Collection course (EEB 5500)


Fall Semester, 2020

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

Location: Online, via Husky CT (synchronous and asynchronous components)

Permission numbers: please contact Dr. Sarah Taylor.

The objectives of this course include: 1) To provide an introduction to Natural History Collections, their value, and utility, 2) To introduce students to the circumstances and issues that present threats to Natural History Collections, 3) To familiarize students with the collections and facilities available in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology’s Biodiversity Research Collections, 4) To provide an overview of the databases employed in the collections, 5) To familiarize students with the policies which govern the use of these collections.

A short note on the format of the Fall 2020 course: Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this iteration of our EEB 5500 course will differ substantially from how the course has operated in the past. Most notably, the entirety of this course will be presented online, including virtual “tours” of the collections, online lectures, and web-based discussions. Because of this, we highly recommend that you sit in on tours, collections-centric activities, and specimen preparations of a future iteration of this course, once we can resume “normal” face-to-face operations at UConn. Although the Fall 2020 course will be different, we aim to keep the core experiences of our course intact and vibrant–though we do recognize the limitations of the online-only format!

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


DATE TOPIC Presenting professor(s) Assignment due
7 September NO CLASS (Labor Day holiday)
14 September Course introduction, prof. introductions, and class discussion Dr.s Taylor, Kuprewicz, Menard, & Goffinet –none–
21 September Importance of Natural History Collections Dr. Goffinet –none–
28 September History of the EEB Biodiversity Research Collections (BRC) Dr. Goffinet –none–
5 October Virtual exploration of the collections, including facility procedures and specimen handling protocols Dr.s Taylor, Kuprewicz, & Menard –none–
12 October Threats to natural history collections Dr. Taylor –none–
19 October Uses for specimen data Entire class Assignment #1: Prepare ~2 min description of your chosen article to present
26 October Voucher and type specimens Dr. Kuprewicz –none–
2 November Overview of collection databases Dr. Taylor –none–
9 November Basic legal issues, including permits, transactions, and shipping Dr. Kuprewicz –none–
16 November Collection policies (group discussion) Dr.s Taylor, Kuprewicz, Menard, & Goffinet Assignment #2: Preparation required for group discussion
23 November NO CLASS (Thanksgiving break)
30 November Societies and organizations, training, careers, and resources Dr. Taylor –none–
7 December Collecting and collections: Ethical issues Dr.s Taylor, Kuprewicz, Menard, & Goffinet Assignment #3: Preparation required for group discussion


Grading is on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis; attendance at, and participation in, all four sessions and completion of online activities is mandatory for Satisfactory.

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