Drexel, Academy of Natural Sciences join forces

Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences have tied the knot. The Academy has changed its name to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences have tied the knot.

The Academy has changed its name to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

Drexel will launch a new academic department called the Department of Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Science (BEES). Drexel president John Fry says it would not have been possible without the Academy of Natural Sciences.

“Honestly, we didn’t have the capability,” said Fry standing in front of the Academy building on the Parkway Wednesday. “With the rich collections they have, with the field work they do—we have a strong biology department, but this gives us so many more dimensions to practice in.”

The academy is the oldest natural science museum in America, with robust field research projects ongoing around the world. Drexel’s new academic department will take advantage of those opportunities.

“It allows us to do research very much in the tradition of experiment stations the academy works in, and the hands-on applied research we’re known for doing,” said Fry. “And we have service opportunities—impacting local, regional issues regarding the environment, Marcellus Shale, that sort of thing.”

On the other hand, the academy will welcome an influx of students and faculty energizing the institution. The 20 staff scientists will be teaching Drexel classes, and students will be participating in research projects.

Participation will not be limited to science. Students will get hands-on experience in exhibition design, museum administration, curating, even visitor service and hospitality.

“To bring Drexel talent to 19th Street—I can’t imagine the number of enhancements, while giving students what Drexel is famous for–experiential learning,” said George Gephart, academy president and CEO. “The co-op program is Drexel’s. It’s internationally known. We provide the field station here, and perhaps at Barnegat Bay, perhaps in Mongolia, in the Arctic, perhaps in Bioko—an island off the west coast of Africa.”

The Pew Charitable Trusts donated $1 million to the partnership. Drexel’s new earth science department will begin offering classes next fall.

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