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Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century (2020)

Chapter: 6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce

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Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 121
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 122
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 123
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 124
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 125
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 126
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 127
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 128
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 129
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 130
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 131
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 132
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 133
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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.
×
Page 134
Suggested Citation:"6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce." 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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Page 135

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6 Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce Biological collections require personnel with multifaceted and complex competencies. Effective leadership is a critical factor in research quality and integrity, as well as long-term sustainability of infrastructure (Antes et al., 2016; NRC, 2005, 2014). Curatorial and technical skills can enable biological collections to serve as a nexus for transdisciplinary research by ensuring that specimens and data are accessible to the broadest range of users, including scientists, educators, students, entrepreneurs, and others. Teaching and public communication skills can stimulate curiosity and engagement across a wide range of learners and stakeholders. Despite the importance of these skills, the biological collections workforce pipeline—a conduit that extends from when a future collections professional first becomes aware of biological collections to established professionals seeking to enhance or learn new skills to near- retirement collections professionals for whom it is imperative to transfer their knowledge to other staff or new hires—is underdeveloped. This chapter describes the primary challenges and opportunities to understand, build, and support a thriving, diverse workforce ecosystem for biological collections. THE BIOLOGICAL COLLECTIONS WORKFORCE ECOSYSTEM Highly skilled, trained personnel underlie the increasing sophistication in the ways that biological collections carry out their missions and meet the dynamic needs of science, education, and broader society. The responsibilities associated with leading a vibrant biological collection are similar to and as complex as those required to maintain any research center or innovation hub. The diversity of the nation’s biological collections contributes to the breadth and depth of this range of expertise. Staffing models vary among biological collections due to differences in institutional missions, size, diversity of taxa, and financial support, but can involve a combination of a director, curators, and collection managers. For example, the Department of Ornithology in the Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum at The University of Kansas houses 123,000 bird specimens, and employs two Ph.D.-level curators and one Ph.D.-level collection manager. In contrast, the ornithology department at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, which houses ~400,000 specimens, one of the largest collections of bird specimens in the world, employs only one Ph.D.-level curator and 2.5 full-time equivalent staff positions. The lack of a set staffing model is similar to other distributed research infrastructures such as field stations and marine laboratories, which also vary in size and complexity (NRC, 2014). Nonetheless, the basic responsibilities of biological collections personnel span a continuum across three broad categories: (1) leadership and management, (2) science and technology, and (3) teaching and public engagement. Leadership and Management The responsibility for leadership and management of a biological collection varies among different institutions. Based on the committee’s extensive experience, the leadership and management of a biological collection are carried out by one person in some instances, usually an institutional director, a curator, or a collection manager. In other cases, leadership responsibilities are divided among two or more people according to a hierarchy. In general, an institution director sets a vision for the institution, of which biological collections are one part. Collection managers usually oversee day-to-day collection maintenance, and can also contribute to developing and implementing strategies for collections growth as well as advocate for resources for long-term sustainability. Curators are chiefly responsible for 118 Prepublication Copy

Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce establishing a vision for their collection and then setting the direction of growth, use, and ultimately long- term sustainability of their collection. Therefore, the success and impact of a particular collection are often closely tied to the direct engagement and oversight of the curator. For this reason, hiring decisions for leadership of a biological collection are often based on academic expertise, familiarity with the taxonomy and history of the collection, and administrative expertise (Krishtalka and Humphrey, 2000). Effective leaders are responsible for building, providing, and maintaining the infrastructure that enables research to thrive, as well as providing the vision and guidance to lead an organization forward (Hao and Yazdanifard, 2015). Leadership and management require skills that include developing and implementing strategic plans and business strategies; fundraising; financial, personnel, and information management; regulatory compliance; entrepreneurship; evaluating efficacy and impact; and communications. Because a key feature of biological collections is to distribute or loan specimens and associated biological research materials, the personnel must also employ the same skills in customer (i.e., user) engagement and support as needed in libraries and other public service organizations. Biological collections leaders navigate complex national and international law, meet requirements of biosafety and security, and evaluate, articulate, and enhance scientific impacts of their collections. Leadership and management encompass planning for the space to accommodate expansion through curation and future acquisitions. Predicting the space, expertise, and number of personnel needed for collections growth is a critical task necessary to ensure that specimens and their data remain well cared for and available well beyond the length of a career. Leaders also set the organizational culture and cultivate durable relationships with employees, students, funders, host institutions, and members of the public (NRC, 2014, 2015). Therefore, the long- term sustainability of biological collections requires leaders who not only are scholars, but also hold skillsets found in executive directors, entrepreneurs, research coordinators, government and regulatory affairs coordinators, database managers, and development and public affairs officers. Scientific and Technical Staff Science and technology are integral to a biological collection. Biological collections need personnel with specialized expertise to curate and care for specimens and specimen data. Biological collections personnel usually hold postgraduate degrees in the field of biology most related to the collection. A museum studies degree can also lead to a career in natural history collections management. The level of education needed for different collections positions can vary depending on the history and traditions of different institutions. A Ph.D. in a relevant scientific discipline is required for collection curators and often collection managers at some institutions, but others employ managers with an undergraduate or master’s degree (Bakker et al., 2020; Pennington et al., 2013; Shi et al., 2011; Thiers et al., 2019; Wu et al., 2017). Many collections personnel are scientists, and often lead or collaborate on biological collections–based research in addition to upholding their responsibilities to curate and distribute specimens and data. By collecting, maintaining, and generating specimens and their associated data appropriately, trained personnel ensure the utility of biological collections for a variety of research and educational purposes as well as make it possible for biological collections to adjust more nimbly to a wider set of scientific purposes than those considered when the collection was originally assembled. Such new uses of biological collections and their data are expanding not only in life sciences research, but also in the physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, geography, arts, and other fields (Heberling and Isaac, 2017; Schindel and Cook, 2018). In living stock collections, scientific personnel are responsible for ensuring a strong platform for reproducibility and replicability1 in research, two hallmarks of scientific rigor and validity (McCluskey, 2017; NASEM, 2019). 1 The National Academies report Reproducibility and Replicability in Science (2019) defines reproducibility as obtaining consistent computational results using the same input data, computational steps, methods, code, and Prepublication Copy 119

Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century Teaching and Public Engagement The breadth of teaching and public engagement activities varies among collections. Many biological collections personnel teach and mentor students and postdocs, as well as participate in public outreach activities such as tours, exhibits, and virtual public programs. This is evidenced by the rich diversity of collections-based formal educational programs and research experiences for students of all grade levels, informal education programs, and a variety of collections-focused public engagement opportunities and activities, including citizen science programs (see Chapter 3). The value of biological collections for education is so significant that some members of the biological collections community have issued calls to use biological collections as a foundational teaching tool in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) (Cook et al., 2014; Monfils et al., 2017; Powers et al., 2014). Powers et al. (2014) also outlined grand challenges for natural history collections that could be expanded to living collections and serve as organizing principles for an education-focused community of practice 2 (see Box 6-1). Also highlighted in Chapter 3, collections-based education, training, and public outreach programs can be used to increase participation of historically underrepresented groups in STEM (Miller et al., 2020). These activities benefit natural history collections via augmenting collections and increasing public investment while simultaneously benefiting participating communities through increased knowledge, transparency, and involvement in research and community-relevant decision-making (Ballard et al., 2017; Haywood, 2014; Roger and Klistorner, 2016). BOX 6-1 Considerations for a Biological Collections–Focused Community of Practice in STEM Education and Workforce Development In 2014, scientists and experts from seven institutions across the United States published a vision and strategy to revolutionize the use of biological collections in education (Powers et al., 2014). The authors emphasized that bringing scientists and educators together opens opportunities for the use of biological collections in education at all levels and throughout life. They reasoned that the primary mechanism and grand challenge to realize those opportunities is through the integration of the following three resources: 1. Specimens and Collections. Scientific specimens are a national resource for engaging people of all ages, stimulating inquiry about past and present life on Earth. 2. Specimen-Based Electronic Resources. Electronic resources expand access to a greater range of information and expand the possible types of specimen-based inquiry (e.g., exploring local biodiversity) and skill development (e.g., data mining). 3. People and Human Resources. Interactions among collections-based scientists, educators, and students build bridges between disciplinary silos and create a more inclusive scientific enterprise. The authors focused primarily on the use of natural history collections for kindergarten through undergraduate students’ formal and informal education. However, they articulated a grand challenge that could potentially be broadened for use in all biological collection types for a collections-based community of practice for lifelong learning and workforce skill development in STEM. conditions of analysis. Replicability is defined as obtaining consistent results across studies aimed at answering the same scientific question, each of which has obtained its own data. 2 First coined by cognitive anthropologists Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger (Lave and Wenger, 1991), then significantly expanded by Wenger (1998), a community of practice is a group of people who share a concern, a passion about a topic, or a set of problems, and learn how to do their work effectively through regular, ongoing interactions (Wenger et al., 2000, 2002). Although the initiation of a community of practice may require funding, effective communities of practice are generative through the value they offer members. As a result, strong communities of practice typically last longer than a project team or task force, continuing as long as they are useful to their members. 120 Prepublication Copy

Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce Volunteers, Student Interns, and Postdoctoral Fellows To meet some of their scientific, technical, educational, and public engagement needs, some biological collections employ part- or short-term staff and undergraduate and graduate student interns or recruit volunteers. Students, volunteers, and docents play a large role particularly in natural history collections and living biodiversity research collections, 3 especially with preparing and digitizing specimens and processing specimen loans. Volunteers at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), for example, account for one-quarter of the workforce needed to prepare specimens and deposit them into collections (per personal communication, Barbara Thiers, NYBG). Volunteers at NYBG also image ~100,000 specimens (new accessions or as part of retroactive imaging projects) and transcribe data for an average of 50,000 specimens per year. In some cases, volunteers also participate in identifying and curating specimens. Although the involvement of volunteers in collections is highly desirable as a means of public outreach and providing the best possible collections care, their contributions to collections work may mask the inadequacy of the institutional budget for collections personnel. Postdoctoral fellows also contribute to collections curation and management, but typically as part of the research project that funds the postdoctoral position rather than through formal collections training. The National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology 4 have been instrumental in exposing early-career scientists to biological collection careers. This 5-year program, which made its final awards in 2020, has provided fellowships for creative research using biological collections to more than 80 early-career scientists. Although the program does not involve formal training in collections management, fellows obtained experience in the use and organization of collections and collections data. Education and Professional Development of Biological Collections Staff Workforce education, training, and professional development are investments in knowledge, skills, and abilities to ensure a sustainable, productive research infrastructure. However, a collections workforce development pipeline, which begins with a college education and leads to a biological collections career (with professional development opportunities), is somewhat informal. Consequently, there is still a lot unknown about the biological collection workforce including its size, demographics, the scope of responsibilities, and systems for professional recognition and rewards. There has not yet been a robust analysis to identify gaps in education and professional development opportunities for critical skillsets, or of the efficacy of available education and training mechanisms to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workforce ecosystem as well as address training needs as new technologies and challenges arise. Community college are well suited for targeted purpose-driven STEM education and they reach a diverse student body (NAS, 2012). Most collections personnel are currently trained on the job. Relevant scientific training (e.g., specimen collection, verification, preparation, curation, and maintenance) can take place in biology and natural history courses on specific organismal groups (e.g., microbiota, insects, fish, and birds), although these types of courses are in decline nationally (Hiller et al., 2017; Scott et al., 2012; Tewksbury et al., 2014). A small number of museum studies programs offer formal degree or certificate programs for natural history collection work. Collections knowledge can also be passed down from curators who serve as advisors to students (Leather and Quicke, 2009). 3 Living biodiversity collections that emphasize education and public outreach, such as the Duke Lemur Center, often involve volunteers in their work. By contrast, very few living stock collections use volunteers or involve citizen scientists for collections management. This is, in part, because maintaining living stock collections requires advanced disciplinary education and expertise to maintain the genetic integrity of the specimens, and also because of liability issues related to the biosafety of the materials involved. 4 See https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?WT.z_pims_id=503622&ods_key=nsf19597. Prepublication Copy 121

Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century Some professional societies offer training and professional development through topical workshops and conferences. The entomology community, for example, occasionally offers a collections management workshop, 5 and in recent years, the Society of Herbarium Curators (SHC) has offered in- person and online training in strategic planning. 6 The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) regularly offers workshops and training in new aspects of permit and collections compliance as well as exposure to advanced topics in curation and conservation. Many professional societies associated with living stock collections, such as the World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC) and the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), also offer professional training programs. Because poor product quality can harm human health and the environment, biobanks and biological resource centers have technical education and certification programs for living stock collections (OECD, 2004). CHALLENGES Biological collections face a number of complex and interrelated workforce challenges. Most biological collections are understaffed. Existing staff shortages can slow the pace of curation, digitization efforts, and distribution of specimen loans and reduce visitor resources even as more researchers are using collections (Schindel and Cook, 2018). Recruiting exceptional leaders to not only manage a biological collection but also lead biological collections into the future with an eye toward innovative collecting, curating, and research is another significant challenge. Cultivating a highly skilled, well-trained, and diverse biological collections workforce also requires attention to several intersecting issues: insufficient number and diversity of trained staff; the limited availability of relevant academic pathways to foster the next generation of the biological collections workforce; and inadequate coordination among existing training and professional development programs to enrich and expand the skillsets and diversity of the current biological collections workforce and leadership. Underlying all of these challenges is the need for consistent and collaborative mechanisms to monitor workforce trends in order to better identify and strategically address needs and gaps among the nation’s biological collections ecosystem. Differing organizational structures, institutional cultures, and systems of compensation and professional recognition for the range of responsibilities and outstanding performance create additional layers of complexity to workforce challenges. It is beyond the scope of this report to delve into the additional complicating factors, but they will be important for biological collections leadership and NSF to bear in mind as they grapple with workforce challenges. This section focuses on the challenges that most impact the availability and preparedness of personnel with the required expertise for the use and maintenance of collections for research and education. Insufficient Number of Trained Staff in an Environment with a Multifaceted and Expanding Range of Necessary Skills The increasing sophistication and global nature of science, the financial demands that accompany ongoing maintenance of research infrastructure, and entreaties by collections stakeholders and funders for more innovation and accountability are expanding the responsibilities and expectations of the limited number of biological collections personnel. In addition, changing needs within the biological collections field are also placing new demands on biological collections leadership and staff. For example, there are calls for a new type of curator, whose responsibilities would combine research with active and in-depth public engagement, working collaboratively with educators, and utilizing social media as a means for frequent and ongoing public communication (Dance, 2017; Jarreau et al., 2019; Lessard et al., 2017). The need to juggle competing priorities is exacerbated when biological collections staff absorb the increased workload created when managers lack authority and funding to fill vacancies due to reductions in force, 5 See https://ecnweb.net/workshop. 6 See http://www.herbariumcurators.org/strategic-planning-course. 122 Prepublication Copy

Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce including retirement without replacement (Miller et al., 2020, p. 3). Prioritizing sufficient time for leadership, scientific, technical, and teaching responsibilities at larger, well-funded biological collections is difficult, and even more so at smaller collections that may not have the support to hire new staff for these very different functions. The breadth of important skills and responsibilities, from strategic leadership to curation and care of specimens to coordinating access to digital information, has led a number of professional organizations to provide some guidance about staffing (e.g., AIC, 2013; OECD, 2007). Based on these guidelines, Smith et al. (2014) suggest that biological resource centers employ six full-time staff to meet the curation, quality control, order fulfillment, and regulatory compliance needs of a modest-sized living stock collection of 5,000 to 10,000 specimens that distribute 2,000 specimens per year (Smith et al., 2014; see Table 6-1). The guidelines may not capture the variability in staffing needs or capabilities of different institutions, which today often reflect traditions of hiring and growth rather than specific collection needs. Nevertheless, the robust staffing levels recommended by Smith et al. (2014) are uncommon for biological collections in the United States. For example, of the 22 active U.S. culture collections registered in the World Data Centre for Microorganisms (Wu et al., 2017), 7 only 3 employ 6 or more staff members. The Biological Collections Workforce Pipeline Is Underdeveloped The biological collections community lacks a formal and clearly defined workforce pipeline— one that takes into consideration education and training needs before, during, and as staff transition into a collections career. The lack of an efficient and robust workforce pipeline inhibits the ability of biological collections leaders as well as the biological collections community to anticipate and strategically plan for cultivating a robust workforce. Three particular parts of the workforce pipeline with significant challenges are (1) cultivating the next-generation biological collections leadership, scientific, technical, and education staff; (2) coordinating professional development opportunities for the existing collections workforce as new skills, technologies, and challenges arise; and (3) developing a more diverse professional workforce. A conceptual paradigm shift is needed to enhance education and workforce development for the long-term sustainability of biological collections. This section describes key major obstacles that impede such a paradigm shift. TABLE 6-1 Recommended Staffing Guidelines for a Microbial Biological Resource Center with 5,000 Strains Staffing Responsibilities Minimum Recommended Number of Staff a Collection management and business development 1 Authentication, preservation, and distribution of microbial strains 3 Implementing quality standards and adherence to regulations 1 Identification services 1 Total 6 a Additional staff may be required depending on taxonomic diversity (depth and breadth), desired research capacity, and other services provided by the biological resource center. SOURCE: Smith et al., 2014. 7 The World Data Centre for Microorganisms is a global registry for WFCC. See http://www.wdcm.org. Prepublication Copy 123

Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century Insufficient Education Programs to Support the Development of the Next-Generation Biological Collections Workforce There are few university degrees or certificate programs that include collections-focused curricula. Of the 185 museum studies programs in the United States, only 25 (e.g., University of Colorado Boulder, Texas Tech University, The University of New Mexico, The University of Kansas, University of Florida) offer a specialized focus on natural history collections. 8 These museum programs focus primarily on scientific and technical aspects of natural history collections management, and are not designed for teaching about the management or curation of living stock collections. Further complicating the educational landscape, the breadth of expertise required to manage biological collections is changing. While taxonomic expertise and general collections best practices may have been sufficient in the past, there is now a need for education and training in strategic leadership and business management (see above and Chapter 7), data science (see Chapter 5), and new scientific methods and advanced technologies in order to address expanding research missions of many modern biological collections. The need to cultivate future biological collections leaders reflects repeated calls throughout the scientific community for scientists to receive leadership education and training (Kvaskoff and McKay, 2014; Leiserson and McVinny, 2015). As noted in the 2015 National Research Council (NRC) report Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science, there are more than 50 years of research on organizational leadership that provides “a robust foundation of evidence to guide professional development for leaders of science teams and larger groups” (NRC, 2015, p. 146). However, leadership training for scientists is not widely integrated into university curricula, nor are there sufficient and consistent professional development opportunities for established scientists. Training and Professional Development Options for the Existing Workforce Are Uncoordinated The available collections-focused education and training opportunities are insufficient to grow and support a robust workforce pipeline. In addition, few of these efforts are well coordinated. There are minimal mechanisms for collaboration, and no guidelines or standards that ensure the quality and consistency of curricula among the existing education and training opportunities. The lack of a consistent and structured mechanism for workforce development can impact day-to-day operations; the speed at which advanced methods, such as digitization, are adopted; and the development of innovative scientific or educational uses for specimens. This situation also leads to incomplete knowledge about the history of the collection and best practices to maintain it, past preservation techniques (especially with regard to the use of hazardous materials), legacy data products, archives, dates of acquisition of major equipment and service agreements, and the breadth and depth of stakeholders including local regulators having jurisdiction over the collection, safety officials, funders, volunteers, and others. A loss of this critical knowledge is especially high risk if there is a gap between the departure of one collections curator or manager and the hiring of the next. Limited Efforts to Broaden Participation in the Biological Collections Workforce The lack of a formalized workforce pathway to biological collections careers is a limiting factor in efforts to develop a more diverse professional workforce. The 2011 National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine report Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads raised an alarm that the STEM education and workforce are seriously lacking participation by individuals from historically underrepresented communities (NAS et al., 2011). Since 1990 the STEM workforce has nearly doubled (9.7 million to 17.3 million), and Black and Hispanic workers continue to be underrepresented (Pew, 2018). Although doctorates are not required for all job positions, they can be telling indicators of diversity 8 See http://ww2.aam-us.org/resources/careers/museum-studies. 124 Prepublication Copy

Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce and inclusion in STEM. In the field of geosciences, a collections-related discipline, Bernard and Cooperdock (2018) indicate little improvement in the diversity of doctorates in the United States over the past four decades, despite outreach efforts aimed at shifting the demographics. In 2016 minority groups comprised 31 percent of the U.S. population, yet received only 6 percent of geoscience doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents—the lowest proportion of all STEM fields. More than 87 percent of respondents to an online survey of faculty associated with ecology and evolutionary biology doctoral programs in the United States, another collections-associated field, identified as white/Caucasian (Jimenez et al., 2019). Dutt (2020) further emphasizes that progress toward diversification can only come with a concerted shift in mindsets and a deeper understanding of the complexities of race. The 2020 National Academies report A Vision for NSF Earth Sciences 2020–2030: Earth in Time reiterates these findings and recommends a more significant investment from the NSF Division of Earth Sciences on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the field (NASEM, 2020). Specimen-based education and training are essential to introducing a broader range of scientists to the potential of a collections career. Biological collections provide an opportunity for students and postdoctoral fellows to observe and experience a wide variety of potential career options that might include research, education, or collection-specific careers. For example, iDigBio has held workshops specifically to address broadening participation in the biological sciences with the goal of introducing students, especially those in underrepresented populations, to museum and biodiversity science careers. 9 In particular, community colleges are well-distributed throughout the United States and are well suited for reaching a more diverse audience and preparation of the STEM workforce (NAS, 2012). However, the lack of focused efforts to recruit, support, and retain a diverse professional workforce at all stages of the workforce pipeline constrains current efforts to cultivate a more diverse future workforce. Insufficient Institutional Recognition and Support for Collections Curation and Care Few professional mechanisms provide guidance, training, and professional recognition for curatorial work, yet the success and impact of a biological collection are closely tied to the direct engagement and oversight of a curator. Nationwide reports of decreasing institutional support for biological collections and their associated curatorial staff and resources parallel trends of biological collections being closed or transferred (Dalton, 2003; Gropp, 2003, 2004; Schmidly, 2005; Winker, 2008). For example, within the past 20 years, 45 mammal collections in the Western Hemisphere, approximately 10 percent of the total number, were closed or transferred (Dunnum et al., 2018). Thirty- one of these mammal collections were held by U.S. universities. Reinforcing this trend is the lack of widespread recognition of how biological collections contribute to science and society generally, and to an individual institution’s mission and reputation specifically, which results in hiring priorities and funding initiatives that lack an explicit focus on building a robust infrastructure and workforce (Schmidly, 2005). At universities and some large museums, biological collection curators are often tenure-track positions. As a result, decisions about hiring and job advancement typically focus on an individual’s research, teaching, and public service accomplishments—the three hallmarks of academic tenure and promotion. Professional recognition, compensation, and performance review of curators often do not explicitly detail, evaluate, or incentivize curatorial responsibilities, even if they intersect with research, teaching, and public service. In addition, curators are not always recognized for their leadership responsibilities, which include long-term planning, commitment, and administration of the physical space and intellectual capital of the biological collection, and the ways in which the collection contributes to the reputation and standing of the institution as a whole. These duties are similar to that of academic department chairs, deans, and the heads of research institutes. Hence, a valuable component of the U.S. research portfolio, curation of biological collections, is inadequately incentivized and supported. 9 See https://www.idigbio.org/tags/broadening-participation. Prepublication Copy 125

Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century THE WAY FORWARD The long-term sustainability of the nation’s biological collections will require deliberate action for an even and equitable development of the workforce. A renewed emphasis on education, training, students, and staff is essential for the continued success and future of biological collections (Miller et al., 2020). To be effective, the future biological collections workforce will require innovative and comprehensive approaches to identify and address their needs. This section describes important first steps forward. Launch a Community-Wide Conversation on Critical Skillsets The ability to develop adequate and consistent education and training programs depends, in part, on identifying the critical, broadly applicable skills needed to manage a biological collection and promote and expand its use for research, education, and other purposes. The focus of the available curricula is on the scientific and technical skillsets. There is a considerable wealth of collective knowledge among the many professional societies and networks, such as WWFC, Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSCA), SPNHC, and iDigBio, in regard to those skillsets. However, there has not yet been a community-wide conversation about other critical skillsets, such as leadership, business management, informal science education, public communication, and impact evaluation, for which there are no consistent, collection-focused education or training programs. A parallel situation prompted the cyberinfrastructure facilitation community 10 to identify critical skillsets and then launch a series of NSF-supported Virtual Residency workshops to build capacity (Neeman et al., 2018). The 2018 workshop focus areas are similar to or the same as desired skillsets discussed among many biological collections: leadership, expertise in rapidly changing technology, funding acquisition, outreach, and communication. This Virtual Residency workshop was able to reach 216 participants from 147 institutions across 42 states, 2 U.S. territories, and 2 other countries. A comprehensive list of the range of skills needed for successful collections management could inform a collaborative effort among the nation’s biological collections to outline roles and responsibilities of biological collections directors, curators, managers, and other positions, and clarify appropriate career pathways. This in turn could inform existing university programs or efforts to develop new collections- focused curricula. It could also incentivize professional societies to circulate information about available learning resources that would help members of their community achieve accreditation. This information might increase the number of collections-focused education and training programs or better calibrate existing ones to workforce needs and the skills most critical to a successful biological collections career. Monitor and Evaluate Workforce Capabilities and Needs The ability to identify, monitor, and evaluate progress will require mechanisms to collect and analyze workforce data. Issuing a periodic survey is a valuable mechanism that many professional communities use to collect workforce data. For example, in 2004 the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) conducted a comprehensive, benchmark survey that included questions about their workplace, professional responsibilities, demographics, education and training, compensation and benefits, and even their perceptions about the social work profession (Center for Health Workforce Studies, 2006). NASW used the survey data to inform policy and planning decisions to cultivate a social work workforce that is well-equipped for the needs of the nation. In 2013, the National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML) and the Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS) joined forces to survey their community (NAML and OBFS, 2013) about infrastructure capabilities and needs, including staffing models. NAML and OBFS used the survey data, a community-wide workshop, and feedback 10 Cyberinfrastructure facilitators work closely with scientists to help them use research community systems and services. 126 Prepublication Copy

Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce from researchers and other stakeholders who use field stations and marine labs to inform the development of a national strategic vision (Billick et al., 2013). WFCC and the Biodiversity Collections Network have both invested in survey mechanisms to identify the specific needs of their respective communities, although the workforce was not the primary focus of those endeavors. Pooling data about the nation’s biological collections workforce could enable a strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis (Gürel and Tat, 2017) as a way to monitor workforce trends and assess the effectiveness of workforce development strategies. This type of analysis would facilitate interactions between the biological collection community and relevant professional communities, and also facilitate a community- wide conversation identifying critical skillsets and strengthening the biological collections workforce pipeline. Starting with recruitment and training of new staff, the discussions about the workforce pipeline will also need to address retention, re-skilling existing staff, succession management, and integrating volunteers. Promote Diversity as an Integral Element of the Workforce Development Pipeline The many complex problems addressed by the biological collections community requires an innovative workforce, with broad and varied backgrounds. Increased diversity benefits scientific advancement: different perspectives and experiences spark novel questions, improve problem solving, enhance the effectiveness of teams, and generate higher impact science (Disis and Slattery, 2010; Freeman and Huang, 2015; Medin and Lee, 2012; Nielsen et al., 2017; Valantine and Collins, 2015). Collaborations that involve a diverse group of people are more likely to tackle problems in creative ways that can lead to higher levels of scientific innovation (Hong and Page, 2004). Campbell et al. (2013) found that increasing the diversity of biological collections staff, and those using those collections, is likely to have benefits for both the users and the collections. Promoting a more diverse workforce needs to be an integral aspect of discussions about the biological collections workforce pipeline (Nature Geoscience, 2020). Rethinking traditional models and paradigms for how biology and paleontology are taught is a critical first step toward increasing diversity in these fields (Visaggi, 2020) and in turn, biological collections specifically, because most of the workforce is trained through these disciplines. Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) provide authentic research training that can reach students who might not be able to afford to volunteer. The Biodiversity Literacy in Undergraduate Education and the Biodiversity Collections in Ecology and Evolution Network are examples of programs implementing collections-focused CUREs. Paid internships and mentoring opportunities that are dedicated to increasing participation from traditionally underrepresented groups in science are also beneficial strategies. This also might mean rethinking and restructuring how such opportunities are advertised and offered so that they are more visible and accessible to underrepresented students. Professional societies have an important role in this work (e.g., establishing committees or working groups on diversity and inclusion; addressing discrimination, harassment, and bullying in codes of conduct and ethics; promoting the work of diverse members; mentorship programs and funding for students to attend professional meetings), and some already do so. For example, in 2015 the American Elasmobranch Society established the Young Professional Recruitment Fund 11 diversity scholarship, a competitive award for individuals from historically underrepresented groups in marine science or who are performing research in a developing nation, which provides professional development training, mentorship, and a 1-year membership. The American Society of Plant Taxonomists also funds an early-career research grant to support the professional development and retention of botanists from underrepresented groups. The Paleontological Society Conference Travel Grants to Support Inclusion 12 are competitive grants to offset the travel costs of members from underrepresented or at-risk groups who otherwise could not attend the Geological Society of America annual meeting. Community colleges are a potentially strong component of training a 11 See https://elasmo.org/young-professional-recruitment-fund. 12 See https://www.paleosoc.org/paleontological-society-conference-travel-grants-to-support-inclusion. Prepublication Copy 127

Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century diverse and STEM literate workforce (NAS, 2012) and while they are supported by some federal programs (e.g., the Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Program), additional support from other federal agencies or other funding sources would be useful to target the biological collections workforce pipeline. Harmonize Available Staff Training and Professional Development Opportunities Professional societies could provide the expertise and collective engagement needed to identify needs and deliver training in a variety of forms. Although biological collections vary in the types of specimens and materials they curate, certain aspects of curation and management extend across all collections. Professional societies could work together to pinpoint those common elements—which might include the use of standards in data management, best practices for databasing, interpreting and implementing best practices related to the Nagoya Protocol, and more—and then collectively consider mechanisms for joint training. For example, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, which is an umbrella organization for other professional biological societies, regularly offers short courses and “bootcamps” on topics of interest to its member organizations and also provides training for professional leaders on building resilient scientific societies. Training opportunities such as these are valuable in themselves for the participants, but they also provide opportunities for attendees from different organizations to learn from each other. This model of professional societies working together could be extended to the development of joint certification programs that target key needs for collections personnel. Networks of collections may also fill this collaborative role. For example, the Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure is a pan-European network of more than 50 biorepositories that has collectively developed best practices and training guidelines to ensure certification of its member collections. Collaborations among collections—whether through professional organizations or networks— could draw on collective expertise nationally without putting a huge burden on any single community and could yield well-trained collections professionals across disciplines. Ideally, a shared central resource announcing training events such as workshops and hosting online materials could promote a greater sense of community among collections, provide collective best practices, and allow access to professional development to all collections, regardless of size and financial status. As with other responsibilities of biological collections leaders and staff, the challenge for teaching and public engagement will be to remain agile and responsive to current conditions and needs of the respective communities. The current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis has clearly shown that organizations equipped to respond with web-based materials, lessons, and other means of online engagement have facilitated their reach and utility. Moreover, professional organizations have the ability to attract new members and young professionals to their fields, so coordinated offerings on the value of the national (and global) collections infrastructure and its many uses could be important for filling the pipeline with the next-generation workforce. A national message could elevate the vision of collections personnel as part of an interconnected national scientific infrastructure. Connect with Relevant Communities of Experts The biological collections community does not need to reinvent the wheel to find ways to develop and structure all education and professional development opportunities. As the development of the biological collections workforce increasingly demands transdisciplinary skills, it is important to recognize opportunities to partner with professional communities and use their resources to supplement skillsets. Much could be learned from disciplines with established formal programs and training modules that parallel the needs of the biological collections community. For example, library science, the study of collecting, preserving, cataloging, and making documents available in libraries, could be an important source of evidence-based practices and guidance on the dynamic nature of information management. 128 Prepublication Copy

Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce Museum studies, archival sciences, and more recently data science are other disciplines with pedagogy that parallels the workforce training needs of the biological collections staff. It might also be feasible to partner with business schools and their nonprofit management programs to develop some focused coursework or a certificate program specific for biological collections and the challenges inherent to them. Similarly, biological collections experts could connect to a range of educators (in informal or formal settings) and work in partnership with them to reach students at all levels and lifelong learners. All of these learners have scientific interests, questions, and needs (Bakker et al., 2020; Pennington et al., 2013; Shi et al., 2011; Thiers et al., 2019; Wu et al., 2018). There may be educational staff within host institutions with whom biological collections staff could collaborate. Innovate Staffing Strategies Developing a robust workforce pipeline and the resources to support a greater number of staff will take time. Meanwhile, biological collections need near-term solutions to staffing shortages. What might be some immediate approaches that do not rely as heavily on complex workforce analyses or substantial increases in funding? Formalizing volunteer and citizen science efforts and integrating these contributions as a means of filling staffing shortages or needs is one possibility. Metrics to track and monitor these efforts, their effect on workforce needs and capabilities, and their potential impact on existing staff time and budgets are important. A possible additional benefit would be in terms of public engagement and education. While citizen science is and will continue to be a valuable contributor to biological collections (McKinley et al., 2017), the role of citizen science has increased with the digitization of some biological collections, and we can clearly see how citizen science can directly impact specimen-based researchers by facilitating the digitization process (Ellwood et al., 2015, 2018). Integrating student research and internship opportunities with curation or other aspects of collections maintenance is another possible approach. Such integration could help build awareness of and support for biological collections, and provide an important path to ensuring that the collections workforce is maintained and enriched over time. For example, The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, runs the MVZ Undergraduate Program, 13 which has allowed hundreds of undergraduates to become involved in vital and impactful activities in the museum’s collections in exchange for course credit (Hiller et al., 2017). The program at the University of California, Berkeley, may be a model for other universities with biological collections. It combines training in collections care with essential research skills and exposure to biodiversity not available elsewhere in the university. The students enrolled in the program (more than 100 per semester) also provide much needed workforce support to the collections, creating a mutual benefit. Use of a tiered structure, wherein students master one set of curatorial techniques before advancing to higher-level work, increases interest for highly motivated students, and encourages retention. Students at the highest level help supervise the beginners, may present independent research at conferences, and receive academic credit for their participation (Hiller et al., 2017). Similarly, the Biodiversity Institute at The University of Kansas has strong ties with the Museum Studies degree program on campus and provides valuable internship14 (degree requirement) opportunities for its many students, who in turn provide much-needed assistance in the collections. The recent NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship on Interdisciplinary Research Using Biological Collections could be extended and expanded to include other aspects of biological collections management, care, and use including curation, digitization, data management, and education. While many biological collections are used in undergraduate and graduate education, there is enormous potential to bringing more students and postdoctoral fellows into the collections for both education and research opportunities (Kreuzer and Dreesmann, 2016). Exposing the public to biological collections involves a substantial amount of additional work. However, behind-the-scenes collections 13 See http://mvz.berkeley.edu/Undergrad. 14 See http://museumstudies.ku.edu/internship. Prepublication Copy 129

Biological Collections: Ensuring Critical Research and Education for the 21st Century tours were increasing in popularity (until the recent pandemic) and can provide not only educational opportunities for the public but also potential fundraising schemes. There are many examples of these types of events, such as the behind-the-scenes tours of the Field Museum 15 in Chicago, Illinois, and the Natural History Museum of Utah, 16 and many biological collections could make more effective use of their vast collections. One potential opportunity for supporting graduate students in biological collections is the NSF GK-12 Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education, where graduate student researchers are supported to interact with K-12 educators. CONCLUSIONS 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 collections workforce is as important to a biological collection as the physical infrastructure and cyberinfrastructure. 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. Therefore, the workforce pipeline cannot be an afterthought; it requires consistent attention, planning, resources, and ongoing, dedicated stewardship. Truly, the question is not whether the biological collections workforce requires intensive investment, but how best to provide it. There are still many unknowns about the biological collections workforce—its size, scope, diversity, and impact on the scientific enterprise. Careful assessment on a periodic basis would help fuel comprehensive thinking about current and future workforce needs, particularly the structure and function of a workforce pipeline that enables students to prepare for and connect to biological collection careers and supports training and professional development of existing biological collections experts. The challenges facing biological collections are beyond the capability of any one institution to adequately address. 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 by the support of NSF. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE NEXT STEPS 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. • 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 15 See https://www.fieldmuseum.org/blog/5-behind-scenes-specimens-links-darwin. 16 See https://nhmu.utah.edu/events/behind-scenes. 130 Prepublication Copy

Cultivating a Highly Skilled Workforce 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 professional. • 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. REFERENCES AIC (American Institute for Conservation). 2013. Collection Care Network. https://www.cultural heritage.org/docs/default-source/publications/reports/collection-care-staff-survey- report.pdf?sfvrsn=8 (accessed August 24, 2020). Antes, L. A., A. Mart, and J. M. DuBois. 2016. Are leadership and management essential for good research? An interview study of genetic researchers. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics 11(5):408–423. Bakker, F. T., A. Antonelli, J. A. Clarke, J. A. Cook, S. V. Edwards, P. G. P. Ericson, S. Faurby, N. Ferrand, M. Gelang, R. G. Gillespie, M. Irestedt, K. Lundin, E. Larsson, P. Matos-Maraví, J. Müller, T. von Proschwitz, G. K. Roderick, A. Schliep, N. Wahlberg, J. Wiedenhoeft, and M. Källersjö. 2020. The global museum: Natural history collections and the future of evolutionary science and public education. Peerj 8:e8225. Ballard, H. L., L. D. Robinson, A. N. Young, G. B. Pauly, L. M. Higgins, R. F. Johnson, and J. C. Tweddle. 2017. Contributions to conservation outcomes by natural history museum-led citizen science: Examining evidence and next steps. Biological Conservation 208:87–97. Bernard, R. E., and E. H. G. Cooperdock. 2018. No progress on diversity in 40 years. Nature Geoscience 11:292–295. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-018-0116-6. Billick, I., I. Babb, B. Kloeppel, J. C. Leong, J. Hodder, J. Sanders, and H. Swain. 2013. Field stations and marine laboratories of the future: A strategic vision. National Association of Marine Laboratories and Organization of Biological Field Stations. http://www.obfs.org/fsml-future (accessed August 24, 2020). Campbell, L. G., S. Mehtani, M. E. Dozier, and J. Rinehart. 2013. Gender heterogeneous working groups produce higher quality science. PLOS ONE 8:e79147. Prepublication Copy 131

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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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