Profile of a Natural History Manager
What is your name?
What is your position called?
Manager, Natural History
Where do you work?
Royal British Columbia Museum
How many years have you been working in this capacity?
I started with the RBCM as Invertebrate Collection Technician in Jan. 1991, and became Collection Manager for Invertebrates, Fish, Reptiles and Amphibians in 1995, and Senior Collection Manager for Invertebrates, Fish, Reptiles and Amphibians in 2001. I became Manager of Natural History in May 2007.
When did you join SPNHC?
Joined in 1992. Worked on Local Organzing Committee to host the meetings in Victoria, 1993. Chair of the Elections Committee since 2006.
What drew you to the natural history field?
My father was an avid bird watcher and took me along many times when I was a young kid. I became fascinated with the detail of the field books and bird fauna but later in life found the completely different fauna of the marine intertidal even more interesting.
Describe the nature of the collections you work with.
As manager I supervise all the natural history collections and research staff. The RBCM has a provincial mandate to develop the collections to represent the natural history of British Columbia. There are eight collections: Entomology, Ornithology, Earth History, Mammals, Botany, Ichthyology, Invertebrates, and Herpetology. Mosses, lichens, and algae are not included in the collections.
What are your responsibilities for them?
Developing our long term strategy on collection development, research, and accessibility to the collections.
Describe some of your activities.
Working closely with the curators and collection managers as a team to acheive our long term goals. Planning for improvements to the collection and research facilities in Natural History.
What do you find most interesting about your work?
Enlightening visitors to the wealth and breadth of our collections and the importance of the research undertaken here. Discovering ways to collaborate with universities, institutions, different levels of government and other museums to share efforts in improving the collections and access to them.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
• Our museum has launched an initiative to populate our website with regional and global identification keys for the public, students and scientific researchers.
• Developing cooperation with government to help complete specimen records.
• A recent and very significant donation to the Earth History Collection.
What do you find most fulfilling about your work?
The discovery of new species in BC, be they native or alien. I am very proud to be involved in the field of natural history collections given the current urgency to promote the value of our planet's biodiversity. As the world's bio-information bank, Natural history collections represent a very crucial tool in those efforts.
What have you learned from SPNHC to be particularly helpful?
The yearly meetings are excellent ways to network with those in similar work with similar problems or difficulties. They provide a unique opportunity to share concerns and learn from each other, often over the short week of the conference itself!
How has SPNHC helped you?
The expert advice of those in the field much longer than I is a tremendous resource. Seeing other collections while attending the conferences is always informative and useful. The NHCOLL Listserv is very useful also.
* Photograph of Kelly Sendall taken while on route along the central coast of Britsh Columbia to collect inverts for the museum.