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Arts, Sports & Culture

New Director of Science and Research Set to Begin at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has some 22 million objects and specimens relating to the history of life on Earth.

Starting in 2015, Stephen Tonsor will take over as director of science and research. He will also head the museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystems.

“This position really gives leadership and focus to our scientific agenda and allows us to focus our research efforts, which are really at the heart of the natural history museum, on some of the topics that we’ve identified as strategic priorities looking forward,” said Jo Ellen Parker, president of the Carnegie Museums.

For his part, Tonsor said his interest in museums was piqued as a young boy, when his parents took him to museums. He said he looks forward to ensuring the millions of objects the museum owns can be utilized fully.

“Those collections can help us to understand the history of life, the history of human existence and understanding of the diversity of cultures for human beings, and in many ways that end up being surprising, we discover new kinds of information,” said Tonsor.

Natural history museums across the country are at a turning point, said Tonsor.

“And so it’s a time here in Pittsburgh, as well as around the world, when natural history museums are redefining themselves, redefining the relationship of the scientific discovery that’s going on in the back rooms that the public doesn’t see and redefining that integrates with the public face of the museum as well,” he said.

Tonsor comes to the museum from the University of Pittsburgh, where he is associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. He will start at the museum Jan. 2, 2015.