Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections April 2014 - (Page 16)

What's New comparative collection of recent specimens, especially marine and terrestrial molluscs. They are worldwide but focus on the USA and Texas in particular. They include an important type and figure collection of about 20,000 specimens, and some rare historically collected (late 19th century) specimens, both fossil and recent. Associated archives of catalogs, card indexes, field notebooks, analytical data, reference books, photoimagery, and perhaps most importantly, working with a great bunch of staff, students and volunteers. New SPNHC Secretary After this year's elections, SPNHC has a new Secretary, Ann Molineux will be taking over for Judith Price, who has served as SPNHC Secretary for ten years. We thank Judith for this decade of excellent work and wish good luck to Ann! Get to know our new Secretary with the following Q&A: What accomplishments are you most proud of? What is your name? Ann Molineux. What is your position? Curator and Collection Manager. Where do you work? Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab (NPL), Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin. How many years have you been working in this capacity? 14 years at NPL. When did you join SPNHC? I think it was 2000, just after I joined what was then part of the Texas Memorial Museum. What drew you to the natural history field? When I arrived here 14 years ago the collections were scattered over four buildings. They are now consolidated in two buildings. We had no digital database and there was no way to locate a specimen, unless you had been the curator for 100 years or so! So the first and most important challenge was to devise a way to solve that problem. We now have a robust database, still working on data entry and the usual forensic exercises to make the data as clean as possible. We also know where almost all the specimens are located. We began in 2004 and crudely mapped the collection cabinet locations, then got with it and created an accurate ArcMap project for our buildings, measuring and plotting all the 30 or so cabinet styles and then linking that map to the database. This was the first time, to our knowledge that anyone had used a GIS system in this context and it fulfills a vital role for us. It is now extended to an online version so that people can browse from afar! We are slowly adding whole drawer images to that virtual access. I grew up close to Beachy Head in England and the pebbly beaches were so painful to walk on that I took to watching where I put my feet! I think that is where I began to get interested in rocks and landforms. My first degree from Cambridge (UK), where I was a Girtonian, was in Geography with a special emphasis in Geomorphology. I spent two exciting summers in the Negev Desert doing the fieldwork for my thesis. Although my first position with the Oxford University Press focused upon data gathering and computer mapping, I finally returned to complete a PhD in Geology with special emphasis on Paleontology (Late Paleozoic Paleoenvironments) at UT Austin. What do you find most fulfilling about your work? Describe the nature of the collections you work with. What have you learned from SPNHC to be particularly helpful? How has SPNHC helped you? NPL has about 4.5 million specimens. The collections include invertebrate and paleobotanical fossils, geological samples, microfossils, a fine mineral collection and space related materials, meteorites and tektites. In addition there is an extensive The Director of Operations at the Texas Natural Science Center said that I should join SPNHC, especially since I came from a non-museum background and knew next to nothing about running a collection! She was absolutely correct. The most exciting aspect is that every time we hit an obstacle or have an idea we seem to locate the right connection to help us achieve what we need. Apart from finding some incredibly talented graduate and undergraduate students and volunteers, this need has generated very productive crossdisciplinary links with our Information School and the Texas Advanced Computing Center. Perhaps equally fulfilling is being able to tell others about the collections and see them get so excited about paleontology, and come to realize why we need to keep such archives. "Networking and learning from others is such an invaluable benefit of being a SPNHC member." 16 * SPNHC Newsletter

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections April 2014

From the President
Society Reports
Calendar 2014
What's New
Member Profile
Travel Grants
Photo Credits

Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections April 2014