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A treasure trove of nature: the advances and challenges of digitising natural history specimens

Date & Time : Thursday 16 May 2019, 6.00pm - 9.30pm
Venue : BCS, 1st Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA
(View on Google Maps)
Speaker : Steen Dupont and Laurence Livermore


The Natural History Museum holds over 80 million specimens, ranging from tiny prehistoric shark teeth, massive meteorites and some of the most comprehensive collections of contemporary animals and plants. While the museum has an established Digital Collections Programme many challenges still remain in effectively digitising these specimens and extracting, linking and sharing their data. Over the past three years we have developed new semi-automated workflows and experimented with automated image analysis, text mining and machine learning on images of our specimens and related literature. We will discuss some of the physical and digital challenges, our current approaches and plans for the future.

About the Speaker

Steen Dupont: Steen has been an entomologist for almost two decades at the University of Copenhagen, Harvard University and now at the Natural History Museum of London. For the past 3 years Steen has been involved in the Natural History Museum’s Digital Collections Programme (DCP) that is focused on the digitisation of and organisational infrastructure required to make the collections of the Natural History Museum digitally available to the general public and the global scientific community. With specific focus on data governance, collections management systems, imaging hardware innovation, LEGO and digitisation workflows Steen is involved in almost every aspect of the DCP digitisation effort.

Laurence Livermore: Laurence is an Innovation Project Manager in the Department of Life Sciences at NHM. He manages multiple projects and teams for the museum’s Digital Collections Programme, including computer vision research and mass digitisation projects. He enjoys working with data, promoting open access and collaborating widely to solve digital challenges faced by similar organisations.

Overview of Agenda:

  • 6.00pm - Tea, coffee, juice & biscuits (Please sign in at ground floor security desk when you arrive)
  • 6.30pm - Talk
  • 7.30pm - Networking, including food and wine
  • 9.30pm - Close