KU Biodiversity Institute
Lawrence, KS, USA
Born and bred in South Africa I first became involved in museums when I accepted the position as the Ichthyology collections manager at the JLB Smith Institute (now the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity [SAIAB]) in Grahamstown, after a major storm event ruined my aspirations as a researcher by wiping out the populations of sand dollars I was working on at the time. After joining SPNHC and meeting my wife-to-be at the Edmonton meeting in 1998, I was offered the position as Ichthyology Collections Manager at the KU Biodiversity Institute in Lawrence, Kansas, and have been there since 2001. I now serve in that capacity as well as Specify Software usability lead and Bioinformatics Manager for the KU Biodiversity Institute.
Involvement with SPNHC
I first joined the society in 1998 to attend the meeting in Edmonton, Canada, and after attending the meeting decided that I needed to get involved. Over the years I have served on, and chaired, numerous committees – Publications, Mentorship, Long Range Planning, Conservation, Conference, Legislation and Regulations. I also served as newsletter editor from 2003 until 2013. I have always been struck by the enthusiasm and dedication of those I have met and worked with in SPNHC. The society would not function without the passion and hard work of its membership and I encourage you to get involved by joining and becoming active in our committee’s activities.
Vision for the Future
Besides continuing the tremendous work already achieved, there are a number of areas that I think are especially important to the future viability and expansion of our society (and to me personally).
- The expansion of SPNHC into a truly international organization – putting the “I” in SPNHC. We have begun to make inroads in this direction and I would like to see this continue to flourish and expand. At the core of this goal is the idea of various international nodes of SPNHC providing international members with a mechanism for regional communication and collaboration that would be self sustaining and driven by members in these areas but that would also function as an integral part of the SPNHC whole.
- Bringing new, young emerging members into the fold. We have mechanisms in place to make a good start, but there is much work to be done to make SPNHC more attractive to young professionals. We need to strive to provide the necessary benefits to attract this important sector and create an awareness of what our society has to offer. Full integration of these younger members into the decision making arenas of our society will bring fresh ideas to the table, encourage healthy growth and ensure the longevity of the society.
- Integrate SPNHC more dynamically into other societies and organizations – both discipline specific and other collection based entities. I would like to see these expanded into more formal arrangements with both parties contributing to the development of mutually beneficial, tangible rewards. Most important among these is the combined efforts to develop preservation, conservation and collection management standards together with the effective dissemination of these to the necessary communities.
Our society is on a very stable footing thanks to the valuable contributions of our members and partners but is also on the cusp of forging into new territory and expansion into new and exciting areas. I hope that I can continue to make a valuable contribution to our society’s future.