This year will be one of transition for the Insect Museum, as there will be a lot of turnover in personnel:
- Matt Yoder has been instrumental in helping us set up and refine our specimen database, and he’s been an incredible colleague and mentor to our students. He is moving soon to the Species File project, and though we’ll always be collaborators we will miss having him around the Museum! Amy Bader, one of our museum technicians is joining him.
- Two students are scheduled to defend their masters this spring: Andrew Ernst and Trish Mullins, and another student, Steve Turner, may also wrap up this year.
- Katja Seltmann left us earlier this month and now is helping to coordinate one of the first TCN projects, Plants, Herbivores and Parasitoids: A Model System for the Study of Tri-Trophic Associations, at the American Museum of Natural History.
- Two of us are moving to Penn State in July: István Mikó and me, Andy Deans. I will serve as the new director of the Frost Entomological Museum. More on this later, as it’s obviously big change for the Insect Museum.
It’ll be an exciting year, nonetheless, as we are ready to begin our contribution to the tritrophic interactions TCN mentioned above. That means digitize, digitize, digitize. And we’re on track to finish the drawer-scanning component of our prior BRC grant. We have almost 2,000 drawers uploaded to GigaPan! Scarabs and buprestids are coming up soon, so there will be some real eye candy. With all of this in mind, here are our 2012 resolutions:
- Update the bee classification we use to curate specimens. Seems like an obvious task for us, given that we have a world class bee collection, the director is a hymenopterist, and we have a student (paid by the museum grant) who LOVES bees. We’ll move Anthophoridae and Meliponidae to their respective places (under Apidae) and do some substantial relabeling and reorganizing. It’s also relevant to our NSF BRC grant, which runs out in August.
- Finish GigaPanning the collection. We have maybe 600 or so drawers left to image, and it’s taking awhile because we’re also using this necessary handling as an excuse to inject some expansion space into the collection. The remaining drawers are challenging, but we have the time and experience now to polish them off.
- Maintain our efforts to monitor humidity, pest strips, and ethanol levels in the collection. Seems like this shouldn’t be a resolution, but I find it useful to place it here as a metric to use in our year-end self-evaluation.
- Stay communicative. With the North Carolina Insect of the Week likely moving to a more erratic schedule we need to make sure we publish other news and observations to this blog and to Twitter. Maybe that sounds silly, but it’s fun to share our latest discoveries and other activities – keeps everyone aware and on their toes! The weekly insect morphology post should help with that.
- Organize a smooth transition. With most of the Deans lab leaving, it’s important that we get organized about equipment, funding (especially the TCN project), and, perhaps most importantly, our digital resources (how the database is set up, how to access the museum website, etc. – it’s a bit of a digital hodgepodge right now, involving multiple servers). Assuming a new director will be joining the Museum in the not-too-distant future we want to make sure that person can make a seamless transition.