UA Insect Collection Renovation Continues as Annual Festival Nears

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The University of Arizona Insect Collection – which features 2 million irreplaceable specimens – is undergoing a massive renovation to expand the available space, better protect the collection and add a computerized database.

"This collection is highly valuable at numerous levels," says Gene Hall, the collection manager.

"It has always been a big draw for researchers because southeastern Arizona is one of the best places in America you can visit for insect biodiversity," Hall said. "The specimens are valuable for research and irreplaceable, just like any museum collection, and we're trying to make our holdings more accessible."

And, this month, some of those specimens will be on display.

The UA is hosting the Arizona Insect Festival Sept. 15 at the Student Union Memorial Center. Sponsored by the Department of Entomology, the festival is a big draw for children as well as adults. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., thousands of people are expected to check out the more than 20 booths filled with both knowledge and insects.

As for the collection, the much-needed renovation project is made possible through funds from two National Science Foundation grants awarded to department of entomology assistant professor Wendy Moore, as well as the UA's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

In addition, a new endowment from the Schlinger Foundation has established a Visiting Systematist Program that will support annual visits from entomology specialists in select insect groups to help upgrade the collection.

The collection – essentially a chronicle of biodiversity in the region over time – acquired additional space in the Forbes Building, purchased new cabinets, standard-sized drawers and specimen unit trays to provide better protection and allow for future expansion. A concurrent second phase of the renovation adds technological improvements: computerized workstations equipped with microscopes, and a database with integrated images to make the collection accessible online.

Read the rest of this September 10, 2013 UANews article at the link below.

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