Carnegie Discoverers

wow drawer

Upcoming Events for 2016

Click here to learn how to become a member of the Carnegie Discoverers. 

September 15
Stephen Tonsor, PhD, Director, Science and Research: The Advent of the Anthropocene
Evidence is incontrovertible that we have entered a new era in the earth’s history, one in which humans strongly influence nearly every aspect of earth’s ecosystems, its atmosphere and geological processes without accepting responsibility for that power. Explore the evidence of our influence and the positioning of our museum to bring the arts, humanities and the sciences together for the development of a sustainable culture.

October 20
Suzanne B. McLaren, MS, Mammals: The Childs Frick Abyssinian Expedition of 1911-1912 and a whole lot more!
Discover how Childs Frick, son of Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Clay Frick, provided the foundation for Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s world-class collection of African mammals. A fascinating story of the rewards and hardships of fieldwork before cell phones and automobiles.

November 10
Jacob Slyder, Powdermill: Geographic Information Systems—Finding Our Way in the World
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a powerful toolset for better navigating and understanding our world. Anyone who has ever looked for travel directions or googled a map has benefited from a GIS. Learn how our GIS Lab utilizes these technologies to facilitate ecological research with a focus on utilizing emerging technologies, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, to get a bird’s eye view on forest regeneration and change.

Select Past Events

June 16, 2016
Eric Dorfman, PhD, Director, Carnegie Museum of Natural History: The Future of Carnegie Museum of Natural History
This is your opportunity to meet the man and to hear his plan. Learn about an exciting strategy that embodies the best of the museum’s past coupled with a clear and concise understanding of what is needed to move the museum to a position of scientific and educational leadership in the 21st century and beyond.

Find out about the improvements that already have been made to core galleries and what is planned for the near future. Understand why the museum is undergoing an institution-wide review of its collections and how it applies to a revised vision and mission for the museum, and most importantly, hear how and where the Discoverers can fit into his plan.

May 19, 2016
David K. Brezinski, PhD, Invertebrate Paleontology and Maryland Geological Survey: The Geologic History of Western Pennsylvania
The geologic history of Western Pennsylvania is one of mountain-building and basin formation. Immense faults were created when Rodinia was torn apart by tectonic forces followed by the development of the Cambrian continental shelf and the origination of the Appalachian Basin where continuous subsidence led to the formation of Western Pennsylvania’s prolific fossil fuel deposits.

April 21, 2016
Elizabeth Castonguay, Artist: ENDANGERED/ Between the Lines
This artist’s works has sought to break down barriers between diverse groups of people. It has evolved to speak not only about the fragile interrelationships between humanity but between humanity and our ENDANGERED natural history world.

March 17, 2016
Richard Pell, Director, Center for PostNatural History: The Missing Museum: PostNatural History
Over the centuries, a vast array of living organisms have been intentionally and heritably altered by human beings through domestication, selective breeding and genetic engineering. Learn about the Center for PostNatural History, the world’s first and only museum dedicated to this phenomenon.

December 10, 2015
Robert Davidson, Invertebrate Zoology: The NSF NEON Project: What It Is and How Carnegie Museum of Natural History Fits Into It
The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), by monitoring selected organisms over time, hopes to gain a better understanding of the effects of global warming. The largest and most diverse of the organisms being monitored is the Carabidae beetle and guess who has the best collection of as well as one of the world’s authorities on this beetle? Come & learn more.

November 12, 2015
Jose Padial, PhD, Amphibians & Reptiles: The Wonders of the Amazon
Have you ever wondered why expeditions are conceived and performed by our Museum curators? A recent documentary that focuses on an expedition to Peru’s Purus National Park provides answers to these questions.

October 15, 2015
Paula Crevoshay: Power of Color
She’s back. If you attended Paula Crevoshay’s Hillman Hall Garden of Light exhibition, you saw how the mineral, animal, and floral kingdoms can come together as magnificent pieces of jewelry. In this event, Paula will discuss the role of color in nature and the importance of color in human cultures.

September 24, 2015
Brendan Mullan, PhD, Buhl Planetarium: Interstellar Archaeology: Finding Our Future
Join an astrophysicist for a quest to dig up evidence of distant civilizations across the cosmos. You’ll fly through the Universe, learn about the latest developments in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), and hunt for clues in the cosmic past that can tell us about our future.

June 11, 2015
Our Seventh Wish List “Show and Tell” Event
A group of museum staff members, who were recipients of funding for their Wish List requests in 2014, report on what they achieved with those grants.

May 14, 2015
Deborah Harding, Anthropology: Birds, Beasts & Botanicals: Gleanings from the Natural Science Collection
Our Anthropology collections contain a number of ethnographic materials (necklaces, headdresses, etc.) from the Amazon Basin Region. Learn the results of a decade-plus study to determine the identity of the organic materials used in the making of these adornments.

April 23, 2015
Matt Lamanna, PhD, Vertebrate Paleontology: The Chicken from Hell
An apt nick-name for an 11½- foot-long, 10-foot-tall creature with a bird-like beak and apparent feathers, better known as Anzu wyliei. Hear how four paleontologists spent years studying three sets of fossils to piece-together a complete skeleton of a new species of oviraptorosaur.

March 26, 2015
Laurie Giarratani, Education: Inquire! Inspire! Stories of Growth from Carnegie Museum of Natural History School Programs & Partnerships
For years, the museum docents have played an important role in its educational programs. Discover how on-site work with schools through docent-led tours and grant efforts, with docents participation, are helping to expand the efforts of our Education and Visitor Experience programs.

February 26, 2015
Jake Slyder, Powdermill Nature Reserve: Learning to see both the forest and the trees: Powdermill’s Landscape-level Forest Succession Research
Explore how this extensive new forest succession program takes advantage of recent tornado damage to study recovery and assess management methods to improve it. Ten research programs from seven universities are studying the Powdermill “blowdowns,” using classical field methods, cutting-edge molecular assays, and even drone technology.

December 18, 2014
Cynthia Morton, PhD, Botany: Creating a Digital Database for Poisonous Plants
Understand how an automatic plant classification system allows doctors, managing a case of a plant ingestion, to determine if the plant is poisonous by using an image of the plant, a plant part, a distinguishing plant feature, or the patient’s symptoms.

November 13, 2014
John Wible, PhD, Mammals: Building the Mammal Tree of Life
We all have family trees. Therefore, the first step in studying the evolutionary history of all other mammals ought to be to construct their family trees, i.e. their genealogies, and then to study their interconnections. Hear how an international team of more than 20 researchers spent six years to accomplish just that.

October 2, 2014
Chelsey Pucka, ME, and Patrick McShea, BA, Public Programs: Serving the Community, One Science Experiment at a Time, and Museum Education: Using Objects to Engage Hearts and Minds
Our Public Programs section engages diverse audiences through a variety of educational efforts. Its community and school outreach programs are extraordinary examples. Learn more from two master educators.

September 11, 2014
John Wible, PhD, Mammals: A Fieldtrip to the Warhol Museum
What does Andy Warhol have to do with Natural History? Here’s your chance to find out. Apparently, Warhol was always interested in animals and ecological issues. In 1983, a commission from a long-time environmental activist couple gave him an opportunity to express these interests and concerns in a very typical Warhol way. See and learn from a special art exhibit arranged primarily for the Carnegie Discoverers.

June 5, 2014
Our Sixth Wish List “Show and Tell” Event
A group of museum staff members, who were recipients of funding for their Wish List requests in 2013, report on what they achieved with those grants.

May 8, 2014
Marc Wilson, MS, and Debra Wilson, BA, Minerals: The Legacy of Your Collection: A Dream or a Nightmare
Learn about the efforts needed to re-establish the scientific and historical integrity of the museum’s mineralogical, gemological, and lithological collections and the significant discoveries that process uncovered.

April 10, 2014
Dan Handley, PhD, Producer-Writer-Director: UNDAUNTED: The Forgotten Giants of the Allegheny Observatory
Discover how the University of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Observatory, constructed in 1859, has made major advances in solar and planetary science, astrophysics, early aviation, star mapping, and extrasolar planet discovery while facing unrelenting hardships and numerous failures.

March 13, 2014
Chen W. Young, PhD, Invertebrate Zoology: I Thought I Saw a Giant Mosquito
Or was it a poodie-cat? No. They’re crane flies, part of the largest family of true flies (Diptera) with more than 1500 species in North America. See how our data-rich collection is used to inform conservationists, regulatory agencies, and scientists of the importance of these flies in natural ecosystems.

December 5, 2013
What's New in Exhibitions: An exciting inside look at the 2014 exhibition schedule with Sarah Cole from Visitor Experience.

November 14, 2013
Sandra Olsen, PhD, former Curator of Anthropology: Gigapan: An Advanced Imaging Technology
With Gigapan Technology, a very high-resolution panoramic image of objects can be obtained, with the use of a standard digital camera, which allows the objects to be examined in greater detail.

October 10, 2013
John Wible, PhD, Mammls: CT Technology Unlocks Mysteries of Mammal Evolution
Discover how CT scans are being used to rewrite the study of mammalian skull morphology of both fossil and modern specimens, and how the scans are changing how these specimens are being shared with other scientists.

September 19, 2013
Jose Padial, PhD, Amphibians and Reptiles: The Making of a Frog
Come meet the museum’s newest assistant curator and learn everything you ever wanted to know about the fascinating and amazingly diverse ways that frogs reproduce.

June 13, 2013
Our fifth Wish List “Show and Tell” event
A group of museum staff members who were recipients of Wish List funding for their requests tell us what they did with the money.

May 23, 2013
John Rawlins, PhD, Invertebrate Zoology: The Natural History of Caterpillars: the Evolution and Lifeway of Larval Lepidoptera
Sound too heavy duty for you? It won’t be. Rather it promises to be a colorful and exotic discussion about caterpillars, their natural history, and evolution.

April 11, 2013
Amy Henrici, MS, Vertebrate Paleontology: Collecting Fossil Frogs in Nevada
When you think of Nevada, do you think of frogs? Probably not. But, eons ago, they were there. Gain insight, via an exciting new museum project about how their fossil remains, excavated in east central Nevada, help us to better understand earth’s past.

March 21, 2013
John Wenzel, PhD, Powdermill Nature Reserve: What’s New at Powdermill
Learn about the new and exciting biodiversity and ecological programs and projects at Powdermill, the home of the museum’s nature reserve.

February 28, 2013
Albert D. Kollar, MS, Invertebrate Zoology and Geology: Marcellus Shale and Energy for the Future: Western Pennsylvania Has It All
An in-depth presentation about Pennsylvania’s energy resources, past and present, with emphasis on Marcellus Shale and what it’s all about.

December 6, 2012
From South Africa to Oakland, John Wible, PhD, Mammals
Be amazed by the fascinating tale of the journey of a Bontebok antelope, a gift to the museum.

November 1, 2012
Social Critters, John Wenzel, PhD, Powdermill Nature Reserve
Hear about recent fascinating advances that reveal surprising insights into the organization of labor in social insects, including ants, bees, and wasps.

October 11, 2012
Gretchen Anderson, Conservator
Gretchen describes the critical role of a museum conservator.

September 20, 2012
Cynthia Morton, Assistant Curator of Botany
Cynthia relates her research into the importance and relevancy of genetic diversity in plants.

June 7, 2012
Show and Tell
Our fourth Wish List Event. Museum staff members describe the results derived from Wish List request funding.

May 3, 2012
Field Trip, Sandra Olsen, PhD, former Director of Center for World Cultures; Gretchen Anderson, Conservator.
Visit the museum’s annex where natural history treasures and treats are studied and stored.

April 19, 2012
A Century of Carnegie Bug Discovery, John Rawlins, PhD, Bugs.
No room for the squeamish here—just the reality of serious bug hunting from the 1890s to the present. Learn about collecting from the heights of the Ecuadorean Andes to below sea level in the Dominican Republic.

February 23, 2012
Zhe-Xi Luo, PhD, former Associate Director of Research & Collections.
Meet our "Jurassic mother from China," the earliest known placental mammal. Most of the living mammal species of the world are either placentals or marsupials and all can be traced back to a humble beginning in the Mesozoic.

February 9, 2012
Mary Ann Steiner, Public Programs; Kevin Crowley, Learning Sciences and Policy, University of Pittsburgh; Patrick McShea, Public Programs; Kaleen Povis, Learning Sciences and Policy, University of Pittsburgh.
Exploration Basecamp: how the “back” of the museum comes to the “front” of the museum. .

October 20, 2011
Museum Exhibition Consultant Beth Redmond-Jones informed us about M is for Museum from concept to completion, an exciting new rotating exhibition of specimens and artifacts from the museum's collections. M is for Museum opened on October 15.

December 1, 2011
Annual Holiday Event: Behind-the-scenes tour of the model railroad exhibit at Carnegie Science Center.

September 15, 2011
The Discoverers learned how important the talents and efforts of the museum’s artists and illustrators—Paul Bowden, Jane Hyland, and award-winning Mark Klingler—are to the museum, and how their work helps us better understand the world around us.

April 21, 2011
When Seals Had Feet, 20 Million Years AgoNatalia Rybczynski, Research Associate from the Canadian Museum of Nature, and the museum's Curator Emeritus of Vertebrate Paleontology Mary Dawson tell us about their discovery of a Darwinian “missing link” in the wilds of northern Canada.

March 31, 2011
Former Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Chris Beard discusses his research on the concept that primates—including humans—may have evolved not in Africa, as was long thought, but in Asia. Controversial stuff, but the Discoverers have always been on the cutting edge of science.

February 24, 2011
Associate Curator of Mollusks Tim Pearce tells us everything you always wanted to know about the "shell game"—mollusks, that is. Plus, enjoy the rare opportunity to tour the collection’s inner sanctum.

December 9, 2010
Collection Manager and Head of Section Marc Wilson shares how the staff of the Section of Minerals has built one of the world's finest collections of gems and minerals.

October 16, 2010
Invertebrate Zoology Collection Manager Albert Kollar and Adjunct Associate Curator David Brezinski, PhD, lead a geological field trip to a Moon Township. Learn all about the land beneath your feet.

May 23, 2010
Curator-led tour of Botanicals: Environmental Expressions in Art, the Alisa and Isaac M. Sutton Collection at Hunt Botanic Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

April 22, 2010
Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Matt Lamanna, PhD, shares his fossil hunting experiences in Paleontology in Antarctica, or Fossil Finding in the Deep, Deep, Deep South.

Just one of the more than 30,000 bug storage drawers that members of the Carnegie Discoverers were able to see during a behind-the-scenes event.