www.ucmp.berkeley.edu (cont.)

stomatopod appendages
One of the images in the new crustacean pages demonstrates specialization of appendages (click for an enlarged view). (photo by Karen Osborn)
The Crustaceans are coming!
Karen Osborn, a current graduate student, is working on a new UCMP Web site exhibit on the crustaceans, due to debut in May. She has spent the spring semester scouring journals, books and the Internet for current information on crustaceans great and small. Where and how do they live? When do they appear in the fossil record? How are groups of crustaceans classified, and what are their evolutionary relationships? With over 38,000 species currently described, this is a major undertaking.
Given a hectic schedule in class and in the lab, why would a graduate student want to spend months working on an exhibit for the UCMP Web site? Karen noted several reasons why she values this experience.
  “I’ve learned a lot about the topic; this project has prompted me to do some of the broad background research that I should probably be doing anyway, but likely wouldn’t have taken the time for until I had to know something specific. I’m also finding it extremely useful—though difficult—to think about how to explain crustacean diversity in ways that people without a strong science background can understand. That’s the essence of teaching! Of course, it’s also a good chance to learn about Web design and technology. And as an added bonus I’m getting to know people in the museum. Most of my graduate research is going to be done off site, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, so it’s important that I connect with people here on campus whenever I can.”
And to top it off, she’s having a good time. “I am really enjoying the chance to create this exhibit. The crustaceans are a very cool and amazingly diverse group of animals.” Karen notes, “there is tremendous variety in their shapes and forms and how they accomplish their everyday tasks, and I want to help people appreciate that diversity. My goal is to make this group of animals more approachable for the public by distilling pieces of essential information out of stacks of books and papers: how to distinguish them from other groups, how they live, and a few other enticing tidbits that will encourage readers to explore further.”


May, 2002

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