Staff & Student News

The Bird and Mammal Divisions hosted Mathew Lowe, the Collection Manager from the University Museum of Zoology Cambridge on August 25 for an in-depth tour of the research collection facilities.  The UMZC will soon undergo a substantial renovation and expansion, to improve the care and increase utilization of their research collection, which includes, among others, many of the specimens and field notes from Charles Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle.  Matt sent the following message the Department after his visit:

Dear Dr. Heaney,

Many thanks to Mary Hennen, Anna Goldman and yourself for my recent tour of the collections on behalf of the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge.  The future development of the UMZC will no doubt benefit tremendously from the ideas and practices I observed on my visit. I was extremely impressed with your team's professional dedication to cataloging, specimen conservation and pest management controls despite the sheer scale of the excellent collections at the Field Museum.  Despite the challenges, you have a collection that you can all be very proud of.

Kind regards,

Matt Lowe
Collections Manager, UMZC

Research & Publications

Curator Gary Feinman (Anthropology) published two articles in a recent volume edited by Michael E. Smith entitled The Comparative Archaeology of Complex Societies.  Gary is one of 12 authors of an opening statement that lays out the aim of the collection, “Comparative Archaeology: A Commitment to Understanding Variation.”  He is also the sole author of another chapter, “Comparative Frames for the Diachronic Analysis of Complex Societies: Next Steps.”


From September 7–9, Rowe Family Curator Olivier Rieppel (Geology) attended a philosophy workshop on natural kinds in Granada, Spain where he presented a talk entitled “Species, history, and identity: construing kinds without essences.”  On his way to Spain, Olivier spent a few days in the state and university archives in Zurich and Basle (Switzerland), conducting research on the biography of the idealistic morphologist Adolf Naef.


From September 6–9, Associate Curator Rick Ree (Botany) traveled to the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) at Duke University in Durham, NC for a meeting of the advisory board, which he joined late last year.  The advisory board provides reviews of center proposals (for working groups, postdoctoral research positions, etc.) and gives guidance to the center on matters pertaining to direction and sustainability.  On the same trip, Rick was also invited to give a seminar at North Carolina State University on his research on the reciprocal interactions of evolutionary processes during the diversification of life.


On August 26, Negaunee Collection Manager Bill Stanley (Zoology/Mammals) and fourteen colleagues published a monograph in Fieldiana: Life and Earth Sciences entitled “Studies of Montane Vertebrates of Tanzania.”  The 116-page volume includes nine chapters.  Four of the chapters describe the results of the first detailed surveys of shrews, bats and rodents in the East and West Usambara Mountains of Tanzania, two of the most famous massifs of the Eastern Arc Mountains.  The other five chapters present the first detailed ecological information of the herptofauna of other mountains of Tanzania, and describe one new species.  The preface pays special tribute to Dr. Kim M. Howell, a professor of zoology at the University of Dar es Salaam who has played a key role in the research programs of all authors involved with this volume.  Funding for this publication came from the Field Museum’s Council on Africa.


Adjunct Curator and Collections Manager Robert Lücking (Botany) returned from a five-week trip to Colombia, Paraguay, and Brazil in August and early September.  The trip was part of a neotropical lichen workshop project sponsored by the NSF, and included four workshops and one course in multivariate analysis in community ecology.  In addition, Robert participated in the lichen symposium as part of the National Botanical Congress in Cali, Colombia.  Two students at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Angelica Rincon and Nancy Mateus, successfully defended their Master’s theses with Robert as co-advisor; these had been carried out as part of Robert’s NSF project.  Robert also led five field trips, recollecting material of particular groups of lichens for taxonomic and phylogenetic studies.

Fieldwork & Collections

Negaunee Collection Manager Bill Stanley (Zoology/Mammals) returned from Tanzania on September 9 after surveying the small mammals of Ruaha National Park.  The emphasis of this survey was the Isunkavyola Plateau, an unexplored submontane habitat in the middle of the Park, which took two days to get to.  Once there, Bill and Mary Anne Rogers (Zoology/Mammals) worked with Tanzanian biologists to sample the shrews, bats and rodents of the area.  Of special note were several records of Myotis welwitschii, a beautiful red and black insectivorous bat that is very poorly known.  Funding for this survey came from the Field Museum/IDP Foundation, Inc. African Training Fund.  Probably the most memorable aspect of the safari was the night Bill’s trusty Land Cruiser broke a piston and Bill had to walk 30 km through the bush at night to organize a tow truck.   AAA was not an option.

Public Education & Media Coverage