evolved within a few million years after the extinction of dinosaurs. A study describing the discovery was published in the journal Nature.

The authors of the study include researchers from Florida State University, Yale University, Cornell University, and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences; the latter three institutions are members of NSC Alliance.

23 Oct 2015

WeDigBio Invites Participants in Global Digitization Campaign

Do you like biological diversity? Do you want to help us increase our understanding of the diversity of life? Do you want to be a part of a global effort to digitize specimens in biological diversity collections?

If you said yes to any of these, you should participate in the WeDigBio (Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections, global event, which is taking place from October 22-25, 2015. This event is designed to engage participants in transcribing biodiversity research collections.

Join WeDigBio and scientists around the world to transform biodiversity collections data into a worldwide resource that will enhance the span of biodiversity research across time, taxa, and geographies.

To get involved, visit the WeDigBio Find a Project ( page and select the transcription center of your choice and enjoy making a difference in this global biodiversity science effort.

06 Oct 2015

IMLS Announces Funding Opportunities

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has published a guide to fiscal year 2016 funding. Grants are available to museums through several programs:

  • Museums for America: $5,000 to $150,000 per grant for activities that strengthen museums as active resources for lifelong learning, vital components of livable communities, and good stewards of the nation’s collections.
  • National Leadership Grants for Museums: $50,000 to $500,000 per grant for projects that address challenges or needs of the museum field, have broad impact, and demonstrate innovation and collaboration.
  • Sparks! Ignition Grants for Museums: $10,000 to $25,000 per grant for opportunities to expand and test the boundaries of museum services and practices.

Read the funding guide at

06 Oct 2015

LA Times Spotlights UC Berkeley’s Campanile Fossil Collection

On 9 September, the Los Angeles Times’ Amina Khan wrote a feature highlighting the rediscovery and revitalization of the Campanile fossil collection at University of California Berkeley. Tucked away in one of the oldest buildings on campus, the collection of fossils from the McKittrick and La Brea tar pits was half-forgotten for many years. The Campanile, also known as Sather Tower, is celebrating its hundred-year anniversary, and houses around 300,000 fossils including giant sloths, cave bears, and petrified wood.

While study of these fossils was sidelined for a long time, new advances and approaches to paleontology and new interests such as the effects of climate changes on the animal populations have resulted in dusting off, literally and figuratively, this collection. Neglect has damaged some of the specimens, and current grants are only enough to begin restoration and curation of part of the collection. However, the newfound purpose researchers have found for this half-forgotten collection serves as an important reminder of the necessity of maintaining and properly cataloging aging and sidelined collections for future scientific endeavors.

The full LA Times article can be found at

06 Oct 2015

GBIF Task Force on Accelerating the Discovery of Biocollections Data Survey

The GBIF Task Force on Accelerating the Discovery of Biocollections Data is conducting a survey on digitization of biocollections. The purpose of the survey is to collect data to enable the task force determine and demonstrate (1) the digital readiness of the world’s biocollections and their institutions; (2) the benefits to the collection/institution that digitization engenders; and (3) the impediments to collection data digitization.

If you are an administrator, curator, or data, information or collection managers of a natural history collection, please take the survey at

05 Oct 2015

NSF Announces Solicitation for Dimensions of Biodiversity Program

The National Science Foundation has released a program solicitation for the Dimensions of Biodiversity program. The agency anticipates awarding at least $16 million in fiscal year 2016.

The Dimensions of Biodiversity program aims to transform “how we describe and understand the scope and role of life on Earth.”

Research awards are for up to 5 years in duration and up to $2 million.

Proposals are due by 3 April 2014. For more information, see the program solicitation at