Collections Education: The Extended Specimen and Data Acumen

Anna K. Monfils, Erica R. Krimmel, Debra L. Linton, Travis D. Marsico, Ashley B. Morris, Brad R. Ruhfel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biodiversity scientists must be fluent across disciplines; they must possess the quantitative, computational, and data skills necessary for working with large, complex data sets, and they must have foundational skills and content knowledge from ecology, evolution, taxonomy, and systematics. To effectively train the emerging workforce, we must teach science as we conduct science and embrace emerging concepts of data acumen alongside the knowledge, tools, and techniques foundational to organismal biology. We present an open education resource that updates the traditional plant collection exercise to incorporate best practices in twenty-first century collecting and to contextualize the activities that build data acumen. Students exposed to this resource gained skills and content knowledge in plant taxonomy and systematics, as well as a nuanced understanding of collections-based data resources. We discuss the importance of the extended specimen in fostering scientific discovery and reinforcing foundational concepts in biodiversity science, taxonomy, and systematics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-188
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022


  • Biodiversity science
  • Community science
  • Herbaria
  • Natural history collections
  • Undergraduate education


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