When WWU biology students went home and classes went online during the height of the pandemic, lab support tech Kendra Bradford tackled a COVID project: putting the Biology Department’s massive shell collection online.
The department has about 1,770 types of shells from around the world, and often many shells of a single type. They were collected over the decades by faculty, staff and community members. A large portion were collected by one professor, the late June Ross, who taught biology at Western from 1967 to 2004.
After fellow lab support tech Sarah Hoag, ’03, B.A., biology, tracked down all the boxes of shells, Bradford set up a makeshift photo studio in a teaching lab and took thousands of photographs of the shells, along with the notes about them and where they were collected. She worked with Tony Kurtz, ’88, B.A., English and ’99, M.A., history, and others in Western Libraries to upload the images to MABEL, Western’s Multimedia Archives Based Electronic Library.
Now that the biology labs are filled with students again, the shell collection is available for all to see.
“We hope that the collection will be used as a reference and a teaching tool for biology students, the Western community, and the general public,” Bradford says.