Chris Meyer, a marine invertebrate zoologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, dives around French Polynesia with equipment used to track coral reef health. (Jenny Adler) As summer tightens its grip, there’s one thing to look forward to: vacation. But one person’s tropical island getaway can sometimes be another person’s fieldwork location. In this “ Meet a SI-entist ,” Chris Meyer , invertebrate zoologist and curator of mollusks at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History , shares what a typical day of fieldwork in the tropics looks like and explains how marine DNA “dust” can revolutionize biodiversity research. What led to you to study mollusks like clams, mussels, and sea snails? As a kid, I collected everything — even sand from different beaches. So, I always had a collector’s gene growing up. But in college, I had a really hard time with biology until I started learning about paleontology in the geology department, which is where everything clicked. Seeing how change throughout time was a common thread with evolution suddenly made sense. It started me down the path of asking research questions like why and how. I was fortunate to have a lot of professors who […]


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