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Written by: Nancy Moncrief
Tuesday February 10, 2015

VMNH Curator of Mammalogy Dr. Nancy D. Moncrief recently conducted tours of the VMNH research collections for VMNH staff.  She described her current collections-based research projects, and she talked about the major role of natural history collections as an irreplaceable archive of life.  She also provided examples of cutting-edge technologies that can be used to study collections, even those that have been (properly) stored for more than a hundred years.

Dr. Moncrief discusses one of her collections-based research projects during a recent program for VMNH staff members.  Photo by K. Davis.

Dr. Nancy Moncrief is also serving as a co-leader of a joint educational project with Dr. Nina Huff, who teaches Research Methods and Design at the Piedmont Governor’s School for Mathematics, Science and Technology in Martinsville.  They are using project-based inquiry to teach the scientific method and environmental science concepts to a group of 18 high-school juniors this academic year.

Drs. Moncrief (center, right) and Huff (center, left) describe a skull-matching activity to students from Piedmont Governor’s School for Mathematics, Science and Technology before the students examine each of the skulls to find similarities and differences.  Photo by K. Davis.

The class is studying wildlife in Martinsville and Henry County by analyzing photos from camera traps.  They recently visited VMNH to examine museum specimens of many of the mammal species that have been “captured” on the traps. Dr. Moncrief led the students through several activities to identify the specimens in order to better understand the ecological and evolutionary relationships of local wildlife.

Tags: Biology, Dr. Nancy Moncrief, Mammal of the Month, Mammals, Research and Collections