Entries in Museums (9)


Corpse Flower "Terra the Titan"

Today, I was able to view the blooming of the "corpse flower" (Amorphophallus titanum), on exhibit as "Terra the Titan" at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. This event was high on my botanical bucket list and it was totally unforgettable. 

What makes this event so special?

To begin, the plant itself: titan arum is the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world (typically 6-8 feet tall) and produces the largest leaf in the world (reaching up to 20 feet high). The event is also special because it is rare; the plant only blooms once every 7-10 years and only for about two days. Finally, the event is special because it is marvelously malodorous: during the bloom, the plant emits a foul odor of rotting animal flesh, hence the common name of "corpse flower." 

Photo by 'adambadwound' on Instagram.

Photo by 'adambadwound' on Instagram.


BioBlitz and Biodiversity Festival

The three national park units that make up the Golden Gate National Parks encompass more than 80,000 acres and 91 miles of shoreline along the northern California coast. These parks are home to an amazing array of biodiversity, including over half of the bird species of North America and nearly one-third of California’s plant species!

To better understand, appreciate, and protect this natural treasure, the National Park ServiceNational GeographicGolden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and Presidio Trust are teaming up to host a 24-hour BioBlitz species count and two-day Biodiversity Festival, Friday-Saturday, March 28-29, 2014.


BioBlitz 2014 will take place in several national parks, including Muir Woods National Monument, Fort Point National Historic Site, and locations in Golden Gate National Recreation Area including the Giacomini wetlands, Muir BeachMarin Headlands, Crissy Field, Presidio, Mori Point, and Rancho Corral de Tierra.

The event will take place Friday-Saturday, March 28-29, 2014 and will bring together more than 300 leading scientists and naturalists from around the country, thousands of local community members of all ages, and more than 2,000 students from across the Bay Area.

Throughout March, BioBlitz collaborating organizations such as the Institute at the Golden Gate, California Academy of Sciences, Aquarium of the Bay, the American Cetacean Society, Marine Mammal Center, and Slide Ranch are hosting several BioBlitz-related events

Biodiversity Festival

The FREE Biodiversity Festival will take place at Crissy Field’s East Beach in the San Francisco Presidio, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 28, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 29. The festival features science demonstrations and exhibits, live animals, hands-on activities provided by prominent science and environmental organizations, National Geographic-led photography workshops, food, entertainment, and art. Explorers of all ages can enjoy the festival and “graduate” from Biodiversity University by participating in a variety of activities.

All festival events are free and open to the public, and no registration is required.

Download the event schedule to learn more.

Update! I graduated with a Doctorate of Biodiversity from Biodiversity University! 


Citizen Science at the Academy

The California Academy of Sciences is partnering with iNaturalist to enlist an army of citizen scientists working toward conservation efforts. This Science Today video features several of the Academy's citizen science programs, a few of which I've been able to join. 

Citizen science (also known as crowd science, crowd-sourced science, civic science, or networked science) is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or nonprofessional scientists, often by crowdsourcing crowdfunding. Formally, citizen science has been defined as "the systematic collection and analysis of data; development of technology; testing of natural phenomena; and the dissemination of these activities by researchers on a primarily avocational basis."[1] Citizen science is sometimes called "public participation in scientific research."[2]

I'm particularly delighted to see my Rocky Shore Naturalist, iNaturalist, and Naturalist Center colleagues profiled prominently in the video.

Keep up the good work!


I'm a Rocky Shore Naturalist!

From March 2nd to May 11th, I've been training as a Rocky Shore Naturalist, a partnership program of the California Academy of Sciences and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary that trains volunteers to help protect intertidal areas through education, monitoring, and research. As part of the training, we had weekly classes, assigned readings, and three trips to the tidepools on field days.

In our training as naturalists, our group:

  1. Studied the natural history of tidepool animals and algae with Rebecca Johnson, Academy scientist;
  2. Joined the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and California Academy of Sciences volunteer corps;
  3. Leared monitoring techniques and participate in scientific research;
  4. Became a part of a larger citizen science community;
  5. Learned how to be the best stewards of tidepool habitats and how to convey stewardship messages to visitors; and
  6. Interacted with California Academy of Sciences visitors and visitors to the tidepools at Duxbury Reef in Marin County and Pillar Point in San Mateo County.

Now that our training is complete, my cohort will commit to volunteering at least once a month for a year. I'm going to volunteer as a docent at the Discovery Touch Tidepool at the Steinhart Aquarium and I hope to get involved in an exciting citizen science project soon!

Volunteer options include:
  1. Working as a roving naturalist at Duxbury Reef in Bolinas or Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay;
  2. Helping out with student intertidal monitoring at one of the beaches listed above;
  3. Working and talking to visitors to the Discovery Touch Tidepool at the Academy of Sciences;
  4. Participating in citizen science monitoring of invertebrates and algae;
  5. Counting visitors to the reef; and
  6. Other opportunities as they arise.

This experience was absolutely amazing! As I posted below, it also included an opportunity to participate in the BioCube project with David Liittschwager, an author and photographer working with National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institution.

Enjoy the iPhone photos that I took during the field days in the album above. Special thanks to Rebecca Johnson for her excellent teaching and for inspiring the next cohort of Rocky Shore Naturalists to communicate ecological concepts, continue learning, share a love of tidpools with others, and volunteer to conserve them for future generations.

Want to join the fun?

My first gig as a Rocky Shore Naturalist will be on Sunday, May 19, 2013 at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in San Mateo County. I will be leading a group as a member of the steering committe at Bay Localize, an organization inspires and supports Bay Area residents in building equitable, resilient communities. Contact me for more information or to join us!



This weekend as part of the Rocky Shore Naturalist training program, I joined my colleagues from the California Academy of Sciences and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to welcome David Liittschwager, an author and photographer working with National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institution.

David’s project is known as BioCube and its goals are document the biodiversity of one cubic foot of earth. With the help of his assistant, program participants, and several professional biologists to watch, count, and photograph the number of different living organisms that pass through a single cubic foot in a given habitat.

This weekend, we journeyed to Pillar Point near Half Moon Bay, California, a rocky tidal area with amazing animal and plant life. We explored massive mussel beds and tidal pools that contained colorful starfish, sea urchins, sea anemones, abalone, crabs, snails, clams, nudibranchs, and a wide a variety of algae and sea grasses.

Throughout the day, we learned how to explain biodiversity concepts to fellow nature enthusiasts by encouraging them to think about the special ecosystem relationships and to cultivate a sense of place. One personal highlight was seeing an octupus for the first time in the wild!

David is also working with my colleagues at NatureBridge in the coming weeks to examine one cubic foot of Rodeo Pond and one cubic foot of terrestrial habitat along the South Lagoon Trail at our campus in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area

I look forward to taking these lessons with me as I continue to develop my skills as a naturalist! 

BioCubes at the Pillar Point tide pools. © Adam C. Bad Wound.

David Liittschwager (right) assembles the BioCube. © Adam C. Bad Wound.











Prepare To Be Moved!

Don’t miss Earthquake: Life on a Dynamic Planet, a major new exhibit and planetarium show at the California Academy of Sciences. Take a kinetic journey toward understanding these super seismic phenomena and how they fit into the larger story of our ever-changing Earth.

Visitors enter through an oversized crack into a 25-foot-diameter model of the Earth to find touchable geology specimens and interactive stations explaining the basics of plate tectonics. The exhibit highlights how the same earth processes that cause destructive earthquakes in the human timescale can also provide constructive conditions for life in the geological timescale. Live ostriches, ancient fossils, plants, and mounted marsupials (mammals with pouches) illustrate the shared legacy of India, Antarctica, Australia, South America, and Africa, which were once joined together.

The exhibit features an earthquake simulator resembling an old Victorian home in San Francisco transports you back to 5:04 pm on October 17, 1989 – the date and time of the infamous Loma Prieta earthquake. A sudden sustained tremor, followed by a brief aftershock, will give visitors a sense of what this ground-jolting event felt like.

Finally, hands-on activities address what you should do before, during, and after an earthquake.

You might be asking, "What do baby ostriches have to do with earthquakes?" Well, as flightless birds found on multiple continents that were formerly connected, they demonstrate how techtonic shifts have separated them across vast oceans. Plus, they engage the public in learning more about science because they're so darn cute!

The exhibit is now open!  Brace Yourself!


Big Bang Gala 2012: Illuminate

Explore the tastes, sounds, and creatures of the night at the California Academy of Sciences during the Big Bang Gala, a special evening benefiting the Academy's research and education programs. The evening features Ira Flatow, NPR science correspondent and host of Talk Of The Nation: Science Friday; Dean Kamen inventor of the Segway and many other inventions; Salman Khan, founder and one-man faculty of the Khan Academy; and Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google.

Big Bang Gala 2012: Party After Dark

April 19, 2012
8:30pm to midnight
For adults 21+

Tickets to the Gala are sold-out (!), but tickets are still available for Party After Dark, a post-dinner celebration featuring live music by Fitz and The Tantrums, late-night bites, and an open bar. Tickets for Party After Dark are $75 ($45 of each ticket is tax-deductible). For more information call 415.379.5411 or email

Join me!


Museums Advocacy Day

On Monday February 28 and Tuesday March 1 over 320 museum advocates – museum professionals, trustees, students and supporters – will be gathering in Washington, DC for the third annual Museums Advocacy Day

According to the American Association of Museums, it is important to remember that museums play a key role in education, job creation, tourism, economic development, historic preservation, environmental conservation, global competitiveness, and more. The museum community - which includes aquariums, art museums, children’s museums, historic sites, history museums, maritime museums, military museums, natural history museums, planetariums, presidential libraries, public gardens, science centers, zoos, and more – has worked together to develop positions on the vital federal issues affecting museums.

If you're like me and unable to attend the events in Washington, DC, you can be part of the action in your hometown:

  • Watch live streaming of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (a grant-making federal agency supporting museums and libraries of all types) Director Susan Hildreth's address (9:55 a.m. ET Monday) and the Congressional Breakfast (8:15 a.m. ET Tuesday)
  • Learn how to advocate from home —through economic impact statements, dear colleague letters and encouraging those in your community to write to their elected officials on the value of museums.

AAM Statement on NEA Funding Cut

The House of Representatives' 217-209 vote to cut $20.6 million from the National Endowment for the Arts budget for the remainder of FY11 would have a disastrous effect if it is enacted into law. The National Endowment for the Arts supports many of our nation's outstanding museums and plays a key role in building creativity, innovation and the skills necessary to compete in the 21st century. I urge the Senate and President Obama to reject this language as it finalizes the federal budget for the remaining 7 months of FY11. AAM President Ford W. Bell

I support the AAM in this effort because I strongly believe in the value that museums add to communities, informal knowledge and experiential learning, as well as the preservation of our cultural, artistic, and scientific assets. So many museums exist due to creative public/private/corporate partnerships, so their continued prosperity depends on such collaborative efforts. 

Support your local museums today!


Serving Science and Society - Under One Living Roof!

California Academy of Sciences

Claude, the Academy's lovable albino alligator.

Although this site reflects my research interests – and by no means represents my employer – I am delighted to feature the California Academy of Sciences, where I recently began working in the development division.

Inside and out, this place is amazing.

The Academy has the deepest coral reef exhibit in the world, a 4-story tropical rainforest, a towering T-Rex skeleton, a colony of African penguins, a fully-immersive digital planetarium, and an albino alligator named Claude, along with 40,000 living animals!

The Academy was founded in 1853 (wow!) and today it supports 46 world-class scientists and hundreds of researchers in 11 fields of study. With over a million visitors annually, each year the Academy's accredited teachers, highly-trained docents and scientists share their knowledge and enthusiasm for the natural sciences with tens of thousands of children, teens, and life-long learners. 

The world's greenest museum.It’s new, living and breathing building in Golden Gate Park opened in 2008 and earned the platinum rating (highest rating possible) for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and is the largest public building with this rating in the world. This commitment to sustainability extends to all facets of the facility - with a 2 ½ acre living roof, an expansive solar canopy, an extensive water reclamation system, and walls insulated with recycled blue jeans. The building also houses the Academy science labs and administrative offices (shout out to my colleagues in the development division!), including an extensive library and scientific archive consisting of more than 26 million specimens.

The Academy holds a variety of educational events, such as lectures, in addition to many other public programs. For example, the ’Tis the Season for Science events include indoor snow flurries, an igloo presentation dome, special events and daily presentations. Young visitors can also meet “Santa Claude,” the Academy’s lovable alligator.

Each Thursday, the Academy holds an event called Nightlife, where 21+ adults can enjoy music, science, entertainment and cocktails, while experiencing the Academy’s world-class exhibits and having fun with friends. Each weekly installment features something new and different. For example, last week featured chocolate tastings from around the world!

The Academy also has a useful iPhone application: Golden Gate Park Field Guide. I’ve downloaded it regularly use it to navigate my way through the 1,000+ acres of the park. The app highlights the park’s common wildlife, popular attractions, and hidden gems. As an interactive tool, it invites users to engage with the park and by recording and sharing their experiences.

As a donor and nonprofit professional, I can’t think of a better place to serve or a better mission to support. On my first day of orientation, I was thrilled to see that the very first item on the slideshow was a simple and clear mission: to explore, explain and protect the natural world. 

However, as I learn more about the collections, I also understand that the Academy also provides profound insights into human nature. My experiences in the Academy are a reminder that all forms of life are connected, biodiversity is our greatest strength, and that science and society are fundamentally linked.

Friends, I encourage you to visit the California Academy of Sciences to see it with your own eyes. I also encourage you to become a member, to support this unique cultural and scientific institution, volunteer, and spread the word!