Frequently Asked Questions

What is biodiversity?

Our planet’s complex web of interdependent species and ecosystems. Biodiversity is critical to our survival, and it includes the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the medicines that heal, and the soil that nurtures.

What is genomics?

The branch of molecular biology that studies the complete set of genetic material that defines an organism. Essential information about how life works is contained in the genomes of each and every species on Earth.

How will genomics research help scientists better understand our natural world?

Genomics will provide scientists with answers to important questions of biology and evolution, which in turn will help solve the problems that threaten our planet’s diversity of life.

What makes the Smithsonian uniquely able to support an Institute for Biodiversity Genomics?

The Smithsonian has been a leader in research and training in the biological sciences for over a hundred and fifty years. It is supported by the world’s largest concentration of taxonomists and biologists in the field, extensive partnerships with an international network of colleagues and institutions, and it makes investments of nearly $10 million annually in support of biogenomic research.

What is the mission of the Institute for Biodiversity Genomics?

To unite the Smithsonian’s major biodiversity research entities and, with partners, serve biodiversity and sustainability research around the world. The initiative aims to address key questions in evolutionary biology, phylogeny, ecology, conservation, and the science and management of ecosystems, while also training the next generation of biodiversity scientists.

Who is leading this initiative at the Smithsonian?

The Executive Committee of the Institute for Biodiversity Genomics represents the diversity of genomics research and expertise across the Smithsonian.

How is the Institute for Biodiversity Genomics partnering with collaborators around the globe?

The Smithsonian has close collaborative relationships with researchers at major genomic programs around the world, as well as with federal agencies, academic institutions, and public and private industry. The Smithsonian also has a significant emerging partnership with the high-performance computing program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where data will be stored and high throughput analyses conducted.

What are the fellowship and educational opportunities?

A number of competitive postdoctoral fellowships are available and are awarded annually through the Smithsonian’s Office of Fellowship and Internships. Schedule and funding permitting, internships at the high school level are also available through the National Museum of Natural History’s Youth Engagement in Science program.

Can researchers from outside the Smithsonian become involved with the Institute for Biodiversity Genomics?

The initiative is designed to build long-term strategic collaborations with scientists, existing research programs, government agencies, universities, NGOs, and national museums. Please email if you are interested in collaborating or partnering, would like to know more, or are interested in visiting researchers at the Smithsonian.

How can I support this effort?

Although the Institute is a part of the Smithsonian's vast research complex, the network relies on private and public contributions and grants to support its research and outreach. Contributions of all denominations are welcome, and are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Click here to become a supporter today. Or, contact the Smithsonian’s development office for more information or to discuss a planned gift or other opportunities.