I found Dave! And a little more information about what he’s doing on sabbatical, his cool new office, his inspiration for going into biology, and a lot of fossils.

Taken from my camera, the main entrance of the NHM.

On my (very) short stay in London, I managed to spend a little time checking out the Natural History Museum (NHM) and Terry Project co-director, Dave, chilling on sabbatical at one of the coolest (and most massive) museums in London. Prior to Dave’s departure at the beginning of July, the Terry team speculated that Dave was actually embarking on a bit of his own ‘Night at the Museum’ adventure.  My mission? Find out what the hell was so cool that Dave decided to haul the entire family to London (thus leaving us behind) for 6 months. Although only a few days into his new role at the NHM, it’s clear that the next 6 months are going to be jam packed with some awesome experiences- besides working next to a gigantic cocoon.

Picture taken from the NHM Darwin Centre Site

What is Dave doing? Well, Dave will focusing on biodiversity education and outreach, possibly contributing to the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity. Pretty great timing given that the UN has declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB). To mark this, the NHM has a key national role in promoting the research and economic value of biodiversity: particularly in the eyes of business as well as those in political circles. Dave will be rubbing shoulders with the exciting and interesting people at the NHM (including Mark Spencer) and those in London interested in various and equally awesome NHM matters.

With a few flashes of Dave’s security pass, we were in the museum with no lineups and no charge (to the Deep Sea exhibit, I was impressed!) The museum, to be quite British, will leave you gobsmacked. Besides being ginormous, (a combination of gigantic and enormous. more than very large, immense) the museum has some pretty wicked technology. With a ‘Natureplus card’, visitors can swipe their card at displays in various exhibits, and have them stored for further viewing at home.

Dave pointed out a pretty cool community outreach program called the Identification and Advisory Service (IAS) while we were in the Darwin Centre. Visitors can send in artifacts or drop in and ask the curators and scientists to identify the species of insect or plant in an effort to stimulate interest in biodiversity and allow the public to benefit from the incredible knowledge at the museum.

We found a few species of our own, including the gigantic model that Dave saw as a kid. The mammoth blue whale is what originally made Dave dream about going into biology. Now, he dreams of discovering if the myth of a time capsule enclosed in the whale is true.

Taken from the Natural History Museum Site

We also saw a TON of specimens (combined with my severe jet lag, I was all specimen-ed out after this). Despite exhaustion, I couldn’t help but take a picture of Dave re-connecting with his Canadian heritage, via this esteemed beaver specimen.

We all want to hear more when you return in January, Dave!

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