Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Virtual Science Café: Tropical Forests in Wyoming, Himalayan Birds, and Crafting Nature

Archived Webinar

This Zoom webinar with Vera Korasidis, Sahas Barve, and Adrian Van Allen aired February 4, 2021, as part of the Virtual Science Café series. Watch a recording in the player above.


In this video, we explore research surprises in the field and the changing role and value of research collections. The program includes these short presentations:

"Tiny Fossil, Big Insight," by Vera Korasidis
Summary: Sometimes the smallest organisms tell the biggest stories. Palynologist and geologist Vera Korasidis conducts field research in Wyoming — known for its vast prairies and snow-topped mountains — to uncover the history of its landscapes and ecosystems. She’ll share stories of her research and findings, including the discovery of fossil pollen that reveals a different, more tropical picture of North America.

"Do Himalayan Birds Wear Down Jackets?" by Sahas Barve
Summary: Self-proclaimed bird-nerd Sahas Barve has observed thousands of birds around the world. His recent work focuses on how birds stay warm in cold Himalayan habitats and if — like humans wearing jackets to stay toasty — their feathers act as one big coat, or if they take the “layer up” approach to keep warm on the highest mountains in the world.

"Crafting Nature in a Genomic Age," by Adrian Van Allen
Summary: As an anthropologist, Adrian Van Allen studies the cultures of science in museums. As she  interviews scientists and learns to prepare specimens, she discovers how ideas about nature are formed — and how they change as new technologies such as genomics shape what is collected, prepared, and preserved for the future. In her talk, she’ll share her ethnography of how frozen collections of tissue samples and DNA are made at the Smithsonian and what drives scientists to preserve our collective ecological heritage by putting “life on ice.”

Moderators: Naimah Muhammad, Public Programs Coordinator; and Amanda Sciandra, Adult Programming Manager

Related Resources

Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Life Science, Paleontology, Social Studies