Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Carnegie Museums Hires Head of New Ecosystem Center

Dr. John Wenzel, currently a biology professor at Ohio State University will be heading a new Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Wenzel says he'll have a duel role -- bringing the Powdermill Nature Reserve in Laurel Highlands in closer alignment with the Natural History Museum in Oakland and spearheading a new public education initiative that has scientists working across disciplines to encourage topical work instead of specialized areas. Wenzel says "usually the way research is executed is that the scholar and scientist who are doing the work pick a topic, then having executed the research somebody goes to the public education's probably more effective if you were to embrace the ultimate education goal from the beginning." While working in Columbus Wenzel became known for creating the annual Insect Fairs at the Columbus Zoo, attracting thousands of people. He says making the public a part of the process is important not just from an educational standpoint, but also to compete with what's on television. "You can pick up your TV-clicker and see these spectacular natural history shows that were produced at the cost of millions of dollars, so this creates a's much more difficult for a museum to compete." The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh still has some leadership roles to fill -- Museums president David Hillenbrand is retiring and the head of the Andy Warhol Museum director Tom Sokolowski resigned last month.

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