CSBR: Natural History: Critical infrastructure and digitization upgrades for the Frost Entomological Museum (PSUC) at Penn State

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Frost Entomological Museum is an active research institution within the Department of Entomology at Penn State's flagship campus in University Park. The Museum houses a large collection of arthropods, estimated at almost 2 million specimens, and a public exhibition and educational space that receives >1,000 visitors per year. This project will unify the storage system onto a single standard, and move specimens to storage cabinets that are more protective - that is, built using archival materials and properly sealed from environmental elements and museum pests. Specimens will be imaged and their collected event data entered into a publically-accessible digital database. There will also be substantial training and outreach components aimed at raising awareness of the importance of insects. Individuals from a broad array of backgrounds - grade school students, undergrads, grad students, and non-expert adults - will be educated in museum practices and the importance of natural history collections. Outreach activities include 'Bug Camp' for kids aged 8-14, meet-the-curator events at the museum, graduate student training, summer internships for undergraduates, public exhibits at the museum, and the 'Great Insect Fair'.

The museum's holdings include one of the largest, most diverse collections of sucking lice (Anoplura, which includes the medically important lice) in the world, alongside renown collections of aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae, including economically important pests), dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata), substantial collections of parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera, which includes species used to control pestiferous insects), native pollinators (including bees and butterflies), and Pennsylvania insects. Despite their extensive use in research and substantial investment in this resource by the University, the collection suffers from poor storage conditions, evident from an abundance of inadequate specimen cases, and the absence of a modern, accessible database. The activities proposed in this project are designed to remedy these problems by: replacing all specimen cabinets with a purpose-built archival system, increasing storage space, reorganizing the slide-mounted and ethanol-preserved specimens into appropriate storage, and setting up a Web-accessible specimen database. The data will be further disseminated through InvertNet and iDigBio. The database avails Frost Museum data for public data mining and fundamental research in areas such as epidemiology, invasive species biology, global climate change, pollinator declines, and the evolutionary history of insect lineages. More information can be found at the official Frost Entomological Museum website: http://ento.psu.edu/facilities/frost.

Effective start/end date7/1/146/30/17


  • National Science Foundation: $402,489.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.