Fla. Museum to celebrate Darwin’s 200th birthday Feb. 12, 14, 2009

December 15th, 2008

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Celebrate Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday with the Florida of Natural History during two days of Darwin-themed activities Feb. 12 and 14, 2009.

At 7 p.m. Feb. 12, join Betty Smocovitis of the University of Florida’s zoology and history departments for “Singing His Praises: Darwin and His Theory in Song and Musical Production.”

Attendees will enjoy a lighthearted look through song and film at Darwin and the issues and controversies regarding his theory of evolution. The lecture is designed to introduce a general audience to the life of Darwin, offer new insights into his life and work and provoke thought about the relationship between science and American popular culture. A Darwin birthday cake will be served.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 14, those curious about evolution who want to see evidence of the process can take part in “Darwin Day” with Florida Museum collections staff. (more…)

Fla. Museum Everglades exhibit opens Feb. 7 featuring Clyde Butcher, Jeff Ripple photos and top 10 invasive species

December 9th, 2008

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Journey into the Everglades with the Florida Museum of Natural History’s newest “double feature” exhibit – “ForEverglades: Photos by Clyde Butcher & Jeff Ripple” and “Alien Attack: Target Everglades” from Feb. 7 through May 31, 2009.

Produced by the Florida Museum, the exhibit allows visitors to discover the majesty of one of Florida’s most unique natural features and learn about the dangers invasive species bring to the Everglades.

“ForEverglades: Photos by Clyde Butcher and Jeff Ripple” showcases these accomplished photographers’ work to convey the hidden beauty of the Florida Everglades. Both Butcher and Ripple approached this project as artists, rather than scientists, venturing deep into the swamp in search of perfect locations and light. The photos, accompanied by the photographers’ thoughts, are a celebration of this mysterious land. (more…)

Fla. Museum, Harn Museum to host arts and sciences event Jan. 11

December 9th, 2008

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Explore scientific research and innovative art by the next generation of scientists and artists at the Celebration of Undergraduate Creativity in the Arts and Sciences on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009, at the Florida Museum of Natural History and Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art.

Top undergraduate students from the University of Florida, Morehouse College, Louisiana State University, Lincoln University, Furman University, The University of Puerto Rico and other schools will display scientific posters and works of visual and performing art from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For the first time, the program features student art entries including two- and three-dimensional works, videos, dance performances and music recitals.

UF College of Fine Arts Dean Lucinda Lavelli said she is excited to see the variety of art students are submitting. (more…)

Fla. Museum photo exhibit on Indian medicine traditions opens Thursday

December 9th, 2008

Photo available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Immerse yourself in the tradition of the Florida Creek Indians at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s newest galleria exhibit, “Women’s Medicine: Traditions of the Florida Creek Indians,” Thursday through April 12, 2009.

The exhibit of 24 photographs from Margaret and Michael Bogan focuses on their search for the flowers, leaves and plants of traditional Creek Indian medicine. Visitors also will learn about the relationship between animals and plants in natural medicine.

“We often admire our native flora for its beauty,” said Florida Museum exhibits director Darcie MacMahon. “But this exhibit adds a dimension to our appreciation — the longstanding traditional uses of native plants for medicines.” (more…)

Butterfly mating behavior, evolution topic of Sunday presentation at Fla. Museum

December 3rd, 2008

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw may have her finger on the pulse of New York’s dating life, but when it comes to relationships of a more animal variety she has nothing on Andrei Sourakov.

Sourakov, collections coordinator for the Florida Museum of Natural History’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, will present “Fight and Flight,” an interactive film, lecture and discussion on the mating behavior and evolution of butterflies and moths at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

“Most people think butterflies are gentle creatures above earthly needs,” Sourakov said. “But they have urges just like humans and other animals.”

His presentation on the mating practices of butterflies will explain their human-like and sometimes aggressive patterns. Most butterflies are extremely selective about mating and base their decision on looks, strength and the scent of a potential partner. Some males will brawl with other suitors vying for the same female while others will go to the extreme of secreting a substance on a female partner that prevents her from mating with other butterflies. (more…)

Endangered sawfish focus of national collection and recovery efforts

December 1st, 2008

Photo available at: http://news.ufl.edu/2008/12/01/sawfish-multimedia/

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida, keeper of the world’s shark attack records, is also now overseeing a national records collection for another toothy marine predator: the sawfish.

Distinguished by a long rostrum or “saw” that makes it a popular curio item and gives it its name, the sawfish has become a historical and cultural icon that is rapidly disappearing, said George Burgess, a UF ichthyologist and curator of both the International Shark Attack File and the newly expanded National Sawfish Encounter Database.

“Postcards from the turn of the 20th century often depicted this so-called monster that inhabited Florida waters, and if one goes back and looks at newspaper accounts from places outside Florida, every time a sawfish was caught it made the papers,” he said. “Today, it’s difficult to find a bar in South Florida that doesn’t have a sawfish ‘saw’ hanging on the wall.” (more…)

Fla. Museum researcher honored as Entomology Society of America fellow

November 12th, 2008

Photo available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History curator of Lepidoptera Jacqueline Y. Miller has been named a fellow of the Entomology Society of America. She will be inducted during the society’s annual meeting that begins Sunday in Reno, Nev.

Selection as an Entomology Society of America fellow acknowledges outstanding contributions in research, teaching, extension or administration.

“Dr. Miller is certainly worthy of having been selected as a fellow by the Entomological Society of America,” said J.E. McPherson, past president of the society. “She has had an outstanding career, not only through her numerous research contributions to the science of entomology but to her dedicated service to the society.”

Miller is the Allyn Curator of Lepidoptera and associate director of the Florida Museum’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity where she is actively engaged in research and fieldwork, particularly in the West Indies and Central and South America. Her research interests include the systematics, life history, biodiversity and biogeography of butterflies, with a special focus on the Castniidae, commonly known as butterfly moths. (more…)

Celebrate undergraduate creativity in arts, sciences at Fla. Museum, Harn Museum

November 12th, 2008

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History and Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art will host the interdisciplinary Celebration of Undergraduate Creativity in the Arts and Sciences, an exhibition of research and projects in all artistic and scientific disciplines, on Jan. 11, 2009.

For the first time, the program includes student entries from the performing and fine arts and the Harn Museum Art is participating as a venue.

The event is a joint effort of the University of Florida and partners including Morehouse College, Louisiana State University, Lincoln University, Furman University, The University of Puerto Rico and others. Sponsors for the event include the National Science Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. (more…)

Fla. Museum researcher receives $365,000 grant for butterfly conservation workshops

November 5th, 2008

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Imperiled butterflies across the U.S. may benefit in the coming years from a series of innovative workshops designed by a Florida Museum of Natural History researcher with over a decade of experience working to recover the endangered Miami blue butterfly in south Florida.

Jaret Daniels, assistant curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, received $365,299 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in September. His winning grant proposes organizing and executing five training workshops over a three-year period through the Imperiled Butterfly Conservation and Management program.

“The intent of this program is to raise the bar for butterfly conservation,” Daniels said. “We’re targeting institutions that participate in butterfly conservation, or plan to do so in the future, but whose staff is limited by lack of information or experience; especially regarding techniques or methodologies for captive breeding and reintroduction of imperiled butterfly species.” (more…)

Fla. Museum announces 2008 winners of the Austin and Bullen awards

November 5th, 2008

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently announced the winners of the 2008 Austin Award and Ripley P. Bullen Award. Both are given annually by the Florida Museum’s university teaching committee to students conducting museum-based research.

The Austin Award is given to recognize excellence in natural science research in honor of long-time Florida Museum ornithologist, Oliver Austin.

This year’s recipient, Christine Edwards, graduated from the University of Florida in 2007 with her Ph.D. in botany and now works as a postdoctoral research associate in botany at the University of Wyoming. Her graduate work focused on related species of mint plants found in the Southeastern United States under primary supervisor Pam Soltis, Florida Museum of Natural History curator of molecular systematics and evolutionary genetics. (more…)

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