Joseph A. Cook
DR. JOSEPH A. COOK is Regents Professor of Biology and Curator of Mammals, Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico. Previously, he held tenured faculty and curatorial positions at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (1990-2001), was Chair of Biology at Idaho State University (2000-2003), and Director of the Museum of Southwestern Biology (2011-2017). Cook’s research is highly collaborative and focuses on conservation, molecular evolution and systematics, producing >190 peer-reviewed publications, including the Recent Mammals of Alaska. He held the Fulbright Fellowship in Uruguay (1993), Rotary Fellowship in Bolivia (1997), Sitka Sound Science Center Fellowship (2013), was awarded the American Society of Mammalogists’ Joseph Grinnell Award in 2016, and appointed UNM Regents Professor in 2018. He was President of the Natural Science Collections Alliance (2016-17) and chaired the international AIM-UP! Research Coordinating Network (RCN), which explored new ways to integrate collections-based digital resources into education initiatives. Moving from the tenth largest mammal collection in the US when he assumed leadership in 2003, the Division of Mammals has nearly tripled in size and is now ranked third in size, worldwide. Until 2017, he was also Curator of Genomic Resources, a frozen tissue collection for mammals that is unrivaled worldwide for size, diversity, global coverage, or the number of peer-reviewed papers on genomes, viruses and other topics that it produces annually (ca. 70). Over 25 years, he led two international field projects, one that sampled mammals and their parasites across more than 250 remote sites in Canada, Alaska, Siberia, and Mongolia and aimed to understand the biogeography of Beringia (Beringian Coevolution Project) and the other effort (ISLES) focused on the mammals and parasites of the Alexander Archipelago of Southeast Alaska, including the incomparable Tongass National Forest. Dr. Cook received his PhD from the University of New Mexico.
Lynn D. Dierking
DR. LYNN D. DIERKING is a Sea Grant Professor in Free-Choice/Informal STEM Learning, Colleges of Science and Education, Oregon State University, and Director of Strategy & Partnerships, Institute for Learning Innovation. Her research focuses on lifelong learning, particularly free-choice learning (in after-school, home-, and community-based contexts, such as museums and libraries), with an emphasis on youth and families, particularly those living in poverty, and/or not historically engaged in STEM learning across their lifetime. Dr. Dierking publishes extensively and is on Editorial Boards for Connected Science Learning, Afterschool Matters and Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship. Dierking received a Ph.D. in Science Education in 1987 from the University of Florida. She received the 2016 Distinguished Contributions to Science Education through Research Award from NARST, an international organization supporting research on science learning and teaching, recognizing her contributions to, and creation of a research field focused on lifelong, free-choice/informal learning. Dierking was a 2013 Education & Human Resources Distinguished Lecturer at the U.S. National Science Foundation, in recognition of her leadership within the STEM education field. She also was a 2011 State Department Distinguished Keynote Speaker for International Council on Museums (ICOM) meetings in Brno, Czech Republic and the U.S. Embassy in Prague. She received a 2010 John Cotton Dana Award for Leadership from the American Alliance of Museums, the highest honor bestowed to a person outside the museum field, who exhibits outstanding leadership and promotes the educational responsibility and capacity of museums. She also was on the 2006 Centennial Honor Roll of the American Alliance of Museums as one of 100 leaders who had provided leadership and service to the field throughout their careers.
Scott V. Edwards
DR. SCOTT V. EDWARDS (NAS) is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. He joined Harvard in December 2003 after serving as faculty for 9 years in the Zoology Department and the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, Seattle. His research focuses on diverse aspects of avian biology, including evolutionary history and biogeography, disease ecology, population genetics and comparative genomics. He has conducted fieldwork in phylogeography in Australia since 1987 and conducted some of the first phylogeographic analyses based on DNA sequencing. He did a postdoctoral fellowship in immunogenetics at the University of Florida and gained experience with studying the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) of birds, an important gene complex for interactions of birds and infectious diseases, pathogens and mate choice. His work on the MHC led him to study the large-scale structure of the avian genome and informed his current interest in using comparative genomics to study the genetic basis of phenotypic innovation in birds. In the last 10 years Dr. Edwards has helped develop novel methods for estimating phylogenetic trees from multilocus DNA sequence data. His recent work uses comparative genomics in diverse contexts to study macroevolutionary patterns in birds, including the origin of feathers and the evolution of flightlessness. From 2013-2015 Scott served as Director of the Division of Biological Infrastructure at the National Science Foundation, overseeing funding programs focused on undergraduate research, postdoctoral fellowships, natural history collections and field stations, and cyber- and other infrastructure for all areas of biology. He served as President of three international scientific societies based in the US—the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Society of Systematic Biologists, and the American Genetic Association—each of which publishes a scientific journal and has memberships ranging from 500 to 2500 scientists and students. He has served on the National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration, the Senior Advisory Boards of the NSF-funded US National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), and on the Advisory Boards of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He oversees a program funded by NSF to increase the diversity of undergraduates in evolutionary biology and biodiversity science. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2009), a Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (2009), and a member the National Academy of Sciences (2015). Dr. Edwards currently serves as a member of the National Academies’ Board on Life Sciences.
Talia S. Karim
DR. TALIA S. KARIM is the Collection Manager for Invertebrate Paleontology and Paleobotany at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History (2010-present) and was previously the Invertebrate Paleontology Collection Manager at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute (2008-2010). Her research interests include trilobite systematics, biostratigraphy, taphonomy, museum collections care and management, digitization of collections, and cyber infrastructure as related to sharing museum data. Talia’s interest in collections management extends into the classroom and she has taught, or co-taught, collections management related courses for the museum studies programs at the University of Colorado and the University of Kansas. She is an active SPNHC member and is currently serving as member-at-large. She is also the co-chair of the iDigBio Paleo Digitization Working Group. Talia received a B.S. in Geology and a BA in Classical Culture from the University of Oklahoma in 2001. She went on to attend Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship and earned an MSc in Earth Sciences in 2004. She completed her PhD at the University of Iowa in 2009 focusing on Lower Ordovician Trilobite Systematics. Throughout her career, she has been a specimen-based researcher and focused on the critical role specimens and museum collections play in research and communicating science to the general public.
George I. Matsumoto
DR. GEORGE I. MATSUMOTO is currently the Senior Education and Research Specialist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. With an AB degree from UC Berkeley and a PhD from UCLA, George's research interest focus on Ctenophores but include other gelatinous organisms especially those that live in the deep-sea. He also coordinates the MBARI summer internship program, educator professional development workshops, and works with the Monterey Bay Aquarium both as a volunteer and as a reviewer of science content. George has served on the National Ocean Studies Board (2008-2013), the National Marine Educators Association Board (2010-2016), was awarded the QuickScience Ocean Science Leadership Commitment to Education Award, and is an ASLO Fellow. He has served on a number of review boards for NSF, NOAA, GoMRI, and NAS and does his best to spend more time in or on the Ocean than on travel.
Pamela S. Soltis
DR. PAMELA S. SOLTIS is a Distinguished Professor and Curator in the Florida Museum of Natural History and Director of the Biodiversity Institute at the University of Florida. She serves on the Executive Committee of the UF Genetics Institute and on several committees of the Museum and the Department of Biology and has recently served on the UF Graduate Council. She is Director for Research at iDigBio, the NSF-funded national center for digitization of biodiversity collections, where she works with the collections community and biodiversity scientists from around the world to develop and promote the use of herbarium specimens (and other natural history collections) in innovative research. She is President-Elect of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists and has served ASPT on the Council (1993-96), on the Honors and Awards Committee (1993-95; Chair, 1995), as a Cooley Award Judge (several years; Chair, 1995), and as a reviewer of manuscripts for Systematic Botany. She has also served her profession as President of the Botanical Society of America, President of the Society of Systematic Biologists, a Council Member for the Society for the Study of Evolution, the International Society for Phylogenetic Nomenclature, and the American Genetics Association, and an associate editor of numerous journals (currently, Board of Reviewing Editors, Science; consulting editor, The Plant Cell; previously, associate editor for Systematic Biology, Evolution, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Taxon, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Conservation Biology). She has received several awards for her contributions to the study of plant diversity, most notably the International Prize in Botany (Physiographic Society of Lund, Sweden), the Asa Gray Award (American Society of Plant Taxonomists), the Darwin-Wallace Award (Linnean Society of London), and the Botanical Society of America’s Merit Award, all jointly with Douglas E. Soltis. Dr. Soltis received a B.A. in Biology from Central College (Pella, IA) (1980), a Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Kansas (1986), and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Central College (2017). She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
DR. BARBARA M. THIERS is currently a Vice President and Director of the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium of the New York Botanical Garden, where she has been since 1981. From 2014 to 2017, Dr. Thiers oversaw the Garden’s research division and continues to serve in an advisory role to the CEO and COO of the institution today. She earned her Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Massachusetts. Her research area is the systematics of the Lejeuneaceae, a family of leafy Hepatics. Since becoming director of the Herbarium, Dr. Thiers has managed and raised funds for the facility, which contains approximately eight million specimens. The Steere Herbarium is among three largest herbaria in the world, and the largest in the western hemisphere. Since 2008 she has managed the online resource Index Herbariorum, which is a directory of the approximately 3000 herbaria worldwide. In 2010, Dr. Thiers served on the NSF-funded committee to develop the NIBA (Networked Biocollections Alliance) strategic plan for the digitization of natural history collections in the U.S. This plan led to the establishment of NSF’s Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections funding program (2011-present). Currently she serves as a member of the External Advisory Committee for iDigBio, and the Biodiversity Collections Network Advisory Committee, BCON. She is also currently the President of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC), vice president of the Natural Science Collections Alliance, and a member of the external advisory committee for the Harvard University Herbaria.