Category Archives: SI

Smithsonian Institution

Exciting upcoming events at the Smithsonian

April 10: Award-winning author and curator Lance Grande will give a deeper understanding of the critical role of curators and how fossils, gems, and other natural objects are found. Moderated by paleontologist and Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History, Kirk Johnson.

April 16: From the Hope Diamond to the Blue Flame, geologist Jeffrey Post will give a talk on the science behind the world’s blue natural wonders, and bring out some of the gems and minerals from NMNH’s collection.


Paleoclimate: Digging into the Past to Chart our Future

Paleoclimate: Digging into the Past to Chart our Future
Warner Brothers Theater at the American History Museum
 Man in snowy Arctic with painting of green ancient ecosystem
Image credit: ©Ira Block

FREE ticketed event

As human activities drive Earth’s rapidly changing climate, there is an urgent need to build better models that help us predict and prepare for our future. These models need robust data that stretch far back in time. Enter: the fossil record—a storehouse of climate evidence that paleontologists are getting better and better at deciphering. Join us for an evening with two renowned researchers—Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and an Associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Penn State, and Gavin Schmidt, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies—as they talk about their exciting work weaving together paleoclimate data and computer models to understand the future. Following their talks, Rachel Gross, a science editor at, will moderate a discussion and audience Q&A.

This program is part of the National Museum of Natural History’s Earth’s Temperature History & Future Symposium* on March 29-31, 2018.

Date: Thursday, March 29, 2018
Time: 6:45 PM – 8:15 PM
National Museum of American History
14th St. and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20013-7012
United States

If you’d like to attend this event you can register for free tickets online.

Peter Brannen at NMNH on mass extinctions

An Evening with Peter Brannen: Envisioning the Future by Unlocking Earth’s Past

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
6:30 PM – 8:10 PM
Baird Auditorium, Ground Floor, National Museum of Natural History
10th St. and Constitution Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20013

The National Museum of Natural History invites you to attend an evening with award-winning science journalist, Peter Brannen. Using fossils and the Earth’s deep geological record, Brannen will explore groundbreaking research to broaden views on climate change and the role climate played in the most extreme catastrophes in the planet’s history.

Afterward, in a conversation with Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History, Brannen will discuss his new book, The Ends of the World. He will reveal how understanding the planet’s five mass extinctions can offer us a glimpse of our future and ask, “Are we on the brink of a sixth?”

The Ends of the World will be available for purchase and signing after the program.

This program was made possible through the generous support of David M. Rubenstein and is part of the An Evening With… signature series featuring thought leaders in conversation with paleontologist and Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History, Kirk Johnson. 

This program is also part of the Deep Time Initiative, the Museum’s effort to lead the public on a dynamic journey through Earth’s 4.6-billion-year history to understand how our planet’s deep past connects to the present and our future.

NOVA Science Seminar: SI’s Leslie on Rorqual Whales via drones, DNA, & fossils

All Faculty, Staff, and Students are cordially invited to a Science Seminar

Friday, September 29, 2017
CE Building, Forum
12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.

Matthew S. Leslie
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution)


“Integrating DNA, Drones, and Fossils to Clarify Relationships Among Rorqual Whales”

Abstract: The systematic relationships among the lunge-feeding whales (rorquals; family Balaenopteridae) have been difficult to resolve, resulting in a history of taxonomic confusion. I am approaching this problematic group using a combination of traditional taxonomy and cutting-edge research techniques. I am integrating DNA sequencing of Ultra-Conserved Elements for molecular systematics, morphological examination and re-description of a Miocene rorqual for anchoring early divergence dates, and pioneering the use of drones to test subspecific relationships within blue whales. This presentation will provide highlights and updates on these ongoing initiatives aimed at the resolution of evolutionary relationships among rorqual whales.

Bio: Dr. Leslie uses emerging technology, natural history collections, field research, and genetics to describe marine mammal diversity for conservation management decisions. Currently he focuses on elucidating the evolutionary relationships of balaenopterid whales using skulls, DNA, and drones. In addition to research, Dr. Leslie strives to inspire others to fall in love with Earth’s wildlife and wild places through teaching and public education.
Education: Ph.D. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 2016; M.S. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 2011

For upcoming seminars and further information on the NOVA Seminar Series visit

Q?Rius panel discussion on religion and evolution in the classroom

Religious Audiences and the Topic of Evolution: Lessons from the Classroom, a panel discussion taking place from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on April 30 in the Q?Rius Theater on the ground floor of the National Museum of Natural History, 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW in Washington DC.

A description of the event: “Jamie Jensen, Associate Professor of Biology at Brigham Young University, will discuss the intersection of faith and science in the undergraduate classroom. She will give an overview of the current state of major religious groups on the acceptance of evolution and then offer a 30-year longitudinal view of the transition toward higher acceptance amongst members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e., the ‘Mormons’). Jensen will describe a classroom intervention geared toward offering students a ‘road to reconciliation’ between science and religion, and show its dramatic effects on students’ acceptance of evolution amongst highly religious Christian students. How might this lesson learned transfer into other classrooms and broader audiences across the United States?”

Discussants will be Betty W. Holley, Wes McCoy, Lee Meadows, and Briana Pobiner; the panel will be moderated by Connie Bertka.

The event is free and open to the public, with no advance reservation or ticket required. For further information, visit:

An Evening with… Ed Yong

Monday, October 3, 2016 – 6:30pm

Natural History Museum

Event Location

Ground Floor, Baird Auditorium


Free, but registration is required: click here to register.


The National Museum of Natural History invites you to attend a special evening with award-winning science writer, Ed Yong. Yong will take you on a grand tour through the animal kingdom, from squids to aphids to deep-sea worms, as he speaks about his new book, I Contain Multitudes. In a conversation with Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History, Yong will reveal how microbes build animal bodies, affect their evolutionary opportunities, and might be manipulated.  He will make you question everything you think you know about natural history! I Contain Multitudes will be available for purchase and signing after the program. This program is part of the An Evening With… signature series featuring cutting-edge thought leaders in conversation with paleontologist and Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History, Kirk Johnson. Image courtesy of Ed Yong.

Ocean Film Showcase @ NMNH Sept. 10

The National Museum of Natural History, the U.S. Department of State, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, the D.C. Environmental Film Festival, and BLUE Ocean Film Festival would like to invite you to the Our Ocean Film Showcase at the National Museum of Natural History on September 10th.

Organized in conjunction with the international Our Ocean conference that will be hosted by Secretary John Kerry in Washington in September, this showcase will feature a curated selection of ocean-related documentary films and include panel discussions with prominent figures including National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dr. Sylvia Earle and Dr. Enric Sala, and State Department’s Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Cathy Novelli. The showcase aims to look at the state of our ocean environment.

Please find the RSVP below. We kindly ask that you share this with your distribution networks.

Our Ocean Film Showcase – Film Festival and Discussions

September 10, All-Day 
Baird Auditorium, Ground Floor
National Museum of Natural History

Life on Earth depends on the ocean.  A healthy ocean is central to human wellbeing.  The ocean feeds billions of people, employs millions of workers, and generates trillions of dollars in the world economy.

Yet, as vast as our ocean and its resources are, they are not infinite.  And today the ocean is under tremendous pressure from human activity – including unsustainable and illegal fishing, marine pollution, and climate-related impacts.

The Our Ocean Film Showcase will feature a curated selection of thought-provoking ocean documentary films and include panel discussions with filmmakers and leading figures who are working to better understand how to sustain a healthy ocean.

RSVP for this event»