Moira Meehan ’20, Greg Watkins-Colwell ’91, and Josh Pletcher ’21 explore the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University. Watkins-Colwell hosted the OWU students for a spring break internship at the Connecticut facility. (Photo courtesy of Josh Pletcher)

Week at the Museum

Ohio Wesleyan Students Learn from Alumnus at Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

By Cole Hatcher

Name: Josh Pletcher ’21
Hometown: Wellington, Colorado
Majors: Pre-Professional Zoology and Geology (Professional)
Minor: History
OWU Connection Experience: Bishop Externship at the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University

Pletcher and Moira Meehan ’20 of Bay Village, Ohio, completed a short internship over spring break at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Connecticut. The museum is one of the oldest and largest university natural history museums in the world.

Their experience was arranged by Career Connection Office with financial support from the Small Grant Program, part of The OWU Connection. Greg Watkins-Colwell ’91, collections manager of ichthyology and herpetology at the Yale Peabody Museum, served as their host.

Why I Chose This Experience

“I chose this experience because of my work study in OWU’s Brant Museum of Zoology. I was keen to learn more about careers in natural history museums and techniques to apply to our on-campus collections. I have always been fascinated by the encyclopedic nature and historic importance of natural history collections, which attracted me to OWU’s natural history museum and this experience.”

My Favorite Moment

“I really enjoyed exploring the collections and seeing all the neat specimens the Peabody Museum holds. It’s like exploring for buried treasure, you never know what you might find. In particular, I found the vertebrate paleontology and vertebrate zoology collections most interesting, with dinosaur eggs, fossil mammals, penguins, and a coelacanth.”

Lessons Learned

“I learned many things that will help improve the management of OWU’s natural history museum. For instance, I learned how to prepare lizards, birds, and mammals for skeletonization by the dermestid beetle colony. In addition, I learned about techniques for digitizing microscope slides and larger specimens, such as shells.

“This is important for our collection as we have been working to digitize our specimens to make them available to the wider scientific community and general public. Both of these tied very nicely with my future plans to work and research in a natural history museum such as the Yale Peabody.

“To me, experiences like this are very important to learn about careers in the natural sciences and explore what areas I’m most interested in working in and making a career of.”

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“I chose to attend Ohio Wesleyan because of the excellent zoology program and the natural history museum on campus. I was particularly attracted to the opportunities for travel, such as a two-week safari to Tanzania through the Travel-Learning Course ‘Biology of East Africa,’ and opportunities such as this to explore natural history museums and the natural world.”

My Plans after Graduation

“After graduation, I plan to attend graduate school for zoology or paleontology. In particular, I am interested in investigating the parasites of prehistoric megafauna such as the mammoths and ground sloths through the collections of natural history museums. Eventually, I hope to become a collections manager at a natural history museum somewhere.”