Introducing the Eight-Eyed Expedition

Introducing a new citizen science project from @Berkeley_Evolab: Eight-Eyed Expedition! You can help by collecting native spiders, and the lab will sequence their genomes in order to identify conservation needs & help manage California biodiversity.
They’re using @inaturalist and a citizen science initiative to distribute the collecting effort and engage the public in learning more about local biodiversity. More info can be found on their website here: https://nature.berkeley.edu/eight-eyed-expedition/
Happy spidey collecting!

Mysterious Moss and Woody Vines in the New York Times!

The New York Times recently covered two wonderful scientific discoveries from researchers affiliated with the department of Integrative Biology and Jepson Herbarium.

First up, covering work by Jenna Ekwealor (@Bryophyter), This Moss Uses Quartz as a Parasol: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/29/science/moss-quartz-biology-syntrichia.html

Then, featuring work by IB alumnus Dr. Joyce Chery (@chery_joyce, now a new faculty member at Cornell University) on woody vines and “how these diverse and strange wood forms evolved”. How Woody Vines Do the Twist: nytimes.com/2020/08/01/sci
Congratulations Jenna, Joyce, and all collaborators involved!

Museums of Berkeley: Opportunities for Student Research, Employment, and Learning

Did you know that UC Berkeley has over 20 museums and research collections? From rare plant species to dinosaur bones to insects of the West, Berkeley has extensive collections of art, artifacts and biological and physical objects as well as a hands-on science center. Learn about exciting behind-the-scenes opportunities for students from staff at these institutions.

Anti-racism pledge

Anti-racism pledge

Like the rest of the nation and the world, we are horrified and angered by the racist killings that have taken place recently and in the past. We mourn the loss of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of the police and the system that allows such injustices. We say our mission is to educate, build knowledge, and serve as a repository for the planet’s biodiversity, but that goal will necessarily fall short if we continue to do nothing to root out systemic racism. We cannot educate when we have a society which does not treat all of its members as human. We cannot build knowledge when overt and unconscious biases are unacknowledged and unaccountable. And we cannot be responsible stewards and researchers of the biodiversity collections we hold dear if trust does not exist between the science institutions and the society we serve. This includes the indigenous peoples whose land in which we often conduct our fieldwork. This much is clear– we need to change, we need to change society, we need to do better.

 

As part of a diverse community of scientists, educators, curators, volunteers, and staff at the Berkeley Natural History Museums, we want to publicly acknowledge these stark truths and commit to working for anti-racism. We recognize that science is a practice of and by people, and thus is not immune to the same racist biases we see in the greater society.  We want to have those uncomfortable conversations about how we may not see where prejudices lie instead of patting ourselves on the back for when we do act appropriately. We want to have open conversations to make transparent our historic flaws and potential future mistakes so we can acknowledge and correct them. It starts and ends with Black Lives Matter.

 

This is still a very raw time; but as a consortium, in our home museums, workplaces and personal lives we are seeking ways to make change. We start by educating ourselves and listening to our minority students, colleagues and neighbors. We are pledging our commitment to anti-racism. Please stay posted as we make changes and please stay safe.

 

On behalf of the Berkeley Natural History Museum community,

Michelle Koo, Chair of Informatics Committee
(MVZ Staff Curator)

Charles Marshall, Chair
(UCMP Director)

Please consider signing as a member of UC Berkeley:

Call for UC Berkeley to Stand Against Police Violence

Further reading:

The Geosciences Community Needs to Be More Diverse and Inclusive: It’s essential if we’re going to protect our planet

By Robin E. Bell and Lisa White

Scientific American

May 8, 2020

Update: Letter to Chancellor Christ

Middle schoolers at Hastings

On Wednesday, April 25th, Sara Kahanamoku-Snelling (UCMP graduate student who started the petition) gathered comments from the Change.org petition and sent a more formal letter to Chancellor Christ which you can read below.

As of this writing, Thursday morning, April 26th, there are close to 3,500 signatures on the online petition to show campus administrators the broad support and impact Berkeley Natural History Museums and field stations have had and currently have.

Please keep up the message to Chancellor Christ, Provost Alivisatos, and others that we cannot endure without their support, that dramatic budget cuts on top of the steady erosion of funding jeopardize our traditions and eliminate a critically needed and unique resource for UC Berkeley and most importantly for current and future students.

Letter to Chancellor from students

 

Spatial phylogenetics of the native California flora

Spatial phylogenetics of the native California flora

A new study, described as “The first “big data” analysis of California’s native plants”, was published by the University and Jepson Herbaria, and available on BMC Evolution. The authors focused on the diversity and endemism in the California flora, applying a novel “spatial phylogenetics” approach that makes it possible to evaluate biodiversity from an evolutionary standpoint, including discovering significant areas of neo- and paleo-endemism. Check out Thornhill, Baldwin, Freyman, Nosratinia, Kling, Morueta-Holme, Madsen, Ackerly, and Mishler 2017 BMC Evolution https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-017-0435-x

Integrative Biology graduate student teams up with Pixar to tell science stories!

Integrative Biology graduate student teams up with Pixar to tell science stories!

UCMP Grad student Sara ElShafie is highlighted in the Berkeley News for her leadership in teaching scientists to communicate to broader audiences. Her first official workshop was entitled “Science Through Story: Strategies to Engage Any Audience,” in November 2016 at the annual meeting of the Western Society of Naturalists in Monterey, and was a success. It led to a March 2017 workshop at UC Berkeley with industry and faculty participants.

Read about it in the Berkeley News