Area: Natural History
B.Sc., Biology and Psychology, McMaster University, 1979
M.Sc., Zoology, Carleton University, 1982
Susan’s interest in nature began as a young child growing up next to a large stretch of prairie in Calgary, with family visits to the Calgary Zoo almost every weekend and summers in the Rockies of British Columbia. Exposure to a vast array of large mammals and several species of ground squirrel made a big impression on her as a child. As she grew up, she began collecting many things, among them skulls of mammals. Her student office during her Masters program was located within the Carleton University Museum of Zoology, which influenced her progression toward a career in mammalogy within a museum environment. This, combined with many courses in computer programming in high school and throughout her university career, made her particularly pre-adapted to museum collections work at a time when computers were just coming on the scene.
Susan first joined the ROM as a Research Assistant, running statistical analyses for then Mammalogy Curator Randolph Peterson's research projects. Within several years, she became a Curatorial Assistant, eventually specializing in database management and collections management as she assumed responsibility for overseeing the automation of collection data. She developed all of the ROM Mammalogy database management systems, including the voucher specimen database, tissues database, accession database, and a collections management tracking system. She now coordinates virtually all work associated with the mammal collections in her capacity as Collections Manager.
The bulk of Susan’s publications deal with information system development and database management issues within the museum context. Her later publications deal more with general collections management within a large institution. On a day to day basis, she oversees a rapidly growing collection of over 120,000 mammal specimens, supervises and trains volunteers and part-time staff, coordinates work for full-time staff, manages the discipline’s collection budget and purchases, manages the Mammalogy databases, responds to information requests, oversees collections visitors, and develops short term displays for events like March Break. She also serves as curatorial representative in development teams for ROM travelling educational kits and galleries like Life in Crisis: Schad Gallery of Biodiversity, which opened in May, 2009. She contributes actively to gallery enhancements, like the recent introduction of e-labeling to the Gallery, and to public programming related to the all Natural History galleries at the ROM.