Thursday, October 11, 2012

Collection Improvement

A few weeks ago, we were notified that we had received a collection improvement grant from NSF (the National Science Foundation).  In our case, what this means is that we promised to catalog a large number of specimens from our backlog of donated and orphaned collections over a period of three years and to make them accessible online, which most of our database is.  Promising is one thing, but delivering is going to take more hands...a lot more hands.  So John and Gustav went on a hiring spree and we now have a small army of part- and full-time employees to help us with our follow-through.  They have been making short work of all the projects that we hand them.  Their efficiency polishes off in a few hours projects that would take John and I weeks on our own.  For instance, this aisle:

 now looks like this:

Fortunately, there are plenty of projects to go around.

One of our colleagues, Dr. Harry Lee, whom you might remember from this post, or this one, had a catastrophe at this house.  In addition to being a encyclopedia of knowledge of all things molluscan, Harry also has an extensive collection which he is generously donating to us over the next several years.  Unfortunately, a series of storms flooded the basement in which the collection (and its associated library) were housed.  For several weeks, groups of us would periodically head out to Harry's home to help clean up.

It was a large collection, and the clean-up took months, but with our help and the help of others, Harry managed to salvage most of the collection.

There is also a never-ending string of loan requests from other researchers who would like to borrow our specimens for their own projects.  I think that we currently have 5 pending requests.  That number could actually be much lower thanks to Adania, who has been hitting the loans especially hard these past few days, entering them into the database and packing them up for shipment.

In addition to several new hires, Gustav also has a new grad student.  Patrick is really excited to be here!

No really, he's excited!  Maybe he's just jealous that Jeanne gets to process and sort photos while he fills out paperwork online for registering for classes, paying fees, preparing for class (attending and TAing), and other new-student-y things.

Our dedication is also needed by the two lobby aquaria  Water changes, feedings, water chemistry tests, water level monitoring, cleaning glass (inside and out), cleaning filter media, emptying protein skimmer, animal additions, animal releases, etc, all demand our attention.  Here is an exciting water-change action shot.

The water is flowing from that carboy in the upper right corner, so it technically is an action shot.  A picture of the time I dumped the cart and busted open the huge carboy containing the salt water would be arguably more exciting, but hopefully less typical.

The aquarium is a lot of work, but totally worth it.  We have so many cool new additions, all from Florida.  Check out Scyllarides nodifer.

She eats clams that she opens with no claws, an iron will, and her chomptacular mouth parts.  I'll try and include photos of other interesting aquarium dwellers in future posts.

:) Mandy

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