Featured Students

Student Spotlight - Aidan Houlihan

“The work done at the Peabody is so valuable. There are so many collections that we have within the Peabody itself, and outside the Peabody in other locations. These collections are expansive and allow for more than just basic scientific curiosity to be explored, but also allow for expansive research.”


Our latest Student Spotlight is Aidan Houlihan. Aidan is a rising senior in Trumbull College, double majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (E&EB) and Environmental Studies (EVST), and has been working in the Peabody’s entomology collection since the spring of his freshman year.  When asked about why he chose the Entomology Division, Aidan answered, “I think it stemmed from my fear as a child. I wouldn’t want [insects] near me, so I would try to keep them away. But as I grew older, I started to become interested in observing and identifying them.”


Aidan’s first two years at the Peabody consisted of working on the digitization of the collections. A typical day would consist of entering data on all kinds of interesting insects that came from all over the world. After his sophomore year, Aidan was a Peabody summer intern in the entomology collections where he was able to work on a teaching collection containing drawers of 35,000 specimens. The project consisted of sorting, analyzing, and classifying the specimens and thinking of ways to organize for a useful teaching collection.


Aidan was set to complete a Peabody internship in the summer of 2020, but with the pandemic canceling in-person work, he began to do remote work for the Peabody. His summer consisted of doing archival work for exhibits dating as far back as 1995. He also spent the majority of this past fall 2020 semester georeferencing thousands of specimens and helping fix up the Wikidata pages for the Peabody. 


“The process of georeferencing is meticulous. The first step would be to take an item and look at its label. The label consists of information about the item such as where it was located, when it was located, and by whom. It is then my job to use a software that allows for me to search the location where the item was found and find coordinates that fit the description. I went through around ten to twenty thousand items, so I became an expert in georeferencing.” 


This work is enjoyable to Aidan as he feels that this work is important, not just for right now but for future students and faculty. He enjoys “just being able to create things that [he] knows are purposely made to be lasting for anyone curious about the history of the Peabody.” Reflecting on his past year of archival work for the Peabody, Aidan recounts that this work “makes the Peabody feel very human. It makes it seem like it’s not just the Peabody I’m experiencing, but it’s the Peabody that has always been there and existed for a very long time.”


Written by Lucy Duran Camacho ‘22, April 2021




Check out our previous Student Spotlights!

Matt Hack

Maya Juman

Sarah Adams

Ananth Miller-Murthy