The National Science Foundation has awarded Carnegie Museum of Natural History a $397,706 grant to support research on placental mammals and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) educational programs.
The project, directed by Section of Mammals Curator Dr. John Wible, aims to shed light on how mammals fared the Cretaceous extinction (K-Pg extinction), an event most famous for the demise of the non-avian dinosaurs.
The museum will partner with Duquesne University, Purdue University Northwest, and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science as well as international collaborators from the United Kingdom, China, and Brazil.
Dr. Wible’s project aims to increase the understanding of the origins of placental mammals and conclusively determine which lineages passed through the K-Pg extinction. To accomplish this, the international team will be studying museum collections in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. The project will utilize Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s research collection in the Sections of Mammals and Vertebrate Paleontology.
“This is an exciting opportunity to analyze the history of vertebrate evolution,” Dr. Wible said. “Thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation, we will also be able to create a teaching tool that will explain evolution, climate change, biology, and geology.”
Grant funds will support educational and outreach programs as well as research. New information gleaned from Dr. Wible’s research will be incorporated into exhibits at Carnegie Museum of Natural History as well as the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
“This project aligns beautifully with our mission,” said Dr. Eric Dorfman, the Daniel G. and Carole L. Kamin Director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. “It deepens our research goals and supports an overarching strategy of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh to expand our relationships with higher learning institutions in our local and international communities.”
In addition to enabling public-facing research through exhibits, the grant will enhance museum outreach and field trip programs. This project will also give undergraduate students from six universities laboratory and research experience and train four doctoral students and a postdoctoral fellow.
The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that promotes the progress of science by funding scientific research and education. Funds from federal agencies like the National Science Foundation support initiatives, exhibitions, educational programs, and research at all four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and further Carnegie Museums’ mission of making arts, sciences, and humanities accessible to all.