Museum researcher receives 2013-2014 UF Excellence Award

May 2nd, 2014

Neill Wallis Swift Creek Pottery lowresGAINESVILLE, 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…)

Barbara Ornstein, Robert Tarnuzzer named 2014 volunteers of the year

April 11th, 2014
The 2014 James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Barbara Ornstein for her contributions to exhibits and public programs and to Robert Tarnuzzer for his work in vertebrate paleontology collections. Florida Museum photos by Kristen Grace

The Florida Museum named Barbara Ornstein and Robert Tarnuzzer its 2014 volunteers of the year.
Florida Museum of Natural History photos by Kristen Grace

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…)

Austin, Bullen 2014 student research award winners named

April 7th, 2014
Michonneau

University of Florida graduate student Francois Michonneau received the 2014 Austin Award.
Florida Museum of Natural History Photo by Jeff Gage

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 (more…)

Researcher wins Botanical Society of America merit award

September 20th, 2012

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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…)

Museum receives $339,000 to digitize invertebrate collections

September 19th, 2012

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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…)

Museum researcher receives $24,000 to study hawkmoth relationships

September 18th, 2012

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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…)

Florida Museum of Natural History names 2012 volunteers of the year

June 19th, 2012

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently honored Janet Cornelius and Joyce Thompson as winners of the 2012 James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award.

Cornelius served 686 hours in two positions at the museum during 2011 and has completed more than 2,000 hours since she began volunteering in January 2009.

Thompson, a former school teacher, serves as a school programs docent and completed 231 hours of service in 2011. She began volunteering in the fall of 2010. (more…)

Florida Museum undergraduate receives ‘Science for Life’ research award

June 11th, 2012

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Most first-year University of Florida students won’t be working in a molecular biology lab studying hawkmoth DNA during their summer break. But that is exactly what Francesca Ponce, an undergraduate from Ecuador, is doing.

Ponce just completed her first year at UF and recently received a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science for Life Undergraduate Research Award.

“I’m very excited to begin my research,” Ponce said. “I never thought I would have an interest in hawkmoths before starting in Dr. Akito Kawahara’s lab. Then as I settled in and got more involved, I realized how important the work was to understanding biodiversity and species evolution and I became very interested in contributing to the research.” (more…)

Florida Museum wins two awards from Southeastern Museums Conference

January 11th, 2012

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently received two awards from the Southeastern Museums Conference.

The museum’s newest traveling exhibit, “Dugout Canoes: Paddling through the Americas,” received the award of excellence for exhibits with budgets between $100,000 and $1 million, and the museum’s 2009-10 annual report received the gold award in the Publication Design competition.

Darcie MacMahon, Florida Museum assistant director for exhibits, accepted the awards on behalf of the museum at the group’s annual meeting in October in Greenville, S.C.

“We always strive to achieve excellence in our exhibitions, but outside confirmation from the field is very exciting and provides a stamp of approval that other institutions around the country will recognize when the exhibit begins its tour,” MacMahon said. (more…)

Florida Museum ichthyologist receives prestigious Gibbs Award

July 21st, 2011

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History research associate William F. Smith-Vaniz recently received the most prestigious award available to researchers of the diversity and evolutionary relationships of fishes.

The Robert H. Gibbs, Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence in Systematic Ichthyology from the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists is given to one ichthyologist from the Western Hemisphere every year for “an outstanding body of published work in systematic ichthyology.” Smith-Vaniz is the third University of Florida researcher to be honored with the award. (more…)