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News & Events at MSB

August 2012

The 7th World Congress of Herpetology was held in Vancouver BC from 8-14 August on the campus of the University of British Columbia with approximately 1,700 in attendance.  This meeting was jointly sponsored by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH), American Elasmobranch Society (AES), the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR), and the Herpetological League (HL).  In attendance were MSB Divisions of Fishes and Amphibians and Reptiles staff:  Dr. Thomas F. Turner, Curator of Fishes, Dr. Stephen T. Ross, Curator Emeritus, Dr. J. Tomasz Giermakowski, Collections Manager of Amphibians and Reptiles, and Alexandra M. Snyder, Collections Manager of Fishes. 


The following presentations were given:

  • Future Ranges of Focal Reptiles in the Southwestern United StatesJT Giermakowski and Erika Nowak, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff.
  • Curating and managing project-based collections of fishes. AM Snyder
  • From pariah to panacea and back: genetic monitoring and recovery planning for the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. T Turner and MJ Osborne, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
  • Technology and Innovation in Herpetology and Ichthyology Collections: Symposium Opening Remarks and Collection Survey Results. G Watkins-Colwell, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History,  M Sabaj Perez, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and JT Giermakowski


The following committee meetings were attended:

  • ASIH Board of Governors Meeting
  • ASIH Collections Committee
  • JMIH Meeting Management and Planning Committee
  • JMIH Long Range Planning and Policy Committee
  • JMIH Endowment and Finance Committee
  • ASIH Business Meeting
  • VertNet Roundtable Discussion


Elected to following:

  • ASIH Board of Governors-S.T. Ross


Judging for Student Awards:

  • Stoye Award in Conservation – Turner
  • Storer Award in Ecology and Ethology – Ross (chair)


Next year, the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists will be held at the Albuquerque Convention Center from 10-15 July 2013.  Turner (Chair), Ross, Giermakowski, and Snyder are on the local committee and charged with fund raising, and organizing the plenary session and workshops, among other things.   Attendance is anticipated to be 1,200 to 1,500.



July 2012

Rachael Mallis, Matt Leister, and Sandy Brantley attended  the 2012 meeting of the American Arachnology Society in Green Bay, WI in July.
Rachael and Matt presented the redescription of a tengellid spider (including the  first description of the male) they collected on Kelly’s trip to Nicaragua last May.  They also presented previously unknown information on behavior, web construction, and mating. Sandy gave a talk on New Mexico Linyphiidae, a family that’s poorly studied in the Southwest.


May 11, 2012

Congratulations to Nathan Lord on receiving A Graduate Research Supplement awarded to ABD doctoral scholars pursuing advanced writing and research. Nathan's award is for his dissertation research, including research trips and field work, on southern hemisphere biogeography. Nathan is a member of the Arthropod Division.


May 9, 2012


New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, State of New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and UNM Sign MOU to Share Resources, Develop Public Programs

The agreement aims to:
• build capacity to conduct important scientific research that will help preserve our state’s natural heritage
• provide greater public understanding of important conservation issues facing New Mexico
• support students and teachers by providing rich learning opportunities and resources that systemically support science learning in classrooms

News and Events

Deconstruction, Dust, Dirt, Noise.......Construction!

On Monday April 2, 2012 deconstruction of offices on the lower level of CERIA began to create a new space for the Parasite Division. This new area will have lab space, collection space to hold slides, library materials and eventually a state-of-the-art imaging facility. In order to accommodate the expansion, offices, storage spaces and the area where up to 30 graduate students used to sit, have been redesigned. As in all redesign of existing spaces, the first thing that has to happen is to move people. All of the students were squished and squashed into other buildings or into other spaces within CERIA. Many thanks to Will Pockman and Rick Cripps of the Biology Department in facilitating this.

Electricity and IT lines were disabled and the grad pod is empty of people. The only other times it's been empty was just after all the furniture was moved in about 10 years ago, and the summer of 2011.      Going  Now, we're waiting for the furniture to be removed.

Going                  Gone Walls came down in offices and storage areas. Most of the walls were simple sheet rock, but one wall was cement block, filled with concrete. Can we say noisy and dusty?    Jackhammer, sledge and man power finally brought the wall down


Did I mention we had to squeeze the server room? Just a small amount, about 20 sq feet. But, that's a lot of room when it was already filled with server racks. The LTER LNO and Sevilleta LTER computer folks worked hard to move racks around for the construction. As soon as the new wall is in place, they get another opportunity to move racks, again. Here's the start of the new wall 


Week of April 16, 2012: The final, signed-off plans are in place and the real construction begins. There will be a lot of noise this week as BCH will be using a wet saw to cut the drain channel for the new parasite lab, connecting it to the existing drain in room 124. Sandy is sad because her sink and counter will go away this week, or early next week, to make way for a new door.

Here is the beginning of the layout for the new parasite lab; the interior grid is the collection room. There's even a new door!

  new door: of course it's hard to use right now with the electrial conduit in the way.

It's the week of April 23, 2012 and walls are going up. Alumnium studs are being used. It's kinda dark down there, I think the construction dudes are working by touch. The lights came down to make room for the walls. Still no saw cutting of the floors for the drains, but X marks the spot(s).

This is the framed- in area of the new parasite collection area. I told you it was dark.

X really does mark the spot, here too: . The spots have been removed, trenches dug, and a nifty hole, too.     We encountered a kink in the plumbing, but that's being worked out.

This guy has an electric personality . 5/7/12 the sheetrock was delivered and the first electrical inspection has been completed.

 5/14/12: It's another new week and construction is rolling along. We be rockin' now: . In fact, the whole area is now covered in sheet rock and has the first coating of mud on the seams: , . As you look at the second photo you'll notice the sheetrock does not go to the ceiling. That's because there will eventually be a new, lower ceiling. There are no interior ceiling lights right now. A flashlight is definitely needed to see where you're going. Lights won't go in until the new ceiling is in place and there are plenty of other events that have to take place before the ceiling and lights are done.

May 20-29: Finish electrical is in, a small glitch in the server room was taken care of pronto. The plumbing was signed off and the holes filled in. Walls were textured, primed and painted. The cement work is almost completed with the floors repaired and voila! a new brick wall., , . The cement is still fresh, you can still write on it, make your mark, etc. Of course, once the flooring is in, no-one will know but you. The exterior wall seen here is where the grad students will eventually sit, with IT ports and full electrical.



MSB Alum Updates:

John Kavanaugh, one of the MSB's recent graduates, is currently teaching Anatomy and Physiology at Carrington College in Albuquerque.


May 2012

Congratulations to all MSB-affiliated graduates. A few of these folks are receiving non-biology degrees but have been working in the MSB for some time. A few of these folks are walking this spring and finishing up in the summer. If you know of someone not on the list, send the name and degree info to

Master of Science (Engineering)

     Matthew Graus

Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology)

     Andrea Kartchner

Bachelor of Arts (Biology)

     Kylie Naegele

     Martha Vargas

Bachelor of Science (Biology)

     Bethany Abrahamson

     Kyle Crossey

     Krista Gibboney

     Roberto Gomez

     Diego Matek

     Jackson Sabol

     Carl Schmitt

     Kelly Speer (Departmental Honors):

The review of your Undergraduate Honors thesis A relict population of shrews in New Mexico illustrates spatiotemporal diversification in response to environmental change has been completed.  We are very pleased to announce that your level of honors in biology is magna cum laude.

Some of our folks have recently defended or will be defending their Master's and Ph.D. works:

     Corey Love Krabbenhoft

     Trevor Krabbenhoft

     Shane DuBay

     Fred Benham


Congratulations to Dr. Kelly Miller and Neil Cobb of Northern Arizona University on their new NSF award: The Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections program is recommending a total award of about $1,937,276 as a standard award for 36 months on your proposal #1207371 and collaborative proposals #: 1206382, 1206706, 1206775, 1206951, 1207033, 1207107, 1207186, 1207187 entitled Digitization TCN: Collaborative Research: Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN): A Model for Collections Digitization to Promote Taxonomic and Ecological Research. The tentative start date is 07/15/2012 or as soon thereafter as award paperwork can be processed. NAU is the primary education institution and the MSB is one of ten collaborating collegesand universities sharing in this funding. MSB's portion is about $120K.


April 2012

April 23, 2012, Ray Powell, NM State Land Office Commissioner, Julia Fulghum, UNM VP for Research, Joseph Cook, Director, UNM Museum of Southwestern Biology and Richard Cripps, UNM Chair of Biology signed a Memorandum of Agreement, recognizing the need to define, formalize and maintain a continuing, cooperative relationship regarding matters of of mutual interest, concern and responsbility pertaining to the flora and fauna of New Mexico and the stewardship roles each partner plays.





We are pleased to announce the third and final lecture in the CO-EVOLUTION series, part of the Spring 2012 course :: CO-EVOLUTION: Art + Biology in the Museum, co-taught by Joseph Cook and Szu-Han Ho; UNM Bio 402/502 // ARTS 389/429/529 // UHON 402. The theme of our seminar and workshop series is "Morphology and Geographic Variation," on the relationship of form to place. With the natural history collection as our starting point, we'll hear from scientists, artists, designers, programmers, musicians, and more on place-based study.

Our three Visiting Artists will be leading the class in 2-day intensive workshops from the UNM Museum of Southwestern Biology as well as in the field. During their visit to UNM, each artist will be giving a talk that is free and open to the public. Please forward this information to your students! Brian's workshop will be Friday and Saturday, April 27-28, 2012 and it will be held in CERIA 337. Brian will talk about using natural science, geography and art, using various photographic, lithographic and other mediums and how the final product relates back to the natural world.

BRIAN CONLEY:  "Morphology and Evolution"
Thursday, Apr 26 5pm 

at the Science Math & Learning Center (SMLC), rm 102

The CO-EVOLUTION Visiting Artist lectures and workshops are supported by the National Science Foundation AIM-UP! Research Coordination Network, UNM Department of Biology, UNM Art & Ecology, and the UNM College of Fine Arts.

Check in to the course blog to learn about upcoming lectures, relevant articles, artists, and other resources on the intersection of art and natural history.

for more information, please contact Szu-Han Ho:

Brian Conley is an artist from New York currently living in San Francisco, where he is a professor in the graduate fine arts and sculpture programs of the California College of the Arts. From radio performance to sculptural, research-based, and collaborative installations, Conley’s artistic practice operates across the divides between science, art, and politics. Drawing from an eclectic background that spans sculpture and performance, philosophy and behavioral science, Conley’s work is centrally concerned with the roots of social violence, the origins of language, and the possibility of meaningful communication even across radical divides—for example, between human and animal. Conley is also interested in creating institutional structures, like co-founding Cabinet magazine and participating in the startup of a remote-teaching art program and communication hub between artists in the diaspora and those at home in Baghdad. He has exhibited internationally, including exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, ArtBasel, and MassMoCA, as well as producing commissioned works at the Wanas Foundation in Knislinge, Sweden, and the ArtPace Foundation for Contemporary Art in San Antonio, Texas. Recent projects include exhibitions at Pierogi Gallery in Leipzig, Germany, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, and at the Boiler/Pierogi Gallery, New York. Conley holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and an M.F.A. in Studio Art from the University of Minnesota, and is a graduate of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. Conley is founding co-editor with Sina Najafi of Cabinet Magazine, an international art-and-culture quarterly. From 2005 to 2008, he was Chair of the Graduate Fine Art Program at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. He is Educational and Curatorial Adviser to Sada (Echo) for Contemporary Iraqi Art.


Congratulations to Karen Wetherill on the successful completion of her Ph.D. comps. She is now a Ph.D. candidate and works in the MSB Arthropod Division.

Congratulations to Ayesha Burdett and Howard Brandenburg on the birth of their daughter, Imogen, born on April 10, 2012. No word from her older sister Paloma on her new sister. Ayesha is a Post-Doctoral researcher for Tom Turner and the Fishes Division.


March 2012

Congratulations to Heidi Hopkins on the successful completion of her Ph.D. comps. She is now a Ph.D. candidate and works in the MSB Arthropod Division.

Congratulations to Brittany Barker on the successful defense of her Ph.D. thesis on April 2, 2012: "Historic and topographic drivers of tropical insular diversity: comparative phylogeography of two ecologically distinctive Puerto Rican frogs (genus Eleutherodactylus)". Brittany is a member of the Cook Lab.


February 2012

We have recently developed and launched a tour/visit request form to facilitate schools and other groups who want to visit the MSB.

Congratulations to Yadeeh (Cook Lab) and Justin Sawyer on the birth of their first child, Atlas, on February 6.

Congratulations to Mike (Miller Lab) and Monica Medrano on the birth of their son, Justin, on February 7.

Congratulations to Angelica Swanson (Mammal Division) on her acceptance into the The University of New Mexico Chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society. The top 15% of UNM students are invited to join.

We are pleased to announce an upcoming workshop series, "Morphology and Geographic Variation," on the relationship of form to place. With the natural history collection as our starting point, we'll hear from scientists, artists, designers, programmers, musicians, and more on place-based study.

Our three Visiting Artists will be leading the class in 2-day intensive workshops from the UNM Museum of Southwestern Biology as well as in the field. During their visit to UNM, each artist will be giving a talk that is free and open to the public. Please forward this information to your students!

Brandon Ballengée will be giving the first public lecture entitled “Praeter Naturam: Beyond Nature” on Friday, Feb 24 5pm at the Science Math & Learning Center (SMLC). .

The dates for the following 2 talks are:

Thur MAR 29 [5pm] :: Suzanne Anker, Chair of the Fine Arts Department at School of Visual Studies (NYC)
Thur APR 26 [5pm] :: Brian Conley, Professor in Sculpture, Fine Arts, and Interdisciplinary Studies at California College of the Arts (SF)

All talks are free and open to the public at the UNM Science Math & Learning Center (SMLC). Visiting Artist lectures and workshops are supported by the National Science Foundation AIM-UP! Research Coordination Network, UNM Department of Biology, UNM Art & Ecology, and the College of Fine Arts at UNM.

Check in to the course blog to learn about upcoming lectures, relevant articles, artists, and other resources on the intersection of art and natural history.
***ereserves password: museum***

January 2012

Museum Courses

The MSB, through the Biology Department, offers courses in bird specimen preparation co-taught  by Asst Professor Chris Witt and the Bird Division Collection Manager, Andy Johnson. For the first time in the Spring 2012 semester, the MSB is conducting a course in Natural History Collections Curatorial Techniques taught by Curator of Arthropods, Assoc Prof Kelly Miller. The Division of Amphibians and Reptiles has also offered a course in GIS mapping techniques co-taught by Prof Howard Snell and Collection Manager Tom Giermakowski.

Tim Lowrey, Curator of the Herbarium has announced the 2000 specimen collection from Bandelier National Monument will be coming to the MSB Herbarium. The final paperwork is in the process of completion and as soon as the paperwork is done and the snow melts, the collection will be brought down and accessioned.


Making a Difference

The MSB welcomes always volunteers and partners with the local high schools providing mentorships for interested students. The MSB was very fortunate for the fall 2011 semester to have Lauren Mills. Lauren spent most of the fall semester here only coming in Monday afternoons working in the mammal and herbarium divisions. She didn't know anything about the Museum, but had a mild interest in biology. Lauren wrote us a letter millsletter about her experiences. Lauren will graduate this spring and we hope to see more of her.

December 2011

  Congratulations to Brooks Kohli. His application for funding to attend the Estimating Species Trees Workshop at OSU on January 13-14, 2012 has been awarded. Brooks will receive $500 in funding to cover his expenses associated with travel to the meeting.


Congratulations to Jolene Rearick. Her application for funding to attend the Estimating Species Trees Workshop at OSU on January 13-14, 2012 has been awarded. Jolene will receive $500 in funding to cover her expenses associated with travel to the meeting.

Professor Emeritus, William Degenhardt was honored at the Museum's Holiday Donor Appreciation event on Thursday, December 8, 2011. Bill has been a life-long contributor of specimens and journals to the Museum. He is also sought-after for his invaluable information on the local amphibians and reptiles, by not only Museum faculty, staff and students, but by visitors to the Museum. Bill received a certificate and invitation to prepare and catalog the soon-to-be 100,000 specimen in the amphibian and reptile division. It is also anticipated that Bill will also collect this specimen. Congratulations Dr. Degenhardt!


The MSB congratulates the following on achieving their degrees. Each student listed has spent a considerable amount of time in the museum using the collections for their research and learning the importance of keeping archives such as the MSB alive and well:

Masters of Science:

John Kavanaugh

Bachelor of Science, Biology (Summer):

Melvin Foster

Emily Hodson

Shelley MacNeil

Abigail Ramirez Ortiz

Amber Schwettmann

Nicole Telles

Bachelor of Science, Biology (Fall):

Hiyatsi Bassett

Nicole Caimi

Krista Gibboney

Sarah Sasek

Bachelor of Science, Environmental Science:

Kaitlin Hulsbos

Again, congratulations to all of our students. We wish you the best in your future endeavors and hope to see you again as you pursue additional studies. Keep in touch and let us know how you are doing.


November 2011

Congratulations to Chris Witt on his recent NSF award. More details to follow.


August 2011

Lex Snyder, Division of Fishes Collection Manager, was elected to the Board of Governors (BOG) of The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) at its 91st annual meeting in Minneapolis, MN in July, 2011. This international society of over 2400 members is dedicated to the scientific study of fishes, amphibians and reptiles. In addition to primary research support and dissemination, the society is actively engaged in building, maintaining, developing and conserving natural history collections of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles worldwide. BOG members are charged with executive decisions regarding the direction and management of the ASIH, thus board membership is a significant honor and responsibility.

It was also announced that Albuquerque and the University of New Mexico will host the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists – JMIH – in 2013. This meeting attracts over 1,500 participants from the ASIH, the American Elasmobranch Society, Herpetologist’s League, the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles and the International Society for the History and Bibliography of Herpetology. This is a tremendous opportunity to showcase research, education, conservation and curatorial programs across the state and region, including Mexico and Central America. Contact Tom Turner (, 277-7541) if interested in participating in organization and planning for the meeting – all are welcome! More information about the ASIH and JMIH can be found at


July 2011

Dr. Alma Solis, Program Research Leader at USDA ARS Beltsville will be funding about $25K annually to UNM for student support of Insect Systematics. Kelly Miller has been working on this. Details to come.


June 2011

Please join us in congratulating Kayce Bell, Ph.D. student of Joe Cook's for receiving The American Society of Parasitologists Meritorious Student Paper Award at the 86th Annual Meeting in Anchorage, AK. Kayce also received a $1700  Graduate Student Research cash award from the Society of Systematic Biologists 2011 Annual Meeting.


May 2011


To Trevor Krabbenhoft, a Ph.D. candidate in Biology and mentored by Tom Turner, on his stipend awarded for his nomination for the Dean's Dissertation Prize.

To Kelly Miller, Curator of Arthropods for attaining tenure and promotion to Associate Professor, effective with the new academic year.


April 2011

The MSB is happy to announce that Phil Tonne and Sara Brant are the two new collection managers for the Herbarium and Division of Parasites, respectively.  A reception was held on Monday April 4, 2011 to introduce them to the Museum staff, students, and faculty.

Research Day Awards and Scholarships Awarded

Congratulations to students working and studying in the Museum. Research Day was April 1, 2011 and presentations of awards and scholarships were announced at that time.

Matt Jones

Advisor: Chris Witt

Donald Caughran Memorial Endowed Scholarship. Dept of Biology Scholarship for excellence in research and academic record.

Shane Dubay

Advisor: Chris Witt

Alvin R and Caroline G Grove Summer Scholarship

Brooks Kohli

Advisor: Joseph Cook

Donald Caughran Memorial Endowed Scholarship and GRAC and SRAC funding

Bethany Abrahamson

Advisor: Chris Witt

NMOS Research award

Elizabeth Beckman

Advisor: Chris Witt

Sigmi Xi Grants-in-aid of Research funding

Poster Awards


3rd Place

Antonio Gomez

Advisor: Kelly Miller

Oral Presentation


2nd Place

Yadeeh Sawyer

Advisor: Joseph Cook


March 2011

National Science Foundation Grant Award

Congratulations to Tom Turner, Eric Loker, Gordon Jarrell and Joseph Cook on receiving multi-year funding for the "Integration and Curation of the Robert and Virginia Rausch Helminthological Collection - A Resource for Science and Society in the MSB Division of Parasitology". The award is effective April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2013.

February 2011

AIM-UP! News

Congratulations to Mason Ryan to produce one the first publications from the new AIM-UP! program Here is a link to the Science Express Letter:

The discussions we had in the Integrated Inventories class in the Fall was the motivation behind writing this short note. Those discussions really helped formulate methods and idea.

January 2011

Caves and Bats

Diana Northup, Visiting Associate Professor of Biology and a very highly involved mentor in the UnO program is working in the El Malpais caves to determine whether 'white nose syndrome' is here in New Mexico. See the article "Battling biologist tracks disease in monument caves" 11-01-18issue in the January 18 2011 edition of UNM Today. Working with Diana is the UnO program's Ali Ghadimi.

November 2010

Kelly Miller was awarded another new grant:

Title: REVSYS: Multilevel Revision within the Praying Mantises (Insecta, Dictyoptera, Mantodea)

PIs: PI, Gavin Svenson (UNM); co-PI, Kelly Miller (UNM); co-PI, David Grimaldi (American Museum of Natural History).

Amount: $603,742

Duration: 3 years

October 2010

Ready? AIM-UP!


The Museum of Southwestern Biology of the University of New Mexico is hosting the first Advancing the Integration of Museums into Undergraduate Programs (AIM-UP!) workshop in Santa Fe, 14-16 October. AIM-UP! is a newly funded NSF Research Coordination Network focused on new ways of incorporating the extensive archives and databases of natural history museums into undergraduate education. This year’s theme is Integrated Inventories: Complex Biotic Associations Across Space and Time”. AIM-UP! is refining existing efforts and developing new integrated approaches to collections-based training in large-scale questions using the combined and broad-based expertise of educators, curators, collection managers, database managers, and scientists whose teaching and investigations span various disciplines and relate to topics covering a wide spectrum of time and space. AIM-UP! began as a collaboration between the University of Alaska, Harvard University, the University of California at Berkeley, and UNM, but is expanding to other educational institutions, federal agencies, Latin American institutions, and a large museum-based genetic consortium in Canada. Future educational themes to be explored include Geographic Variation, Evolutionary Dynamics of Genomes, Biotic Response to Climate Change, and Co-evolving Communities of Pathogens and Hosts as Related to Emerging Diseases.

If you are interested in finding out more about the activities and objectives of AIM-UP! please visit the website at: or contact Joseph Cook.

September 2010

Ph.D. student Brittany Barker has been accepted for membership in the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity.

August 2010


Congratulations to UNM President David Schmidly, an affiliate with the Museum of Southwestern Biology on receiving the PREMIO TICUL ALVAREZ AWARD for his dedication to mammal research in Mexico. This award from presented to Dr. Schmidly on August 17, 2010 by members of the Asociacion Mexicana de Mastozoologia. The award is pre­sented every two years to a professional in the field of mammalogy with a major emphasis of that research focused on Mexico.


June 2010

UNM Herbarium gets historical New Mexico collections

We are pleased to announce the donation of the College of Santa Fe Herbarium to the UNM Herbarium in the Museum of Southwestern Biology, at the University of New Mexico. The Christian Brothers of New Mexico have made the donation to UNM. Dr. David Johnson, formerly of the College of Santa Fe, made the arrangements for the collection to be housed at UNM. The collection includes over 1800 specimens of vascular plants and several hundred bryophytes, hepatics, and lichens, largely collected by Brother Arsène Brouard in the 1920’s and thirties in New Mexico. The herbarium also contains specimens collected in the United States in the early 1900’s by botanists such as Agnes Chase and George Osterhout as well as a number of specimens collected in Mexico by Brother Arsène. The specimens will not be available for study until
they are accessioned, curated, and databased. Each specimen will have a label denoting the donation by the Christian Brothers. The UNM
Herbarium will announce their availability as soon as possible. Most if not all the vascular plant specimens are duplicates of those sent
to herbaria such as the Gray Herbarium, Smithsonian, Mo. Bot Gard. etc. by Bro. Arsene but they are not duplicated in other NM herbaria.

May 2010

The National Science Foundation recently awarded a 5 year Research Coordinating Network grant ($485,000) to the Museum of Southwestern Biology (University of New Mexico, PI Joseph Cook), Museum of the North (University of Alaska, Co-PI Steffi Ickert-Bond), Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (University of California Berkeley, Co-PI Eileen Lacey), and Museum of Comparative Zoology (Harvard University, Co-PI Scott Edwards). The project, entitled Advancing Integration of Museums into Undergraduate Programs (AIM-UP!), will explore and produce novel ways of incorporating specimen-based science and biodiversity informatics into undergraduate education under themes such as Biotic Associations Across Space & Time; Making Sense of Geographic Variation; Evolutionary Dynamics of Genomes; Biotic Response to Climate Change; and Pathogens, Hosts, & Emerging Diseases. Integration of expertise and experiences across four university museums will stimulate use of natural history collections in the emerging fields of climate change, evolutionary genomics, and molecular ecology. Instructional tools for museum databases will be made freely available to instructors, scientists, and the general public. Outreach efforts are targeted especially to underrepresented students with an emphasis on issues relevant to their communities (e.g., indigenous communities in New Mexico and Alaska).

For more information see our website: 1aimup

April 2010

Martha Jo Vargas has been inducted into the Golden Key Honor Society. MJ is participating in the UnO Program sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Her faculty mentor is Diana Northup. Joseph Cook is the PI for the UNO Program.

Congratulations to Rebecca Zalar, an undergraduate student working in the Miller Arthropod division on receiving the Cocalina Memorial Scholarship (1 April 2010) in the amount of $500.00. The Scholarship is awarded for excellence in research.

Outstanding Staff Award Recipients Named

Recipients to be honored Thursday, April 15

The University of New Mexico Provost’s Committee for Staff announces recipients of the Outstanding Staff Awards. They are: Jennifer Flores, program coordinator from the Center for Academic Program Support, Jacek Tomas Giermakowski, collections manager for the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles/Museum of Southwestern Biology, and Steven Peralta, director of Engineering Student Services, School of Engineering. The winner for the workgroup award is the IT Network group. The winners will be honored at a ceremony on Thursday, April 15 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Centennial Engineering Center Auditorium, Room 1041 (located in the south east corner of the first floor).

February 2010

Congratulations To Heidi Hopkins

The Smithsonian has awarded a Short Term Visitor grant for the July – September quarter of 2010 of $1,550 to Heidi Hopkins for her proposal for working on two projects: a revision of the family Polyphagidae, genus Arenivaga, and a revision of the family Blaberidae, tribe Oxyhaloini, genus Oxyhaloa. Heidi is a student of Kelly Miller's.

Congratulations Steve Ross

Mississippi Conservation Award

Following his presentation of an invited banquet address at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Fisheries Society on February 4th, Dr. Stephen T. Ross received the C. A. Schultz Conservation Award. According to the MS-AFS guidelines, “The award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated excellence in the fields of ichthyology, fisheries or aquatic ecology in terms of activities that promote conservation, sound taxonomy and/or public awareness of Mississippi’s aquatic resources.” Prior to affiliating with UNM in 2004, Dr. Ross was the T. W. Bennett, Jr. Distinguished Professor in the Sciences, Professor of Biological Sciences, and Curator of Fishes at the University of Southern Mississippi.

January 2010

Outstanding Natural History Paper of 2008

The Western North American Naturalist is pleased to announce the award for the best paper of 2008. The winning paper is “Geographic patterns of ground-swelling arthropods across an ecoregional transition in the North American Southwest” by David C. Lightfoot, Sandra L. Brantley, and Craig D. Allen (WNAN 68.1). This annual award celebrates our authors’ achievements in creative and meaningful research, insightful interpretation, and articulate writing. Top finalists were selected from the 45 full-length papers published in Volume 68, and the WNAN Editorial Board members selected a final winner by vote. David C. Lightfoot, as senior author, will receive $300.00 for the achievement.

December 2009

November 2009

Congratulations to Paul Polechla on the award of his National Science Foundation Informal Science Education grant "Natural History of the Horses of the American West: Around the World and Through the Ages.

October 2009

UNM Regents’ Lecturer and Biology Professor Tim Lowrey was elected recently to the Board of Directors of the Flora North America Association, a bi-national collaboration of more than 30 U.S. and Canadian institutions and organizations involved in a project titled, Flora of North America. The project involves botanists who are studying and characterizing the plants of the region and the need for authoritative information for basic and applied research, conservation, and resource management.

The project goal is to make flora as clear, concise and informative as practical so that it can serve as an important resource for both botanists and nonbotanists. “The Flora North America Program is a massive international project to provide a published account of the 20,000+ species in North America north of Mexico,” said Lowrey, who is also the curator of the UNM Herbarium in the Museum of Southwestern Biology. “At the finish of the project, nearly 10 percent of the world's plant species will be treated in 30 volumes. I am very happy to be elected to the Board of Directors to help guide the project to completion in 2012."

A flora is a systematic account of the plant species of a given area — in this case, North America, north of Mexico. Flora of North America builds upon the cumulative wealth of information acquired since botanical studies began in the United States and Canada more than two centuries ago. The flora is intended to serve both as a means of identifying plants within the region and as a systematic conspectus of the North American flora.

The Board of Directors serves as the governing body of the project. The officers include a president, vice president and editorial director, vice president for Business and Development, secretary and treasurer. The board consists of taxon editors, regional coordinators, a bibliographic editor, a nomenclatural editor, a managing editor and liaisons to governmental agencies in the U.S. and Canada.

Lowrey's research interests include plant systematics, flowering plants of the tropics, hybridization in plants, plant breeding systems and reproductive biology. His background includes a Ph.D. in Botany from the University of California, Berkeley (1981); a Master of Science in Biology from Utah State University (1977); and a Bachelor of Science in Botany, also from Utah State University (1974).

The Science & Society Distinguished Public Talks series presents 'High Altitude Adaptation in Andean Birds' with Christopher C. Witt on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. in rm. C of the UNM Conference Center located at 1634 University Blvd. N.E. A meet and greet will also be held prior to the talk at 4:30 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public. Plenty of free parking is available.

Witt is an assistant professor in the UNM biology department and a curator of birds at the Museum of Southwestern Biology. His research interests include avian molecular phylogenetics, biogeography and comparative physiology. Witt specializes in the study of biology and evolution of birds.

Witt will discuss the Andes mountains, which have the highest diversity of birds on the planet by any measure. Underlying this diversity are numerous lineages of lowland birds that have independently colonized high altitude habits since the late-Miocene. High Altitude imposes physiological challenges such as low oxygen availability and low temperature that can lead to adaptation and evolutionary diversification.

Whereas human populations have independently colonized high altitudes in three separate instances over tens of thousands of years, dozens of Andean bird lineages have independently colonized extreme high altitudes over millions of years. Comparing patterns of physiological change in bird and human lineages sheds light on the fundamental nature of adaptation.

Co-sponsored by Albuquerque Section of the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE), Sigma Xi (the Scientific Research Society), the Department of Physics & Astronomy, College of Arts & Sciences, University Honors Program, and the Division of Continuing Education.

August 2009

Congratulations to Tom Turner, on his promotion to full Professor and his continuance as Director of the Museum of Southwestern Biology.

Congratulations to Kelly Miller on the award of his National Science Foundation Collections Improvement Grant (Reinvest American funds).   This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).

The Museum of Southwestern Biology is located in a geographic region of high environmental heterogeneity and arthropod diversity. Additionally, the arthropod fauna of the Southwest is not as well known as other regions of the United States. The Museum of Southwestern Biology has become an active institution documenting insect diversity for several decades for researchers in ecology and taxonomy, but has never had adequate storage space for all its material. The funding from this NSF grant will allow us to purchase needed cabinets, drawers and other equipment to store our collections securely and make them more available for study. The funding also includes money for students to assist us in preparing specimens and entering collection information into our database (

Museums are essential partners in research involving DNA analysis, species relationships and distributions. Their holdings document species introductions and extinctions, which are critical for conservation planning. Undergraduate and graduate students receive invaluable training in taxonomy by working with whole specimens, images and databases maintained by museums. Internet access to these databases benefits K-12 students and the general public by providing accurate information and a way to learn about local and regional biodiversity.

July 2009

Congratulations to Joseph Cook and Steven MacDonald on the publication and release of their latest book:

MacDonald, S.O. and Joseph A. Cook. Recent Mammals of Alaska. 2009.

University of Alaska Press. Hardbound: 387 pages. Price: $55.00 U.S. [Amazon: $34.65].

This authoritative reference is the first comprehensive accounting of the 116 mammal species (extinct and extant) that have inhabited Alaska and adjacent waters during the last ten thousand years (the Holocene ). The book has three primary sections:  introduction and overview, individual species accounts, and appendices. Each species account includes taxonomy, common names, systematics, distribution, habitat, status, fossils and range maps. The book is generously illustrated with line drawings by W. D. Berry and others. Appendices summarize information on distribution, specimens, conservation status, introductions and translocations, island faunas, and provide an overview of the pre-Holocene fauna based on the fossil record. Recent Mammals of Alaska is the first accessible reference on this topic for scholars, wildlife managers, students, and amateur naturalists.

June 2009

Congratulations to Chris Frazier and co-authors John Wall (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) and Sharon Grant (The Natural History Museum, London), on the publication and release of: "Initiating a Collection Digitisation Project". This document is designed to give the reader the confidence to get started and to make the right decisions when planning a natural history collection digitisation project. The authors have years of experience working with collections and they have instilled this expertise into this paper so one can more efficiently ask the right questions and make the appropriate plans prior to committing any resources to the task. Published by Global Biodiversity Information Facility


May 2009

The Museum of Southwestern Biology participated in the Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society – Western Division held at the Albuquerque Convention Center May 3 through May 7.

The theme of this year’s meeting “Evolution of the Western Landscape: Balancing Habitat, Land, and Water Management for Fish”. There are a number of special symposia that focus on the management and conservation of New Mexico’s fisheries. In addition, senior personnel from the MSB Division of Fishes and Department of Biology will host a workshop entitled “Genetics and Fish Management” More information can be found at

April 2009

Congratulations to Jolene Rearick on her new award from the National Science Foundation on her Graduate Research Fellowship Grant. This is a three year fellowship beginning this summer 2009.

March 2009

Congratulations to Kelly Miller on his award from the National Science Foundation: CAREER: Phylogenetic Revisions of South American Water Beetles (Coleoptera: Adephaga: Hydradephaga): A Model for Teaching Systematic Biology

This project will investigate the systematics of South American water beetles (Hydradephaga), including diving beetles, burrowing water beetles, and whirligig beetles. Diving beetles are remarkable for their size and intricate color patterns. They also exhibit interesting differences between males and females; males have adhesive disks on their bodies that let them stick to the females during mating, whereas females have grooves that allow them to resist mating. This project will determine how many species there are in this group of beetles, and how they are related to each other. The project will test whether changes in male adhesive disks are mirrored by corresponding changes in the grooves on the females. DNA sequences will also be used to determine which larvae will grow in to which adults. One product of this work will be an interactive, fully illustrated, on-line identification key for the water beetles of the Neotropics.

This project will provide training in monographic and revisionary systematics for one Ph.D. student, two master's students, and four undergraduates, the latter for at least two years each. Summer workshops will be provided for local-area high-school teachers so they may take knowledge of systematics back to their classrooms. The public school system in Albuquerque and the University of New Mexico are significant minority-serving institutions with Hispanics and Native Americans as major constituents. In addition, two university courses will be developed, one of which will be offered during the summer term, so that students can be taken to South America to collect insects relevant to the revisionary part of the proposed research. These collections will be processed by the students and deposited at the Museum of Southwestern Biology at UNM.


Gino Nearns and Traci Gryzmala recently attended the Annual Meeting of Southwestern Branch of the Entomological Society of America meetings in Stillwater, OK (on the Oklahoma State University campus). They both won awards for their presentations:

"On the longhorned beetles of the world: a phylogeny based on molecular data" (Gino Nearns)

and the title of Traci's presentation was: "Preliminary Morphological Analysis for Systematic Revision of the Longhorned Beetle Genus Elytroleptus Dugés (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae: Cerambycinae: Trachyderini)"

Congratulations to both Gino and Traci!

For thirty-two years the Tucson-Pima County Public Library has presented "Southwest Books of the Year", this year the UNM Press celebrates: "A Field Guide to the Plants and Animals of the Middle Rio Grande Bosque", Jean-Luc E. Cartron, David C. Lightfoot, Jane E. Mygatt, Sandra L. Brantley, and Timothy K. Lowrey. Available from the University of New Mexico Press. as one of three books chosen as top thirty-five panelist picks.

February 2009

DARWIN DAY: The Museum of Southwestern Biology hosted an open house with collection tours on Thursday February 12, 2009 in honor of Charles Darwin.

January 2009

SKUNKS! Did you ever want to know more about skunks? Jerry Dragoo, Research Assistant Professor of Biology and Research Associate of the MSB, will be featured on NATURE on Sunday January 25, 2009 on KNME, the local PBS station. The show, Is that Skunk will air at 7:00pm MST. Jerry is an expert on skunks and is frequently called upon when kits are endangered or a stray has been picked up. He rehabs them at his home and when they are sufficiently ready, he releases them back to the wild. Go to: to see a preview of the show.

Division of Amphibians and Reptiles Curator Howard Snell describes a pink iguana in the Galapagos. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Professor Snell is part of a team of researchers that describes a spectacular new iguana species from Isabela island in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador.

Hear the NPR interview with Dr. Snell at

A link to the paper can be found at

November 2008-Jean Luc Catron, David Lightfoot, Sandra Brantley and Tim Lowrey will be presenting "A Field Guide to the Bosque" at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History on Tuesday, November 18, 2008 at 7pm.

July 2008--Reaccreditiation of the Mammal Collection. The Division of Mammals underwent a formal reaccreditation review by the Systematic Collections Committee during the American Society of Mammalogists meeting in June 2007 and was fully reaccredited in July

February 2008—National Science Foundation collections improvement grant funded
A $ 259,285 grant (Curation, Databasing, and Integration of the Orphaned Illinois Mammal Collection) was funded. This will provide funding for new cases, drawers, trays and two years of student employment support to integrate the recently acquired University of Illinois Museum of Natural History (UIMNH) mammal collection (ca. 33,000 specimens). Curation, database development, and integration are now underway on this important new collection of primarily southwestern mammals collected from the 1940’s through 1980’s.

January 2008- Creation of Division of Parasitology at MSB. This new Division at MSB is already the third largest helminth collection in North America. A NSF supplemental grant (NSF0726625) was awarded to MSB to transfer the helminth collections of Robert Rausch and the Beringian Coevolution Project from the USDA National Parasite Collection in Beltsville. These specimens were accessioned into space in the wet collections and form the nucleus of this newly created Division.

September 2007--- Undergraduate Opportunities (UNO) training grant awarded ($1,015,000) was awarded to UNM as part of the National Science Foundations Undergraduate research mentoring Program (URM). PI’s Cook and Gannon and several other Curators and Faculty in the Department of Biology secured funding for undergraduate training in science at UNM. This 5 year NSF award will host 12 undergraduate students from underrepresented groups per year in various research projects in the Museum and the Biological Sciences at UNM.

June 2007--American Society of Mammalogists (ASM) Annual Meeting. MSB organized and successfully hosted the 87th meeting from 6-10 June. 580 participants attended. This was one of the largest meetings held recently. UNM has a long history of leadership in this professional society. A number of ASM Past-Presidents (e.g., Drs. Findley, Wilson, Brown), Honorary members (4) and current members of the Board of Directors (5) and Editorial Board (3) are populated by UNM faculty and alumni.

8 October 2006
The Center for Environmental Research, Informatics and Art (CERIA) celebrated the opening of our building. Demonstrations of research and creative projects were featured in and around the CERIA building on the main campus (where the old bookstore was housed) See the collage of photos from the event. The first photo of the ribbon cutting features (l-r) Christopher Mead, Dean College of Fine Arts; Reed Dasenbrock, Provost; Terry Yates, VP for Economic Developement and Research and Vera Norwood, Interim Chair College of Arts and Sciences. All photos are courtesy of Mike Bogan, USGS Curator Emeritus.



June 2007
The Museum of Southwestern Biology hosted the 2007 American Society of Mammalogists (ASM) June 6-10, 2007.

September 2006
Professor Don Duszynski, Director of the MSB, has been selected as the 2006 Distinguished Alumnus of the Department of Biology at Colorado State University. Don will receive this honor at an award ceremony later this year, when he will give a retrospective lecture about his career in science and research over the last 35 years.

In addition, Dr. Duszynski has been invited as one of 25 international scientists, to serve on a Sloan Foundation workshop To Resolve Microorganism Taxonomic and Cultural Collection Problems Arising from the New Barcoding Initiatives. The workshop will be held in Portland, Maine, November 6-7, 2006. DNA barcoding is a methodology for identifying species using a short DNA sequence. It is purported to be a reliable, inexpensive and easily accessible tool for both taxonomic specialists and non-specialists (e.g., government officials, professionals in health and agriculture). There are several issues and problems, however, that need to be addressed before barcoding can be instituted, especially for single-celled microorganisms (protists). Linking barcodes to accurately identified species represents a large hurdle that must be overcome. The Sloan Foundation workshop will address problems that arise as species DNA barcodes are generated by protists.

August 2006
The UNM Biology Department has concluded the search for two new tenure-track faculty positions; Christopher Witt will replace David Ligon as Curator of the MSB Bird Division and Kelly Miller will replace Manuel Molles as the Curator of Arthropods. Both David and Manuel retired in 2005 after long and distinguished careers in biology.

May 2006
The UNM Museum of Southwestern Biology and the USGS Arid Lands Field Station co-hosted the joint meeting of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections and the Natural Science Collections Alliance, May 23-27, 2006. The meeting theme was "The Road to Productive Partnerships."

08 August 2005
This month's Geoworld Magazine,"The Business Monthly for the GIS Industry," includes a feature article on the Biogeomancer Project. Biogeomancer is an international consortium developing an online workbench, web services, and desktop applications that will provide georeferencing for collectors, curators and users of natural history specimens. The project is co-managed by John Wieczorek from the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Berkeley and MSB's Chris Frazier. MSB's Biogeomancer team includes Teri Neville, GIS coordinator for Natural Heritage New Mexico, and Tomas Giermakowski, collections manager for the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles.

02 August 2005
Today's Albuquerque Journal includes an article "World on Web: Database Holds Plants, Animals" with great pictures of the Herbarium collection manager, Jane Mygatt, and the Herbarium specimen imaging system. The article follows Yale graduate student Stephen Smith's usage of the INRAM Gateway to New Mexico Biodiversity to find honeysuckle specimens in the UNM Herbarium that he needs for his dissertation work.

17 May 2004
MSB Highlights, a posting of divisional and program developments is released.

arthropod images
© David Lightfoot