September 07, 2010

New Curator of Genetic Resources and Herpetology Arrives!

At the beginning of this month the Burke Museum welcomed a new curator of genetic resources and herpetology to the museum, Adam Leaché. Adam first visited the Pacific Northwest in 1997 as a graduate student, when he attended his first major academic conference – the annual meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists – at the University of Washington. Over a decade later, he returns to Seattle with a brand new curatorial position at the Burke Museum and a joint appointment as an assistant professor of biology at the University of Washington.

New Burke curator of genetic resource and herpetology, Adam Leaché, poses with a Komodo dragon.

Dr. Leaché will oversee both the genetic resources collection and the herpetology collection (reptiles and amphibians) at the Burke Museum. He is already planning several collecting trips for the museum, including field trips to West Africa, Mexico, and the deserts of the American Southwest. Dr. Leaché is also particularly interested in expanding the catalogue of specimens collected in the National Parks of Washington State.

In addition to focusing on the growth of the genetic resource and herpetology collections, Dr. Leaché is enthusiastic about developing public outreach programs for the Burke. One of his hopes for his new position is to help bring funding to the museum for the development of exhibits and educational content about ecology and evolution studies.

Dr. Leaché’s own research is focused on systematics, phylogenetics, phylogeography, population genetics, and species delimitation. Over the last ten years, he developed an integrative research program exploring the evolution of North American fence lizards and horned lizards that has resulted in publications across a number of disciplines. During the winter quarter, Dr. Leaché will be teaching an applied phylogenetics course at the UW – a lab course that gives biology students the computational and bioinformatics skills necessary to organize and analyze genetic data.

The Burke is excited to have Adam Leaché on board!