Introduction to Museum Research

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EEB 3895, Spring 2014

Discovering and proposing research at the
UConn Biodiversity Collections

Meeting Time: Thursdays, 11:00-11:50 in TLS 171b (Bamford Conference Room)


Alejandro Rico
Office: Biology/Pharmacy 404
Phone:(860) 486-0309
Office hours: Mondays 2-3 pm and by appointment


UConn has the privilege to host comprehensive Biodiversity Research collections encompassing the richness of the world’s organisms. This course is designed to take advantage of this valuable resource. Students will learn about the types of specimens (spirit, skins, fossils, etc.), preparation techniques, and information that can be extracted from them.

Course Policies

Academic Integrity:
Plagiarism and cheating are violations of the student conduct code, and may be punished by failure in the course or, in severe cases, dismissal from the University. For more information, see Section IV of the Student Conduct Code.

If you have a disability for which you may be requesting an accommodation, you should contact a course instructor and the Center for Students with Disabilities (Wilbur Cross Building, Room 201) within the first two weeks of the semester.


Project Presentations:
First proposal presentation [25 points] Feb 27;
Revised proposal presentation [25 points] Apr 3;
Final proposal presentation [30 points] May 1
Pdficon small.gifProposal Presentations Guidelines.pdf

Project Paper:
First proposal [30 points] Apr 17;
Final (revised) proposal [50 points] May 8
Pdficon small.gifWritten Proposals Guidelines.pdf

Paper discussions:
5 papers at 4 points each [20 points]

Curatorial work arranged through this page with the Vertebrate Collections Manager: Sue Hochgraf ( 860-486-8945
4 hours at 5 points per hour [20 points]

Total: [200 points]

Grading scale: A = 100-90%, B = 89-80%, C = 79-70%, D = 69-60%, F = 59-0%. Plus/minus system will be used for the final grade.

Lecture Schedule & Materials

Date Topic Readings Materials
Jan 30 Introduction, goals, and grading. Museums and Research Collections Collections Facility
UConn Research Collections Policies
Feb 6 Exploring UConn collections I: Spirit, round, and pinned specimens Pdficon small.gif The Value of Museum Collections for Research and Society.pdf
Feb 13 Snow day : Due to the forecast of inclement weather, classes at all UConn campuses are canceled Please start scheduling your collections work hours here
Feb 20 Fire alarm evacuation : Paper discussed but collections tour postponed Pdficon small.gif Modelling habitat-suitability using museum collections- an example with three sympatric Apodemus species from the Alps.pdf Pdficon small.gifSpirit_Collections_2014.pdf
Animation of the Inergen fire suppression system
Feb 27 Exploring UConn collections II: Skeletons, eggs, feathers, and plants Pdficon small.gif Morphological variation in vanishing Mexican desert fishes of the genus Characodon (Goodeidae).pdf U.S. biological collections national resource
Mar 6 Presentations of project ideas and proposed methodology I Pdficon small.gif Predicting the sensitivity of butterfly phenology to temperature over the past century.pdf Museums and the environment
Mar 13 Presentations of project ideas and proposed methodology II Pdficon small.gif Eggshell thinning of osprey (Pandion haliaetus) breeding in Sweden and its significance for egg breakage and breeding outcome.pdf
Mar 20 Spring recess
Mar 27 Presentations of project ideas and proposed methodology III
Apr 3 Cancelled
Apr 10 Presentations of modified project ideas and definite methodology I Last spots open for your collections work hours!
Apr 17 Presentations of modified project ideas and definite methodology II
Apr 24 Presentations of modified project ideas and definite methodology III
May 1 Project final presentations. Visit to Dr. Wagner's Lab Pdficon small.gifHistorical changes in northeastern US bee pollinators related to shared ecological traits.pdf Biological Collections Help Scientists Document Environmental Change
May 8 Final submission of the project written proposals