“Could you describe the ruckus, sir?”

The Academy may be closed—and quarantine may sometimes feel like detention—but our science never stops! At 10 am on select mornings, Academy experts bring you discoveries, insights, and stories from around the world, spanning a wide range of subjects through live, informal presentations followed by Q&As with the viewing audience. Streamed simultaneously to our YouTube and Facebook pages, these mini-classes are for everyone (because each one of us is a brain). Sincerely yours, the Academy.

Tuesday, December 22, 10 am

Curator Nat Nagalingum badly photoshopped onto a photo of holly berries

WINTER IS COMING (So Let's Talk Traditional Holiday Plants!)
Dr. Nathalie Nagalingum, Associate Curator and McAllister Chair of Botany

No matter what holiday you celebrate, prepare to get festive with your botanical favorite, curator Dr. Nathalie Nagalingum! From boughs to berries and branches to blooms, she'll be talking holiday plants—Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Saturnalia, Festivus, you name it—and why they're part of our very human celebrations. In the meantime, please enjoy this photo of Nat badly Photoshopped onto a field of giant holly berries. 


Jan. 2021!

Closeup of Dr. Jessica Ware

Dragonflies, Damselflies, Termites, and More
Dr. Jessica Ware, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History

From dragonflies that are oh-so-easy to love to termites that definitely aren't, entomology superstar Dr. Jessica Ware takes Breakfast Club viewers on a winged tour of everything you always wanted to know about metamorphosing insects but were afraid to ask. (Plus, why maligned insects like termites really do deserve your love.) More details to come!   


Recent Breakfast Clubs

Find our 10 most recent Breakfast Club episodes below, or click here to see our full YouTube playlist.

Collections manager Chrissy Garcia holds up a large green crystal

Part 2: Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Gems and Minerals Collections
Chrissy Garcia, Geology Collections Manager

Because one trip into the deep-time world of sparkle wasn't enough, we're following up Chrissy's Nov. 3 livestream by heading right back in! We'll answer all the viewer questions we didn't get to in Part 1, take any others you can think of, and show even more dazzling gem and mineral highlights from the Academy's 2.5-million-specimen Invertebrate Zoology and Geology collections. 

image of gold

Part 1: Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Gems and Minerals Collections
Chrissy Garcia, Geology Collections Manager

Life today needs not just more science but also more sparkle, so we're stepping into the Academy's incredible collections of gems and minerals with Geology Collections Manager Chrissy Garcia! From behind-the-scenes specimens to those on display in our Gems and Minerals exhibit, it's a multifaceted (sorry) episode guaranteed to delight both intellects and eyeballs. [Rescheduled from 10/27, our apologies!]

Collections manager Dave Catania holds a deep-sea angler fish

Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Ichthyology Collections
Dave Catania, Sr. Collections Manager of Ichthyology

Two words: FRILL SHARK! More words: Swim through the aisles of our 1.2 million-specimen ichthyology collections, aka one of the largest, most significant collections of fishes in the world. With collections manager Dave Catania as our guide, we'll drop into jars, tubs, and buckets containing some of the most incredible ocean denizens known to science. Live questions welcome!

Sarah Crews holds a wallaby

Flattie Spiders: From Biogeography to Biomechanics
Dr. Sarah Crews, researcher at the Academy's Department of Entomology 

The animal with the fastest turning strike on Earth isn't tiny, nor uncommon, yet remains a very big mystery with a (very) low profile. Meet the flattie spiders—Dr. Crews' focus, and a group that perfectly illustrates "how science is cool because whenever you 'answer' something, you actually just find a million more questions (which is a good thing)." Hear about how she began working on the group, her accidental discovery of their record-breaking speed, their life history, behavior, and all the questions that remain. (Plus: Even more new species!) 


Wildlife ecologist Jonathan Young stands by a pond holding up a mussel

Restoring Urban Nature: A 21st Century Necessity
Jonathan Young, Presidio Trust wildlife ecologist 

Dune butterflies, oyster reefs, bird nest boxes, pond turtles, coyotes, damselflies, chorus frogs! Presidio Trust wildlife ecologist Jonathan Young—whose role encompasses everything from habitat restoration to the reintroduction of lost species—takes Breakfast Club viewers on a tour of urban nature in SF's Presidio National Park, and of the many ways in which humans are connected to (and desperately need) all of it.

Moe Flannery surrounded by antlers seized by wildlife officials

A Virtual Tour of the Birds & Mammals Collections
Maureen Flannery, Senior Ornithology & Mammalogy Collections Manager

Head into the Academy's ornithology and mammalogy collections—collectively 96,000 birds, 28,500 mammals, 11,000 egg and nest specimens, and one of the world's largest marine mammal collections—for a very special virtual tour highlighting everything from our historic Galápagos collections to some of Moe's favorite marine mammal specimens. For a preview, keep an eye on our NightLife series—rumor has it she'll be making an appearance on Sept. 24. 

A taxidermied mammoth in the lobby of the old Academy building

Celebrating SF History Days—Academy Style
Head Librarian Rebekah Kim, Research Collections Registrar Lindsay Palaima, and an all-star lineup of Academy collections managers  

Incredible photos! Amazing history! Specimens galore! In this extra-special, San Francisco History Days-themed program, Head Librarian Rebekah Kim will talk about the earliest days of the Academy; Research Collections Registrar Lindsay Palaima will cover the history of African Hall (from the original dioramas to its use as a WWII optics shop); and collections managers from our botany, entomology, geology, ichthyology, and anthropology departments (and more!) will show a lineup of incredible specimens connected to the natural—and cultural—history of San Francisco. Don’t miss it!

A plane flies over the islands of Sao Tome and Principe

Racing the Clock to Document Biodiversity in São Tomé & Príncipe
Dr. Rayna Bell, Assistant Curator of Herpetology

With a population of fewer than 200,000 and only a few flights each week between this African island nation and Lisbon, much of São Tomé & Príncipe's natural habitat remains intact—and hosts some of the highest levels of endemism (species found nowhere else) on the planet. But as offshore oil companies continue to conduct surveys off its coasts, that may soon change. For the past 18 years, the Academy's Curator Emeritus of Herpetology Dr. Bob Drewes has led a team of biologists in a race to document the diversity of animals, plants, and fungi on the islands in the hopes of fueling future conservation work, an effort that's recorded hundreds of species thus far (many new to science). In this talk, Curator of Herpetology Dr. Rayna Bell will share some of the most exciting scientific discoveries from those nearly two decades of expeditions, and highlight some of the ways those discoveries are making an impact on a local and international scale.

Dr. Dawn Wright, Chief Scientist of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) and Academy Fellow

The Science of Where
Dr. Dawn Wright, Chief Scientist of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) and Academy Fellow

Dr. Dawn Wright was appointed to her post at ESRI—a world-leading geographic information system software and data science company—after 17 years as a professor of geography and oceanography at Oregon State University (OrSt). Her research interests include geospatial data science, seafloor mapping, coastal/ocean informatics, and environmental education, and her fieldwork has taken her to some of the most geologically active regions of the planet: the East Pacific Rise, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the Juan de Fuca Ridge, the Tonga Trench, and volcanoes under the Japan Sea and the Indian Ocean. She’s made multiple dives in the deep submergence vehicles Alvin and Pisces V; authored or co-authored more than 150 articles and ten books; holds lifetime achievement awards from the American Association of Geographers, the Geological Society of America, and UC Santa Barbara; and her other interests include (but aren’t limited to) road cycling, 18th-century pirates, her golden retriever puppy Riley, and Spongebob Squarepants. Follow her on Twitter @deepseadawn.

Curator Sarah Jacobs studies wildflowers on a mountain slope

The Wild World of Parasitic Plants
Dr. Sarah Jacobs, Curator of Botany

Meet the Academy's newest curator while being swept into the wild world of parasitic plants, from what it means to be one, to the biology behind parasitism, to the incredible diversity of parasitic plants. Psst: That diversity includes some commonly known parasites that might surprise you, such as Dr. Jacobs' expertise—the beautiful, often fiery-looking paintbrushes (Castilleja). More details to come!


Academy @ Home

Keep your mind open at home with an eclectic array of science content for all ages and all places. 

The Academy's Research Institute

The mission of the Academy's Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability is to gather new knowledge about life's diversity and the process of evolution—and to rapidly apply that understanding to our efforts to sustain life on Earth.