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 Paper:
First proposal [30 points];
Final (revised) proposal [50 points]

Project Presentations:
First proposal [30 points];
Final (revised) proposal [50 points]

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

Curatorial work arranged 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 Biological Collections Help Scientists Document Environmental Change
Feb 13 Exploring UConn collections II: Skeletons, eggs, feathers, and plants Pdficon small.gif Modelling habitat-suitability using museum collections- an example with three sympatric Apodemus species from the Alps.pdf Museums and the environment
Feb 20 Preparation techniques, curatorial work, and data collection protocols Pdficon small.gif Morphological variation in vanishing Mexican desert fishes of the genus Characodon (Goodeidae).pdf U.S. biological collections national resource
Feb 27 Presentations of project ideas and proposed methodology
Mar 6 Paper discussion. Project pilot work I Pdficon small.gif Predicting the sensitivity of butterfly phenology to temperature over the past century.pdf
Mar 13 Paper discussion. Project pilot work 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 modified project ideas and definite methodology
Apr 3 Submission of the projects written proposals. Project work I
Apr 10 Submission of the projects written proposals. Project work II
Apr 17 Submission of the projects written proposals. Project work III
Apr 24 Project work IV
May 1 Project final presentations
May 8 Final submission of the project written proposals