Thursday, September 20, 2012

Students get experience with natural history collection

Our students this semester are getting more opportunities to work hands-on with the Randolph College collection of natural history and zoological artifacts. It is an opportunity to study birds and other animals—including some rare species—up close for scientific or artistic purposes.

Last year, Emily Smith ’12 worked to catalogue the collection, uncovering the history of the artifacts in the collection and determining the correct scientific classification for each. (For more on her work with the collection, see this article in Randolph magazine.)

Several students are working to photograph
the collection to help create the online catalog.
This opened the door to several other opportunities for students to study the collection, and help it grow, too.

Smith helped start a group of students who met occasionally this spring to help prepare new specimens, which had been in freezer storage for years, so they could be added to the collection. The work will continue with several meetings this semester, said Doug Shedd, the Catherine Ehrman Thoresen ’23 and William E. Thoresen Professor of Biology.

This summer, Smith and Shedd won a $1,250 grant from the Virginia Academy of Science to purchase photography equipment and create an online catalog of the collection. Several students have started working to take pictures of each specimen in the collection. Once the catalog is online, Randolph students—as well as researchers at other institutions—could make better use of the information Smith documented.

Smith and Shedd also have started a group that gathers every other week to draw items from the collection. The first meeting was two weeks ago, and the drawing group will meet again on Friday, Sept. 21, to draw again. The group meets in Martin 309 at 2 p.m., and all are welcome to attend.

See More Photos
For more photos of the natural history collection projects, view this photo album on the Randolph College Facebook page.