Museum researchers receive $53,000 to digitize ancient Mayan collection

June 20th, 2012

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History researchers recently received $53,000 to enhance the museum’s online database of Mayan artifacts.

The two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities coincides with the museum’s new temporary exhibit “An Early Maya City by the Sea: Daily Life and Ritual at Cerros, Belize,” open through Oct. 7. Florida Museum curator of Latin American art and archaeology Susan Milbrath and Debra Walker, a museum courtesy assistant curator who has worked extensively in Cerros, received the grant. University of Florida anthropology graduate students Jeffrey Vadala and Lucas Martindale Johnson developed the exhibit under their direction. (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…)

Florida Museum malacologist receives lifetime achievement award

June 23rd, 2011

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Following more than 40 years of fieldwork, Florida Museum of Natural History malacology curator Fred Thompson was recently recognized for his research on freshwater organisms.

The Florida Association of Benthologists presented Thompson with the Award for Excellence in Contributions to Florida Benthic Ecology in recognition of accomplishments throughout his career. The award can be presented no more than once a year and was last awarded in 2008, said Gary Warren, an executive committee member and one of the association’s founders.

“It’s been awhile since we thought we had somebody worthy of the award,” said Warren, an aquatic invertebrate ecologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Every one [of the members] has been dependent on Dr. Thompson’s identification manuals – he is a resource for people that have specimens they can’t identify and he’s always been available.” (more…)

Florida Museum of Natural History names volunteer of year award winners

April 12th, 2011

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History named Jane Blanchard and Jerry Hessels recipients of the James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award at a volunteer reception April 5.

Blanchard has completed more than 1,175 hours of service since she began volunteering in 2007, and works in the Lepidoptera, paleobotany and palynology collections.

“She has completed dedicated and important work in two very different areas and that’s not the norm,” said Julie Crosby, Florida Museum volunteer coordinator. (more…)

Florida Museum announces second annual ButterflyFest photo contest winners

October 25th, 2010

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Jon Sund of Green Cove Springs and Miranda Bennett of Archer received top honors in this year’s ButterflyFest Pollinator Photography Contest. The winners were announced Saturday (Oct. 23) during an awards presentation at the Florida Museum of Natural History‚Äôs fifth annual ButterflyFest.

Sund, who won first place in the adult category for his photo, “Looks Good,” and Bennett, who won first place in the junior category for her photo, “Can you see me?” both received cash prizes. (more…)

Kurt Auffenberg receives Fla. Museum 2010 meritorious service award

September 3rd, 2010

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently recognized operations coordinator Kurt Auffenberg as the 2010 recipient of the Thompson Van Hyning Award.

The service award, the highest given to museum employees who are not faculty members or students, honors the museum’s first director, Thompson Van Hyning, who was appointed in 1914. Van Hyning was known for going above and beyond normal responsibilities and helped draft a bill for the Florida Legislature in 1917 that established the museum as the official state natural history museum. The award was created in 1984 and is given out about every three years. (more…)

Florida Museum graduate student receives UF teaching award

August 30th, 2010

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History Ph. D. candidate Lucas Majure recently received the 2009-2010 University of Florida Graduate Student Teaching Award.

The University of Florida Graduate School offers the award to nominees across campus, and Majure is the only winner from the biological sciences of the 21 recipients for 2009-2010. He won the award for teaching BOT 2710/5725, Plant Taxonomy, which he has taught three times.

“The class covers all of the major vascular plant groups throughout the plant tree of life, and we teach the students how to identify them,” Majure said. “So if they were dropped off anywhere on the planet, they should be able to at least have a good idea of what major plant groups they encounter.” (more…)

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