American Museum of Natural History curator to speak at MIIR “Culture, Technology and Society” Seminar Series

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The construction and interpretation of the tree of life and the relationships and diversity of species on the planet will be the focus of an upcoming program featuring biologist Dr. Rob DeSalle, curator of entomology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The event, which is the second in a series of public seminars to be hosted by the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research (MIIR), will be held Thursday, April 22, at the newly constructed Marshall University Foundation Hall, home of the Erickson Alumni Center, at 519 John Marshall Dr. in Huntington. A reception will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The program will begin at 6:30 p.m.

DeSalle has been the curator of entomology at the museum since 1999; he studies population growth and conservation in a wide array of life forms. His seminar will detail the relationships of the 1.7 million named species on the planet and how the tree of life helps us understand our future in the diversity of life.

“Rob DeSalle is one of the most innovative and exciting scientists working today. His research brings together diverse fields of the animal kingdom in a way that reminds me of the recent BBC documentary ‘The Blue Planet,’ ” said Dr. Eric Kmiec, director of MIIR and the institute’s lead research scientist. “He is also able to communicate beautifully and simultaneously with everyone regardless of their scientific background. This characteristic is most evident in his efforts to teach young people about the museum’s educational programs.”

DeSalle creates magazines for children, books of essays and the content for the museum’s supplemental children’s Web site, OLogy, which allows children to learn about science through interactive projects on topics ranging from archaeology to Einstein. He also creates online science courses to help teachers meet the national science education standards. These Seminars on Science teach scientific inquiry and knowledge through the most current research in relevant fields such as genetics and genomics.

“He is an excellent example of an educator who utilizes his own first-rate, technologically relevant research on a problem that has wide-ranging implications to teach the general public,” said Kmiec.

Desalle is an adjunct professor at Columbia University, distinguished professor in residence at New York University, adjunct professor at City University of New York and professor at the museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School.

He received his B.A. in Biology from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Washington University.

Sponsors of the event include Huddleston Bolen, LLP, the Marshall University Foundation, Erickson Alumni Center and the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research.

The program is free and open to the public. Reservations are requested.


Contact:  Keely Martin, Executive Assistant, Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, 304.696.3830


MIIR Seminar Series – “Harvesting the Fruits of the Tree of Life” [HerdVideo/YouTube, April 22, 2010]

Marshall hosts population expert [WV Public Broadcasting:  April 23, 2010] – audio available