VMNH staff news
Be sure to check out this list periodically for updates related to the VMNH staff, including new staff hires, scientific projects and publications, board and committee service, professional achievements, and awards.
Deputy Director appointed to U.S. Government Relations Committee
VMNH Deputy Director Ryan Barber was recently appointed to the U.S. Government Relations Committee of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The committee monitors and addresses public policy issues related to philanthropy while working on grassroots member advocacy initiatives. Barber previously served on the AFP Marketing, Awards & Communications Committee from 2016 to 2018.
Curator of Mammalogy named president of Virginia Natural History Society
VMNH Curator of Mammalogy Dr. Nancy Moncrief recently began a two-year term as President of the Virginia Natural History Society. In addition, Dr. Moncrief contributed to the article “Mammal collections of the Western Hemisphere: a survey and directory of collections,” which was recently published in the Journal of Mammalogy.
Museum names Science Administrator
Museum leaders appointed Ben Williams as the new VMNH Science Administrator. Ben is a graduate of Roanoke College with a bachelor's degree in English and a minor in creative writing. Williams previously served as a reporter at the Martinsville Bulletin.
Curators teach lifelong learning course
VMNH Assistant Curator of Recent Invertebrates Dr. Kal Ivanov and Curator of Geology Dr. Jim Beard traveled to Grottoes, Virginia where they taught a field class to students from University of Virginia’s OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) program. Participants learned about the geology of the local karst environment associated with cave formation, the unique biology of its troglobiotic fauna, and the threats these fragile environments are currently facing.
Executive Director presents Poe lecture
Dr. Joe Keiper, VMNH Executive Director, presented "The Wonder of Reinvestigating Edgar Allen Poe: Using Museum Specimens to Interpret 19th Century Death Scenes from Literature" on Thursday, December 13 as part of the museum's 2nd Thursday Science Talk series.
Curator hosts Roanoke College students
VMNH Curator of Mammalogy Dr. Nancy D. Moncrief recently conducted tours of the VMNH research collections for Roanoke College students. 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.
Museum executive director, curator lead lifelong learning class
Executive Director Dr. Joe Keiper and Curator of Earth Science Dr. Jim Beard are leading a class on the Natural History of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge through the UVA Osher Lifelong Learning program. The class consists of 5 weeks of lectures and field trips.
VMNH staff take part in annual Hokie Bugfest
VMNH Assistant Curator of Recent Invertebrates Dr. Kal Ivanov and paleo assistant Aryanna James represented VMNH at the 8th annual Hokie Bugfest, at Virginia Tech. The single day event was attended by approximately 8,500 participants, allowing staff to promote VMNH and the museum’s entomology collection.
Deputy Director earns fundraising executive recertification
Ryan Barber, the museum's deputy director, earned recertification as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Individuals granted the CFRE credential have met a series of standards set by CFRE International which include tenure in the profession, education, and demonstrated fundraising achievement. They have also passed a rigorous written examination testing the knowledge, skills, and abilities required of a fundraising executive, and have agreed to uphold Accountability Standards and the Donor Bill of Rights.
Executive Director serves as panelist at fundraising program
Executive Director Dr. Joe Keiper served as a panelist at a program hosted by the Virginia Gift Planning Council. Dr. Keiper and other leaders discussed how non-profit organizations effectively respond to changing donor demographics.
Curators host natural history conference
Dr. Ivanov, VMNH Assistant Curator of Recent Invertebrates, and VMNH Curator of Mammals Dr. Nancy Moncrief organized and hosted the first general meeting of the Virginia Natural History Society at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville, VA. Dozens of researchers and students attended the event allowing participants to learn about the different studies conducted by fellow researchers across the Commonwealth. Oral presentations and poster session took place throughout the day, with VMNH staff also offering attendees tours of the museum’s research collections.
Curator of Paleontology accepts position at Minnesota museum
VMNH Assistant Curator of Palentology Dr. Alex Hastings accepted the position of Fitzpatrick Chair of Paleontology at the Science Museum of Minnesota, beginning this new position in September 2018. VMNH leaders have begun the search for the museum's next Assistant Curator of Paleontology, with an anticipated starting date of July 2019 for the selected candidate.
Curator of Archaeology secures grant funding for archaeological study
Dr. Elizabeth Moore, VMNH Curator of Archaeology, received a grant for $2,604.50 to rescue and rehabilitate a significant archaeological faunal assemblage from historic Claremont Manor in Surry County. This assemblage of an estimate 200 boxes of animal remains (bones and teeth) was excavated in 1970 and comes from deposits representing the 17th-19th century occupations at this site. The size of the assemblage combined with the excellent documentation of the controlled excavations will provide a unique opportunity to examine how colonists adapted animal husbandry and foodways to the new environment.
Curator presents at life-long learning program
Dr. Kal Ivanov, VMNH Assistant Curator of Recent Invertebrates, was the invited speaker for a series of lectures part of New College Institute’s “LIFE – Learning Is ForEver” program. This educational initiative is designed to foster lively, fun engagement with a focus on topics and resources available in the City of Martinsville and Henry County. Dr. Ivanov’s talks encompassed the multi-facetted life of the world’s most abundant and successful group of organisms (insects), their biology, natural history, and the many benefits they provide to our society.
VMNH curator examining animal remains from colonial site
Dr. Elizabeth Moore, curator of archaeology, recently received grant funding to rescue and rehabilitate a significant archaeological faunal assemblage from historic Claremont Manor in Surry County. This assemblage of an estimate 200 boxes of animal remains (bones and teeth) represents the 17th-19th century occupations at this site, providing a unique opportunity to examine how colonists adapted animal husbandry and foodways to the new environment.
Curator of Earth Science leads study at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Curator of Earth Science Dr. James Beard recently collaborated with staff scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to examine the interaction between water and a type of rock, called peridotite, that is common on the sea floor. The results of the experiments will be examined using the neutron beam at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This device enables the characterization of very small pores (nanostructures) that develop in the rock and transport fluid during hydration.
Curator of Mammals presents at international conference
VMNH Curator of Mammals Dr. Nancy Moncrief recently attended an international colloquium on squirrels, where she presented information about her work (with VMNH collaborators Liberty Hightower and Dr. Kal Ivanov) on techniques for determining age of individual animals using skeletal and tooth characteristics.
Curators collaborate with University of Lynchburg faculty for dinosaur dig
Dr. Kal Ivanov, VMNH Assistant Curator of Recent Invertebrates, and Dr. Alex Hastings, VMNH Assistant Curator of Paleontology, completed a month-long research trip in north-central Wyoming. Along with volunteers and a team of students from University of Lynchburg led by Dr. Brooke Haiar, they worked on excavating a 150 million year old sauropod dinosaur from the Morrison formation of Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin. In addition, Drs. Ivanov and Hastings continued work on the non-food collecting behavior of the western harvester ant Pogonomyrmex salinus, a species known to incorporate small fossils and fossil fragments in the construction of their sizable mounds.
VMNH curator serves as NSF proposal reviewer
Dr. James S. Beard, curator of earth sciences, recently served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation's JOIDES Resolution Panel, reviewing and evaluating proposals submitted to the Ocean Sciences Research Section as part of the merit selection process to determine awards. This important process directly supports NSF's commitment to supporting excellence in academic research.
Deputy Director appointed to international fundraising organization branding work group
Ryan Barber, Deputy Director of VMNH, was recently appointed to the Branding work group of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). This specialized group is led by members of AFP's Marketing, Awards & Communications (MAC) Committee. Barber has served on the MAC Committee since 2016.
VMNH curators present at Virginia Academy of Science meeting
Drs. Kal Ivanov and Nancy Moncrief presented results from their current research activities at a recent meeting of the Virginia Academy of Science. Dr. Ivanov discussed his “Ants of Virginia” project, and Dr. Moncrief shared information about her studies of raccoons that live on the Virginia barrier islands. Dr. Ivanov also chaired the afternoon session of oral presentations in the Entomology section, and Dr. Moncrief chaired the morning session for Natural History and Biodiversity.
VMNH curator presents at paleontology conference
VMNH Assistant Curator of Paleontology Dr. Alex Hastings and VMNH Curator Emeritus Dr. Lauck Ward presented "Great Fossils of Virginia" at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Association of Vertebrate Paleontology in Aurora, North Carolina.
Curator of Geology honored with Geological Society of America Fellowship
Each year the Geological Society of America selects about 80 new fellows out of their total membership of 23,000, roughly 0.3% of the membership. This year, GSA has so honored Curator of Geology Dr. James Beard. This honor is in recognition of contributions to science through research and publications and service to professional organizations.
Education Manager elected Secretary of statewide education collaborative
Christy Deatherage, Education Manager at VMNH, was recently elected to a 2-year term as Secretary of the Virginia Resource-Use Education Council (VRUEC). The VRUEC, comprised of Virginia's state and federal natural resource and education agencies and colleges of education and resource management, promotes conservation and conservation education across the Commonwealth.
Museum appoints Visitor Services Assistant
Sharon Clark was hired as a full-time Visitor Services Assistant, providing support and coordination of Vistor Services activities. Areas of focus will include the Box Office, Museum Store and Museum Cafe. Clark previously served as a part-time visitor services specialist.
Curator of Archaeology presents at the 83rd Annual Meetings of the Society for American Archaeology
Dr. Elizabeth Moore, curator of archaeology, gave two presentations regarding her research at VMNH as part of an invited symposium sponsored by the Middle Atlantic Archaeology Conference during the 83rd Annual Meetings of the Society for American Archaeology. Dr. Moore's first presentation was a co-authored poster in a session titled "Fighting the Anti-Science Hysteria Through Public Archaeology". The second was a paper titled "Fishing at the Beach: the Great Neck site and an Examination of Subsistence Strategies on the Chesapeake Bay".
Curator of Mammalogy presenting at conference
Dr. Nancy Moncrief, curator of mammalogy, and Liberty Hightower, research technician, recently attended the 28th Colloquium on Southeastern Mammals in Roanoke, VA. Dr. Moncrief presented a poster highlighting her research with VMNH Research Associates Ray Dueser and John Porter on barrier island mammals.
Assistant Curator of Recent Invertebrates presents at entomology conference
Dr. Kal Ivanov, assistant curator of invertebrate zoology, was recently in Annapolis, Maryland for the Eastern Branch meeting of the Entomological Society of America. Dr. Ivanov presented his own research and served as a judge of student presentations.
Curator of Archaeology presents poster at archaeology conference
Dr. Elizabeth Moore, curator of archaeology, presented a workshop poster on best practices for zooarchaeology, 3D images, and file sharing at the recent Middle Atlantic Archaeology Conference in Virginia Beach. The annual meeting allows for interested professionals and other individuals to meet and learn about archaeology from New York to Virginia through workshops, discussion groups and other presentations.
Assistant Curator of Paleontology leads Carmel Church dig
Dr. Alex Hastings, Assistant Curator of Paleontology, recently led a week-long dig at the Carmel Church site in Caroline County, VA, a site that represents one of the richest fossil deposits in the eastern U.S. VMNH scientists and volunteers removed a massive 7-foot whale jaw, several vertebrae & ribs, an additional whale jaw and numerous other fossils.
Curator of Archaeology presents zooarchaeology program
Dr. Elizabeth Moore, curator of archaeology, recently presented a lecture to students in the Historic Preservation Program at the University of Mary Washington. Dr. Moore discussed the role of archaeology in historic preservation and how zooarchaeology contributes to our understanding of past cultures.
Deputy Director elected VP of AFP Chapter
Ryan Barber, VMNH Deputy Director, was elected Vice President, Communications for the First Virginia (Roanoke region) Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, beginning his third year-long term in the position.
Deputy Director appointed to international fundraising committee
Ryan Barber, VMNH Deputy Director, was appointed to the Marketing, Awards & Communications Committee of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, beginning his third year-long term on the committee.
Executive Director elected Treasurer of national science organization
Dr. Joe Keiper, VMNH Executive Director, was elected Treasurer of the Association of Science Museum Directors beginning his third year-long term in the position. The ASMD is a community of science museum leaders that gather to share experiences and discuss issues related to the advancement of science museums.
Educator taking part in professional development at Texas A&M
Educator Katie Hastings took part in a training session in preparation for the exhibit In Search of Earth’s Secrets. This exhibit, to be on display at VMNH February 6-17, was made possible by a recent collaborative National Science Foundation grant. Hastings will collaborate with grant partners on education program planning and development.
Deputy Director serves as reviewer for international philanthropy award
Ryan Barber, VMNH Deputy Director, recently served as a reviewer for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) 2018 Award for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy. This annual award recognizes service by an individual or group of young people ages 5 to 18 who demonstrate outstanding commitment to the community through direct financial support, development of charitable programs, volunteering and leadership in philanthropy. The award will be presented at the 2018 AFP International Fundraising Conference in New Orleans, April 15 – 17.
Executive Director serves as site reviewer for AAM
Dr. Joe Keiper, VMNH Executive Director, recently served as a Visiting Committee Member at the Witte Museum in San Antonio as part of the American Alliance of Museums’ accreditation program. As the museum field’s mark of distinction since 1971, AAM accreditation offers high profile, peer-based validation of museums’ operations and impact. Accreditation increases a museum’s credibility and value to funders, policy makers, insurers, community and peers, and is a powerful tool to leverage change.
Advancement and VMNH Foundation staffer completing 10 years on health coalition board
Charlotte Harter, Administrative & Financial Assistant for the Advancement division and VMNH Foundation, is completing 10 years of service on the board of directors of the Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health & Wellness. Harter was appointed to the board in 2007, serving as Treasurer from 2011 to 2013 and as President from 2014 to 2016. She has served as Past President (ex-officio) for the past year. The MHC Coalition for Health & Wellness promotes health and improves access to basic medical care primarily for the uninsured and underserved in the Martinsville-Henry County area.
Project Learning Tree at VMNH
VMNH Education Manager Christy Deatherage, as well as educators Katie Hastings and Margaret Fey, participated in a Project Learning Tree K-8 Workshop held at the museum in partnership with Reynolds Homestead and Virginia Tech's Colelge Access Collarborative. During the workshop, the staff - along with educators from across the region - investigated a variety of environmental topics through indoor and outdoor activiteis in route to becoming Project Learning Tree certified educators.
VMNH at Hokie Bugfest
VMNH Assistant Curator of Recent Invertebrates Dr. Kal Ivanov, and museum staff, participated in the 7th annual Hokie Bugfest held on the campus of Virginia Tech. The event was visited by approximately 8,400 participants during the course of a single day and offered a great opportunity to promote VMNH and the work conducted at the Department of Recent Invertebrates.
Curator working with intern on study of blow flies
VMNH Assistant Curator of Recent Invertebrates Dr. Ivanov is working with Piedmont Governor’s School senior Kendall Copen on a medicolegal question involving the distribution and abundance of blow flies to grow our knowledge of necrophagous flies used in investigations of human death.
Curator of Archaeology co-editor of upcoming archaeology book
Dr. Elizabeth Moore, VMNH Curator of Archaeology, is the new co-editor for an upcoming book on the prehistoric archaeology of Virginia. Sponsored by the Council of Virginia Archaeologists and funded by the Department of Historic Resources, this book will contain a series of chapters on each of the major periods in Virginia’s history prior to European contact.
New Educator appointed
Margaret Fey was hired as a VMNH Educator in September 2017. Most recently, she served as the AmeriCorps STEM Team Lead at New College institute. Prior to that, she taught elementary students in Henry County Public Schools for 9 years. Margaret graduated from the College of William & Mary with double majors in anthropology and history and earned a master’s degree in education from Averett University.
Executive Director teaching UVA lifelong learning course
Dr. Joe Keiper, VMNH Executive Director, is teaching the course "Natural History of the Blue Ridge and Valley," as part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) program at the University of Virginia.
Science Administrator appointed
Krystal Davis was named the museum's Science Administrator in August 2017. Davis, who previously served as an administrative assistant within the museum's research and collections department, now takes on an expanded administrative role within the department. Davis has a B.AS. in Leadership Studies from Averett University.
Curator, director teaching online course
VMNH Assistant Curator of Recent Invertebrates Dr. Kal Ivanov and VMNH Executive Director Dr. Joe Keiper taught a fall 2017 web-based entomology course for forensic biology majors at Ohio Northern University. The semester long course is designed to introduce students to the history, theory, and application of forensic entomology in legal investigations.
Executive Director leads forensics traning
VMNH Executive Director Dr. Joe Keiper led forensic crime scene investigation training at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in July 2017. Keiper provided training to 16 police officers, focusing on the forensic use of insects inhabiting decomposing bodies.
Curators named adjunct faculty
Several VMNH curators were appointed adjunct faculty at James Madison University beginning July 2017. Appointees include Dr. Elizabeth Moore, Curator of Archaeology; Dr. Kal Ivanov, Assistant Curator of Recent Invertebrates; Dr. Alex Hastings, Assistant Curator of Paleontology; and Dr. Nancy Moncrief, Curator of Mammalogy.
Deputy Director appointed to Virginia Fundraising Institute board
Ryan Barber, VMNH Deputy Director, was appointed to the board of the Virginia Fundraising Institute (VFRI) for a 2-year term, from 2017 to 2019. VFRI is a statewide non-profit organization led by the six Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) chapters in Virginia.
Curator presentations at American Society of Mammalogists conference
VMNH Curator of Mammalogy Dr. Nancy Moncrief attended the annual conference of the American Society of Mammalogists in July 2017, presenting information about 2 of her collaborative research projects (ecology of raccoons on the Virginia barrier islands and morphological studies of fossil muskrats).