Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 143

Phone
765-983-1402

E-mail
lernehe@earlham.edu

Office
Joseph Moore Museum

Office Hours
by appointment

Website
Website Link

Heather Lerner

Director of the Joseph Moore Museum; Assistant Professor of Biology


Programs/Departments

  • Biology
  • Joseph Moore Museum
  • Museum Studies
  • Environmental Science

Degrees

  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • M.S., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • B.S., Bryn Mawr College


Selected Courses

I co-teach Ecological Biology, a course that uses outdoor labs at some of Earlham's beautiful properties to introduce students to the natural history and ecology of this region and includes a field research project complete with statistical analysis.   

I teach two Museum Studies courses: Natural History Museum Curation and Science in Informal Settings.  

Natural History Museum Curation: Through weekly labs in the natural history collections of the Joseph Moore Museum, students gain hands-on experience with collections care and use including integrated pest management, preparing animal specimens, doing research with specimens, and accessioning, organizing and cataloging specimens into the collection using the Specify museum database software.   

Science in Informal Settings: Public interest in science is growing, yet traditional academic training does not prepare scientists to communicate their findings to a broad audience. Students in this course become familiar with theories about and methods of communicating science successfully to audiences in an informal setting (e.g. museum exhibit, poster, tour, website). Students evaluate existing museum exhibits at the Joseph Moore Museum, observe tours, and develop a final project that presents a scientific topic of interest to the public.

Biography

Heather Lerner works with students both as director of the Joseph Moore Museum, Earlham’s natural history museum, and in the biology classroom. She has also led a May Term off-campus program in Hawaii.

As for her research interests, she is currently working on establishing the evolutionary history of Hawaiian Honeycreepers, including ancient extinct birds from fossil specimens, and addressing the evolution of the raptorial lifestyle using comparative genomics.

Research Projects

Students in my lab work on a variety of projects and study systems. We generally use molecular sequencing (DNA and RNA) to investigate the relationships among species or within populations, to study disease prevalence, or to evaluate parenting systems. We primarily use museum collections and may be found in the modern lab working with our fresh tissue collection or in the ancient DNA lab in the museum working with our historical or subfossil specimens. Currently, we are working on a supermatrix analysis for booted eagles in the Accippitridae family. We are also delving into comparative genomics of the raptorial lifestyle. Budding projects include sequencing our giant beaver specimens, exploring parentage in sharp-shin hawks and continuing our analysis of West Nile Virus in salvaged bird specimens. 

Students are encouraged to join my group and work on one of these projects or propose a new related project.

Professional Memberships

American Ornithologists Union (2005 to present)
Society for Systematic Biologists (2004 to present)
Raptor Research Foundation (since 2002 to present)

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