Curation & Digitization

Insect specimens in museum collections contain invaluable scientific information. The Triplehorn Insect Collection collection holds approximately 4 million specimens from all insect groups from various parts of the world. Preserving and making such a large collection available for study by researchers is a formidable task. In general terms curatorial work involves everything from replacing substandard drawers and trays for ones made of modern archival quality materials, to pest infestation prevention (and control at times), to updating names and re-organizing each group according to the most recent taxonomic publications, to digitizing the specimen label information and photographing specimens.

We have been digitizing and making specimen data freely available online for more than 20 years, but with so many specimens and limited staff, that task could take decades to finish. In order to expedite the digitization process we have joined with Notes from Nature, a citizen science platform which allows collections to upload photos of specimens and labels to a community of data transcription volunteers. The resulting data will help scientists understand the effects of environmental changes on insect species and populations.

We are currently working on a 3-year  (09/2021-08/2024) NSF funded project entitled “CSBR: An inordinate fondness for beetles – expanding access to the Triplehorn collection of Coleoptera, phase 2” (

For timely updates on our progress, follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

(updated 11/28/2022)

Projects completed:

Digitization PEN: Integration of data from the Triplehorn Insect Collection with the Southwestern Collections of Arthropods Network.(completed June 2019)

Digitization TCN: Collaborative Research: Lepidoptera of North America Network: Documenting Diversity in the Largest Clade of Herbivores.(completed June 2020)

Research Experience

Collections have a key role in the training of the biodiversity scientists of the future. To fulfill our educational mission, we offer curatorial internships for Ohio State students (read more about it here and here and here) and for students from other educational institutions.

We also strive to provide collections-based research experience for undergraduates from Ohio State, from connecting students with professionals in their area of interest to getting students involved in special projects like the Fireflies of Ohio.


Over the years we have worked with various artists and art students to bring the beauty and the critical role of insects in the natural environment to the general public in interesting and attractive ways. In order to access specimens for photography or sketching, students receive training in the handling of museum-quality specimens and on the proper documentation of specimen label data.

Some of our most recent collaborations:

Elizabeth Alvarez (2010-2014, 2018)

Katherine Beigel (2015-2017)

Evie Moran (2017-present)

Ardine Nelson (2017)

Jessika Raisor (2017-present)

Jordan Reynolds (2017-present)

Tamara Sabbagh (2017-present)