Is Random Productivity Purposeful?

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Tue Nov 25 08:07:05 CST 1997

> Excerpts from the lead-in essay from Ellsworth H. Brown, President of the
> Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, US):
> "It is well known that universities have virtually abanonded the collection
> of specimens in favor of more modern genetic inquiry, leaving the gathering
> to museums ...  The one subject not tackled [in the essays presented] was
> whether the collecting paradigm under which natural history museums began
> is still valid or has much meaning when set against the massive and
> practical needs of Earth."

Gee, I guess the lines of communication between universities and
non-university museums have broken down completely.  While many of our
university colleagues are engaged in "more modern genetic inquiry,"  most
that I know are responsible collectors who deposit vouchers in herbaria or
museums.  Their field work, and documenting specimens, continue the
tradition of those whose aim was to catalog the planet's biodiversity and
develop an understanding of the factors leading to the patterns we
perceive in nature.  Yes, we still need museums to access and maintain
the critical specimens being collected by systematic biologists,
ecologists, and naturalists.

Richard J. Jensen      |   E-MAIL: rjensen at
Dept. of Biology       |   TELEPHONE: 219-284-4674
Saint Mary's College   |   FAX: 219-284-4716
Notre Dame, IN  46556  |

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