Science Division News

Learn more about the latest news and discoveries from the Science Division

The Science Division grows and cares for a world-class natural history collection composed of 4.3 million artifacts and specimens, conducts scientific research with robust and diverse community participation, and conveys accurate, compelling stories that connect the past, present, and future. Our core scientific competencies are anthropology, earth sciences, health sciences, space sciences, and zoology. The Museum collections contain scientifically and culturally significant objects in archaeology, ethnology, geology, paleontology, health sciences, zoology and archives. While generally focused on the Rocky Mountain West, the collections also contain objects that bring the world to Denver and provide a broader intellectual and scientific context for the regional collections.

Science Division in the News

Click below to read stories about the research being done in the Science Division.

Science on the Spot

Pop up opportunities to learn about the science being done behind the scenes

May 4, 2023

Curator of Archaeology, Dr. Michele Koons, and students from the Metropolitan State University of Denver Andean Art History class presented information on ancient indigenous Andean artifacts from both the Museum's collections and Dr. Koon's research.

April 26th, 2023

Zoology Collections Managers Andy Doll and Genna Anderegg presented the more positive side of Earth Day, highlighting the successful stories of recovery of endangered animals when people come together to act on their behalf.  Bald Eagles, Black-footed Ferrets and more!  Andy and Genna brought out actual Museum specimens from the Research Collections.  Did you know that there once were BFFs in Denver and Aurora?

Awards for Research Assistant Erika Garcia

Research Assistant Erika Garcia recently was awarded the Integrative Biology Graduate Student Excellence in Research Award for the 2022-2023 academic year.  

She also has received a very prestigious Fulbright Fellowship to study solifuges in Israel.  

Congratulations, Erika!  

Learn More

New Papers from the Science Division

It's Turtles All the Way Down in the Fossil Record

Postdoctoral Fellow Holger Petermann was recently featured in the New York Times for his research on fossil turtle compaction.  

Read the Article

Read the Paper, co-authored by Tyler Lyson, Ian Miller and James Hagadorn.

New paper in Ecology

Gussie Maccracken, our new curator of paleobotany, recently co-authored a paper published in Ecology: "Sampling bias and the robustness of ecological metrics for plant-damage-type association networks".  In it, the authors explore the utility and sensitivity of network analyses for plant-insect interactions in deep time.  

Read it here

Grand Challenges in Entomology

Curator of Entomology Frank Krell was part of an international team, under the leadership of the Royal Entomological Society London, finding out what the entomological community considers to be priorities and challenges in insect science in the coming decades. The challenges identified stretch from taxonomy, anthropogenic impacts, pest insects, to societal engagement.

Read it Here

Teen Science Scholar Success Stories

From Teen Science Scholar to paleontology graduate school

Hear 2017 Teen Science Scholar Isiah Newbins' story on how the TSS program impacted his scientific career.

Watch the video

Stucky Postdoctoral Fellowship Fund established

Richard Keith Stucky passed away on May 4, 2022, following a courageous battle with lung cancer.  It would be hard to overstate Richard Stucky’s impact on your Museum. During more than 25 years on staff, Stucky served as preparator, Earth sciences department head, curator of vertebrate paleontology, chief curator, vice president of research & collections, vice president of programs and curator of paleoecology & evolution.

Stucky and his wife, Barbara, have long supported the Museum financially and donated treasures to its collections. In 2016 they joined the Edwin Carter Legacy Society. Their trust provides for the establishment of a postdoctoral fellowship fund at the Museum that is modeled after a fund at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History of Pittsburgh. In 1982, Stucky was a Rea Postdoctoral Fellow at that museum.

In 2021, another generous Museum donor, Dolores Schlessman, was inspired to make a major gift in Stucky’s honor. After consulting with Richard and Barbara, Dolores’ gift established this fund immediately. Over time, distributions from the Stucky Postdoctoral Fellowship Fund will accumulate to support a Stucky Postdoctoral Fellow in the Science Division. The Museum is deeply grateful to Dolores Schlessman and to Richard and Barbara Stucky for this amazing circle of generous support.

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New Gift to the Museum

$25 million for conservation of scientific collections

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science and its supporting organization, the DMNS Foundation, have received a $25 million gift from an anonymous donor. This is the largest gift in the institution’s 121-year history.

“We are amazed by the donor’s generosity and vision,” said George Sparks, Museum President & CEO. “The support will vastly expand the Museum’s capacity for collections conservation."

"Collections are treasures held in the public trust. Preserving them and making them accessible to source communities, scientists and the public has long been an institutional priority,” said Museum Director of Anthropology and Senior Curator of Archaeology Stephen E. Nash. “This unprecedented gift will take our work to another level, with the expertise and state-of-the-art analytical equipment needed to advance the field and train the next generation of conservation professionals from a wide range of backgrounds. It will position the Museum as a leader in culturally-inclusive object conservation in the Rocky Mountain region, nationally and internationally.”

Ten percent of the funds will go directly to the museum for initial staffing, equipment and launch activities, while 90% will establish an endowed fund at the DMNS Foundation. Annual distributions from the endowment will support the Museum’s conservation work over the long term.

Read the press release

Recent Catalyst Articles

Winter 2022

Museum Treasures: Introducing Casey Mallinckrodt and Chris Potrello

By Maura O'Neal

Discover Science: Behind the Scenes: Zoology Prep Lab

By Andrea (Andie) Carrillo

On the Cover: Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)

Photograph by Rick Wicker

Read it Now

Fall 2022

Museum Treasures: Digital Research Lab Reveals Fossils, Slice by Slice

By Lindsay Dougan and Eldon Panigot

Discover Science: Fayum Portraits Open Doors to Rich History and Collaboration

By Dr. Erin Baxter and Megan Salas

On the Cover: Scale model of Saber-tooth cat

Photograph by Rick Wicker

Read it Now
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