Lectures and Special Events

From the Field

November 16, 2016

Mark Siddall and Melanie Hopkins

From the Arctic Circle to the forests of Cambodia, Museum scientists travel the world conducting scientific research. What is it like to work in these remote locations, and what skills do researchers need to thrive (or simply survive) in the field? Join Museum Curators Melanie Hopkins and Mark Siddall as they share stories from their most recent adventures and discuss highlights from their research.

 About the Expeditions

Curator Melanie Hopkins led an expedition to the northeast corner of Spitsbergen, a remote Norwegian island in the Arctic Circle, in the summer of 2016. The area is a treasure trove of of trilobite fossils, which form the basis for much of Hopkins’ work. The expedition was part of a larger effort to understand the ecological, evolutionary, and environmental changes that occurred 485 million years ago, when the diversity of marine organisms increased sharply in a relatively short period of time.

Leeches, mammals, and conservation in Cambodia

During the summer of 2015, Curator Mark Siddall led an expedition to Cambodia, where his team focused on collecting leeches. By sequencing DNA found in the guts of these bloodsucking invertebrates, researchers identified the animals they were feeding on, an important data point for conservation efforts. This was the first study of its type across a whole country, and it yielded important insights about what leeches feed on and how this method might be used to protect tropical biodiversity.

Melanie Hopkins’ and Mark Siddall’s Constantine S. Niarchos Expeditions were generously supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.