Museum specimens are important sources of DNA, used by researchers to discover the evolutionary relationships among species. NYSM zoology curators save small samples of muscle and other tissues from the specimens they prepare for our collections. The tissue samples from fish, bird, and mammal specimens, stored at -80 degrees Celsius in our genetics lab, become the basis for research conducted by the curators and their students.
This fall semester, two biology students from the University at Albany, Sarah Palmieri and Morgan Lynn, have been working in the lab with Dr. Jeremy Kirchman, the NYSM’s Curator of Ornithology, to extract and analyze DNA from samples taken from closely-related thrush species that breed in in the Catskills and Adirondacks. The students enjoy coming to the museum each week to work in the lab and learn about genetics research. This experience may be a springboard for Sarah and Morgan as they pursue future work or graduate studies in biology.
Discover more about ongoing research in the NYSM Ornithology Lab here: http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/research-collections/biology/ornithology