Collection course (EEB 5500)


— Fall Semester 2021 —


Instructors: Dr.s Sarah Taylor, Erin Kuprewicz, Katrina Menard, and Bernard Goffinet


Assisted by: Kara Heilman


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.


Mask and physical distancing expectations: Until further notice, to ensure a safe learning environment for everyone, masks/face coverings must be always worn when inside buildings, including in the classroom, regardless of vaccination status. If a student is not wearing a mask/face covering, they will be asked by the instructor to put one on immediately or leave the classroom. Repeatedly failing to follow this expectation will result in a referral to Community Standards. Activities that involve temporarily removing the mask, such as eating or drinking are not allowed. Please leave the classroom for such activities. If an instructor is not wearing a mask/face covering, students should feel comfortable asking the instructor to put one on immediately. Although social distancing will not be required inside classrooms for vaccinated individuals, please be respectful of the wishes of others who prefer to maintain social distancing. For their own protection, unvaccinated individuals are requested to maintain 6 feet social distancing from others.



      T    14 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) (Goffinet)

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




      Th  16 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

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




T    21 6:00-6:20 pm  Voucher and type specimens: What are they and why do they matter? (Kuprewicz)

6:20-6:50 pm  Data! Storage and uses of natural history information (Taylor)

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 (Heilman) or PLANT specimen preparation and labeling (Taylor)

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




Th  23 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)

8:00-9:00 pm  Collecting and collections: ethical issues (Assignment 3 – preparation required for Group Discussion) (Taylor, Kuprewicz, Menard, Goffinet)

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.