Interact with the scientists

April 10, 2012 

A key feature of the N.C. Museum of Science’s new Nature Research Center is that visitors will be able to interact directly with scientists. The people doing research work won’t be cloistered away out of sight – they’ll be working in glass-walled labs and coming out to talk about what they’re doing. They’ll do it long-distance, too – either to classrooms around the state, or broadcasting via satellite feed from out in the field to the SECU Daily Planet. The NRC will have 21 permanent staff scientists, and the most visible figures will be the ones running the center’s four main departments. Drop by, and maybe one of these team leaders will be out on the floor talking about ongoing research.

Roland W. Kays

Director, Biodiversity Research Laboratory 40 years old, from the New York State Museum of Albany Will also teach at N.C. State University Roland Kays studies mammals, especially those on the go. His specialty is movements of birds, bees, coyotes and other migratory creatures. Because it’s impossible for anyone to be everywhere at once, Kays is already working the citizen-science angle for his work at the Nature Research Center. “We’ve been loaning out some cameras ahead of the grand opening, and we’ll have people bring them back then,” Kays said. “We’re having people run camera traps near backyard chicken coops to see what predators are attracted, see which predators live in different areas. We’ll share videoclips at the Daily Planet as they come in, make some maps and graphs.” That will be just the start, if Kays has his way. “This is really exciting, to get other people excited about science,” he said. “The scientific process can seem like a scary thing, but it’s the kind of thing we do every day. We just have to show people.”

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