Thinking about history

It’s the end of another year – a time for looking back as well as looking forward.

It’s been a year of change in the Lyman Museum and a good year. The insect collection continues to grow so fast that we can’t keep up with drawers or cabinets. We’ve come a long way from Henry Lyman’s original collection, housed in five wooden cabinets that came to McGill in 1914. We set up a history corner in the museum entrance this year, with some of these original cabinets and some of the old museum equipment, along with portraits of the great builders of the collection. It’s a great conversation starter for visitors, as well as a reminder to those of us who walk past it every day that history matters. In science, and especially in taxonomy, we cannot be slaves to the past, but we also cannot ignore it. In our efforts to embrace new approaches – molecular methods, new quantitative tools, social media as a way of communicating our work – it’s not such a bad thing to bring along a little of the past. It still has a lot to teach us. And in the field of insect diversity, there is still an enormous amount of knowledge to be gained from careful natural history studies, patient observation in the field and lab, and morphological study.

Where it started - Henry Lyman's insect cabinets

We had a very successful field season in 2011 and we forged some valuable new partnerships along the way. It was also a good year for publications and conference presentations and we already have six papers accepted or in press for 2012. It promises to be a banner year for the Lyman team, with at least three grad students finishing thesis projects and several more research papers nearing completion.

Some fantastic new people have joined the lab in the last year or two and our research team is one of the best we’ve had in a very long time. Great things are in store. We’re already making plans for 2012 field work and we’re penciling in another round of conferences on the calendar.

Thanks to all the staff and students – Stephanie, Amelie, Laura, Chris, Alyssa, Meagan, Anna, Christine, Katie, Heather, Sabrina, Elodie, Nicolas and George – who make the Lyman a great place to do research and to study insect diversity, and Happy New Year to all our team, and to our colleagues and collaborators and friends.


About terry wheeler

professor, museum director, entomologist, ecologist, naturalist
This entry was posted in Lab and Field News, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Thinking about history

  1. Very cool display! Good luck with projects, defenses and field work in 2012!

  2. Thanks, Morgan. And all the best to you as well.

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