Monday, September 14, 2015

National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

I found my internship by contacting Dr. David Adamski in the Entomology Dept. at the Museum of Natural History. Initially there were not any internships involving scientific illustration however there was an imaging internship with Elijah Talamas. When I heard about the opportunity, I decided to take it so I could get my foot in the door at the museum.

The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. The museum serves both as a research institute and a public museum focusing on education about the natural world. Specifically, I interned in the Entomology Dept, Hymenoptera Unit (includes ants, wasps, and bees). ElijahΚΌs current project is to document and image the rare and valuable Platygaster wasps specimens of the museum collection. His photographs will eventually be published in research papers, displayed in the lab, and collected in an online database for research.

My responsibilities as an imaging intern were to photograph each insect specimen from three different angles, composite and edit images in Photoshop, and finally upload them to a public research database. These are the steps taken for each insect specimen: retrieving the insect specimens from their storage drawers, removing their labels, positioning the specimens under the microscope, transfer the arranged specimen to the camera bed, photograph, process the image with the camera software, and finally edit the image in Photoshop.




Although I only worked on this one imaging project throughout the internship, I covered around 7-8 different families of these wasps and documented at least 60 different species of wasps.


With my experience at the NMNH, I am most proud of my contributions to the image database. I was recently told that one of my images was used in the research of another scientist studying these wasps. One of the most important things I have learned from this internship is to keep your options open and be willing to explore a new field of creation. After my internship experiences, I plan to continue imaging specimens with Elijah and continue making connections in the Museum. In the future, I would like to keep collaborating with scientists and mesh my interests of art & science together.

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