UC Museum of Paleontology
Established in 1921, the mission of the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) is to investigate and promote the understanding of the history of life and the diversity of the Earth's biota through research and education.
UCMP is an active center of research and houses the largest paleontological collection of any university museum in the world. By fully integrating its research, teaching, and educational outreach with effective uses of technology, UCMP fulfills its mission of increasing the understanding of all aspects of Earth history and biodiversity--from the first appearance of life on Earth to current genetic patterning in populations. The Museum's well-curated and data-based collections include both fossils and modern organisms, and encompass past and present biodiversity from all continents of the world, representing the broad geographic research by UCMP faculty, staff, and students.
Research within the Museum of Paleontology focuses primarily on the evolutionary history, interactions, and relationships of species with their environments. Because this requires a multidisciplinary integration across a wide variety of spatial and temporal scales, this research contributes broadly to fields outside of paleontology, including: systematics, evolution, development, biostratigraphy, paleoecology, paleoceanography, paleobiogeography, and paleoenvironmental analysis.
UCMP research is supported by state-of-the-art facilities. The Museum has laboratories for activities including fossil preparation, molding and casting of fossils, histological studies of living and fossil tissues, phylogenetic analysis, and molecular biology. The Molecular Phylogeny Laboratory (shared with the University and Jepson Herbaria) is a state-of-the-art laboratory for the preparation and sequencing of molecular data used for the reconstruction of the history of life. A separate evolutionary development molecular facility is also housed within UCMP.
The Museum serves the University community in various research projects and provides support for instruction at Berkeley and other UC campuses. Our unique synthesis of research, teaching, outreach, and collections allows in-depth insights into the history and evolution of life. In addition, the collections are used by paleontologists, biologists and geologists throughout the world, and through generous bequests to the Museum there are several funds that support graduate student research and promote research on the Museum's collections by visitors.
UCMP further serves a broader audience through two publications: PaleoBios, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and UCMP News, a quarterly newsletter about UCMP's programs and research.
UCMP has a long history of public outreach. Programs include teacher workshops, lecture series, curriculum development, an annual open house, and four award-winning web sites. UCMP pioneered innovative uses of the web to share knowledge. After nearly 14 years of experimentation and development, the current UCMP websites average ~ 5 million page accesses per month and together have > 6,000 pages devoted to the explanation of topics in evolution, paleontology, biodiversity, geology, the history of science, and related topics.
UCMP also has a long history of providing professional development opportunities and classroom resources for teachers in evolution and related topics. These include annual short courses for teachers and workshops in local school districts as well as at annual meetings of the California Science Teachers Association, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Science Teachers Association, and the Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists, for a combined audience of more than 600 teachers annually. UCMP has an advisory board of teachers that help develop, pilot and evaluate programs designed for the K-12 classroom. Combining the scientific expertise of UCMP with the experience and expertise in teacher professional development, UCMP has successfully developed a suite of interactive, inquiry-based digital modules through an NSF-funded Instructional Materials Development project entitled "Explorations Through Time" and has three specialty websites: Understanding Evolution, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, provides content and resources for teachers, their students, and the general public to increase their understanding of the processes, patterns, and importance of evolution. Understanding Science, also funded by NSF, accurately portrays what science is and how it really works, focusing on strengthening the teaching of the nature and process of science in grades K-16. The Paleontology Portal provides an interactive portal into the paleontology and geology of North America. Another NSF-funded website, this is a collaborative project with the Paleontological Society, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, the US Geological Survey, and several other natural history museums.
Photos © UC Museum of Paleontology