Preserve the Berkeley Natural History Museums and Field Stations

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At a time when biodiversity and global change research is becoming ever more critical, the Berkeley Natural History Museums (BNHM) and Field Stations (FS)—which serve as centerpieces of UC Berkeley’s excellence in biodiversity, ecology, evolution, conservation biology, and environmental science training and research—are slated to receive a massive budget cut of 20% in real dollars in the coming fiscal year.  While Berkeley is in the midst of solving its current financial crisis, these proposed cuts come on top of a loss of 50% of campus funding to the BNHM and FS over the last decade, and are much higher than the proposed cuts to the academic units within which the museums and field stations sit and serve. Already cut to the bone, the new cuts, if enacted, will be devastating to Berkeley students and researchers, and to the broader community.

The Berkeley Natural History Museums and Field Stations are critical to the recruitment, development, and future engagement of Berkeley-trained scientists, scholars, and a wide range of non-Berkeley professionals. These centers of excellence for research and training provide essential services to students and visiting scholars, and include the curation of ~20 million specimens and the maintenance of thousands of research acres. The proposed budget cut will result in the loss of senior staff positions, with the concomitant loss of management, training, and research expertise. This will not only limit the abilities of the museums and field stations to serve Berkeley students—if this trend continues there may not be enough staff to keep the doors of Berkeley’s defining biodiversity resources open. 

The BNHM and FS further serve as critical outreach centers, which allow UC students to share important ecological, biological, and environmental concepts and findings with the broader community. Berkeley’s museums, which lie at the heart of campus, receive visits from elementary and high school students daily, serving as a critical resource for a broad range of educators. Berkeley’s field stations offer UC students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in field and conservation biology, and often provide scientists-in-training with their first research experiences. The BNHM and FS are fundamental educational resources that serve to increase interest in STEM and offer students the opportunity to personally connect with pressing environmental issues.

The BNHM and FS are not only essential to Berkeley’s identity as a leader in the biological and environmental sciences, but also serve as a critical resource for Berkeley students and the broader community. We ask current students, alums, and supporters to join us to in voicing their support for the museums and field stations by signing the petition to the right of this text. We must convince the administration of the importance of the BNHM and FS to Berkeley’s #1 ranking in ecology, evolution and in the environment, and to the university’s ability to serve future generations of students.

Photo: Lobsang Wangdu, Hastings Natural History Reservation