Carnegie Museum of Natural History is pleased to welcome Nicole Heller, the world’s first Curator of the Anthropocene, to the museum. The Anthropocene is our current epoch, in which humans have become a dominant influence structuring the Earth system. As Curator of the Anthropocene, Dr. Heller works with various museum sections to tell the story of this epoch, discussing both the positive and negative ways that humans are changing the planet, how biotic organisms are responding, and what this may mean for the future.
The public will have the opportunity to get to know Dr. Heller at two exciting events this autumn.
On September 26, she will be part of a panel discussion called “Environmental Institutions: Representing Nature in the Anthropocene” with Reid Frazier, Energy Reporter, The Allegheny Front and State Impact Pennsylvania, and Heather Houser, Associate Professor of English, University of Texas-Austin. Dan Kubis, Associate Director, University of Pittsburgh Humanities Center will host the discussion in the Carnegie Museum of Art Lecture Hall at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Free tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/environmental-institutions-representing-nature-in-the-anthropocene-tickets-49228115619.
In October, Dr. Heller will host a Book and Tour with Tomas Matza, Assistant Professor in Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh. The pair will discuss a recently published essay collection titled Future Remains: A Cabinet of Curiosities for the Anthropocene at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History on October 25, 2018 at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, however, RSVPs are required via the museum’s Meetup group at https://www.meetup.com/Carnegie-Museum-of-Natural-History-meetups/events/254078727/.
At both events, Dr. Heller will feature some of her recent research, which focuses on the question of how to promote biodiversity in human dominated landscapes and in the face of increasing habitat loss, novel species introductions, and climate change. Her research over the past two decades has led her to challenge many traditional conservation practices that promote a separation of humans from nature. In contrast, her work focuses on integrated, climate-adapted practices designed to promote the natural resilience of ecosystems for improved biodiversity and human community outcomes.
Dr. Heller also researches how to effectively communicate about environmental challenges, for which she was honored with a Google Science Communication Fellowship among other awards. There is hope for improvement in the environmental challenges we face, and Dr. Heller likes to tell those stories to help inspire action and positive change. The Anthropocene is an epoch with complex, human-driven problems that require nuanced solutions. The more openly we can discuss these issues and the interconnections with our social values and needs, the more easily we will be able to find and implement solutions that improve the environment for all types of people and other living beings. Heller hopes to facilitate this discussion through her work at Carnegie Museum of Natural History.