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Upcoming Events

Westbrook Free Lectureship

Dr. Richard B. Westbrook, Trustee of the Institute from 1884 until his death in 1899, established the Westbrook Free Lectureship as a means to encourage open discourse on scientific subjects, especially "disputed questions in science and the theories of Evolution."  Since 1912 when the series began, Westbrook lecturers have included some of the most distinguished scientists and scholars of the past 100 years, among them John Dewey, George Gaylord Simpson, and Margaret Mead.


~2016 Westbrook Free Lectureship~

Natural History Collections: The Newest Biological Frontier

Dr. Kristofer Helgen, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Museum open 1:30 to 5:30 PM
Lecture begins at 3:00 PM, followed by light refreshments with the speaker in the museum.

Please register here for this free event.

Wagner Museum Case 71, photo by John Woodin

What is it like to discover a new species? Most people probably imagine a team of intrepid scientists trekking through a wild landscape to find creatures that have never been seen before by human eyes. While that situation is familiar to Research Zoologist Kristofer Helgen, he also knows that another kind of expedition can be just as valuable: a trip to a natural history museum. By studying the specimens right under our noses in natural history collections, scientists are gaining new insight into biological diversity today and throughout history. At this Westbrook Lecture, one in an annual series of historic talks by world-renowned scientists, Kristofer Helgen will share how some of his most well-known new mammal discoveries were inspired by natural history collections, and how today’s scientists are using collections such as the Wagner’s to paint a fuller picture of the animal kingdom.

Photo by Ulla Lohmann

Kristofer Helgen has been Curator of the Division of Mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History since 2008. His work on mammals is wide-ranging and encompasses systematics, biogeography, ecomorphology, and conservation. He has conducted research on almost every continent and more than 80 museums and he is known worldwide for documenting approximately 100 species of mammals previously unknown to science. He has appeared on the Discovery Channel and on television and radio programs around the world.


Past Westbrook Lectures (Partial List)

2013 - "Sustainable Seas: Vision and Reality"

          Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue

2012 - "The Sky is Falling: White-Nose Syndrome in Bats"

          Dr. Hazel Barton, University of Akron

2011 - "Adventures Among Ants"

          Mark W. Moffett, Smithsonian Institution

2010 - "I Am One of You: The Secret Language of Bacteria"

          Dr. Bonnie Bassler, Princeton University

2009 - "BSI -- The Case of the Disappearing Bees"

          Dr. May R. Berenbaum, University of Illinois

2008 - "The Evolution of Human Skin Color"

          Dr. Nina G. Jablonski, Pennsylvania State University

2007 - "A New 'Design' for Darwin: What Today's Science Says

          About Biology's Most Controversial Theory"

          Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, Brown University

1953 - "Cultural Background for Human Invention"

          Dr. Margaret Mead, American Museum of Natural History

1950 - "Evolution and the History of Life"

          Dr. George Gaylord Simpson, American Museum of Natural History

1949 - "Earth's Resources and Man's Needs"

          Dr. Kirtley F. Mather, Harvard University

1947 - "The Glacial Ages"

          Dr. Richard Foster Flint, Yale University

1940 - "Atomic Nuclei and Atomic Transmutations"

          Dr. Kenneth T. Bainbridge, Harvard University

1932 - "Common Sense, Science and Philosophy"

          Dr. John Dewey, Columbia University

1931 - "The Problems of the Origin and Antiquity of the American Aborigines

          in Light of Recent Explorations"

          Dr. Aleš Hrdlicka, United States National Museum (Smithsonian)

1928 - "The Science of Musical Sounds"

          Dr. Dayton C. Miller, Case School of Applied Science

1923 - "The Philosophy of Sanitation"

          George C. Whipple, Harvard University

1917 - "Heredity and Evolution in the Simplest Organisms"

          Dr. H.S. Jennings, Johns Hopkins University

1914 - "The Theory of Evolution"

          Dr. William Berryman Scott, Princeton University

1913 - "Conservation of Natural Resources"

          Gifford Pinchot, National Conservation Association

          Marshall O. Leighton, U.S. Geological Survey

          Overton W. Price, National Conservation Association

          Joseph A. Holmes, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines

1912 - "Ancient Civilization of Babylonia and Assyria"

          Dr. Morris Jastrow, University of Pennsylvania