The month of April has been an absolute and complete blur at the American Museum of Natural History. It seems like it has been mere hours since March, and yet here we are halfway through April with only 45 days left in the Residency.
April for me has been filled with final analyses, presentations, interviews, and more presentations. In this post, I’m going to give a general project update, as well as some insights into the goings-on in this penultimate month to the Residency.
Though it’s not technically in April, March 30 was the kick off to all the April activities. The NDSR Residents did a panel for ARLIS/NY. I won’t go into too much detail since Shira did that for me in this post.
As of April 1st, I have officially interviewed every single curator and relevant curatorial staff member at the AMNH! This last curator was out on an injury and couldn’t come back to the Museum before the end of March. Since I was 99% done at the middle of February, finally interviewing this last curator felt like a huge triumph. I could now finish my analyses in time to spend the final two months of the Residency working on my last deliverable, which I will get to in a minute.
One of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life happened on the first Monday of April, the 6th. I was to give a presentation to an assembly of the Museum’s curators and administration, called the Science Senate. There are two parts to the Senate meetings: an Open Session, in which general news and updates are given along with a scientific presentation, and the Closed Session, though I do not know what goes on then because it is for curators only. My presentation happened at the very end of the Open Session.
Originally, I had my presentation scheduled for about 10 minutes but due to time constraints on the agenda, it was shortened to five. This meant I speed-talked my way through all the analyses I had finished the Friday before (April 3) while hoping to impress on everyone there that the risk of data loss is not only imminent, but inevitable. Given the questions and comments I received directly after my presentation and in the week to come, I can say this presentation was a definite success.
For the Residency itself, all I have left to do is my final report–this is a compilation of my previous reports and analyses with recommendations for storage, management, and preservation of the Museum’s vast scientific collections and research data. These previous reports include: a plan for the length of retention for digital assets, an environmental scan to see what other similar institutions are doing for their data, and an overview of what federal agencies fund AMNH research, and whether those agencies require data management plans or not. All these previous reports will come together to form my recommendations as well as provide the Museum with the information it needs to understand and interpret my recommendations.
From there, I will take the results of my survey and translate them into functional requirements I believe should be met by the Museum. This will be the final half of the report. What I anticipate taking up the bulk of the report are my findings and analytical work. This is the evidence for my recommendations and must be given the majority of emphasis. Translating my enormous excel sheet of results into nicely graphic’d and verbal will be a task worthy of its two month timeline for sure.
This Friday, I will fulfill my last requirement for NDSR. This is my enrichment session–basically a way for the Residents to get experience planning events. I will take the other Residents up to the AMNH Research Library for a presentation on the types of data at risk at the Museum, and current strategies for preservation of such data.
After this, I will give them a snapshot into the research process by taking them down to the Microscopy and Imaging Facility for an in-depth look at how research using the CT Scanner works. Think of a “cooking show” type of presentation that shows each data at each step of the process, with an eye toward management of that data. This could have only been achieved with the collaboration of the exceptional MIF staff, whom I will now publically thank: Morgan, and Henry–thank you!
So as you can see–the life of a Resident is busy and the work is always flowing never ending. However, with two months left at the AMNH, I can only hope that time starts to slow down and I can have a small infinity within the remaining months.