Entomology Department, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Data Center Description
The purpose of a natural history museum is to collect, describe,
organize, and finally to explain life?s diversity and evolution
through education. "Systematics" (once famously defined as "the
study of any and all organisms and the relationships between
them") is the discipline most essential to this purpose. About
two-thirds of the scientists at NMNH (including all NMNH
entomologists) are systematists.

Because systematists are experts on life?s diversity, they
constantly experience pressures (and temptations) to focus on
short-term, applied research projects. However, there are many
universities, research institutes, government agencies, and
privately endowed organizations dedicated to relatively
straightforward practical tasks: tracking locust plagues in
Africa, researching treatments for Lyme disease, or combating
the Mediterranean fruit fly. In contrast, very few organizations
are dedicated to providing the collection-based systematic
support on which the former organizations must depend; fewer
still have the size, history, influence and opportunity that
NMNH provides to excel at this task. We are unique and we make a
uniquely valuable, nearly irreplaceable contribution to society.

Website: http://entomology.si.edu/Entomology/data.lasso

[Summary provided by Entomotoloty Department, National Museum of
Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.]