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Advanced Courses on Life Sciences

Online course – 8th Edition

Care and Management of Natural History Collections

April 9th-25th, 2024

Live sessions will be recorded

Care and Management of Natural History Collections


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Course overview & Programme

Using a combination of lectures, discussions, demonstrations, and readings, this course will teach participants how to better care for and manage all natural history collections (including botany, geosciences, and zoology).

The importance of the collections storage environment is emphasized, as well as the identification and selection of inert materials, testing locally available materials, adapting collections care standards to particular environmental conditions, and good management through sound policies and collection planning.

Rather than the traditional discipline-based approach, the course teaches collections care based on collection material and preparation type―dry preparations, wet preparations, and documentation (including paper-based and electronic media).

The course will benefit individuals who already have experience in caring for natural history collections, as well as those who intend to work with natural history collections.

  • Introduction.
  • History of natural history collections and specimen preservation.
  • Categories of collections.
  • Use and value of collections and impact on research.
  • Importance of collection-based research and specimens as research vouchers.
  • Permits, CITIES, and other laws and regulations.
  • Theoretical and conceptual bases collections management.
  • Preventive conservation in theory and practice.
  • Security issues for natural history collections.
  • Materials used for collections care.
  • Group I—Dry preserved collections and genetic samples.
    • Whole organisms and parts preserved dry or frozen.
    • Tissues.
    • Bones and teeth.
    • Invertebrate shells and exoskeletons.
    • Rocks, fossils, minerals.
    • Health and safety concerns for dry preserved specimens
  • Group II—Wet preserved collections.
    • Whole organisms and parts preserved in fluids.
    • Histological preparations.
    • Minerals, rocks and fossils in fluids.
    • Health and safety concerns for fluid-preserved specimens.
  • Group III—Documentation.
    • Paper based records.
    • Film and tape based records.
    • Electronic records (databases).
    • Molds and casts.
    • Other media.
  • Storage environments and environmental monitoring.
  • Integrated pest management.
  • Professional standards and ethics.
  • Collections management policies.
  • Collection assessment.
  • Conservation assessments.
  • Collection Health Index.
  • Laboratory Sessions:
    • Beilstein test for chlorides in plastics.
    • Detection of glass deterioration.
    • Identifying glass composition with UV light.
    • Marking topping-up levels with grease pencil.
    • Use of pH testing pen on paper.
    • Use of pH indicator strips with fluid preserved specimens.
    • Estimation of lipids in fluids.
    • Smear test for printed documentation.
    • Tape test for printed documentation.
    • Atmospheric pressure demonstration.
    • Surface tension demonstration.
    • Use of visible light meter.
    • Use of ultraviolet light meter.
    • Use of sling psychrometer.
    • Use of dataloggers.
    • Discussions of other important material tests (Oddy test, estimating volatile acids from storage furniture using pH indicator strips; testing inks for lightfastness and solvent resistance).

Participants must have a personal computer (Windows, Mac, Linux), with access to a good internet connection.

The use of a webcam and headphones is strongly recommended.


Greg McDonald instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Greg McDonald
Bureau of Land Management
United States of America

John E. Simmons instructor for Transmitting Science

John E. Simmons
United States of America

Dates & Schedule

Online live sessions on 9th, 11th, 16th, 18th, 23rd, and 25th of April

From 16:00 to 20:30 (Madrid time zone)

Total course hours: 40

27 hours of live sessions, plus 13 hours of pre-recorded lectures to watch asynchronously.

This course is equivalent to 2 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) at the Life Science Zurich Graduate School.

The recognition of ECTS by other institutions depends on each university or school.



This course will be delivered live online

This course will be taught using a combination of live (synchronous) sessions on Zoom and pre-recorded lectures to be watched asynchronously.

Live sessions will be recorded. Recordings will be made available to participants for a limited period of time. However, attendance to the live sessions is required.


Places are limited to 22 participants and will be occupied by strict registration order.

Participants who have completed the course will receive a certificate at the end.

Haris Saslis instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Haris Saslis
Transmitting Science

Sergio Montagud Coordinator Transmitting Science

Dr. Sergio Montagud
Universitat de València

Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno Transmitting Science coordinator

Dr. Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno
Transmitting Science

Fees & Discounts

  • Course Fee
  • Early bird (until February 29th, 2024):
  • 586 €
    (468.80 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • Regular (after February 29th, 2024):
  • 746 €
    (596.80 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • Prices include VAT.
    After registration you will receive confirmation of your acceptance on the course.
    Payment is not required during registration.

We offer discounts on the Course Fee.

Discounts are not cumulative. Participants receive the highest appropriate discount.

We also offer the possibility of paying in two instalments. Please contact us to request this.

Former participants of Transmitting Science courses receive a 5% discount on the Course Fee.

20% discount on the Course Fee is offered to members of certain organisations (Ambassador Institutions). If you wish to apply for this discount, please indicate it in the Registration form (proof will be asked later). If you would like your institution to become a Transmitting Science Ambassador Institution, please contact us at communication@transmittingscience.com

Unemployed scientists, as well as PhD students without any grant or scholarship to develop their PhD, can benefit from a 40% discount on the Course Fee. This applies only to participants based in Spain. If you wish to ask for this discount, please contact us. The discount may apply for a maximum of 2 places, which will be covered by strict registration order.