Last week, I visited the Louisiana State University (LSU) Museum of Natural Sciences, one of the largest natural history collections in the United States. My goal for the trip was to learn about the important research and museum curation activities ongoing at the museum, to get to know the students, faculty, and staff, and to give a seminar to museum staff describing my post-doctoral research.
Oscar Johnson, a PhD student in the Brumfield laboratory, gave me an incredible tour of the Ornithology Collections. Here is Oscar, explaining/demonstrating to me that the “tail” of the Resplendant Quetzal aren’t actually rectrices (tail feathers), but rather upper tail coverts. They include phylogenetic trees inside each cabinet, which I found to be a useful feature. Oscar also showed me the smallest bird in the world, the Bee Hummingbird!
Jackson Roberts, another PhD student, gave me a tour through the Herpetology Collections and molecular genetic laboratories. Jackson showed me tons of interesting specimens, including the smallest and largest frogs in the world, Paedophryne amauensis from New Guinea, and the Goliath Frog (Conraua goliath) from Africa, respectively.
I presented a seminar describing my post-doctoral research on tortoises and eastern indigo snakes. The seminar series at the museum is super cool; they put chairs out among the museum exhibits, it creates a nice and intimate atmosphere. The crowd was super fun and engaging, so I really enjoyed presenting to them. And, afterword there was a beer social on the front steps of the museum. I had a blast and am really fortunate to have been invited down for the experience.