Posted by: Rob Viens | June 30, 2012

The 21st Century Naturalist and the HMS Beagle Project

As he reached the midpoint of the year Darwin was still busy preparing for his departure – frustrated, yet again, with the idea of going shopping in Rio:

“Went to the city to purchase several things.— Nothing can be more wearisome than shopping here.— From the length of time the Brazilians detain you & the unreasonable price they at first ask, it is clear that they think both these precious things are equally valueless to an Englishman.” (June 30)

While Darwin shops I though I would share a guest post I recently wrote for the HMS Beagle Project (posted yesterday). It is connections such as these that have made blogging so enjoyable! It starts like this…

The 21st Century Naturalist (Or What the HMS Beagle Project Means to Me)

For the past few months I have been following Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle through the daily entries in his personal diary and field notebooks – trying to get to know him as a person and relive his first encounters with the natural environment of the New World.

Down House/English Heritage recreation of Charles Darwin at work in his cabin. (Photo Lisa Taylor)
recreation of Darwin's Cabin on the Beagle

Among other things, I have come to the conclusion that being a naturalist may be a lost art and, more importantly, that the world needs naturalists like Charles Darwin more than ever before. And although having more full-fledged, full-time naturalists would be ideal, I think it would benefit all scientists to have a certain degree of training as a naturalist. Why, you might ask? Well, because naturalists are a particularly unique type of field scientist that can (1) make good observations, (2) integrate many different fields of study, and (3) share their discoveries by writing about the natural world. Let me elaborate….

Read the rest of the story on the HMS Beagle Project Blog. (RJV)



  1. Great Post, Rob. Reminds me of our discussion the other day. Moreover, it reminds me why I’m a mathematician and not a scientist. Patterns, I recognize. Details, not so much.

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