May 18, 2021

Texas Lettered Naturalists

The Sam Houston State University Natural History Collections in Huntsville, Texas is a research facility managing the scientific collections of the University. We are preparing to make nominations for our volunteer Research Associate Program. Our working title is "Texas Lettered Naturalists". Currently, there are multiple venues for people who are interested in natural history. Facebook has multitudes of interest groups. iNaturalist allows participants to contribute locality records of their observations. The Texas Master Naturalists program provides cursory introductions to diverse fields while performing service projects. But if your brand of enthusiasm is more focused; your long term goal is to progress beyond the hobbyist and actually grow into an authority, then we are here to help. In times past a lettered individual was educated, well read, academic. But most nature enthusiasts do not have the wherewithal to pursue a degree, or a certificate. However, all museums have volunteer opportunities. And museum staff are free to write letters of reference expounding on the qualities and skills of the individual. So if you participate as a volunteer at your own pace and demonstrate a resume of skills or knowledge then these qualities can be memorialized to you in the form of a letter of reference from a curator. A letter of reference is a valuable credential. And many amateurs do progress to the stage of publishing noteworthy scientific contributions. We have a record of assisting novices in the progression from collector to scientist. The criterion is publication.

Normally research associates are visiting scholars, but for the first time, we are happy to announce that we will reserve two of these spots for talented amateur insect collectors. We are doing this to build local capacity of insect specialists. An astonishing amount of the raw discovery that is done in field entomology is accomplished by amateurs. Our museum currently has a diverse community of natural historians who are experts in their particular group, yet earn their living in non-science fields; engineers, business, corrections, nursing, welding. Basically, there are lots of people studying natural history who are not scientists or professors. Now through venues like Facebook groups we can see that there is a large group of people who are interested and capable yet lack a portal of entry into the museum world. "Texas Lettered Naturalists" aims to become a vehicle conveying a small number of people from novice to expert. ​

The museum currently has insect survey projects going on in four large military bases and in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, at Rush Creek near the Canyonlands Unit of the Big Thicket and at several other private locations. We have rich opportunities to participate in entomology from fieldwork to curating to data management. We have a backlog of millions of specimens that you can tap into.

Associates will be museum volunteers. They should reside within a comfortable distance enabling weekly visits to the museum. You may be provided with bench/working space in the museum, use of our microscopes, imaging equipment, archives, collection of over one million specimens, library of technical literature for identification. You may be assigned cabinets and drawers for the storage and care of your own personal collections. You will be encouraged to develop your own personal collections. You will be invited to participate in collecting at remote, private localities with unusual habitat. You will receive instruction in the use of maps and databases that aid the location of unusual habitats. You will build personal relationships with professional entomologists of all types who pass through the museum on a regular basis. You will build your personal professional contacts and enjoy fellowship with people based on common interests. The study of natural history will cut across all lines of class, income, race, religion, etcetera. These human constructs will be meaningless within a group pf people who are solely interested in the six-legged productions of the natural world. You will be instructed in the art of operating diverse field collecting equipment such as malaise, flight intercept, pitfall, lindgren funel, etc. You will be instructed in proper labeling and data capture. You will have the opportunity to suggest specimens for DNA sequencing. You will be instructed in proper curation techniques. You will be encouraged to identify an entomological project that can result in novel discoveries that are sufficiently noteworthy to warrant publication in an entomological journal. Publication of entomological discoveries is a priority goal and it is the practice of the museum to be liberal with the allocation of co-authorship to those who have made intellectual contribution to a study. Upon achieving proficiency in entomological techniques and practices, you will be provided with a letter of recommendation from the Curator of the Museum stating that you have served as a volunteer and become proficient in the listed techniques. If you have ever thought that you would like to gain entry into the world of the entomological museum then this is your chance. Only two positions are available.

Submit a letter of interest to Dr. William Godwin, Curator Sam Houston State Natural History Collections

Posted on May 18, 2021 03:39 PM by rjnjr rjnjr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 14, 2018

Our latest Paper on Automeris louisiana has been published!

We are pleased to announce that our latest paper has been published in the Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies. It is entitled Automeris louisiana (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae) populations in the chenier plain habitat of coastal Texas, with new distributional and larval host plant records

Robert J. Nuelle, Jr. Aicezs, Kelsey Kralman, Robert J. Nuelle, III and Matthew Whitbeck

Evidence for a viable Texas population of Automeris louisiana, using historical collection records, and biogeographical analysis are presented. Results include new distributional records for the species and the first analysis to show it possibly endemic to Texas coast chenier plain marshes. A new larval hostplant Bolboschoenus robustus is identified in this study.

Here is a link to download the paper:

Robert J. Nuelle, Jr.

Posted on April 14, 2018 01:10 PM by rjnjr rjnjr | 2 comments | Leave a comment

February 28, 2018

New Paper Published - 2/27/2018

Dear Friends:

Our latest paper has been published and we are so excited to announce the event.

Thanks to the wonderful assistance of Dr. James Whitfield and all of our friends at Sam Houston State Natural History Collection we are happy to send you a link to view or download the paper.

We are so honored to make a contribution - and so excited to be on the trail of more new discoveries in the near future.

You can visit this site to see the paper

Thank you so much.

Posted on February 28, 2018 10:43 PM by rjnjr rjnjr | 2 comments | Leave a comment

February 18, 2016

New Paper Published - Hemileuca peigleri

For the last 3 years my son, Robert Nuelle, III Dr. Will Godwin and I have been working to get our article on the coastal population of Hemileuca peigleri published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.

To help facilitate our publishing efforts; our parent group - The East Texas Natural History Collection entered into a partnership with The Journal for Entomology and Zoology Studies.

We received notification yesterday that our article was published!

You can read the abstract here.

Link to the PDF:

Biogeography of a disjunct population of Hemileuca peigleri (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae) in the coastal bend of Texas

by Robert J. Nuelle, Jr.; Robert J. Nuelle, III; Dr. Shakhawat Bhuiyan; Dr. William Godwin

[Pages: 543-549]

Posted on February 18, 2016 06:46 PM by rjnjr rjnjr | 8 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

August 28, 2015

New Paper Published

For the last year my son Robert Nuelle, III and I have been working to get our first paper published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.

To help facilitate our publishing efforts; our parent group - The East Texas Natural History Collection entered into a partnership with The Journal for Entomology and Zoology Studies.

We received notification this morning that our first paper was published!

You can read the whole paper here.

Link to the PDF:

Practical advice on the rearing of Saturniid caterpillars with notes on specimen preservation and parasitoid research

Robert J. Nuelle, Jr., Robert J. Nuelle, III

[Page no. [383-390]

Posted on August 28, 2015 05:45 PM by rjnjr rjnjr | 1 comment | Leave a comment


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