Jason Bond, director of Auburn’s Museum of Natural History, said the museum’s primary focus is natural history collections and biodiversity research. Conniff’s book focuses on collection of new species in history and Conniff’s speech is considered an inaugural event for the expansion of the museum happening this summer.
“We are a museum that has a natural history collection,” Bond said. “We have a number of faculty and curators for the museum who are taxonomists who spend a considerable amount of time in far away of places collecting new plants and species and bringing them back to the museum.”
In Conniff’s book, he examined the lives of people in history who had similar careers to the taxonomists of Auburn.
“The book is about the discovery of species and how it changed the world in the Great Age of Discovery,” Conniff said. “It’s taxonomy, but it’s also politics, medicine, romance, fighting about race and everything in life that was affected by the discovery of species during this time.”
Bond hopes Conniff’s speech will raise biodiversity awareness on Auburn’s campus and in the community.
“Biodiversity is defined as the life on our planet and we want to emphasize the importance of biodiversity,” Bond said. “Just about everything sustaining human life is from the living world.”
Ralph Jordan, College of Sciences and Mathematics alumnus and Shug Jordan’s son, attended the event.
“Everybody in my family, even my dad, although he coached football, is fanatically interested in natural history,” Jordan said. “I’ve always been a proponent of trying to consolidate the museum’s collections into a place where they can be properly curated. As we consolidate our collections in our new space and grow the collections, that will morph into the biodiversity learning center where we could have a series of programs much like the art program has where we can invite in the public, students and faculty to learn more about the biodiversity in the state of Alabama and the Southeast in general.”
The attention to biodiversity Bond and his department has given the field has put Auburn above par.
“Auburn is ahead of the curve because of the biodiversity museum,” Conniff said. “A lot of institutions are letting their museums go by the wayside. It’s as if the natural world doesn’t matter anymore, so it’s a great thing Auburn is doing with the museum.”