Cleveland, OH,
16:02 PM

Cleveland Museum of Natural History Names Robert Edwards as Assistant Curator of Environment

New Post is Part of the $150-Million Campaign to Transform the Museum and Deepen Public Engagement

As part of its $150-million campaign to transform its building, exhibitions, education programs, and community engagement, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History today announced that it has appointed Dr. Robert “Bort” Edwards as assistant curator of environment. The post is part of new curatorial appointments the Museum will be making to advance its multi-disciplinary research, programming, and educational initiatives. Edwards is an evolutionary biologist whose research focuses on the causes, processes, and patterns of species distribution across environments, a critical tool for protecting biodiversity and the health of the planet. Edwards will join the Museum on November 1, 2021.  

Before joining the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Dr. Edwards served as an associate research scientist in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, where he worked on The Map of Life—a global initiative to map the distributions of all known species across the planet. In his new role at the Museum, Edwards will develop a research program to understand environmental change regionally and on a global scale, using the Museum’s extensive collections and its more than 11,000 acres of natural area preserves in Northern Ohio. Edwards will harness this research to present exhibitions and programming that help forge strong connections between individuals, their communities, and the ever-changing natural world.  

“The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is in the midst of a complete reinvention of our entire complex to tell a unified story of life and the forces that shape the universe,” said Sonia Winner, President and CEO of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. “An essential element of this ambitious project is establishing new curatorial positions to advance the multi-disciplinary research that is the foundation for our community-oriented exhibitions and educational programs. Dr. Edwards’ outstanding research and his commitment to making complex scientific information accessible to everyday audiences, make him the perfect match for this new appointment. We’re deeply excited to welcome him to the Museum.” 

Gavin Svenson, Cleveland Museum of Natural History Director of Research and Collections continued, “Dr. Edwards’ research integrates a broad range of approaches—the study of evolutionary relationships, environmental modeling, geographic information system mapping, field work, and work in museum collections. His ability to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries, elegantly synthesize massive amounts of data, and catalyze collaboration is absolutely critical to addressing the environmental challenges we face in Ohio and globally. These methodologies are not only crucial to bringing the Museum’s research program into the 21st century, but they also bring an immediate relevance to the ways in which science impacts all of our daily lives.” 

As assistant curator of environment at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Dr. Edwards will design and implement a research program to assess changes in biodiversity, ecosystem structure, species distribution, climate, and other issues critical to environmental health, and bring these relevant insights to the forefront of the Museum’s reimagined exhibitions and program. His work will draw from the accumulated knowledge of the Museum's outstanding collections, including its 66 natural preserves totaling nearly 12,000 acres across Northern Ohio. He will also collaborate with the Museum’s team of researchers and research partners to scale methodologies to other disciplines, geographies, and populations.  

Bort Edwards added, “I am thrilled to join the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to continue my work seeking to understand the drivers of biological diversity. I will explore these processes at a global scale, while also applying this knowledge and enthusiasm to understanding and communicating the invaluable local natural resources entrusted to the Museum." 

Before Dr. Edwards’ position at Yale, he was a Research Associate at the University of Memphis and the Center for Biodiversity Research (CBio), and a Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, where he is currently a research associate. He served as a postdoctoral researcher in the Presgraves lab at the University of Rochester after completing his PhD in phylogenetics and biogeography at the University of Queensland.