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2024 Season Lecture Series

The Museum offers in-person and online lectures throughout the year. Stay tuned for the next series of lectures to take place this fall. Previous in-person lectures are listed below.
here to watch recordings of previous online lectures.

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Gregory Herbert, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Geosciences, University of South Florida

Loving Icons to Death: The Story of Florida’s Horse Conch

Wednesday, January 31, 5:30pm

Cost: $10 or FREE for Museum Members (memberships to be confirmed upon registration)

Florida's Horse Conch is one of the largest marine gastropods in the world with a maximum shell length of about two feet. Although the species is prized by collectors and fished commercially, the combination of overharvesting and habitat losses are pushing populations to their limits. Dr. Herbert discusses the natural history of horse conchs and shows how the geochemistry of their shells helps wildlife managers understand this species’ capacity to recover. 


Greg Herbert, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Geosciences at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he conducts research on marine conservation, molluscan biology and evolution, and isotope geochemistry. Dr. Herbert received his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of California, Davis and a B.S. in Philosophy from Loyola University in New Orleans.  He is the former Director of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Culture and Environment at the University of South Florida.   

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Shelby Van Pelt

Remarkably Bright Creatures: Animals, Humans, and Stories

Monday, February 19, 5:30pm

Cost: $15 or $10 for Museum Members (memberships to be confirmed upon registration)

Shelby Van Pelt’s 2022 novel Remarkably Bright Creatures is a powerful story about a widow’s unlikely friendship with a Giant Pacific Octopus residing at a local aquarium. It earned critical and popular acclaim, becoming a New York Times Bestseller, IndieNext List selection, and Jenna’s Book Club Pick.

In this talk, Ms. Van Pelt discusses her book and how connections between humans and animals can be revelatory, help humans connect to each other, and inspire.

A book signing is included in the evening’s program.

Shelby Van Pelt is originally from the Pacific Northwest and now lives in Chicago with her husband and two children. Remarkably Bright Creatures is her debut novel.

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Rachel Morgan
Senior Coral Biologist, The Florida Aquarium

Florida’s Corals and the Mission to Save Them

Wednesday, March 20, 5:30pm


Cost: $10 or FREE for Museum Members (memberships to be confirmed upon registration)


Coral reefs are among the most important, and beautiful, living organisms in the world, sustaining life for countless species of marine life including mollusks. They are also under major threat worldwide. The Florida Aquarium in Tampa is a leader in regional coral conservation efforts, deploying strategies including reproduction and restoration of the Florida Reef Tract, and has mobilized a broad array of collaborations with partners including the University of Florida and Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. Mrs. Morgan’s talk sheds light on this work and what lies ahead for corals in Florida.

Rachel Morgan is Senior Coral Biologist with The Florida Aquarium’s Coral Conservation Program in Apollo Beach, Florida. Originally from Tampa, she has always had a love for the ocean. Her interest in aquariums was brought to a whole new level with The Florida Aquarium’s successful reproduction of corals, raising tens of thousands of offspring, and assisting in active reef restoration. She completed her undergraduate studies at Marist College and is now working towards a master’s degree from the University of Florida studying coral to further restoration success.

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Paul Callomon
Collection Manager, Academy of Natural Sciences, Drexel University  

Precious Luster: On Pearls and Value

Wednesday, April 10, 5:30pm

Cost: $10 or FREE for Museum Members (memberships to be confirmed upon registration)

In this wide-ranging and entertaining talk, Paul Callomon explores the concept of value through one of its best-known historical emblems – pearls. Starting with their genesis within the shells of living oysters, we see how this one-time natural rarity and talisman of royal status was transformed into a mass-produced product that nevertheless retains its preciousness.


Paul Callomon is Collections Manager in Malacology and General Invertebrates at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia. Though originally a designer, his lifelong engagement with shells led him further into collecting, research, and publishing about them during a prolonged stay in Japan. His interests today focus on the social history of natural science, both in the West and in Japan, and on the museum as a metropolitan and cosmopolitan forum. He has advanced degrees in Museum Leadership and Science, Technology and Society.

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