Collection course (EEB 5500)


— Fall Semester 2023 —

 September 12, 14, 19, 21

Instructors: Drs. Sarah Taylor, Erin Kuprewicz, and Katrina Menard

Assisted by: Drs. Bernard Goffinet and Janine Caira


Location of lectures: TLS 181

Location of practical sessions: BPB Rooms 112 & 115 (EEB Biodiversity Research Collections, BRC)




Objectives: Students will learn about the history, utility, and importance of biological collections, as well as how to appropriately care for and study specimens from the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology’s Biodiversity Research Collections. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: (1) Describe the variety of ways that natural history collections contribute to our understanding of the natural world. (2) Compare specimen organizational schemes for different taxonomic groups. (3) Demonstrate familiarity with Collections policies by applying them to potentially challenging situations in natural history collections care. (4) Discuss legal and ethical quandaries that confront collections managers, curators, and users of biological collections.


Note: This course is required for anyone wishing to use or work in the EEB Biodiversity Research Collections.


Tuesday, September 12

6:00-6:15 pm  Introduction to course (Taylor)

6:15-6:30 pm  Class introductions (all students)

6:30-7:15 pm  Importance of Natural History Collections (Goffinet)

7:15-8:00 pm  History of the EEB Biodiversity Research Collections (BRC) (Caira)

8:00-9:15 pm  In-depth tour and exploration of the collections, with facility procedures and specimen handling protocols (Kuprewicz, Menard, Taylor)




Thursday, September 14

6:00-6:50 pm  Threats to Natural History Collections (Menard)

6:50-7:50 pm  Organization of Collections (Group Exercise) (Kuprewicz, Menard, Taylor)

7:50-8:30 pm  Class splits in half and participates in VERTEBRATE specimen preparation and labeling (Kuprewicz) or INVERTEBRATE specimen preparation and labeling (Menard)

8:30-9:15 pm  Class halves switch preparation activities




Tuesday, September 19

6:00-6:30 pm  Voucher and type specimens: What are they and why do they matter? (Menard)

6:30-6:50 pm  Overview of collection databases (Kuprewicz)

6:50-7:30 pm  Uses for specimen data (Assignment 1 – preparation required for Group Discussion)

7:30-8:20 pm  Class splits in half and participates in ENDOPARASITE specimen preparation and labeling (Caira) or PLANT specimen preparation (Taylor)

8:20-9:15pm    Class halves switch preparation activities




Thursday, September 21 

6:00-6:30 pm  Permits, transactions, and breaking the law (Kuprewicz)

6:30-7:00 pm  Societies and organizations; training; careers; resources (Taylor)

7:00-8:00 pm  Collection policies (Assignment 2 – preparation required for Group Discussion) (Taylor, Kuprewicz, Menard, Goffinet, Caira)

8:00-8:30 pm  Collecting and collections: ethical issues (Assignment 3 – preparation required for Group Discussion) (Taylor, Kuprewicz, Menard, Goffinet, Caira)

8:30-9:00 pm  Stories from the field (Taylor, Kuprewicz, Menard, Goffinet, Caira)

9:00-9:15 pm  Course Evaluations




Grading is on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis; participation in all four sessions is mandatory for a Satisfactory grade.


All applicable university policies are referenced at this url: and should be considered part of this syllabus.