Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

Anna Chinn
Anna Chinn

Anna Chinn

Why did you want to become a collection manager?
I’ve always loved nature and animals. As a collection manager, I help researchers use the museum’s collections to better understand wildlife and ecosystems. This lets us do important conservation work to protect the natural world. This way, I hope that people of the future will get to appreciate animals as much as I do today.

How did you become a collection manager?
During my undergrad at McGill University, I took zoology courses taught at my university’s natural history museum. There, I learned about how much research was going on behind the scenes. I was inspired to pursue a master’s degree in museum and field studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. There, I worked as a graduate assistant in the Vertebrate Zoology collection and wrote a thesis on how errors in collections data impact downstream ecological research. Understanding both how collections are preserved and how they are used in research helped me to eventually become a collection manager.

What do you do as a collection manager?
I care for a collection of over 63,000 preserved birds and mammals that document BC’s biodiversity over the last 160 years. My goals are to

  • make the collections as accessible to the public as possible,
  • ensure that the animals in the collection are properly preserved and cared for, and
  • document biodiversity as it exists today.

This way, the collection can inform our understanding of how the landscape has changed and continues to change for generations to come.

Every workday looks different. On a given day, I facilitate research visits, ship loans of specimens to other institutions, digitize collections so that they can be accessed online, prepare new specimens in the lab, give tours to the public and help with educational programs.

Tell us about your love of birds!
Birds are so charming, beautiful and weird! Watching them live their lives alongside us is a delight, and I love the small interactions that we have when we notice one another. Biologically, it is fascinating that such relatively large animals can fly, let alone migrate, continental distances each year in order to survive. Because they are so ubiquitous, birds are part of our everyday lives, whether we notice them or not. They remind me that there is more in the world that exists outside of ourselves.