The Natural History Department continues its long tradition of active collecting, research and student training to prepare the next generation of conservationists, ecologists, anthropologists and evolutionary biologists for the challenges ahead: protecting the diverse and astounding complexity of life on Earth.
Undergraduate student researchers and volunteers contribute significantly to research in the Department of Natural History. Each year, several hundred undergraduate students work on projects, including fieldwork, laboratory experiments, curatorial activities in the museum collections, and exhibit development.
These projects allow early researchers to gain experience working with research collections and analyzing and interpreting data alongside a team of professional scholars. In being part of the discovery process, students are encouraged to ask questions and develop research projects to suit their own interests and build a foundation for potential future investigations after graduation.
As well as more informal work with museum researchers, they support the Emerging Scholars Program and the University Scholars Program. During the last 10 years, they have mentored over 30 University Scholars and 8 Emerging Scholars.
In the past couple of years, the science writers at the museum put together a couple of stories on classes run by museum faculty in which data on sharks and diamondback terrapins, collected by students, are used in real research projects.
Undergrads are key members of the museum, working in various labs and collections and participating in fieldwork, even fieldwork abroad.