Dr. Melissa Frey is the Collection Manager, Malacology at the Burke Museum in Seattle, WA.
Why did you want to become a curator of invertebrate zoology?
I have always been curious about nature – I love to collect, identify, classify, study and learn. As I pursued a career in biology, eventually the idea of being a curator became more tangible, more real. Seemed like the perfect fit!
How did you come to be a curator?
Shortly after earning a bachelor of science degree in zoology and a master's degree in oceanography, I worked as a biologist at the Smithsonian Institution. It was during this behind the scenes experience that I fell in love with museums and the work that they do. So I returned to graduate school to pursue a doctorate degree (PhD) in population biology, focusing on evolutionary, biogeographic and systematic studies of marine invertebrates. Working with museum collections played a large role in my graduate studies, as I studied collections from many of the major museums throughout the world. Upon finishing my dissertation, I became a research associate at the Royal BC Museum, and eventually landed the position of curator of invertebrates.
What did you do as a curator at the Royal BC Museum?
My work was split between collections and research and exhibits and learning programs. One of things that I love about my job is the constant change and opportunity to learn: studying specimens within the collection and translating this knowledge into research papers, exhibits and learning programs. And then there's my favourite – fieldwork – collecting along the spectacular coastlines, forests and freshwaters of BC. As a curator, my role is to enhance our understanding of the natural history of this region, by collecting, identifying, studying and sharing. My hope is that other people also will be inspired, curious and delighted by learning about our natural world.
Dr Melissa Frey talks about her background and role as curator of invertebrates (animals without backbones) at the Royal BC Museum.