Scientific Symposium at the SACNAS National Conference

The Society for Systematic Biologists and the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action have collaborated to organize a scientific symposium at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science national conference in Long Beach, California on October 14, 2016.

(Day and) Night at the Museum: Exploring Research in Ecology and Evolution behind the Scenes of Natural History Museums

Natural history museums house the world’s past and present biological diversity. Beyond the specimens and materials displayed to the public, these critical collections inform numerous research questions that seek to understand processes of evolution and ecology. This symposium offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives and research of museum-based scientists.


  • Corrie Moreau, PhD — How I Became a Rainforest Explorer: Ant Genomes to Microbiomes
  • Andreas Chavez, PhD — My personal experiences with admixture and what admixture can tell us about speciation and adaptation
  • Seema Sheth, PhD — Harnessing the power of herbarium specimen data for ecological and evolutionary studies
  • Lauren Esposito, PhD — Can arachnids save the planet? A journey through natural history and conservation
  • Scott Edwards, PhD — Using museum collections to study the genomics and evolution of birds

SACNAS is a national organization focused on increasing the proportions of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. In 2015, the National Conference was attended by 3,746 scientists from diverse backgrounds, with almost 60% of the participants members of ethnic/racial groups that are significantly underrepresented in STEM fields. This year promises to surpass 4,000 attendees!

For many people, a visit to a natural history museum may represent their first exposure to the marvels of science. What they may not realize is just how much scientific research is being conducted behind the walls and awe-inspiring displays. The goal of this symposium is to reveal the exciting biological research conducted within different major natural history museums across the US. By attending this session, participants will learn about the use of natural history collections in ecology and evolution research such as plant ecology, population genetics in mammals, avian comparative genomics, arachnid biogeography, and the interactions between ants and their gut microbiomes. Additionally, the speakers will discuss their paths as scientists and museum researchers, giving a behind-the-display glimpse from public natural history museums like the California Academy of Sciences and the Field Museum in Chicago, as well as university-affiliated museums/herbaria at UC Berkeley, Harvard, and Ohio State University.

For anyone attending the SACNAS conference, please join us on for the symposium on Friday, October 14, 10:15-11:45 in room 201B!

In addition to the scientific symposium, BEACON and SSB are also contributing the following activities to the 2016 conference:


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