Letter from the Director

Changes in the UCMP lineage

by David R. Lindberg
Dave Lindberg; photo by Colleen Whitney
One thing that paleontologists understand is change and those of us currently associated with the museum as students, staff, and curators are just the current “characters” in the long history of the lineage that is UCMP. States of characters also change through time, and June 30, 2003 was my time to change as I stepped down as Director of UCMP and returned to the character state of Curator. Bill Clemens has agreed to undergo his own character state transformation (actually two changes since he first had to return from Emeritus status) to take over as Interim Director of UCMP. The Museum will be in good hands.
As paleontologists we also appreciate history and as Director of UCMP over the past six years, I have been the beneficiary of UCMP’s history. For example, computerization of UCMP collections over 30 years ago set the stage for the museum’s incredible foray and presence on the Web today. UCMP’s early involvement in local classrooms in the 1970s continues today as one of the premier paleo outreach programs in the world, and UCMP’s incorporation of modern molecular and histological techniques into its research enterprise over 15 years ago has given our students a perspective and an approach to understanding the history of life that does not distinguish between the long dead and the more recently dead. I have had the pleasure of maintaining and expanding these and other UCMP efforts because of my predecessor’s efforts and excellence: faculty and staff, colleagues and cohorts of students who never stopped asking tough questions and pushed the boundaries of what we thought was possible.
Today, UCMP houses one of the nation’s largest and most important collections of fossil vertebrates, invertebrates, protists, and plants, and employs its vast and diverse collections in research and education within the University as well as in educational outreach programs to the residents of the state and beyond. UCMP has become responsive to increasing scientific and public concern over environmental issues, and the new demand for knowledge of past global change has placed the Museum in the position of providing data to a growing and diverse clientele on a variety of levels and scales. In this and the other research, education, and outreach enterprises, UCMP has responded to its clientele by broadening its role on the campus as well as throughout the state, and today functions as the central paleontological resource for evolutionary biology within California and for much of the western United States. It has been a fun ride, made possible because of the great array of past and present UCMP “characters,” and regardless of the changes before us, the UCMP lineage is well prepared for whatever the environment requires of us.

Note: Dave Lindberg will be taking on a new “character state” as he takes over as Chair of Integrative Biology. The UCMP community wishes him well in his new job; thanks him for all that he has done for us; and smiles, knowing that he will remain an active member of UCMP as a Curator.

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August, 2003