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Darwin's Legacy: Resources

Susan Perkins, American Museum of Natural History. (Photo: D. Finnin, AMNH)

Charles Darwin's legacy, in science and culture, is inescapable--yet nowhere is it more tangible than at the world's natural history museums, which, it might be said, are one huge, collective reservoir of evidence for, and celebration of, Darwin's theory of evolution.

That's why we decided, in celebrating Darwin's 200th birthday, to focus on careers at natural history museums.

Siri Carpenter spoke to scientists at several museums: Kristofer Helgen of the National Museum of Natural History, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.,; Peter Makovicky of The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois; Susan Perkins of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City; and several others.

Contributing Editor Kate Travis kept the focus narrower, taking a tour of London's Natural History Museum with curator and bug-meister Erica McAlister.

Photo: Kate Travis

Of course this isn't the first time Science Careers has written about careers related to evolution. In 2005, we assembled a four-article feature on the subject, Evolution: Getting in on the Action.

But the Science Careers contribution is just one piece of Science's Darwin celebration. In keeping with the worldwide Darwin bash, Science recently started Origins, a blog for staff writers, editors, and guests to share their thoughts on issues inspired by Darwin’s contributions. Be sure to catch in Origins the first-person story of Harvard Medical School lecturer and science animator Janet Iwasa, who, as a postdoc, created a multimedia exhibit on the chemical origins of life for the Museum of Science in Boston.

Does a career in museums sound inviting? Check out the current list of opportunities (keyword = museum) in the Science Careers employment database and the job search engine on the American Association of Museums Web site. If you’re looking for a student internship in a museum, here’s the list of current opportunities on GrantsNet.

Finally, Kate Travis, who wrote the Erica McAlister profile, wanted us to point out how others can volunteer at London's Natural History Museum, as McAlister did, tending bar and waiting tables in the evenings before she secured her current curatorial post.

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