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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25592.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25592.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25592.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25592.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25592.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25592.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25592.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25592.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25592.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25592.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25592.
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Summary For centuries, scientists have sought and collected different types of organisms to learn more about their forms, functions, origins, distributions, and evolution. Pooling and conserving these organisms into biological collections—systematized repositories of life in all of its many forms—is a cornerstone of quality research and education in many areas of science and innovation (see Box S-1). Biological collections produce a wide range of benefits for science and education in the United States and the global community. Biological collections stand alone in providing the temporal, spatial, and taxonomic sampling of our natural heritage, preventing loss of knowledge about life on Earth. They support research on basic biological structures and processes and deepen our understanding of evolution, biodiversity, and global environmental change. The health of biological collections—and, ultimately, of the scientific research that relies on them—is dependent on the underlying infrastructure that assembles, maintains, and provides access to these collections. Unfortunately, the sustainability of the nation’s biological collections is under threat. The causes are many, including a general lack of understanding of their value and their contributions to research and education, a lack of appreciation for what is required to maintain them effectively, and inadequate coordination and interconnection among and between collections. It is easy to overlook the importance of infrastructure. When everything is functioning smoothly, infrastructure—whether it is the facilities of a university, the computers and transmission devices underlying the Internet, or the air traffic control system responsible for air travel—tends to be taken for granted. The same is true of the nation’s biological collections. Without necessary changes in support and organization, the prior and current investments in time, money, and staff resources for building the nation’s biological collections will be diminished, and their immense potential in supporting science, innovation, and education in the United States and elsewhere will be severely limited. Recognizing the importance and the vulnerabilities of the nation’s biological collections, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has endeavored to provide broad financial support through its Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) within the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO). However, NSF welcomes guidance on a wide range of questions regarding long-term sustainability, including questions about operational structures, policies, and social cultures that could provide momentum to maintain and grow biological collections. For this reason, NSF asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) to address the following: • explore the contributions of biological collections of all sizes and institutional types to research and education; • envision future innovative ways in which biological collections can be used to further advance science; • outline the critical challenges to and needs for their use and maintenance, including the quality control challenges faced by living stock collections; and • suggest a range of long-term strategies that could be used for their sustained support. Prepublication Copy 1

Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century BOX S-1 What Are Biological Collections? Biological collections typically consist of organisms (specimens) and their associated biological material, such as preserved tissue and DNA, along with data—digital and analog (such as handwritten field notes)—that are linked to each specimen. Non-living specimens, which include organisms preserved by scientists and naturally preserved remains, such as fossils, are commonly referred to as natural history collections. Living specimens include research and model organisms that are grown and maintained in genetic stock centers, germplasm repositories, or living biodiversity collections. The defining trait of these different types of collections is that they capture aspects of the living world in such a way that it can be intensively studied and understood through time. FIGURE S-1 Examples of biological collections in the United States. (A) spider in amber, University of Colorado Museum of Natural History Paleontology Section; (B) bats, Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico; (C) Fusarium graminearum, Fungal Genetics Stock Center, Kansas State University; (D) Xenopus, National Xenopus Resource, Marine Biological Laboratory; (E) various herbarium specimens, New York Botanical Garden Virtual Herbarium; (F) Charles Doe egg collection, Florida Museum of Natural History; (G) Ichthyology Cleared and Stained specimens in jars, University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute; (H) bacterial strain on petri dishes, American Type Culture Collection. The full Statement of Task for the study is provided in Appendix A. In responding to the Statement of Task, the committee considered two broad categories of biological collections: (1) non- living organisms, also referred to as natural history collections; and (2) living organisms, including research and model organisms. 1 In that regard, this report is the first of its kind. The committee acknowledges that living collections and natural history collections have distinct purposes and needs, but the committee also found that there are many opportunities for these communities to learn from one another and collaborate. Throughout the report, the committee highlights some of these potential 1 NSF asked that these tasks be addressed for “living stocks (organisms) and preserved repositories of biodiversity specimens and materials” (i.e., natural history collections) that receive, or are eligible to receive, support for infrastructure or digitization from the NSF Division of Biological Infrastructure. This report does not explicitly address living collections in zoos, aquaria, or botanical gardens; biobanks or repositories of human tissues; or anthropological and geological collections (excluding fossils). This report also does not cover biological collections owned by federal agencies. 2 Prepublication Copy

Summary synergies and intersections (e.g., digital genetic data, extended specimen information) as well as key distinctions (e.g., business strategies, quality control). This report is not an exhaustive compendium of every issue, rather, it focuses on challenges and paths forward for the biological collections community to work toward a common vision. The Value of Today’s—and Tomorrow’s—Biological Collections Biological collections are a critical part of the nation’s science and innovation infrastructure. Although the number and extent of biological collections are unknown, scientists estimate that 800 million to 1 billion specimens are housed in U.S. natural history collections. Those combined with living stock collections, which continually propagate and multiply organisms for research, result in a total number of U.S. biological specimens that undoubtedly exceeds 1 billion. The specimens are increasingly accompanied by a rich complement of additional biological material and data that are being used to generate new insights about life on Earth and to open new avenues of inquiry in almost every field of science, medicine, and technology. Traditionally biological collections have been most heavily utilized by researchers trying to classify and understand the origins of biodiversity, including terrestrial and marine species as well as microbes. They provide the foundation for scientific knowledge about how past and present organisms are interconnected, and the ways in which their physical and genetic characteristics change over time and space. However, specimens and their associated data—from genetic and molecular signatures to digital label data and images—also serve as source material for discovery and hypothesis-driven research. Numerous publications have documented how biological collections underpin basic discovery science. For example, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has been used as a model organism for genetic research since Thomas Hunt Morgan used it to elucidate the role that chromosomes play in heredity, for which he was awarded the 1933 Nobel Prize. The discovery of the enzyme Taq polymerase in a bacteria strain deposited in a living stock collection led to the advancement and accessibility of next-generation sequencing technologies which rapidly transformed life science research by providing the ability to rapidly analyze and profile genomes. The development of the revolutionary genome-editing technique known as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), which vastly expanded the genetic resources available in living collections and advanced the applications of biotechnology in medicine, agriculture, and conservation, was also, in part, the result of research on materials sourced from living microbe collections. Biological collections also support much of the applied research that drives innovation and provides crucial knowledge about such pressing societal challenges as the effects of global change, biodiversity loss, sustainable food production, ecosystem conservation, and improving human health and security. Hormones can be extracted from decades-old natural history collections, making it possible to infer the physiological state of the individuals at the time of capture. Investigations using U.S. and international museum collections and private collections were the first to demonstrate how species respond to climate change by shifting locations, adapting to new conditions, or experiencing local extirpation. And as new technologies and methodologies in research provide new insights about these specimens, sometimes making possible scientific uses never thought possible, the value of biological collections increases even more. Biological collections are powerful educational assets for learners of all ages, backgrounds, skills, and perspectives. They provide a tangible platform that can draw people into lifelong learning—ongoing efforts to foster, develop, and expand one’s knowledge and skills– whether through formal education, employment in science, technology, engineering, and medicine (STEM), or by pursuing personal interests throughout life. By facilitating learning across a wide range of disciplines in formal and informal environments, biological collections can deepen subject-matter expertise and stimulate integrative and generative thinking which can link disciplines from the sciences to humanities and the arts. Biological collections can also inspire awe and stimulate curiosity, thus triggering questions, not just about biology of individual organisms and species diversity, but also about agriculture, energy, medicine, public health, Prepublication Copy 3

Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century and many other issues of critical importance to humanity. Educators also use biological collections to drive inquiry-based learning 2 in order to improve skills necessary throughout life such as critical thinking, management, data interpretation, and problem-solving. Inquiry-based learning and undergraduate research experiences, such as those provided by some biological collections, also improve student understanding of STEM concepts and may be important mechanisms to encourage diverse communities to pursue careers in STEM. Biological collections can be incorporated into classroom and non-school settings, or serve as a means to provide research experience. Educational kits, classroom visits, field trips, summer camps, online courses, tutorials, blogs, citizen science programs, and teacher workshops are a few of the educational tools and programs created by biological collections staff. Because biological collections are tangible, they can provide a natural entry point to biology and biodiversity for people who may have limited experiences in nature. They are also an exceptional resource for building data literacy at all levels of the data life cycle—finding, generating, curating, evaluating, and using data. For example, the Biodiversity Literacy in Undergraduate Education (BLUE) 3 project uses data derived from natural history specimens to integrate data literacy teaching into undergraduate biology curricula. Finally, biological collections empower people from all walks of life, to connect to and learn about nature, building wonder, and providing a source of inspiration and appreciation for the natural world. VISION FOR THE NEXT DECADE The significance of biological collections as research infrastructure continues to grow in ways that were unanticipated 20 or even 10 years ago. With strategic thinking and steady resource investments, biological collections could continue to be at the heart of scientific advances and education for the foreseeable future. Looking ahead, the committee developed a common vision for the biological collections community in the next decade: To provide long-term support for collections-based scientific research, instill a culture of proper stewardship for and access to biological specimens, build and grow biological collections to better represent global biodiversity in space and time, promote access to biological collections as important educational resources for the general public, and encourage the exchange of biological resources and knowledge. With this vision, the major aim of this report is to stimulate a national discussion regarding the goals and strategies needed to ensure that U.S. biological collections not only thrive but continue to grow throughout the 21st century and beyond. This expansive endeavor requires creative leadership that encompasses a wide range of perspectives and expertise to identify the needs of collections infrastructure and ensure their sustainability and growth. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE NEXT STEPS In this report, the committee first explores the ways that biological collections have contributed to society by advancing scientific discovery and innovation, enriching education, connecting non- professional communities to nature and science, and preserving Earth’s natural science heritage. Then, the committee addresses how the biological collections community is working toward a common vision in light of today’s challenges, recognizing that the future success of the biological collections community— curators, collection managers, directors, and users of biological collections—depends on addressing four interrelated issues: 2 Inquiry-based learning is a student-centered learning and teaching approach in which students’ questions (inquiries) and ideas are prioritized. 3 See https://www.biodiversityliteracy.com. 4 Prepublication Copy

Summary 1. the upgrading and maintenance of the physical infrastructure and the growth of collections; 2. the development and maintenance of the tools and processes needed to transform digital data into an easily accessible, integrated platform as cyberinfrastructure 4 increases in complexity; 3. the recruiting, training, and supporting of a diverse workforce of the future; and 4. the ensuring of long-term financial sustainability. Realizing this vision will require enhanced communication and collaboration within the biological collections community and beyond as well as a renewed and expanded commitment to maintain the diversity of biological collections, help them grow, and promote their use in scientific research and education. Following are the specific recommendations. Building and Maintaining a Robust Infrastructure Infrastructure includes not only the physical space and equipment used to house and maintain the specimens in a collection but also their accompanying data and the procedures governing their care. It includes the technologies to produce digital data, and the cyberinfrastructure to store, analyze, and aggregate data with those of other collections through online portals. Finally, biological collections infrastructure includes the trained staff, students, and volunteers who acquire, curate, manage, ensure the quality, and coordinate the scientific and educational uses of biological collections. Due to the diversity of collection types, there is no one-size-fits-all list of physical infrastructure requirements. The assessment of infrastructure needs to take place at the level of individual collections. Biological collections would benefit from an individualized strategic plan to outline how day-to-day needs will be met, including issues related to preventive maintenance and quality control, and also how to develop or expand infrastructure to meet future scientific needs. Biological collections infrastructure also needs to grow in order to keep up with the advance and evolution of scientific research itself. The urgency to continue collecting will require NSF and other funding institutions, as well as institutions whose mandate includes collecting or generating new types of research specimens, to acknowledge and address growth as an important and necessary component of biological collections in the 21st century. Recommendation 4-1: The leadership (directors, curators, and managers) of biological collections should assess and define the infrastructure needs of their individual facilities and develop comprehensive strategic plans in accordance with those needs and their strategic missions. The strategic plans should outline approaches to: • continually address ongoing preventive maintenance and, in the case of living collections, quality control requirements; and • improve and potentially build new infrastructure, both of which are particularly important if collections growth is a component of the strategic mission. The strategic plan should be revisited every 3 to 5 years to ensure that it continues to meet the evolving needs of collections and their users. Recommendation 4-2: Biological collections should take advantage of existing training opportunities and collaborative platforms at the national and international levels, such as those offered through the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories and the Organisation for Economic 4 Cyberinfrastructure, a term first used by NSF, encompasses the computing systems, repositories, advanced instruments, software, high-performance networks, and people that enable/support data acquisition, storage, management, integration, mining, analysis, visualization, and distribution (adapted from Stewart et al., 2019; https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/12967). Prepublication Copy 5

Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century Co-operation and Development certification programs, especially as new aspects of the work evolve, such as regulations compliance, data management, and new techniques and materials for collections storage and documentation. Recommendation 4-3: Professional societies, associations, and coordination networks should collaborate and combine efforts aimed at addressing community-level infrastructure needs of the nation’s biological collections, including: • develop a platform to pool and share resources such as strategic plans, best practices, and training opportunities so that these can serve as resources for the broader biological collections community; • develop and implement strategies to adopt quality control programs to improve uniformity among living stock collections and ensure the availability of high-quality biological resources that best fit the needs of the user; • create a national biological collections registry to document the location, size, and holdings of the collections in the United States. The registry should be curated and updatable. In addition, proactive processes to identify collections should be established, ensuring that collections of all types are well represented in the registry; and • use the national registry to conduct periodic community-wide assessments of needs to inform the development of both individual and community-level strategies to maintain and upgrade infrastructure. Recommendation 4-4: The NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences should continue to provide funding support for biological collections infrastructure and expand endeavors to coordinate support within and beyond the Directorate. Specifically, NSF should: • support new and improved infrastructure to accommodate the pressing needs created by continued collections growth; • require a specimen management plan for all research proposals that includes collecting or generating specimens that describes how the specimens and associated data will be accessioned into and permanently maintained in an established biological collection; and • facilitate the creation and support of an independent consortium to develop collaborative platforms and mechanisms to pool and share resources for strategic planning, preventive maintenance, quality control and assurance, collections growth, establishing a national collections registry, and other community-level assets. Generating, Integrating, and Accessing Digital Data Throughout their history, biological collections and the physical specimens they contain have been explicitly linked to the physical location where they are housed. To access the specimens and their accompanying written collections, users had to travel to a collection or receive specimens through the mail. Producing specimen data in digital formats is a vital first step toward enhancing the discoverability and use of biological collections. Digitization5 and the cyberinfrastructure that underlies how digital data are stored, managed, and used have fundamentally transformed the biological collections community. A key component of digitization has been the development of collection databases that provide digital specimen data to aggregated data repositories. Online data repositories facilitate the potential for new avenues of scientific inquiry, promoting the multiplication and expansion of research collaborations and community networks, and providing a greater range of educational and training opportunities. A 5 The conversion of textual, image, or sound-based specimen information to digital formats. 6 Prepublication Copy

Summary robust cyberinfrastructure can also facilitate evaluation and the development of metrics to assess the diversity of biological collections and their impact on research and education. Although digitization efforts have involved hundreds of collections, gaps in phylogenetic, geographic, temporal, and taxonomic information are evident. Investment in the development of new technologies and cost-effective high-throughput workflows for digitizing collections that, to date, have lagged—such as entomological collections—will enhance both the number of specimens and taxonomic scope of digitized collections. A unified cyberinfrastructure that connects all types of biological collections, such as living and natural history collections, could accelerate research and provide innovative educational opportunities. Moreover, a permanent national cyberinfrastructure that supports the needs noted above in terms of expanded digitization of dark data, improvement in data quality, and increased accessibility to digital data would certainly spur data use. Without this resource, collections—both physical and digital—will continue to be underused. The types of data that can be collected and their potential uses are beyond current imagination in terms of size, quality, complexity, and value. The “extended specimen” concept (see Figure S-2) opens the way to more opportunities, but implementing this concept requires both connecting with the research that uses the specimens and surmounting both technical and sociological issues of enabling and maintaining the linkage and inclusivity of the extended information through digital connections. FIGURE S-2 The Extended Specimen Concept. Extended specimens are collected and preserved in ways that encourage the use of different sets of analyses and questions. As detailed by Thiers et al. (2019), the extended specimen concept includes four components that in concert enable scientists to “capitalize on the depth and breadth of biodiversity held and digitally accessible in U.S. collections”: (1) the physical specimen; (2) a primary extension that includes a digital record that brings together specimen-associated genotypic, phenotypic, and environmental data, including various media (e.g. images, sounds, video recordings); a secondary extension that includes specimen- associated data that may held in repositories or collections that are physically and digitally distinct and disconnected from the physical specimen such as isotype samples, gene sequences, or parasites found on the specimen; and (4) a third extension that includes data from other sources that may link to the physical specimen, such as descriptions and distribution of the species. Images courtesy of Physical specimen (frog) courtesy of Dr Kamal Khidas, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Canada, digital specimen record icon by Jing.fm, specimen media icon byGregor Cresnar, Flaticon.com, MicroCT-scan courtesy of by David C. Blackburn and Edward L. Stanley, Florida Museum of Natural History, field notes picture by Mary Lewandowski, Ecto and Endo parasites image and the georeferences map from the United States Geological Survey. Prepublication Copy 7

Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century Recommendation 5-1: The leadership (directors, curators, and managers) of biological collections should provide the necessary mechanisms for staff to keep pace with advances in digitization and data management through training in digitization techniques and publishing of standardized quality data that can be efficiently integrated into portals. Recommendation 5-2: Professional societies should initiate and cultivate opportunities for research collaborations within the biological collections community. These collaborations should include working with the computer and data sciences communities to promote the development and implementation of tools to build the cyberinfrastructure (e.g., data storage, annotation, integration, and accessibility to expand the use of biological collections to a broader range of stakeholders). Recommendation 5-3: The NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences should continue to provide funding for the digitization of biological collections and for the cyberinfrastructure to support both living and natural history collections. Specifically, the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences should: • partner with other directorates within NSF (e.g., physics, chemistry, computer sciences, and education) and other federal agencies and departments (e.g., the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of the Interior, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Energy, etc.); • establish ongoing mechanisms for the biological collections community to meet, develop best practices, and work toward such goals as establishing and implementing unique identifiers, clear workflows, and standardized data pipelines; and • promote and fund the development of a necessary national cyberinfrastructure, with appropriate tools, and technology to effect the efficient multi-layer integration of data and collections attribution. Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce If biological collections are to not just survive, but thrive throughout the 21st century, they will need effective, visionary, and well-supported leaders, in addition to competent and innovative scientists and educators. Biological collections require personnel with multifaceted and complex competencies. Cultivating a highly skilled collections workforce, one that serves the data-intensive, globally connected, and often fast-paced needs of science and society, is essential to the long-term sustainability of the nation’s biological collections. The challenges facing biological collections are beyond the capability of any one institution to adequately address alone. A deeper understanding of the scope and needs of the existing collections workforce, identifying critical skillsets shared among the nation’s biological collections, and building a sufficient workforce pipeline requires collaborative, coordinated action. The path forward will require collaboration among the nation’s biological collections as well as partnerships with other professional communities, incentivized with the support of NSF. Recommendation 6-1: The leadership of individual collections, host institutions, relevant professional societies, and collections funders should collaborate to develop and strengthen the workforce pipeline through community-level action on the following issues: • Critical Skills. Define critical, broadly applicable skillsets needed to lead, manage, and care for biological collections and expand and promote their uses for the national and global scientific enterprise and the benefit of society. 8 Prepublication Copy

Summary • Workforce Analysis. Conduct a comprehensive analysis of the existing collections workforce that, at a minimum, examines the professional responsibilities, demographics, education and training, incentives, compensation and benefits, and perceptions of greatest needs and opportunities for career development. Such an analysis should be conducted on a periodic basis (e.g., every 5 to 7 years) to inform community-level conversations and strategic action plans. • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Develop and implement programs to build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce. These programs should include elements such as restructured classroom and mentoring practices, student internships, research opportunities to ensure opportunities are more visible and accessible to diverse students and early-career professionals, and dedicated funding programs for internships and conference travel, workshops, and mentoring programs for diverse students and early-career professionals. • Education and Training Coherence. Harmonize the design and offerings of biological collections–focused curricula, certificate, and degree programs to fill current and future workforce education and training needs. This effort should include developing partnerships and cooperative arrangements with professional societies (e.g., for collections management training and taxonomic expertise), professional networks (e.g., in formal and informal education) and professional programs (e.g., museum studies, library studies, data science), respectively, to facilitate the design and implementation of biological collections–focused education and training programs in skillset areas not traditionally part of scientific training, and creating an online registry or portal to facilitate centralized access to information sharing about available education and professional development opportunities. • Alternative Staffing Models. Provide guidance on alternative, innovative staffing strategies, including mechanisms to formalize student or volunteer involvement in collections management, that can help address staffing shortages, meet critical skillset needs, and serve as a mechanism to deepen collections knowledge among a broader range of people. Recommendation 6-2: As part of its programmatic endeavors to promote a robust biological infrastructure, the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences should support initiatives that focus explicitly on systemic, systematic, and thoughtful development of the biological collections workforce pipeline. In partnership with other Directorates, such a programmatic focus should encompass future (e.g., students and postdocs) and existing collections personnel (e.g., early-career and senior curators and collections managers), predicated on maintenance and growth of biological collections infrastructure to meet diverse needs of societal import. Securing Financial Sustainability Long-term financial viability is critical to the ongoing and growing use of biological collections for research and innovation. Maintenance and replacement of aging physical infrastructure, continual upgrades to cyberinfrastructure, additional personnel to manage growing digital resources, upgrades to meet the needs of new emerging types of collections, new quality standards, and evolving requirements for permits and safety regulations are some of the funding needs that, while essential, may go beyond what annual budgets have covered historically. Central to this effort is the development of comprehensive business plans that include estimates of the public funds needed to support the research that generated the collection and the infrastructure needs of the scientists that use collections as well as maintaining and providing access to the collections. The biological collections community will need to act as one in order to develop partnerships, centralize a pooled set of data and resources, track the use of collections in research and education using diverse metrics at the community level to show the national and international impact of U.S. collections, and identify new approaches to funding. Prepublication Copy 9

Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century Recommendation 7-1: The leadership of biological collections (directors, curators, and managers) of biological collections should work with business strategists and communication experts to develop business models for financial sustainability and infrastructure of biological collections. Included in this discussion should be the development of a mechanism to: • diversify funding portfolios and develop relationships with non-traditional partners who may provide collections support; • assess a per-specimen acquisition and maintenance cost. This assessment would depend on the size and nature of the collection—both physical and digital; and • explore revenue streams that could include pay-for-use models, the establishment of Material transfer agreements and licensing systems, or perhaps pay for value-added for digital datasets configured for a particular purpose. Each of these approaches must be done in ways that avoid driving costs to levels that are prohibitive for researchers. Recommendation 7-2: Professional societies should develop extensive networked training platforms for sharing best practices for financial management and planning and business models for collections of all sizes and types. This could be an ongoing activity centered at a national biological collections center and should include both natural history and living collections together. Recommendation 7-3: The NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences should continue to provide stable, long-term funding to support investigators who rely on biological collections for research and education. Specifically, it should: • work with other federal agencies to address research infrastructure support and needs; • provide funding for the management and infrastructure of the collections themselves; • collaborate with host institutions and other funders to establish new mechanisms and funding to collect, aggregate, and synthesize metrics to evaluate process and performance for biological collections; and • support the accessioning, curation, digitization, and long-term care of specimens as well as the publishing of their associated data through a mandated specimen management plan. Taking Collaborative Action There is a growing recognition that integrated global initiatives that leverage diverse perspectives, institutions, and resources are needed to prevent and respond to issues of high international priority such as emerging infectious disease, biodiversity loss, food security, invasive species, or climate change. If more fully connected across diverse disciplines, biological collections could play a much larger role in these initiatives. Coordination and sharing of knowledge will be critical for the biological collections community to be able to meet current and future needs and address the dynamic challenges of society and rapid global change. The biological collections community needs an inclusive, integrated platform to strengthen the position of biological collections as a unified scientific infrastructure for the nation over the next decade and beyond. A national collections-focused action center dedicated to the support and use of biological collections could fill this need. Recommendation 8-1: NSF, in collaboration with other institutions that provide funding and other types of support for biological collections, should help establish a permanent national Action Center for Biological Collections to coordinate action and knowledge, resources, and data-sharing among the nation’s biological collections as they strive to meet the complex and often unpredictable needs of science and society. Such an action center should include a physical space and cyberinfrastructure to develop and 10 Prepublication Copy

Summary implement collaborative strategic efforts and further build and nurture communities of practice for research, education, workforce training, evaluation, and business model development, among other community-wide needs. Recommendation 8-2: NSF should lead efforts to develop a vision and strategy, such as a decadal survey, for targeted growth of the nation’s biological collections, their infrastructure, and their ability to serve a broader range of users and scientific and educational needs. The vision and strategy should take into consideration the diverse capabilities and needs of all types of collections and diverse array of end- users, and set long-range priorities that could only be accomplished with a concerted, collaborative effort of the nation’s biological collections. Recommendation 8-3: The NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences should expand its partnership capabilities more broadly across NSF, other federal agencies, international programs, and other sectors. Such partnerships can maximize investments in support of a national Action Center for Biological Collections, the development of a national vision and strategy, and help spread the cost of such major endeavors beyond the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences. Prepublication Copy 11

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Biological collections are a critical part of the nation's science and innovation infrastructure and a fundamental resource for understanding the natural world. Biological collections underpin basic science discoveries as well as deepen our understanding of many challenges such as global change, biodiversity loss, sustainable food production, ecosystem conservation, and improving human health and security. They are important resources for education, both in formal training for the science and technology workforce, and in informal learning through schools, citizen science programs, and adult learning. However, the sustainability of biological collections is under threat. Without enhanced strategic leadership and investments in their infrastructure and growth many biological collections could be lost.

Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century recommends approaches for biological collections to develop long-term financial sustainability, advance digitization, recruit and support a diverse workforce, and upgrade and maintain a robust physical infrastructure in order to continue serving science and society. The aim of the report is to stimulate a national discussion regarding the goals and strategies needed to ensure that U.S. biological collections not only thrive but continue to grow throughout the 21st century and beyond.

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