Advancing Integration of Museums into Undergraduate Programs

Natural history collections form a crucial physical basis for understanding the diversity and history of life.  Often these collections are associated with universities, yet their depth and significance is accessible almost exclusively to practicing researchers.  AIM-UP! is an NSF-funded Research Coordination Network exploring the use of natural history collections in undergraduate education.


In the News: AIM-UP! was featured in an article in the Harvard Gazette.


Five themes are proposed for the five years of the project:

  1. Integrative Inventories: Complex Biotic Associations Across Space and Time
  2. Geographic Variation
  3. Evolutionary Dynamics of Genomes
  4. Biotic Response to Climate Change
  5. Co-evolving Communities of Pathogens and Hosts as Related to Emerging Disease
AIM-UP! is refining existing efforts and developing new integrated approaches to collections-based training in large-scale questions using the expertise of educators, curators, collection managers, database managers, and scientists whose work spans disciplines and relates topics covering a spectrum of time and space.
The network is:
  • developing teaching and analytic tools for training students in the emerging fields of climate change, evolutionary genomics and molecular ecology
  • developing instructional tools for museum databases, such as ARCTOS, that are freely available to the public
  • developing an integrated network of educators working on specimen-based questions
  • including minority and female scientists, agency biologists, academics, international participants, and museums with large public audiences
  • training undergraduate students in museum-based field and laboratory research
  • conducting outreach targeted to underrepresented students with an emphasis on issues relevant to their communities.
Network participants communicate through 1) an annual three-day all-hands working meeting at field stations and participating institutions; 2) workshops at scientific meetings, such as the Natural Science Collections Alliance; 3) frequent interaction via interactive internet services (e.g., video conferencing, AIM-UP! blog, ARCTOS blog); 4) short-term exchanges of museum educators for intensive content development; 5) a short course (two weeks) for undergraduate students at 1 host institution to beta-test new approaches, and 6) a fall semester seminar course at the University of New Mexico (available via webcasting to all network participants). While AIM-UP! began as a collaboration between the University of Alaska, Harvard University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of New Mexico as a way to integrate expertise and data across these institutions, it is already expanded to other universities, federal agencies, and a large museum-based genetic consortium in Canada.


Visit the AIM-UP! Blog to learn more about our on-going activities.

Funding period: May 2010 - April 2015
AIM-UP abstract at NSF

15 & 16 October 2010
We had a successful meeting in Santa Fe!  Visit the summary page to see what we discussed.

20-22 February 2012
The 2012 meeting was held in Fairbanks. See the summary page for a review of our meeting.

11-13 April 2013
This year we will be having our All-Hands Meeting in Cambridge. See the summary page for a review of our meeting.

27 February - 1 March 2014
The fourth annual All-Hands Meeting was in Monterey, California. Meeting summary coming soon.