Back into shape nature in 2018!

Pop quiz: Which of the following do Canadian Museum of Nature research and collection staff do in their daily work?

a) Discover, identify, and file specimens important to Canada’s natural history.
b) Shoot minerals with x-rays, and DNA with lasers, to learn about how species differ.
c) Wrangle live dinosaurs back into their displays.
d) Share research and collections stories with the world, including through this blog.
e) All of the above.

If you answered e) All of the above you’re right (ok, except for c, but we wish it were true!)

In addition to this blog’s wonderful authors, there’s also an editorial team who manage to squeeze in time between their normal tasks to cajole their colleagues, edit text, and track down photos to bring these stories to life.

Since September 2017 the blog’s editorial team has been drawn from our research and collection staff, and at this special time of year, as we reflect on the future, we’d like to introduce ourselves and share our 2018 back-to-nature New Year’s resolutions.


Noel Alfonso, Zoology Editor

Collage of a man standing in a pool of water and looking at a tree.

Museum researcher Noel Alfonso collecting Herrington’s fingernail clams (Sphaerium occidentale) in a vernal pool, a temporary body formed by spring melt water. Image: Graham LaRose © Canadian Museum of Nature.

My main work at the museum is in ichthyology, the study of fishes, though I also get involved in malacology, the study of molluscs, such as clams. I’ve also worked at the museum’s Canadian Centre for Biodiversity. Next year, I’d like to spend more time in the natural world to try to understand and appreciate a wide range of organisms and places, from tiny fingernail clams to entire ecosystems.


Erika Anderson, Mineralogy Editor

A woman standing in falling snow.

Those crystals of snow make museum mineralogist Erika Anderson wish she was at the famous Tucson Gem and Mineral Show®, the world’s largest such event. Image: Thomas Cullen © Thomas Cullen.

I am the Curator of the Mineralogy Collection at the museum. My New Year’s resolution is to find something beautiful and unique at a mineral show to add to the museum’s National Mineral Collection.


Shannon Asencio, Collections Services and Information Management Editor, English Copy Editor

A woman standing in front of bushes in Guangxi, China.

The museum’s Shannon Asencio in Guangxi, China during an ethnobotanical field study trip. Image : Shannon Asencio © Shannon Asencio.

I am the museum’s Head of Collections Services and Information Management. My New Year’s resolution is to improve my knowledge of the plants and fungi of the Ottawa-Gatineau region. My previous botanical field work has taken me to Hawaii, China, southern Mexico, and the Canadian prairies. Ottawa-Gatineau region: You’re next!


Susan Goods, Blog Coordinator, production

A young girl looking at Mallards in the river.

Nature can be found in urban areas. The Thames River runs through London, Ontario and like many urban rivers is accessible to most residents. Image: Susan Goods, © Susan Goods.

Surrounded here at the museum by others also passionate about nature, it’s easy to forget that many people face barriers to experiencing nature. One of my duties involves the Canadian Committee for the IUCN which supports #NatureForAll, a global movement to inspire love of nature. Studies show that adults who are committed to conservation had meaningful experiences outdoors when they were young. My New Year’s resolution therefore is to help introduce a young person to nature.


Scott Rufolo, Palaeobiology Editor

A man wearing a blue-and-black checkered jacket, crouched down in the snow with his dog

Museum palaeobiology research assistant Scott Rufolo dislikes cold with a passion. But his dog, Flame, loves to play in the snow and is leading Scott to a new relationship with winter. Image: Scott Rufolo © Canadian Museum of Nature.

As an archaeologist and palaeontologist, I’ve worked in Egypt, Syria, and Ethiopia. And if you know me, this is no surprise: I was born in Arizona, and I like the heat! My 2018 New Year’s resolution is to learn to enjoy nature in the cold Canadian winter by cross-country skiing and hiking with my dog, who already loves the snow!


Paul Sokoloff, Botany Editor

A man standing on the tundra in Nunavut holding a lichen.

Museum botanist Paul Sokoloff collecting lichens in Bernard Harbour, Nunavut. Image: Ellie Clin © Ellie Clin.

In my role as an Arctic botanist, my field notes are filled with pages of detailed notes on flowers, and only passing references to “assorted lichens”. My New Year’s resolution is to learn more about lichens–the fascinating, steadfast organisms that are so important to the ecosystems of the North.


Stéphanie Tessier, French Copy Editor, Alternate Zoology Editor

Stephanie in the laboratory, looking at a preserved flatfish.

Museum collections manager Stéphanie Tessier examines a preserved flatfish collected in the Canadian Arctic. Image: Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature

I manage the fish, amphibian, and reptile collections at the museum. I spend a lot of time looking at our exceptional diversity of preserved specimens. My New Year’s resolution is to spend more time outdoors to observe those fascinating animals not in pickling jars, but in their natural habitats.


What about you, dear reader? What’s your 2018 nature-inspired New Year’s resolution?

This entry was posted in Collections, Nature Inspiration, Research and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Back into shape nature in 2018!

  1. At the Chaos Corners Centre for the Study of One Thing & Another, our plans for 2018 include staying home, finishing commissioned paintings & attempting more difficult modes of natural history painting, applying house-paint to interior & exterior surfaces, surveying the post-pluvial recovery of drought-decimated Chorus Frogs with the Canadian Wildlife Federation, scanning & databasing vast numbers of documents & art pieces with the North Grenville Historical Society (and depositing copies of these at the CMN), keeping up on the blogs, survey & art camps & bioblitzes of the middle Ottawa River tributaries with the Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society, finally catching some mussels with the South Nation Conservation’s brail, reconnecting with the CMN in various ways, and sorting through the vast realms of specimens, documents, data, & chaos which have accumulated over the years when we’ve failed to stay home. – Frederick W. Schueler (CMN’s longest serving Research Associate) & Aleta Karstad

  2. Christine Kumchy says:

    To do my strength work more consistently. As then I can run through nature, and enjoy it, injury free!

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