Join Dr. Jason Weckstein for a tour of the legendary Ornithology Department. Jason will take us on a tour and show us specimens from the collection that are not available to the public. The Academy maintains an ornithological collection of nearly 200,000 study skins and 15,000 tissue samples. Of great historical importance, specimens in the collection predate the founding of the Academy in 1812 and include important early bird collections from such famous collectors as Alexander Wilson, John Audubon, and John Gould. Large series of data rich specimens have recently been added from the Andes in South American, southeastern Asia, and Australia. The Academy’s ornithology department is actively adding specimens, locally and internationally, at a rate of 1000 specimens per year.
In terms of specimen numbers, the Ornithology Department’s collection is one of the 10 largest and taxonomically most complete bird collections in the world. Accessioned into the collection are nearly 200,000 study skins, representing over 7000 species, and over 10,000 tissue samples.
Dr. Jason Weckstein is an associate professor in the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) at Drexel University and associate curator in the Department of Ornithology at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Weckstein obtained his BS degree in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan in 1993, his MS in Zoology from the University of Minnesota, and his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in 2003. His dissertation research used DNA sequences to reconstruct the coevolutionary history and host-parasite associations between toucans and their ectoparasites. After obtaining the Ph.D. he continued studying birds and parasites as a postdoctoral fellow at the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, where he stayed on as a staff scientist until joining the BEES faculty.