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Charles Marshall  Director's Letter, April 2016

New Year

I am excited to report that the close of 2015 saw the launch of our two most recent collections-based grants. The first is a $2.5 million NSF Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections (ADBC) Thematic Collections Network (TCN) grant, which will web-mobilize 1.6 million specimens to document ecological and evolutionary change in Eastern Pacific Invertebrate Cenozoic Communities (EPICC). This was just one of two TCNs awarded last year, and only the third paleontological one ever awarded. We are especially excited because this effort will help unite the greater community of paleontological research collections - our partners are the University of Alaska, the Burke Museum in Seattle, the University of Oregon, the California Academy of Sciences, the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, the Cooper Center in southern California, the Paleontological Research Institute in upstate New York, and the Smithsonian Institution. Strikingly, many of these institutions are staffed by UCMP alumni/ae, so we already have a well developed rapport.

The second grant is just one of five NSF ADBC Partner to Existing Networks (PENs) awarded last year, with Diane Erwin leading the digital mobilization of our Cenozoic insect collection. Importantly these grants will fund undergraduate and graduate student work in the collections, providing them state-of-the art training in 21st century collections practices, from specimen handling, digitization, to large-scale collaborative activities.

I also want to call out two of our collections staff, Diane Erwin and Pat Holroyd, who have each now served UCMP for 20 years - congratulations! Their commitment, knowledge of our collections and user communities, and research and collections skills are invaluable to our missions of research, education, and service. In the last newsletter we bade a formal farewell to Dave Smith and Josh Frankel, but I am delighted to introduce Helina Chin, who started in UCMP in July in the role of graphics communication specialist.

Finally, at least at the time of writing, I am pleased to report that our endowment, which operates on a 5-year average payout, has now recovered from the 2008 financial crisis. Luckily this will offset a 10% permanent cut in State funds that will take effect next financial year. Thanks again for all your support as we, sadly, become an ever increasingly private museum sitting in the world’s best public university.

Charles Marshall