MVZ Undergraduate Program
Student Opportunities

How do I get involved? Visit MVZ Undergraduate Opportunities

Projects and Activities that Enrich the Museum's Program

Short Descriptions of further Opportunities….

The Biodiversity Informatics Lab
The MVZ is a national leader in informatics and in geocoding of natural history collections to facilitate studies in conservation, ecology and evolution. With the development of many informatics tools, and leading the way in assembling distributed databases (MANIS, HerpNET, and ORNIS), we have made online collections data a powerful resource for scientists around the world.  Students use geographic tools along with data from field observations to determine latitudes and longitudes from descriptive localities, GIS to check the coordinates, and assist in the analysis of the data.  In addition, there are computer programming positions for students who are interested in the role of database access and management.  (Chart IV).

The MVZ-BSP Alliance
The Museum  has provided tours for the UC Berkeley Biology Scholars Program for some time.  However last year we sought a formalized relationship, creating an opportunity for BSP Students to intern at the Museum.  The Biology Scholars Program provides the recruitment, funds, and counseling services, while the Museum provides the training and research programs.  We are enthusiastic to create a larger diversity of students in the MVZ as we hope it will bring novel approaches and new ways of thinking about research and methods in the next generation of scientists.  BSP Students rotate through various areas of the Museum, and are encouraged to pursue what they find most interesting (eventually leading to independent research projects).  The first step in the rotation is taking the class “General Comparison and Diversity in Vertebrate Anatomy, and Museum Approaches in the MVZ” (“Prep Lab Class”) where students get credit for their work in the Prep Lab while also collecting library research on the animals they prepare (class syllabus and schedule included).  The next step is up to the student -- they have a choice between various faculty projects available.  By participating in the museum, BSP students are exposed to areas of research they may not have known existed, and this allows them more choices in future careers.

The Evolutionary Genetics Lab
Many researchers in the MVZ are collecting genetic data to untangle evolutionary history and/or to test behavioral hypotheses. The Museum maintains a state-of-the-art genetics lab, occupying several rooms on the 4th floor of the VLSB. The lab is equipped for DNA extraction, PCR amplification, agarose gel electrophoresis, allozyme electrophoresis, DNA sequencing, microsatellite development and screening, AFLP screening, library construction, cloning, and preliminary data analysis.  Students can be involved in many or all parts of the process through faculty, postdocs, graduate students, academic staffs', or their own research projects -- paid or volunteer.

The Museum Collections
Our collection of over 650,000 vertebrate specimens and ancillary materials are cared for by our two collections curators and our student workers and volunteers.  Curatorial Assistants, work-study students, and volunteers assist with accessioning, cataloguing, and installing new specimens and tissues; entering specimen information into a database; updating the collections taxonomically; processing loan requests; scanning images and field notes; and greeting research visitors or providing tours of the collections. Working in the MVZ collections is an excellent way to get hands on experience with museum specimens and curation practices.

Field Expeditions to record Biodiversity around the Globe

Current international expeditions that involve undergraduates are taking place in Central and South America, South East Asia, and Australia.  (Eileen’s south America studies, several graduate student’s studies, Jim McGuire’s Sulawesi, Indonesia studies, Jim McGuire’s south American hummingbird studies, Craig’s historical demography and diversity of tropical rainforest fauna study).  We soon hope to be including undergraduates n travels to Africa under the supervision of faculty curator Rauri Bowie. 

A community-based research effort to develop an evolutionary tree for all amphibians.

Digital MVZ Project.
A NSF-funded project to scan and make available through the internet a large portion of its historical field notes and photographs. Thousands of pages and photos have been scanned, and the website for viewing them is under development.

Evolutionary Hotspots Project.
This is a partnership between the California State Parks and UC Berkeley, involving investigators from the MVZ. Their work seeks to identify areas of unusually high origination rate in the state of California, so that biodiversity conservation decisions in the state can be made with both the short-term goal of preventing human-caused extinctions and the long-term goal of maximizing ongoing originations.

Historical demography and diversity of a tropical rainforest fauna.
A collaborative project that addresses question-driven research in evolutionary biology, macroecology, phylogeographic methodology, and conservation.