New & Noteworthy



Archive for July, 2017

26 Jul 2017

Upcoming Deadline for Collections Grants

The National Science Foundation is accepting proposals for the Collections in Support of Biological Research Program through August 14, 2017.

The Collections in Support of Biological Research Program provides funds: 1) for improvements to secure and organize collections that are significant to the NSF BIO-funded research community; 2) to secure collections-related data for sustained, accurate, and efficient accessibility to the biological research community; and 3) to transfer ownership of collections.

Learn more at https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp.

26 Jul 2017

iDigBio Now Has 100+ Million Specimens

iDigBio is now the largest virtual collection of natural history specimens in the world. The National Science Foundation-sponsored initiative surged past 100 million digitized records in July 2017.

“What’s exciting about being at more than 100 million specimen records is you can ask larger questions over space, time and biodiversity. Big data sheds light not just on one species but whole blocks of species — aquatic and terrestrial,” said Larry Page, director of iDigBio. “The more data we have, the better we’ll be able to predict the impacts of climate change, human disease, landscape modifications and changes that will impact crops.”

Page is a past president of the Natural Science Collections Alliance.

The project is based at the University of Florida with the Florida Museum of Natural History and Florida State University as core partners. iDigBio has amassed data from more than 1,900 collections from about 820 institutions in its online portal.

Learn more at https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/science/museum-digitization-program-idigbio-rockets-past-100-million-specimen-records/.

05 Jul 2017

University of Louisiana at Monroe Collections Find New Homes

Four universities in the southeastern U.S. have stepped forward to house natural history collections from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The university had previously threatened to destroy more than 80,000 jars of scientific specimens and 450,000 plant specimens if new homes could not be located.

“[T]he specimens will remain available to researchers nationwide as they will be housed in institutions that can preserve their scientific worth. None of the specimens will be destroyed,” said Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael A. Camille.

University of Louisiana at Monroe administrators reached out to 32 other universities, 18 of which submitted proposals to receive one or more of the collections. A team of museum curators and administrators from the university evaluated the proposals.

The fish collection is heading to a consortium of institutions lead by Tulane University. The University of Texas at Arlington will take the reptile and amphibian collection. The insect collection is going to Mississippi State University. The Botanical Research Institute of Texas in Ft. Worth will take the botanical collection.

The specimens had been stored in an athletic facility, which is scheduled for construction in mid-July. That building project necessitated the removal of the specimens.

The transfer of the specimens will likely be completed in August.

03 Jul 2017

Legislation Introduced to Protect Cultural Objects

Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) has reintroduced legislation to prohibit the export of cultural objects and human remains obtained in violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The “Safeguarding Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act,” or “STOP Act,” would also increase the criminal penalties for violations of NAGPRA.

“We all recognize the incredible beauty of American Indian art — from the remnants of ancient wonders that we can explore and admire in places like Chaco Canyon and the Gila Cliff Dwellings to the traditional and modern art masterpieces created by Native artists to this day,” Heinrich said in a statement. “But we can also recognize a clear difference between supporting tribal artists or collecting artifacts ethically and legally as opposed to dealing or exporting items that tribes have identified as essential and sacred pieces of their cultural heritage.”

S. 1400 is co-sponsored by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Tom Udall (D-NM).

Heinrich introduced a similar bill in the last session of Congress, but it did not advance out of committee.