Staff & Student News

On September 18, Dr. Van Wallach began an extended visit of the Herps Lab in the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles, his second visit this year .  Dr. Van Wallach recently retired from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.  He will continue his study of thread snakes (Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae:Epictia) from Mexico, and will be at the Museum until October 10.  Photo by Dr. Vah Wallach.

Resident Graduate Student Carrie Seltzer (Zoology/Mammals and UIC) entered a dance in the “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest.  In the dance, Carrie portrays a Giant Pouched Rat (Cricetomys gambianus) dispersing seeds of a Tanzanian rainforest tree (danced by undergraduates from Earlham College). The video is available online, and you can also watch the other dances in the contest here.

The Zoology Department’s Division of Invertebrates hosted Dr. So Ishida from October 1–5.  Dr. Ishida is a Zoology Curator at the Osaka Museum of Natural History in Japan.  He studies the invertebrate fauna of tidal flats along the coast of Japan in the 19th to early 20th centuries using data from museum collections.  Due to development and pollution, many areas of these tidal flat communities have been negatively impacted or destroyed since the middle of the 20th century.  The Field Museum’s mollusk collection is of particular interest for Dr. Ishida’s research because it contains a large number of specimens, including type material, collected in the late 1800s by Detroit businessman Frederick Stearns (1831–1907).  Stearns, who had founded the first pharmaceutical manufacturing company in the United States in 1855, was an avid collector of musical instruments and East Asian art.  While traveling in Japan, he became interested in shells and amassed a large collection.  The Field Museum received Stearns’ shells, originally donated to and later deaccessioned by the Detroit Museum of Art, in 1959 as part of the collection of another Michigander, Charles D. Nelson, of Grand Rapids (see here for more information).


Research & Publications

Administrative Assistant Dilyana Ivanova (Anthropology) returned from a trip in Bulgaria where she presented a lecture at the American Research Center in Sofia on September 27.  The topic of the lecture was “Memory about Public Entertainment in Bulgaria during Socialism (1944-1989).” Ivanova discussed the forms of celebration during socialism in the town of Rousse, Bulgaria, and reflection of those times in Bulgarian post-socialist society.  See image left

                  Dilyana and Dr. Emil Nankov (ARCS Archaeological Program Officer) visited the museums in Bulgaria funded through the ABF-sponsored SPCME program in 2012: the Archaeological Museum-Septemvri (funding recipient for the project entitled, “Pistiros Exposition Hall—Presentation and Socialization of Cultural Artifact”), the Archaeological Museum in Varna (project entitled, “Museum for Small and Grown-up”), the Historical Museum in Balchik (project entitled, “Conservation, Restoration, and Exhibition of Stone Architectural Elements and Pieces of Inventory of the Temple of the Pontic Mother of Gods in the Greek Colony Dionysopolis”), and finally the Archaeological Museum of Silistra (project entitled, “Revivification of the Ancient Durostorum in the Archaeological Мuseum–Silistra”). These museums recently began working on their projects, and they are still in the process of remodeling and preparing the museum facilities for the next stage.             

                  Dilayana and Dr. Nankov also visited the Historical Museum in Kazanlak “Iskra” (award recipient in 2011 for the project entitled, “Preservation and Enhancement of the Antiquity Collection of Museum of History "Iskra", Kazanlak”).  The project was recently finalized with a temporary exhibit of the restored artifacts from the antiquity storage facility.  The project is an example of how neglected and forgotten collections can be restored and presented to a community.

In late September, MacArthur Field Biologist Steve Goodman (Zoology) co-authored two publications associated with a collaborative project with the CRVOI laboratory (La Réunion) on bats and diseases.  The first appeared in Emerging and Infectious Diseases and was entitled “Pathogenic Leptospira spp. in bats, Madagascar and Union of the Comoros.”  The second article, entitled “Identification of novel paramyxoviruses in insectivorous bats of the southwest Indian Ocean,” appeared online in Virus Research.

Division of Amphibians and Reptiles Curator Emeritus Harold K. Voris, Zoology Research Associate John C. Murphy, the late Research Associate Daryl R. Karns, and Hanover College biology students Erica Kremer and Katharine O’Connell published a paper in the October issue of Tropical Natural History.  Their examination of molecular and morphological variation of Enhydris subtaeniata is entitled  “Differences among Populations of the Mekong Mud Snake (Enhydris subtaeniata: Serpentes: Homalopsidae) in Indochina,” and is available as a PDF from the authors.

On October 1, Associate Curator Scott Lidgard (Geology) presented a lecture, entitled “Individuality and Generation,” to History of Biology students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  Scott and Research Associate Lynn Nyhart (Geology) then spent two days planning for their upcoming symposium and workshop in December, “What is an individual?  Where philosophy, history, and biology coincide.”  The workshop brought together an international group of scholars in these different disciplines to discuss their separate chapters for a book on biological concepts of individuality from diverse perspectives, which Scott and Lynn will edit.  The workshop follows on their successful May conference in Philadelphia, for which they were supported by the Chemical Heritage Foundation as the 2012 Cain Conference Fellows.  

On September 28–29, A. Watson Armour III Curator Bob Martin (Anthropology) attended the annual conference of the Midwest Primate Interest Group (MPIG) held at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.  At the meeting, Bob was presented with MPIG’s Distinguished Primatologist Award for 2012.  After receiving the award from Dr. Robert Sussman (Anthropology Department, Washington University, St. Louis), Bob gave a podium presentation entitled “Evolution of Mothering.”  His presentation was based on a chapter in his book on the evolution of human reproduction, written for a general readership, which is currently in press with Basic Books in New York.  Image leftDr. Robert Sussman (R) presenting the MPIG Distinguished Primatologist Award to A. Watson III Curator Bob Martin. 



Associate Curator Rick Ree (Botany, BioSynC) traveled to the University of Tennessee September 27-29 to give an invited seminar in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology on his research in the flowering plant genus Pedicularis (lousewort and wood betony).


Fieldwork & Collections

After his departure from the Museum in late August, MacArthur Field Biologist Steve Goodman (Zoology) conducted fieldwork in western, northern, and central Madagascar.  Steve collected bats and associated his findings with a new dictionary of their vocalizations he is collaborating on with several colleagues.  The group also investigated the role of cave-dwelling bats as reservoirs of a series of different potential emerging diseases.  Steve and his colleagues handled well over 500 individuals and obtained over 2,000 tissue samples that were frozen in liquid nitrogen and which have already arrived at their lab on La Réunion.

                  Immediately after this field trip, Steve flew to Paris for a few days to participate as a committee member for a thesis presented at the Université de Paris, associated with the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, and presented by Francois Jacquet on the phylogeny and phylogeography of west African shrews.


Public Education & Media Coverage

An exhibition entitled Witnesses Of The Past, will be on display between October 3–17 at the Gallery of the National Library, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.  It was organized by the Melanesian and Pacific Studies Centre (MAPS / UPNG) in collaboration with the Office of Libraries and Archives and includes a contribution of highlights from the Museum’s New Guinea collections assembled by Regenstein Collections Manager Christopher Philipp and Regenstein Curator John Terrell (both Anthropology).  The exhibition was originally shown on September 15 at the University of Papua New Guinea to commemorate the 37th anniversary of Papua New Guinea independence.  Regenstein Postdoctoral Research Scientist Mark Golitko (Anthropology) and Chris will be in Port Moresby in October and plan on stopping in to check out the show.  Cover Photo credit: © Field Museum A111521c John Weinstein.  

On October 2, Museum Librarian Christine Giannoni, Collections Manager Jochen Gerber (Zoology/Invertebrates), and Artist-in-Residence Peggy Macnamara took part in the Education Department’s Field Ambassador Kick-Off Celebration.  The Field Ambassador program is a professional learning community through which Chicago-area educators receive on-going professional development on the Museum’s resources and best practices in using museums to support student learning.  The Ambassadors received a behind-the-scenes tour of several Collections & Research departments, learning more about their research programs, collections and outreach activities.