GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently announced the winners of the 2015 Austin Award and Bullen Award for superior research and significant contributions to the development of museum collections and programs.
Vertebrate paleontology graduate assistant Catalina Pimiento received the Austin Award for her research on the ecology of shark species throughout history, particularly Carcharocles megalodon.
Anthropology graduate student Zackary Gilmore received the Bullen Award for his research to determine the scale of social interactions involved in the construction and use of the Silver Glen Springs shell mound site in the Late Archaic period (about 5,000 to 3,000 years ago).
To gain insight into conservation of modern sharks, Pimiento closely investigates factors involved in the extinction of megalodon, including body size and distribution trends over time.
In her previous research conducted under the guidance of Florida Museum vertebrate paleontology curator Bruce MacFadden, Pimiento studied shark species from Panama to better understand marine connections during the formation of the isthmus. She found that sharks used shallow-water nursery areas for millions of years as an adaptive strategy for survival. This study has received nationwide media attention, including the National Geographic documentary film “Clash of the Americas.”
MacFadden said he nominated Pimiento for “her excellence in paleontological research and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently recognized its 2015 volunteers of the year, including a new student award winner.
Russell Henderson and Gerald Kidder were named winners of the James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award, and Crystal Coleman was recognized with a newly formed Student Volunteer of the Year Award. The Florida Museum recognized the winners during its annual volunteer reception April 1.
Winning in the exhibits and public programs division, Henderson served 220 hours during 2014 and has completed more than 1,454 hours at the museum since he began volunteering in 2008 as a docent. He is known by his colleagues to attend a variety of museum programs to further his knowledge, help visitors dig deeper into a topic and keep others informed of new ways to become effective docents.
“Russell’s easygoing approach with museum visitors is one of his most valuable assets,” wrote Florida Museum school programs coordinator Dianne Behringer in her nomination letter. “I very regularly observe laughter and smiles as I pass by Russell and his group.”
Awarded for his work in research and collections, Kidder served 145 hours during 2014 and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The winning artists of images of nanoparticles to a woolly mammoth in the University of Florida Elegance of Science Contest will be recognized in an award ceremony at the Florida Museum of Natural History March 20 at 3:30 p.m.
A committee of six judges from Gainesville’s art and science communities evaluated 94 entries on their scientific and artistic merit.
“I enjoyed seeing the variety of ways you can interpret ‘the elegance of science,’” said judge and professional photographer Kristen Grace, who also works at the Florida Museum. “Some were as simple as a dewdrop on a flower petal and (more…)
Editors: A complete list of awards is available online
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The National Science Foundation has awarded six grants totaling about $7.5 million to digitize biodiversity collections, a nationwide effort coordinated by the iDigBio program based at the University of Florida.
The research is critical to understanding our planet and how changes in biological diversity affect human societies. The funding will shed light on “dark data,” information that is inaccessible to most scientists, educators, policymakers and the general public, and will further the national effort to digitize biodiversity collections.
“There are specimens that have been around for 100-200 years, but they are in a drawer or on a shelf somewhere, and it’s hard to know where everything is and how to get (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A Florida Museum of Natural History researcher recently received a 2013-2014 UF Excellence Award for his research on social networks and communities in pre-Columbian North America.
Neill Wallis, assistant curator in Florida archaeology, was one of 10 University of Florida assistant professors selected to receive the award. Recognizing excellence in research from junior faculty, the $5,000 award may be used to fund travel, equipment, books, graduate student assistants and other research-related expenses.
Wallis’ research programs focus on the development and change of Native American social networks and communities between 3,000 and 500 years ago. Centered primarily on Florida and the southeastern United States, his research more broadly redefines understandings of political and social life in these societies.
“Dr. Wallis is an exceptional young faculty member whose scholarly productivity is outstanding,” said Florida Museum Director Doug Jones, who nominated Wallis for the award.
Since 2011, in addition to senior authorship on six peer-reviewed articles and five book chapters (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Hard work has paid off for Barbara Ornstein and Robert Tarnuzzer, who were recognized last week by the Florida Museum of Natural History as winners of the 2014 James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award.
Ornstein served 199 hours at the museum during 2013 and has completed more than 1,600 hours since she began volunteering in 2000. In addition to her role as a school programs docent, she also participates in outreach programs and exhibit fabrication.
“The keyword that I think best describes Barbara’s volunteer work here at the museum is ‘versatility,’ ” said Center for Science Learning project manager Dale Johnson.
Tarnuzzer served more than 443 hours in the museum’s vertebrate paleontology collections during 2013 and has completed more than 2,800 hours since becoming a volunteer in 2007. He collects fossils in the field and (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently announced the winners of the 2014 Austin Award and Bullen Award. Two University of Florida students received the awards from the museum’s University Teaching Committee for their research and contributions to the museum’s collections.
Francois Michonneau received the Austin Award for his work on the systematics and evolution of sea cucumbers. The Austin Award honors Oliver Austin, a former Florida Museum ornithology curator, and recognizes one UF graduate student performing research guided by a Florida Museum curator, collection manager or research scientist.
Michonneau conducted his research under the mentorship of Gustav Paulay, the museum’s marine malacology curator, and traveled on expeditions to the French-Polynesian Islands, Japan and Madagascar to collect sea cucumbers, sea urchins and other invertebrates from coral reefs. After more than 20 expeditions, he has contributed about 12,000 invertebrate specimens to the Florida Museum collections.
Jeffrey Vadala received the Bullen Award for his research on the architecture of the Mayan archaeological site Cerros in Belize and work to help create and curate an exhibit on his research in 2012. Florida Museum curator of Latin American art and archaeology Susan Milbrath nominated Vadala for his work in Yucatan and Belize and praised his computer modeling skills that allowed him to (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Walter Judd, University of Florida distinguished professor of biology and Florida Museum of Natural History affiliate curator of botany, recently received the Botanical Society of America’s 2012 Merit Award, the society’s highest honor.
The award recognizes individuals who demonstrate excellence in research, education and public policy, and also provide exceptional service to the botanical community. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History invertebrate zoology researchers recently received a National Science Foundation grant to further digitize the department’s collection, one of the nation’s largest.
The three-year, $339,000 award funds digitization of “relinquished collections” outside researchers have given the museum for research and curation. Located on the University of Florida campus, the Florida Museum has one of the largest digitized collections of invertebrate specimens, second only to the Smithsonian Institution. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A Florida Museum of Natural History lepidopterist recently received $24,000 to research the evolutionary relationships of an agricultural pest known as the tobacco hornworm and its relatives.
The tobacco hornworm is a hawkmoth that occurs worldwide and causes great damage to the leaves of tobacco and tomato plants. The insect is commonly used as a model organism for research due to its short life cycle and simple nervous system. (more…)