Congratulations to Dr. Anna K. Monfils, iDigBio's 2012 Visiting Scholar

iDigBio is pleased to announce our 2012 Visiting Scholar, Dr. Anna K. Monfils. Dr. Monfils is an Associate Professor at Central Michigan University (CMU) and the Director of the Central Michigan University Herbarium (CMC).

In her position at the CMC, Dr. Monfils trains students and develops educational tools relating to herbaria. She takes an interdisciplinary approach to science education: students in her courses have collaborated with design students in the Art Department at CMU to develop non-linear presentations that disseminate content about herbaria, collection techniques, permitting protocols and biodiversity. Additionally, she has collaborated with Larry Burditt (Chair of the CMU Art Department) on a project that utilizes electronic gaming to educate about specimen-based research and herbaria. Dr. Monfils has also developed a user-friendly, web-deliverable educational module about scientific images, images as data, and Photoshop. More recently, through the Michigan Consortium of Botany (MiCOB), she has initiated a project to build a student driven database of resources for Michigan’s Threatened and Endangered (T&E) plants.

Dr. Monfils' iDigBio Visiting Scholar proposal is built around the concept of technology and education, both for students and for scientists at all levels. Her proposal narrative reads, in part: “Natural history collections are an excellent medium to engage students in biology. Collections are ideal settings to teach the scientific method and the definition of data. Natural history curators have made major advances towards national digitization, which can expand the availability, utility, impact and recognition of collections. Potential exists to utilize the herbarium to teach students about the importance of natural history collections, biodiversity databases and web-based resources, data mining and bioinformatics. I am interested in pursuing projects that explore the interface between collections and their online presence; I want to use art and technology to connect students to science, data and ultimately specimens.”

As an iDigBio Visiting Scholar, Dr. Monfils will spend part of her time in residence at Michigan State University in the MSC collections, where she will be hosted by Dr. Alan Prather, Director and Curator of the MSC Herbarium. Dr. Monfils will learn about digitization efforts and will expand her training in digitization protocols and procedures. She will also use this opportunity to produce generalized protocols (web deliverable) for the digitization and dissemination of herbarium collections and to develop and implement her two proposed projects:

In the first project, Dr. Monfils will collaborate with Dr. Stephen Thomas, Assistant Curator for Science Education at the MSU Museum, to design an interactive online lab experience that introduces the purpose and procedures of specimen databasing to majors and non-majors in the biological sciences. This experience will involve students “collecting” data with camera phones, depositing their collections into a state-wide, student-generated database, and then mining that database. A problem-based learning format will help students understand the strengths and challenges of on-line data, databases and virtual collections and the power and possibilities of cyberinfrastructure, bioinformatics and global communication. In the second project, Dr. Monfils will work with MiCOB to organize and present a collections digitization workshop for professional botanists, students and citizen scientists from throughout Michigan. The workshop is intended to provide practical examples of how citizen scientists, undergraduate and graduate students and faculty can work with collections and curators to voucher properly, organize collections, and database and digitize specimens.

Please join iDigBio in congratulating Dr. Monfils on her selection as Visiting Scholar: we are excited to have her working with us!