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Marine Biodiversity Center Volunteers

2011 Volunteers


Ground Floor, NW Wing of the newly renovated 1913 Building.


Estella Hernandez (2005 - present)

Whittier College, Whittier, California

Estella enjoys camping and hiking. Her interest in the outdoors led her to the Natural History Museum. Estella has learned basic invertebrate taxonomy and identifies Puget Sound specimens under a dissecting microscope sorting them to phylum or class. She also assisted with the curation of the Fiji Collection—organizing specimens by lot number, printing and associating labels with specimens. And she loves bears!


Mark LeBlanc (2012 - present)

California State University, Los Angeles

Mark is a grad student in biology at CSULA, and he currently plans to present his thesis on the taxonomy of a new species of Caribbean ostracod in summer 2012. Outside of ostracods, Mark’s other hobbies include medieval fantasy novels, dark synth-pop albums and aspirations of travel. After graduating he hopes to pursue a career studying the evolutionary relationships among crustacean taxa.


Brian Shaw (2012 - present)

University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Brian Shaw is a sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. Ever since he could remember, he has had an affinity for all sciences including biology. In his spare time, he likes to listen to music - classical, rock, and electronica - on top of hanging out with friends. Other hobbies include reading comics, playing the piano, and surfing the web.


Nicole Chang (2011 - present)

University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Nicole is a Biological Sciences major. She loves international travel, shopping, cupcakes, chocolate, and dogs. She is very excited to be at the Natural History Museum.


Jim Cline (2002 - present)

Jim's urge to be a wide-view visionary has resulted in three technical papers, numerous electronic documents, and two websites. He foresees a time when DNA from creatures living today may be used to create thriving ecosystems in huge space colonies orbiting the Earth, connected by space elevator technologies -- perhaps only a few decades from now. Jim has not only volunteered for Invertebrate Paleontology making thin sections of fossil corals and for the MBC until 2004 helping with curation, but he has also been instrumental in databasing and preparing the online Isopod Image Database, work that is ongoing. Check it out.


Jenessa Wall (2009 - 2011)

University of California, Santa Cruz

Jenessa is a junior studying linguistics and biology. She has had a fascination with science, particularly the biological sciences, from a young age and enjoys examining specimens whenever possible. She hopes to pursue a career doing research as well as working overseas in developing countries.


Sana Ahmed (2011)

University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Sana graduated from USC with a B.S. in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Studies. She enjoys running, photography and reading. In addition to volunteering at the MBC, she works as an Emergency Medicine Scribe. She finds the MBC to be a nice change of pace from the ER.


Heidi Cho (2011)

University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Heidi is a Biological Sciences major. She loves traveling with her family and dog, Disney movies, singing, playing piano, and museums. She enjoys walking around the empty exhibits of NHM before opening hours. At the Marine Biodiversity Center, she loves looking at a variety of organisms in the collections room and helping sort specimen. She's not sure what her future career will be, but hopes it will be fun and inspiring!


Viji Shook (2010 - 2012)

George Washington University, International Affairs, M.A.

University of Southern California, Economics and International Relations, B.A.

Viji is taking a brief detour from the hectic road of life to explore careers in the natural sciences. She is currently volunteering at the Dino Lab in addition to the Marine Biodiversity Center, and has volunteered in the Insect Zoo as well. Her many interests include an advanced yoga practice, baking, gardening, hiking, biking, playing mahjong and traveling abroad. She recently came back from an exhilarating trip to Borneo and Brunei which included exploring the Mulu Bat Caves (see photo). Best experiences at the MBC—identifying unlabeled specimens and munching on yummy cinnamon toast.


Kasey Hanson (2011)

Alfred University, New York

Kasey is a sophomore studying ceramic engineering. He enjoys surveying a wide range of scientific disciplines. In addition to volunteering for the MBC and Crustacea, Kasey works at his summer internship at the City of Hope. Kasey intends on pursuing a career in the sciences and traveling abroad as much as possible.


Shanil Guanasekara (2011)

University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Shanil is a senior studying Biomedical Engineering. He enjoys reading, cinema, independent music and soccer. He hopes to pursue a career in research, both in the USA and back home in Sri Lanka.

2010 Volunteers


Janette Havens (2010)

University of California, Berkeley

Janette graduated from Cal with a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies. As an undergraduate she worked at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology in the Ornithology and Herpetology Departments. She was also heavily involved in the biodiversity informatics project known as VertNET. She is currently working at Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach as an Environmental Science Intern. Janette hopes to learn more about marine organisms while volunteering with the MBC and contribute to the curation of the extensive marine invertebrates collection. Her interests include hiking, horseback riding, bird watching and watching sports. GO BEARS!

2009 Volunteers


Allison Chu (2009)

University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Allison is a junior, double-majoring in piano performance and health promotion disease prevention. She enjoys ice-skating, hiking, and swimming, as well as arts and crafts, concerts and Pixar movies. She's a foodie in many senses, from baking, cooking to eating, and has a mild obsession with the TV series, How I Met Your Mother. Her incentive for volunteering at NHM is mainly due to her biology teacher, Professor Wetzer, whose enthusiasm and passion for her work sparked Allison's interest in the field of marine biology. She's not exactly definite on what her future profession will be, but hopes that it'll be enjoyable and with lots of fun people.


Chase Femrite (2009)

University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Chase is majoring in Biology and minoring in Physics and Philosophy. His goal is to pursue a career in some aspect of biological research—his interests ranging everywhere from neuroscience to marine organisms. He is excited for the opportunity to further his knowledge and experience in marine biodiversity. In Spring 2010 he is planning on undertaking a research semester at the USC Wrigley Institute on Catalina Island.

2008 Volunteers


Natalie Bray (2008)

Lycee Francais High School, Los Angeles, California

Natalie will be a high school senior this Fall. She has worked at the Natural History Museum for the past four summers with the Adventures in Nature Summer Camp and is also volunteering for the MBPC. Natalie hopes to study marine biology in college and to work in museums around the world. She is broadly interested in coral reefs and creatures living in the abyss.

2007 Volunteers


Paige Johnson (2007)

Occidental College, Los Angeles, California

Paige is a senior philosophy major, but seeing as philosophers are in low demand, she is interested in perusing a career in a Natural History Museum. She has broad interests, and enjoys arts and crafts, exploring the outdoors, animals (both alive and preserved in jars), horror films, formal logic and traveling. She also enjoys novels and films that are set in natural history museums and make them seem unrealistically dangerous and exciting. Paige has studied in England and dreams of moving there someday and working at the London Natural History Museum.


Michael Pecson (2006 - 2007)

California State University, Long Beach, California

Michael, aka Pecson, is a self-taught biologist. He has logged countless hours watching the Discovery Channel with an emphasis on Animal Planet. As far as he can remember, he has always done well in his science classes and is a self-proclaimed cornucopia of knowledge and obscure facts. Michael hopes to one day become a full-time employee at the NHM.

2006 Volunteers


Erin Ostrander (2006)

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

Erin is a senior in biology, who enjoys running, hiking, sailing, and tae kwon do. Erin is interested in marine biology, which is what led her to the Natural History Museum. Erin volunteers for the MBPC to learn more about crustaceans and work on a research project for her marine biology class. She has learned about the organisms from the islands of Palau (Micronesia) through her work on recently collected invertebrates. Erin assists with collection work, associating specimen labels with the organisms, and incorporating them into the research collections.

2005 Volunteers


Lara Leitner (2005)

Milken Community High School, Los Angeles, California

Lara is a Senior. She enjoys gymnastics and dance and is fascinated by animal behavior. Lara volunteers for the MBPC to get hands on experience with preserved invertebrates. She hopes to become a zoologist in the near future.


Erika Ciriano (2005)

Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles, California

Erika is a Junior. She started volunteering in the MBPC because she heard it was a great experience, and she needed the service hours for school. It's a great help for science class!


Chase LaFrance (2005)

Chadwick School, Palos Verdes, California

Chase is currently classifying and preserving polychaetes. He is interested in computers, chemistry, and genetics. Chase thinks that it is only a matter of time before places like "Jurassic Park" become a reality and extinct creatures' DNA can be used to bring them back. Chase has no definite ideas what his major will be beyond high school, but it is apparent that it will somehow be science related.

2004 Volunteers


Sara Moore (2004)

Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, California

Sara is currently in her third year at Santa Monica College. She is a biology major with a strong interest in ecology and environmental science. She started volunteering in the MBPC because she wanted to experience biology firsthand and familiarize herself with some of the practical aspects of doing biology.


Emi Yoshimura (2003 - 2004)

Stanford University, Stanford, California -- B.S., M.S. Biology

Emi has been working at the Museum for a little over a year in the Education Department. First she worked as a Gallery Interpreter, and presently her position is Outreach Instructor. In her spare time she volunteers for the MBPC as a way to familiarize herself with the Museum's vast and diverse research collections. Emi is sorting the Great Barrier Reef Expedition 2003 material.


Paola Karen Morales (2003)

San Francisco Zan Morano, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Karen is a visiting student from Guatemala. She is spending her winter school break volunteering at the Museum to familiarize herself with the technical aspects of biology and to improve her English language skills. When not assisting with the curation of the Allan Hancock Foundation Sponge Collection, Karen was busy attending English classes. She plans to continue her education in the field of Bio-Medicine.

2002 and 2003 Volunteers


Elisabeth Wetzer (2003 - 2006)

Bundesrealgymnasium Wien 14, Vienna, Austria

Elisabeth has a particularly strong interest in studying the natural sciences. Her interests there have led her to volunteer at the Museum to gain direct experience in science, discovering how biologists work by working with them. While working in the MBPC, Elisabeth has had the chance to learn that doing science, like many other endeavors, is 20% technical and 80% personal; people have far more to do with the working environment than the specifics of the work itself. Besides coffee races and lunches, Elisabeth spent most of her time sorting specimens from the Oregon State University Andrew Carey collection. She hopes to return soon.


James Grama (2002 and 2003)

Granada Hills High School, Northridge, California

James is interested in learning as much about the world as he possibly can. He is expanding his horizon this summer by helping with day to day activities in the Marine Biodiversity Center, while taking this opportunity to explore the backrooms of the museum and learn how the research endeavor is accomplished in the natural sciences and specifically in natural history museums. His goals include becoming a professional in a field related to history or science and to stay a life long learner. He will be a junior this Fall. His enthusiasm is contagious. His energy boundless.


Lindsay Keating (2002)

Westridge School for Girls, Pasadena, California

Lindsay has been visiting the Museum with her father for years. Her strong interests in science and hands-on learning extend well beyond the classroom to our laboratory. She is donating her time and energy to help with a variety of curation tasks - some great fun - others just need doing. She is interested in exploring the many different subdisciplines of science as she begins evaluating possible career choices. As a freshman this Fall, she is looking forward to excelling academically, while preparing to go on to college and graduate school. Lindsay's thoughtful and reflective nature are a prescription for success whatever her choices.

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