Scientific discovery often has been, and continues to be, made by examination of natural history artifacts. Materials essential to such discoveries are deposited in natural history collections, where they in turn form the basis for new discovery. Such collections are an exceptionally rich resource for small class, seminar-style learning. The Natural History Collections of the Peabody Museum is a freshman/sophomore seminar exploring selected scientific problems through the use of the biological and geological collections of the Peabody Museum.
A central feature of the course will be the opportunity to directly manipulate museum specimens under the mentorship of collection managers of the Peabody Museum. For each Division, students will be presented with a variety of scientific problems for which the collections are famous along with relevant readings designed to provide an introduction at suitable level. The topics offered in Fall 2009 are introduced below.
The course will be organized around oral presentations by students following an introductory sequence of meetings and requisite work in the collections themselves. The course is divided into two sessions, one before and one after mid-term, during each of which each student works on a single topic. Students will be invited to submit their top three choices of topics and will be assigned topics for the first session on that basis during the second week of class. For each topic, students will be expected to produce a 10-15 page paper that treats in detail.
Please choose a department to view their topics:
Division of Botany
Division of Vertebrate Zoology
Division of Invertebrate Zoology
Division of Paleobotany
Division of Vertebrate Paleontology
Division of Invertebrate Paleontology
Department of Astronomy