Carol Spencer, Staff Curator

Closed (1) Curatorial Apprentice: Exploring Biodiversity, Curation, and Specimen Preparation in Natural History Collections at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology

Applications for Fall 2017 are now closed for this project.

The world's natural history museums are responsible for documenting over 1.8 million known species as a result of 300 years of biological exploration. At the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ), University of California, Berkeley, students can learn about museum curation, natural history, taxonomy, phylogenetics, biogeography, biodiversity informatics, genomics, science outreach, education, and specimen preparation of vertebrate animals. We offer many unique opportunities to participate in MVZ endeavors and learn about natural history in one of largest university museums in the world. <b>These are entry level positions and we take up to 50-60 students per semester in this URAP, so please apply!</b>

Students work directly with museum curators, staff, scientists, and other curatorial assistants. Some positions include hands-on lab work, others may include library research or more creative and/or problem-solving projects - we have a large selection of positions. Student activities can include work in the museum's curatorial area and/or specimen preparation lab. The types of projects are described below.

<b>IN YOUR URAP APPLICATION, PLEASE LIST YOUR TOP THREE PREFERENCES </b>from the following seven choices , and note that Prep Lab Class is open by invitation only:

Curatorial:
1) HERP CURATORIAL: Students will work in the amphibian and reptile (Herp) collections under the supervision of Carol Spencer. Requires an interest and enthusiasm about herps! Tasks may include:
--Ethanoling the collection (refilling and checking ethanol levels, mixing 70% ethanol)
--Returning specimens to the collection in correct taxonomic and geographic order
--Assisting and inventorying specimens for research loans
--Inventorying specimens or tissues in freezers, and barcoding tissues
--General Herp Lab upkeep (restocking, etc) and cleaning
--Assisting other curatorial assistants with organizing accessions, tagging specimens, and entering data into spreadsheets or the online database.

2) BIRD CURATORIAL: Students will work in the bird collections under the supervision of Carla Cicero. Requires an interest and enthusiasm about birds. Tasks may include:
-- Organizing and checking specimen data
-- Inventorying and organizing specimens (skins, skeletons, and other parts)
-- Assisting with research loans
-- Tissue barcoding, inventorying, and organizing
-- General museum upkeep/cleaning
-- Entering data into spreadsheets or the online database
-- Cataloging sound recordings
-- Freezing specimens and moving them through quarantine into the curatorial area

3) MAMMAL CURATORIAL: Students will work in the mammal collections under the supervision of Chris Conroy. Requires an interest and enthusiasm about mammals. Tasks may include:
-- Organizing and checking specimen data
-- Inventorying and organizing specimens (skins, skeletons, and other parts)
-- Assisting with research loans
-- Tissue barcoding, inventorying, and organizing
-- General museum upkeep/cleaning
-- Entering data into spreadsheets or the online database
-- Freezing specimens and moving them through quarantine into the curatorial area

4) TAG TYING AND BONE NUMBERING: Students will work for all of the collections under the supervision of Chris Conroy. Good entry-level position, especially for students who need a flexible schedule.
-- Tag tying involves carefully attaching string to our museum grade tags. Students will need to follow our very particular procedures and rules for lengths and knots, and will help coat the string with protective coating to keep the tag from being destroyed when it is attached to greasy specimens. Student may also be asked to help with other routine curatorial tasks.
-- Bone Numbering: This job is challenging because it requires good handwriting, focus, attention to detail, and an inordinate fondness for bones. Each skeleton that is added to the museum's research collections must be carefully labeled with its six digit catalog number. For each specimen, the number is delicately written on every bone where it is possible.

5) PEST DETECTIVE: Students will work for all of the collections under the supervision of Carla Cicero and Carol Spencer. This involves looking through the collection for signs of pest infestation, freezing specimens if pest infestation is detected, and then carefully placing specimens back in the collection while removing any signs of insects. Having insect identification skills is a major bonus!

Preparation Lab:
6) SPECIMEN PREPARATION LAB ASSISTANT:
Students will work under the supervision of Terri Barclay. Loads of hands-on work with skeletons and other specimen parts. To work in the Prep Lab, student MUST have a high tolerance for smells and dead animals, be good at working with your hands, have excellent attention to detail, and have the ability to do repetitive tasks. Tasks may include:
--Data checking and organization
--Skeletal specimen processing through the Dermestid beetle colony
--Preparation of specimens for research (either as skeletons or fluids)
--Fluid parts management
--Assisting with skeletal specimen fluid maceration processing
--Study skin management
--Inventorying of new donations of whole carcasses
--Freezer inventory updating
--Bird washing
--General Lab upkeep and cleaning

7) PREP LAB CLASS (Invitation only):
The Prep lab comparative anatomy sessions, aka Prep Lab Class, is 3 hours/week, and is <b>BY INVITATION ONLY. Students must have worked in the MVZ FOR AT LEAST ONE SEMESTER</b> prior to taking this class. Each week there will either be a preparation demo, or the student will be working directly with a specimen. Over the semester we will cover the diversity of the terrestrial vertebrates. Tasks entail:
-- Taking measurements
-- Dissecting the whole animal carcass
-- Identifying major and reproductive organs
-- Taking tissue samples for the museum's DNA collection
-- Checking stomach contents
-- Looking for parasites
-- Collecting and documenting all associated data
-- Defleshing the animal and properly labeling it to prepare it for the Dermestid beetle colony.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Staff Curators and Managers Spencer, Cicero, Barclay and Conroy, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: All positions require attention to detail and basic computer literacy, including knowledge of MS Word and Excel. Students must be meticulous, punctual, dedicated, enthusiastic, creative and have good organizational and problem-solving skills. Most positions require you to be good at working with your hands and being careful while doing repetitive tasks. Students should be able to work independently as well as in close coordination with curatorial staff and students. We encourage applicants who are interested in vertebrate natural history, biodiversity informatics, history of science and learning about natural history collections. Biology major is not required. We ask that all students commit to work 6 hours per week minimum for these positions, excluding Prep Lab Class. Entry level positions can lead to more experienced positions (some paid) in Curatorial, in the Prep Lab Class or further research and/or field work opportunities .

Weekly Hours: 6-9 hrs

Related website: http://mvz.berkeley.edu/
Related website: http://mvz.berkeley.edu/Undergrad/