Smithsonian Institute of Biodiversity Genomics Launch

Smithsonian Institute for Biodiversity Genomics

On December 12, 2014, in association with the publication of a Special Issue of Science on Avian Genomics, The Smithsonian celebrated the launch of the new Smithsonian Institute for Biodiversity Genomics (BioGenomics). Genomics is the branch of molecular biology that studies the complete set of genetic material that defines an organism. Essential information about how life works is contained in the genomes of each and every species on Earth.

With the launch of BioGenomics, the Smithsonian Institution will provide the high-profile, multi-disciplinary scholarship, leadership, collaborative spirit, and logistical support necessary to enhance our understanding of the natural world.  Genomics will provide scientists with answers to important questions of biology and evolution, which in turn will help solve the problems that threaten our planet’s diversity of life.  The excellence, vision, and global reach of the Smithsonian is represented by the collections and field-based initiatives of our museums and research centers which have long led influential biodiversity initiatives. Members of Biogenomics include the National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the National Zoo, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and the Museum Conservation Institute.

The 2013 Secretary’s Distinguished Research Lecture Award

Dr. Christine Jones, Director of the Consortium for Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe and Senior Astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, received the 2013 Secretary’s Distinguished Research Lecture Award.

She presented her lecture, “Black Holes at Work: What ‘Fossil Records’ of the Impacts of Energetic Outbursts from Supermassive Black Holes Reveal About Galaxy Evolution” on March 11, 2014.

The Secretary’s Distinguished Research Lecture Award recognizes a scholar’s sustained achievement in research, long-standing investment in the Smithsonian, outstanding contribution to a field, and ability to communicate research to a nonspecialist audience.

Dr. Jones, the 14th recipient of the Secretary’s Distinguished Research Lecture Award, was selected from finalists recommended by a committee representing research areas across the spectrum of Smithsonian scholarship.


The Field Museum’s 2013 Parker/Gentry Award

Dr. W. John Kress
Dr. W. John Kress

Dr. W. John Kress, Under Secretary for Science, received the Field Museum’s 2013 Parker/Gentry Award. Kress is curator and research scientist in the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, studying tropical biology, ethnobotany, evolution, and plant systematics.

The Parker/Gentry Award was made possible by a generous gift from an anonymous donor. The award honors an outstanding individual, team or organization whose efforts have had a significant impact on preserving the world’s rich natural heritage and whose actions can serve as a model to others.

The award bears the names of the late Theodore A. Parker III and Alwyn Gentry, ardent conservationists and leading naturalists. Parker, an ornithologist, and Gentry, a botanist, died on August 3, 1993, while surveying hill forests of western Ecuador. Parker and Gentry worked closely with Field Museum scientists on several joint efforts, including rapid inventories for conservation.