Firstly, what is a Malacologist? This is one of many specializations in natural science collections dealing with creepy crawlies and the group in question is introduced. The day-to-day work of a museum natural scientist is explained, the fun parts and the tedious parts. The personality attributes that would suit a prospective candidate to this sort of work are mentioned. Examples of applications of natural science collections – who uses such collections and for what purposes – are discussed.
Mary Cole studied Zoology and Entomology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is employed as a curator of a natural science collection at the East London Museum and did an M.Sc. on the fauna of the Nahoon estuary and beach in East London through Mandela University while employed. She completed her PhD through Rhodes University on land snails. She is interested in all fauna and flora, including identifying them, understanding the ecosystems in which they live and their conservation. She enjoys spending holidays in nature reserves and other wild places, and is fortunate to have the beautiful beaches of East London close enough to go walking over weekends and after work with her husband, who is also a natural scientist, and her four rescue dogs.