Biodiversity Institute Open Initiatives
The University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute runs a variety of biodiversity centered programs in the areas of research, citizen science, education and outreach and cultural programs These programs are developed under the Biodiversity Institute's open initiatives; overarching, mission based ventures, which guide and inform research directions, funding decisions, partnerships, and the creation or support of Institute programs.
Learn about the Biodiversity Institute's program areas below.
Current Open Initiatives
The Wyoming Biodiversity Citizen Science Initiative grew from one of the Institutes earliest citizen science programs, WyoBio. The Wyoming Biodiversity Citizen Science Initiative's growing list of citizen science programs, utilize the WyoBio database and mapping toolset to branch out in exploration of Wyoming's biological landscape.
Wyoming is a stronghold for raptor populations in western North America. While surrounding states have experienced declines in many species, the relatively undisturbed landscapes of Wyoming allow many populations of raptors to thrive. Nonetheless, Wyoming raptors face several challenges. The BI recognizes a need for an effective summary of the state-of-science regarding raptors in the region, with special attention to questions of most importance to land and wildlife managers and policy-makers, to advance effective and efficient conservation.
The Biodiversity Institutes programs are based on the Institute's Open Initiatives and generally fall under one or more of the following program areas.
Below our featured programs we explore each of these areas in more detail.
Click on any of the topic areas listed above to jump to that section.
The Biodiversity Institute seeks to increase the general understanding of biological diversity in Wyoming and beyond through a variety of research grants and collaborative projects.
The Biodiversity Institute works with researchers at UW and beyond to support and guide biodiversity research through annual funding opportunities at both the faculty and collegiate level, offering grants to the University of Wyoming and biodiversity research community. Through the Biodiversity Institutes Open Initiatives the Institutes works with research professionals to identify research needs, and create grant based funding opportunities, fellowships and other financial and operational support around the goals outlined in the related initiative.
Additionally, in support of Biodiversity Research, the Biodiversity Institute supports and houses the University of Wyoming Program in Ecology (PiE), an interdisciplinary doctoral program focusing on the scientific study of the relations between organisms and their environments. This graduate level program provides students with advanced, integrated training in the science of ecology. Program in Ecology studies students receive training in the conceptual, philosophical, and historical underpinnings of ecological knowledge, as well as leadership and communication skills relevant to contemporary professional and public settings. Research interests of participating students and faculty span a broad range of organisms, environments, analytical tools, and spatial and temporal scales.
Seven grant programs are funded and managed by the Institute to support basic and applied research and communicate the value of science and the natural world to the public. The largest program, in terms of number of projects funded, provides financial support to UW undergraduate and graduate students conducting innovative and high-impact biodiversity research. Known as Biodiversity Student Grants, this program is now in its fourth cycle, has provided assistance to students from five departments and two colleges, and has distributed a total of 24 grants for a combined $162,000 between 2012 and 2017.
Another grants program, the Biodiversity Research & Conservation Grants, supports research by UW faculty, and funded six awards for a total of $205,000 in 2015 and 2016. Five of the awards supported faculty in the Departments of Botany and Zoology, and enabled research on tropical bird demography, fish biodiversity, effects of soil water on sagebrush distribution, and dynamics of small mammal communities. The sixth award
supported the Rocky Mountain Amphibian Project, which is a citizen science effort involving the BI, WYNDD, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. This grant program is currently in its second cycle, and will fund 1-3 new grants for about $125,000 in total funding in August 2017.
More Information on the Biodiversity Institute's Research and Grant programs Can be found under "Research & Grants" in the Main Navigation Bar, or by clicking here.
Citizen science projects are an increasingly popular and effective way for people to interact with their local ecosystems alongside scientists. These events organize families, school and youth groups, interested citizens, and scientists to collect data on ecological topics such as species’ distributions, population trends, and habitat conservation.
The BI currently conducts five annually-recurring citizen science projects, including amphibian surveys, moose counts, and multi-species “bioblitzes”. To date this work has engaged over 1,000 volunteers. Citizen science projects have also resulted in valuable partnerships with other organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Rockies, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Furthermore, the Institute has developed an online mapping application – WyoBio – that enables citizens to upload and view field observations, whether collected as part of an organized project or on their own. In the three years since its launch, WyoBio has accumulated field data from over 250 contributors.
More Information on the Biodiversity Institute's Citizen Science programs Can be found under "Intitiates & Programs" in the Main Navigation Bar under the "Citizen Science" heading, or by clicking here.
The BI is dedicated to educating and inspiring youth to become active and scientifically-literate custodians of the natural world. To that end, the Institute provides a multitude of educational experiences, from one-time visits with scientists, to week-long workshops in collaboration with other UW units, to months-long, standards-based curricula that are implemented in schools by teachers. BI faculty also work with UW students as course instructors and graduate student mentors, with community members through a variety of educational events, and with UW faculty who are required to develop educational activities as part of their research grants.
In addition to direct contact with students, BI staff work with K-12 teachers to develop curricula and activities that meet science learning goals and standards. Often these efforts to “teach the teachers” use the Berry Center’s natural history collections, gardens, and laboratories as teaching facilities. With assistance and expertise of graduate students in UW's Science and Math Teaching Center (SMTC), the Institute has developed and implemented three month-long units that connect Wyoming's new science standards with UW biodiversity science, and also connect students to their local ecosystems. K-12 educators receive training through SMTC’s graduate-level life science classes taught by BI staff, receiving professional development credits at the Summer Teaching Institute. BI staff regularly attend professional teacher conferences in Wyoming (e.g., Roadmap to Stem, Math & Science Teachers Conference) to promote biodiversity science, distribute BI products, and interact with educators.
The BI provides educational workshops and field experiences for general community participation as well, including about 10 invited presentations of biodiversity science by Institute staff to professional or community groups each year. In addition, the BI continually enhances and maintains the Berry Center and surrounding landscape as an attractive educational facility. There is now a constant flow of individuals, families, classes, and community groups through the Berry Center, interacting with the various displays and installations throughout the building. Along with the Geology Museum, Anthropology Museum, and Rocky Mountain Herbarium, the Berry Center is now a primary destination for science classes and groups touring UW. It will become an even more important center of activity as the UW campus continues developing to the north.
More Information on the Biodiversity Institute's Education programs Can be found under "Education" in the Main Navigation Bar, or by clicking here.
The BI not only produces impactful biodiversity science, it also works hard to communicate the role, process, and results of science to a wider audience. This outreach mission is not only fundamental to a land grant university, it is also fundamental to building societal support for science-based conservation. The BI is committed to moving scientific results beyond journal pages and into the grasp of, and application by, natural resource managers, policy-makers, and the general public.
The Institute utilizes the Berry Center to encourage citizens to interact with biodiversity science and scientists through natural history displays, windows into research and teaching laboratories, and space for artwork and public gatherings. Since 2012 additional displays and features have been added to the Center, including suspended metal sculptures of Wyoming raptors and lighted maps of the biogeography of Wyoming. In addition, the BI has designed the landscaping of the Berry Center to form outdoor learning spaces, utilizing native plant gardens, educational signage, and creative gathering sites for students and the public. Notably, the “Berry Prairie” is a 3600 ft2 green roof with approximately 100 species of locally native plants.
Additionally, the Institute collaborates with many other entities, on and off campus, to produce and conduct larger events that explore particular biological themes and issues. Since 2012 the BI has led or cooperated on 190 outreach events, engaging over 14,000 people. Most of these events occur in the Berry Center, making it widely recognized as the regional center of biodiversity research and activity. An April 2017 presentation by the Draper Museum's Melissa Hill and four live raptors brought about 200 people to the Berry Center - likely the largest gathering for a one-time event in the building since its opening.
More Information on the Biodiversity Institute's Outreach programs can be found throughout the website - for specific events and times look in "News & Events" under the heading "Events" in the Main Navigation Bar, or by clicking here.
Every year the Biodiversity Institute offers a series of cultural programs that generally free and open to the public. The BI hosts a range of events, including speakers, movies, performances, and art exhibits, which brings together a cross-section of the community to learn about and reflect on the natural environment.
The Biodiversity Institute's concerts , movies and performances combine the worlds of art and science with tremendous success. all of these events are held in the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center.
Our BioMusica Concert Series is generally held three times per year (spring, summer, and fall), and explores interpretation of biodiversity through performance and sound. The Biodiversity Movie Series held once or twice every month focuses on a different topic within biodiversity and targets varying age groups, with a selection of documentary and narrative films that are both entertaining and educational.
The Institute hosts regular art exhibitions in the building, also focusing on biodiversity and exploration of the natural world, and the building and grounds host the Animals Eyes permanent sculpture exhibit, a public art work commissioned by the University of Wyoming’s Biodiversity Institute
and created by Marek Walczak & Wes Heiss.
More Information on the Biodiversity Institute's Cultural Programs an be found in "Initiatives and Programs" under the heading "Biodiversity in Culture" in the Main Navigation Bar, or by clicking here.