Emily graduated from Randolph College in 2012 with a degree in Heritage Studies. She co-founded the Natural History Collections Project (with Dr. Doug Shedd) as a student in 2011. Emily has been active in historic preservation and archaeology, participating in the University of Florida’s Preservation Institute: Nantucket as well as the archaeological field school at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest. As a principal partner in HistoryTech, she has assisted with writing numerous National Register nominations, historic structures surveys, and historic district surveys. Her interest in anthropology and natural history has led to her ongoing research of Sydney Parkinson (1745-1771), a scientific illustrator on Cook’s Endeavour voyage, for which she spent six weeks conducting research at archives and museums in London and Scotland. She has presented numerous papers on natural history collections at national conferences, including the Society for the Presevation of Natural History Collections and ICOM-NatHist: “Designing Interdisciplinary Collections Internships for College Students” and “Use of Natural History Collections for Bioarchaeological Research” (2015) and “Keeping ‘History’ in ‘Natural History’: Scientific Specimens as Cultural Artifacts”. Emily co-teaches the Collections Management and Natural History Collections courses in the Randolph College Museum and Heritage Studies program.
I am the Catherine Ehrman Thoresen ’23 and William E. Thoresen Professor of Biology and I teach courses in evolution, zoology, animal behavior, ornithology, and mammalogy. I have a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in Vertebrate Zoology from Cornell University. I am also the faculty sponsor of the Natural History Collections Project (NHACP). Emily Smith ’12 and I started the NHACP in 2011 and it is a pleasure to see how far the program has come since then!
I became a biologist because I’m interested in why the world is the way it is, and the areas in which I specialize — behavior, ecology, and evolution — provide lots of answers. I’ve studied animals ranging from ravens to lemurs, in places as close to home as the Randolph campus and as far away as the Serengeti plains of East Africa. Currently, I’m working on a research project in Ireland that focuses on the chough. This rare species of bird is ecologically linked to the traditional agricultural practices still in evidence along parts of Ireland’s west coast.
When I’m not teaching, I like spending time with my family, reading, walking, watching birds, and discussing biology’s philosophical implications with my students and friends.