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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Join the Florida Museum of Natural History for its first presentation of the “Ken and Linda McGurn Speaker Series: Public Engagement in Science” at 4 p.m. Feb. 6.

Visitors may enjoy an engaging discussion titled “Youth partnering in paleontology: Museums as centers for citizen science” by Robert Ross, associate director for outreach at the Paleontological Research Institution and its Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, N.Y. Admission is free and light refreshments will be served after the presentation in the museum’s classroom in Powell Hall on the University of Florida campus.

Ross plans to discuss ways to better engage the public in specimen-based science and a project called “Fossil Finders” that used thousands of fifth- to eighth-graders from around the country to assist with paleontological research.

“I’ll talk about it from a researcher’s perspective — the process of figuring out how to involve non-specialists in ways that are genuinely useful for doing science,” said Ross, who has worked at the Paleontological Research Institution for 15 years and was part of the team that opened the Museum of the Earth in 2003.

Made possible through a donation by Ken and Linda McGurn of Gainesville, the speaker series is designed to highlight ways scientists can better engage the public in research.

“It’s very important to bring science to the people, and what better way to accomplish that than involve them in the process,” Ken McGurn said. “This series provides an opportunity for researchers and students from a variety of disciplines as well as the public to explore the idea together.”

The series continues through the spring with presentations scheduled for March 12, April 9 and May 14. It will resume with four presentations in the fall, scheduled for Sept. 10, Oct. 8, Nov. 5 and Dec. 10.

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Writer: Leeann Bright
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054,