Staff & Student News

MacArthur Curator Bruce Patterson (Zoology/Mammals) was appointed as an external examiner on a doctoral dissertation from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.  The 300-page dissertation, entitled “Environmental Factors Influencing the Distribution of Bats (Chiroptera) in South Africa,” was written by Hassan Babiker, a South Sudanese biologist.

Research & Publications

In mid-April, Associate Curator Petra Sierwald (Zoology/Insects) attended a conference sponsored by the National Science Foundation, held in Washington DC.  The conference brought together many Program Directors of the nation’s Research-Experience-for-Undergraduates (REU) site grants.  Petra and co-PI Associate Curator Ken Angielczyk (Geology) just received the renewal for The Field Museum’s REU site grant; and the next cohort of summer interns, funded through this program, will start in the research labs and collections of C&R in early June.  The conference topics included new developments in REU training and progress assessment, efforts of broadening participation in the sciences, responsible-conduct-in-research training for NSF sponsored projects, long-term tracking of REU alumnus, and issues regarding the substantial workload for mentors and program directors of REU site grants.  Petra is excited about a new development in The Field Museum REU site grant: the Museum is collaborating with colleague Jeremie Fant at the Chicago Botanical Garden, who heads the Garden’s REU project.  Several joint activities and field trips are planned for the Garden's and Field Museum's REU interns this year.

MacArthur Field Biologist Steve Goodman (Zoology/Birds and Mammals) co-authored two different articles in mid-April.  The first appeared in Infection, Genetics and Evolution, entitled “Deciphering arboviral emergence within insular ecosystems,” and was co-authored with colleagues from the Centre de Recherche et de Veille sur les Maladies Émergentes dans l’Océan Indien (CRVOI) on La Réunion.  The article reviews new insights into arboviral spread and evolution associated with investigations that followed epidemics and aspects that make insular ecosystems favorable to the investigation of arboviral transmission and spread.  The second article, co-authored with colleagues from South Africa and Madagascar, was published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society and entitled “Genetically and geographically isolated lineages of a tropical bat (Chiroptera: Molossidae) show demographic stability over the late Pleistocene.”

Resident Graduate Student Carrie Seltzer (Zoology/Mammals and UIC) gave an oral presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Ecological Society of America meeting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA on April 14.  She presented preliminary results of research from the East Usambara Mountains of Tanzania entitled “Seedling establishment from experimentally planted seeds of an economically important African tree.”

Fieldwork & Collections

Curator Rüdiger Bieler (Zoology/Invertebrates) returned in mid-April from three weeks of fieldwork in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge.  In addition to scuba-assisted sampling of specimens for the Bivalve-Tree-of-Life project, Rüdiger took underwater photographs of nudibranch snails for his upcoming book on the gastropod fauna of the region and surveyed artificial substrata (such as plastic stone crab and lobster traps) for potentially invasive worm-snail species.



Public Education & Media Coverage

During the final week of the special exhibit Opening the Vaults: Mummies, A. Watson Armour III Curator Bob Martin (Anthropology)has been engaged in several elated presentations.  He began on April 16 with an introduction to the exhibit for a group of docents from the Oriental Institute assembled in Montgomery Ward Hall.  Following the introduction, two Field Museum docents  —Ellis Caspary and Dennis Kinzig —provided a guided tour through the exhibit.  The event was much appreciated, as shown by a follow-up letter from Terry Friedman (Volunteer Programs Manager at the Oriental Institute):

                  “Thank you so much for arranging such a wonderful day for us at The Field Museum.  The lecture from Bob Martin was fascinating and helped set the stage for what we were about to see in the Mummies exhibit.  Both docents were so engaging and added so much to our understanding of each exhibit's content. It was the perfect way to celebrate National Volunteer month.”

                  On April 18, Bob visited the University Club of Chicago, where he gave a lunchtime presentation entitled “Bringing Mummies to Life” for members of the President’s Leadership Circle and Field Associates.  On April 19, he made the same trip to make the same presentation (in the same room!) to members of the University Club itself.  Judging from the lively questionsessions that followed both presentations, he clearly hit a chord.  Indeed, he persuaded several attendees to hurry across and see the exhibit before it closed.  To round things off, together with Regenstein Conservator JP Brown (Anthropology), Bob will be present in Opening the Vaults: Mummies on April 20 (tonight!) to answer questions from participants in the latest “Dozin with Dinosaurs” event.

Photo above: Bob explaining scanning images of the unidentified mummy dubbed "Gilded Lady" (Photo: John White, Sun Times).

Assistant Curator Corrie Moreau (Zoology/Insects) was interviewed on April 17 for Chicago radio station 101.9 for their weekly program MIX Matters, hosted by Susan Wiencek, which features Chicago-area officials and experts discussing the issues that affect our community.  Corrie discussed how the shorter winter might affect the number of ants you may expect to see in Chicago this summer and to promote The Romance of Ants exhibit here at The Field Museum.  If you missed the interview, you can hear it here.

Regenstein Conservator JP Brown (Anthropology), traveled to the Indianapolis Museum of Art from April 16–18, where he assisted Richard McCoy and IMA staff with the CT scanning of six African Songye power figures.  The work generated significant new knowledge about the way the magico-spiritual energy was physically incorporated into these objects and was covered in an article in the Indianapolis Star, available here.