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Museum Experts Recognized for Scientific Savvy

Rock Star! Author and Scientist Grabs Geoscience Award

Ole Johnsen © University of Copenhagen

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Joel Grice

In his nearly four-decade career as a curator and scientist with the Canadian Museum of Nature, mineralogist Dr. Joel Grice has shared his fascination for the basic building blocks of the planet. His most recent accomplishment is the publication, in English and French, of the general-interest Beginner's Guide to Rocks and Minerals. In the research world, he is recognized for his expertise about the crystalline structure of minerals, and for eight years he chaired the international group that names and classifies new minerals.

Now, another recognition has come his way: the Mineralogical Association of Canada honoured Grice in May 2011 with an award that even he admits usually goes to younger, early-career scientists. Grice received the annual Hawley Award for best research paper in the geoscience journal Canadian Mineralogist. His scientific article furthered the understanding and classification of a complex group of minerals known as beryllosilicates.

In his acceptance note, Grice's modesty shines through. "Perhaps my observational skills and simple quest for explanations of 'why things are the way they are' have proven some worth," he writes. "Receiving this award in the same year as the first printing of a mineral and rock book I wrote for beginners gives me the satisfaction of knowing that museum work can serve both science and society." Congratulations Joel!

Canadian Heads World Taxonomy Group

Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature

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Mark Graham introduces speakers at the museum's 2010 Arctic Biodiversity Symposium.

How many species exist? Where are they found? What are the challenges to conserve biodiversity? These are all broad questions that require extensive research, collaboration and coordination to answer.

As a world-class national museum with 10.5 million specimens, the Canadian Museum of Nature is contributing to these international efforts, most recently with the appointment of Dr. Mark Graham, the museum's Director of Research, as the first Canadian to chair the Global Taxonomy Initiative's Coordination Mechanism.

The UN Convention for the Conservation of Biological Diversity views the shortage of taxonomic expertise as an impediment that needs to be fixed. The global taxonomy group pulls together expertise from around the world to organize activities that support the UN Convention on issues related to taxonomy—the fundamental science that names and classifies species and places them in context to other living things.

When not guiding the museum's research programmes, Graham also provides leadership as Vice-Chair for the Science Committee to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). This international network, which is based in Copenhagen, enables the sharing of biodiversity data online, for free—with the ultimate goal of putting high-quality data from museum collections to work in solving challenges for science and society.