Workshops & Lectures

R.W. Moriarty Science Seminar Series mountain laurel

Noon–1 p.m.
Earth Theater, First Floor Rear
Free with museum admission; no registration required

Join us for this series of scientific seminars on current research at Carnegie Museum of Natural History! Hear Carnegie scientists and invited researchers discuss their latest findings on a wide variety of science topics. For more information about the Science Seminars, contact John Wible at

Upcoming Seminar

May 20


M. Dolores CasagrandaM. Dolores Casagranda
Rea Postdoctoral Fellow
Section of Amphibians and Reptiles
Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Biogeography and endemism in Northern South American amphibians: Is the Amazon a natural region? 

Areas of endemism are geographical regions defined by species with congruent distributions. These patterns are considered the operational units of historical biogeography and its proper identification has been a central problem in contemporary biogeography. Identifying areas of endemism opens the door to variety of questions about the evolution of species, clades and ecological communities and the space they inhabit: why do some species share an area while others do not? Can congruent patterns of distribution happen by chance? What are the reasons behind distributional congruence?

Amazonia has been traditionally accepted as an area of endemism—a “natural region”—, however, this hypothesis has not been tested empirically. Identifying Amazonia as an area of endemism, delimiting its boundaries, and listing species that define it, are necessary steps towards a better understanding of the evolution of biodiversity in this highly diverse region.

2012 Casagranda M.D., L. Taher, C.A. Szumik. Endemicity Analysis, Parsimony and Biotic Elements: A Formal Comparison using Hypothetical Distributions. Cladistics, 28: 645–654. doi: 10.1111/j.1096-0031.2012.00410.x
2012 Claudia Szumik, Lone Aagesen, Dolores Casagranda, Vanesa Arzamendia, Diego Baldo, Lucía E. Claps, Fabiana Cuezzo, Juan Manuel Díaz Gómez, Adrián Di Giacomo, Alejandro Giraudo, Pablo Goloboff, Cecilia Gramajo, Cecilia Kopuchian, Sonia Kretzschmar, Mercedes Lizarralde, Alejandra Molina, Marcos Mollerach, Fernando Navarro, Soledad Nomdedeu, Adela Panizza, Verónica Pereyra, María Sandoval, Gustavo Scrocchi & Fernando Zuloaga. Detecting areas of endemism with a taxonomically diverse data set: plants, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and insects from Argentina. Cladistics, 28: 317–329. doi: 10.1111/j.1096-0031.2011.00385.x
2009 Casagranda M.D., J.S. Arias, P.A. Goloboff, C.A. Szumik, L.M. Taher, T. Escalante & J.J. Morrone, Proximity, Interpenetration, and Sympatry Networks: A Reply to Dos Santos et al. Systematic Biology 58(2):271-276. doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syp022
2009 Casagranda M.D., S. Roig-Juñent & C.A. Szumik. Endemismo a diferentes escalas espaciales: un ejemplo con Carabidae (Coleoptera: Insecta) de América del Sur austral. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural 82: 17-42. doi: 10.4067/S0716-078X2009000100002.
2009 Ferraro D.P. & M.D. Casagranda. Geographic distribution of the genus Pleurodema in Argentina (Anura: Leiuperidae). Zootaxa 2024: 33-55.

Dr. M. Dolores Casagranda has been the Rea Postdoctoral Fellow in the Section of Amphibians and Reptiles at Carnegie Museum of Natural History since June 2013.

Dr. Casagranda received her undergraduate education as a biologist at the National University of Tucumán (Tucumán-Argentina), where she also obtained her Dr. of Science degree in 2010. Since early in her career, she showed an increasing interest and curiosity in distributional patterns of organisms as they relate to geography and the factors involved in the origin of these patterns. As an undergraduate student she started visiting the Institute of Herpetology at the Miguel Lillo Foundation (Tucumán, Argentina), where she began to inquire about biogeographical issues related to the amphibians of Argentina.

As a Fellow of the National Council of Science and Technology of Argentina (CONICET), in 2010 Dr. Casagranda receive her Dr.Sc. addressing methodological and theoretical questions in biogeography, mainly focusing on areas of endemism and their quantitative identification. During her doctoral studies, Dr. Casagranda examined and compared quantitative methods for identification of areas of endemism as well as performing empirical analyses including amphibians.

In 2010, Dr. Casagranda obtained a post-doctoral grant from CONICET to deepen her methodological studies in biogeography exploring methods to infer the distribution of species based on their ecological requirements. Part of this postdoctoral research was developed at the Institute of Biology at the Universidad Autónoma de México (México DF, México).

As a Rea Fellow, Dr. Casagranda is researching patterns of diversity and endemism of amphibians in the Amazon basin in collaboration with Dr. José Padial, who has been working on systematics and diversity of Amazonian amphibians. Amazonia is the largest tropical forest in existence and one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. Because of its magnitude, its biodiversity is poorly known and many basic questions remain unanswered even in the case of vertebrates. Gaining a better understanding of the biogeographical history of the Amazonian basin is necessary for its protection, due to the high rates of habitat destruction shown in the last 40 years.

Since her arrival to Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Dr. Casagranda has been working on the compilation of distributional data for all the amphibian species in the Amazonian countries. This will allow her to perform endemism analyses and describe general biodiversity patterns. This project will constitute the broadest formal study of its kind for the region and will lead us to a deeper comprehension of amphibian diversity in the Neotropics. During 2014, Dr. Casagranda performed computational analyses to identify areas of endemism, representing the first large-scale empirical study for the area. Initial results were presented at the XI Reunion Argentina de Cladistica y Biogeografia (Santa Fé, Argentina) and the XXXIII Hennig Meeting (Trento, Italy) where Dr. Casagranda was honored as a new fellow of the Willi Hennig Society. 


About Richard Moriarty

Dr. Richard Moriarty is a retired pediatrician and a former Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. For more than 40 years, Dr. Moriarty has been a vibrant member of Pittsburgh’s medical community. He has advanced knowledge in the fields of pediatrics and toxicology, contributing more than 20 journal articles with the fundamental goal of reducing childhood fatalities due to poisoning.

Moriarty founded the Pittsburgh Poison Center—nationally known for the development of the Mr. Yuk poison warning symbol—and the National Poison Center Network, organizations that both fostered the development of and supported existing poison centers nationally. He has been involved with a number of professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pennsylvania Chapter as the Chairperson of the Poison and Accident Prevention Committee, and Pittsburgh Toxicology Club. In addition to volunteering his talents for a significant number of civic, community, and governmental organizations, he has served as a reviewer for the Journal of Pediatrics and the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

Currently, Moriarty is President of the Carnegie Discoverers, a volunteer group that supports Carnegie Museum of Natural History in promoting its cultural, scientific, and educational missions and in developing new audiences for the institution.

The R. W. Moriarty Science Seminars program began in March 2010.


Past Seminars

April 8, 2015
Richard Pell
Founder and Director, Center for PostNatural History
The Missing Museum: PostNatural History

March 18, 2015
Greg Turner
Wildlife Biologist, PA Game Commission
Pennsylvania Bats and WNS Update

February 18, 2015
Stephen J. Tonsor, PhD
Director of Science and Research, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Evolution at the Margins: Adaptation to Climate in Arabidopsis thaliana 

January 14, 2015
Deborah G. Harding
Collection Manager, Section of Anthropology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Birds, Beasts & Botanicals: Gleanings from the Natural Science Collections

December 10, 2014
Timothy A. Pearce, PhD
Assistant Curator & Head, Section of Mollusks, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Tales from the Collection: Informing Snail Research—Distributions, Imperilment, Declines

November 19, 2014
Guillermo W. Rougier, PhD
Professor, Department of Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology, University of Louisville
Early mammals from South America: Integral members of a global history of mammals, or the result of local isolation?

October 22, 2014
Carl N. Keiser
Graduate Student, University of Pittsburgh
Seminar: Group composition in social spiders: Consequences for collective behavior and survival

September 10, 2014
Jan Janecka, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Duquesne University
Seminar: Snow Leopards of Central Asia: Conservation & Research in Partnership with Local Communities

May 14, 2014
Sebastian Kvist, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
Seminar: A Modern Look on Leeches: Diversity, Phylogeny, and Anticoagulants

April 16, 2014
Pauline Coster, PhD
Vertebrate Paleontology Postdoctoral Fellow
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: The African Fossil Record and the Early Evolutionary History of Anthropoid Primates 

March 19, 2014
Timothy D. Smith, PhD
Associate Professor, School of Physical Therapy, Slippery Rock University
Seminar: The Language of Anatomical Reduction: Evolution of the Nose and Vomeronasal Organ in Primates 

February 12, 2014
Dan Ksepka, PhD
Research Assistant Professor, North Carolina University
Seminar: Penguin Evolution in Deep Time: Insights from the Fossil Record

January 15, 2014
Michelle Spaulding, PhD
Rea Postdoctoral Fellow, Mammals and Vertebrate Paleontology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Resolving Long Standing Phylogenetic Puzzles with Modern CT Technology: What is a Creodont Anyway?

December 11, 2013
Anusha Ramdarshan, PhD
Vertebrate Paleontology Postdoctoral Fellow, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Puzzles in Paleobiology: Reconstructing the Diet of Early Primates and their Relatives

November 13, 2013
Evan Twomey, PhD candidate
East Carolina University
Seminar: Species Diversity and Evolution of Amazonian Poison Frogs

October 9, 2013
David K. Brezinski, PhD
Adjunct Associate Curator, Paleontology,  Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Senior Scientist-Goelogist Lead, Maryland Geological Survey
Seminar: The Late Devonian Mass Extinctions in the Appalachian Basin: New Evidence for Protracted Climate Shift

September 30, 2013
Miguel Vences, PhD
Professor for Zoology and Evolutionary Biology, Technical University of Brauschweig, Germany
Seminar: Biogeographic Origins and Patterns of Diversification in the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar

September 4, 2013
James W. Fetzner Jr., PhD
Assistant Curator of Crustacea, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Crayfishin' Adventures: From the Field to the Laboratory

May 15, 2013
Matt Lamanna, PhD
Assistant Curator of Paleontology, Center for World Cultures, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: The Origin of Modern Birds: New Evidence from the Cretaceous of China and Antarctica

April 3, 2013
Sandi Olsen, PhD 
Former Director, Center for Wold Cultures, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: The Application of Advanced Imaging to Arabian Rock Art

March 6, 2013
John Wible, PhD
Curator of Mammals, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: A Mesozoic Mammal Lived in South America 16 Million Years Ago: the Mystery of the Grave Robber Mammal Solved

February 6, 2013
Tim Pearce, PhD
Curator of Mollusks, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Will Pennsylvania land snails decline when climate warming forces their ranges upward?

January 16, 2013
James B. Richardson III, PhD
Curator Emeritus of Anthropology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Trans-Pacific Colonization of the New World

December 12, 2012
Alex Hastings, PhD
Visiting Instructor, Department of Geology and Geography, Georgia Southern University
Seminar: Reptilian Predators of the Ancient New World Tropics: Bizarre Crocodiles and a Titanic Snake

November 14, 2012
Brady Porter, PhD
Associate Professor, Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Department of Biological Sciences, Duquesne University
Seminar: Studies on darters of southwestern Pennsylvania

October 3, 2012
Chris Beard, PhD
Former Director, Center for Evolutionary Studies & Mary R. Dawson Chair of Vertebrate Paleontology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Into Africa: New constraints on the anthropoid colonization of Africa

May 9, 2012
Steve Brusatte, PhD
American Museum of Natural History and Columbia University, New York, NY
Seminar: Origin and Evolution of Dinosaurs: An exemplary evolutionary radiation

April 4, 2012
Megan Paustian, PhD
Mollusks Collection Manager, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: It's a slug's life: The ecology of terrestrial slugs

March 7, 2012
John Wible, PhD
Curator and Head of Mammals, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Mesozoic Eutherians and Origins of Cenozoic and Modern Placental Mammals

February 16, 2012
Peter Ward, PhD
Professor, Departments of Biology and Geological Sciences, University of Washington at Seattle
Seminar: Mass Extinctions and Their Effect on Evolution

December 14, 2011
Alexander V. Benitez, PhD
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, George Mason University
Seminar: Reanalysis, Reintegration and Rediscovery: Transforming Old Collections and Transcending the Legacy of Archaeology

November 9, 2011
Michelle Spaulding, PhD
Post-doctoral Fellow, Sections of Mammals and Vertebrate Paleontology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Phylogeny and Evolution of Locomotor Modes in Carnivoramorpha (Mammalia)

October 5, 2011
John Wenzel, PhD
Director, Powdermill Nature Reserve, the environmental research center of Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Self-organizing systems governing labor and specialized task groups in colonies of ants, bees, and wasps

September 7, 2011
Amy C. Henrici
Collection Manager, Section of Vertebrate Paleontology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: An unusual terrestrial vertebrate assemblage from the Lower Permian of Germany

June 1, 2011
Patrick M. O’Connor, PhD
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ohio University
Seminar: From Zimbabwe to Egypt: New insights into the Cretaceous terrestrial biotas of Africa

May 11, 2011
John E. Rawlins, PhD
Curator & Head of Section of Invertebrate Zoology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Entomological Research and Discovery in a Biodiversity Hotspot: Understanding Threatened Montane Endemism in Hispaniola

April 20, 2011
Natalia Rybczynski, PhD
Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, The Canadian Museum of Nature
Seminar: Arctic mammals and climate change before the Ice Age

March 2, 2011
Chen Young, PhD
Associate Curator of Invertebrate Zoology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: All About Crane Flies

February 2, 2011
Cynthia Morton, PhD
Associate Curator of Botany, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Your city trees: We need them to breathe

December 1, 2010
Andrew Vitz, PhD
Former Bird Banding Coordinator, Powdermill Nature Reserve, the environmental research center of Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: An examination of population trends of North American songbirds using long-term bird banding data

November 3, 2010
Andrew Mack, PhD
Former William and Ingrid Rea Conservation Biologist & Senior Scientist at Powdermill Nature Reserve, the environmental research center of Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Phylogeography of a lowland bird, Colluricincla megarhyncha, and the geologic history of New Guinea

September 1, 2010
Dave Watters, PhD
Curator Emeritus of Anthropology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Volcanically induced loss of archaeological sites, Montserrat, West Indies

June 2, 2010
Michael Habib, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biology, Chatham University
Seminar: Launch Mechanics of Giant Pterosaurs

May 5, 2010
James E. Hayden, PhD
Former Rea Post-doctoral Fellow, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Morphological and ecological diversity of pyraloid Lepidoptera, the 'middle kingdom' of moths

March 3, 2010
Zhe-Xi Luo, PhD
Former Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Seminar: Evolutionary development of mammalian ears, and origins of mammals