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  January 28, 2002

Museum Director to Chair
National Biodiversity Group
Carol Davidge

Ellen J. Censky, director of the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History at UConn, has been named chair of the Steering Committee for Biodiversity Month. The celebration, sponsored by the International Biodiversity Observation Year, will take place for the first time in May 2002. The Commitee will coordinate nationwide plans for public events to increase understanding of the importance of biodiversity across the United States.

"May 2002 marks the first Biodiversity Month in the United States, a national celebration of America's rich diversity of life," says Censky. "Biodiversity Month is a time to celebrate biodiversity through educational activities and scientific exploration."

Censky, a herpetologist whose research on overwater dispersal of lizards in the Caribbean caught the media's attention in 1998, is co-author of the book: Amphibians and Reptiles of Pennsylvania and the Northeast (Cornell University Press: 2001), has published many scientific papers, and is active on boards of professional societies for herpetologists.

She initiated the BioBlitz, an annual day-long survey of biodiversity, in the state of Connecticut in 1999. In each of the past three years, some 100 scientists from UConn and other institutions have conducted a 24-hour survey of biodiversity in a city park, setting records for number of species counted, while children and adults were invited to interact with the scientists and learn more about nature in our own back yards.

"Ellen's experience in both cutting-edge scientific biodiversity research and in organization of major biodiversity public outreach events that work with the public, educators, media, and legislators, perfectly represents the many dimensions of the Committee's work," says Diana H. Wall, director of the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University, who is chair of International Biodiversity Observation Year.

The Committee includes representatives of the World Wildlife Fund, National Geographic Society, The Biodiversity Project, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, Earth Day Network, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the International Biodiversity Observation Year, a collaboration of 50 international projects.

For additional information about Biodiversity Month, visit the website .