National Museum of Natural History (France) – MNHN

The Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN) is one of the world’s major natural history institutions and contributes to the knowledge and conservation of biodiversity through research, higher education (Master and PhD studies), training, and conservation of reference collections, as well as providing expertise to the French and European government for environmental policies. Its research topics cover biology, earth sciences and human sciences. In addition, a series of other laboratories are devoted to ecology, biophysics and biochemistry, chemistry of natural substances, physical oceanography and comparative physiology. Together, they represent a research complex that enables multi-disciplinary research to be undertaken. Given the unique situation of MNHN, which acts as the French national agency for the European programs (directives Habitat and Natura 2000 network) and is the national reference centre for biodiversity, there is a strong connection between the research and its applications in terms of expertise in systematics and taxonomy at the European level. There are close interactions between MNHN and the Topic Centre of the European Environment Agency housed in its walls. The 500 scientists working at the institution possess expert knowledge in a vast array of zoological, botanical, geological disciplines, and human science as Muséology. In many cases, they are world-leading experts in their fields and/or represent unique or rare expertise in Europe. In addition to international research collaboration at the individual level, MNHN plays important international roles. It is heavily involved in the numerous European programs and projects related to biodiversity. Research groups involved:

(Local Heritage) Research Unit (IRD-MNHN) is oriented on the process of construction and promotion of natural and cultural heritage in Southern countries. Analyzing the long-term relationships between Society and Nature, the Research Unit PALOC questions local strategies elaborated in response to the global issues of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. It is based on a comparative perspective and on an interdisciplinary approach, conducted by anthropologists, archaeologists, museologists, geographers, historians, economists and naturalists. Its main scientific objectives are:
  1. Identify the elements of biological diversity and of culture that are considered as heritage, and to understand the logic that supports the choice of these elements in the construction of territories, identities and heritage;
  2. Analyze social and spatial changes at the local level and the way they relate to the dynamics induced by national, regional and global policies;
  3. Assess the effectiveness of regulatory instruments and their social acceptability (ecotourism, local productions, protected areas, social justice, participatory democracy, etc.);
  4. Contribute to the definition of indicators on the sustainability of ecological and social systems.

(Official web site)

© Yves Girault
© Yves Girault


(Director) Full professor at MNHN in museology. He was the Head of Master in ‘Museology: science cultures and societies’ (2000/2014). Since 2000, his research focused on the analysis of the role of media exhibition in the relations between science, cultures and societies. In this context, he is particularly interested in the analysis of  teaching or/and education biodiversity particularly in the context of environmental education (EE) or education for sustainable development (ESD). It is especially interested in the analysis of political, social and identity issues of patrimonialization in local communities.

(Official web site)

BABOU, Igor:
Full professor in communication sciences at University of La Réunion since 2011, full professor at University Paris Diderot-Paris 7 since september 2016. Since 2007, his works deals with society and environment (natural parks, nature heritagization process, environment and citizen participation, man-nature relationship). He is also involved in the science studies field, and science communication field (discourse studies of scientific popularization, science and media, science museums, libraries).

BARRIEL, Véronique:
Assistant Professor in MNHN (since 1997), Habilitation à diriger des recherches (HDR). Research interests: Phylogenetics, Systematics, Primates, Hominoids, Palaeontology, anatomy, molecular data (sequence alignment and gaps), ancient DNA, knowledge representation, classification methods, analysis of descriptive data. Responsable and Coordination of the Master “Systématique Evolution et Paléontologie” (UPMC-MNHN), and for the specific cursus “Systematics and Evolution”. Teaching: phylognetic reconstructions, phylogenetic systematic (cladistic), human evolution, concepts and methods of phylogeny, etc.

BARTHES, Angela:
She is Full Professor in geography. She specialized in rural territories, sustainable development and education issues. She is an associated member of PALOC (MNHN/IRD).

BILLAUT, Laurence : Technician at MNHN (Assistant Engineer), PALOC “Local Heritage” Centre of Research. She has a MA in multimedia and infographic (website, media tools, etc.).

BRIANSO, Isabelle:
Marie Curie Fellow (IEF, FP7). She is an associated researcher at the Centre of Research (PALOC). Her PhD thesis dealt with the international valorization policies regarding cultural heritage inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, with Angkor (Cambodia) as case study. She was also a nominee (2010) for the Cultural Policy Research Award with the paper “The Complexity of Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue Applied to Developing Countries’ World Heritage sites”. She teaches museology at the MNHN. Her research focuses on global strategies (UNESCO, Council of Europe) and local initials on heritage and environment. She works primarily on the reception and presentation media (museum, archaeological site interpretation center) of assets in South East Asia (Angkor, Cambodia) and eastern Siberia (Yakutia).

CORNEE, Annie:
Dr in Geology, works on Geoheritage in France (inventory and outreach) at the Earth Sciences Department of the National Museum of Natural History. Co-editor of the collection Patrimoine géologique/Stratotypes, a collection created in order to familiarize the public with its geoheritage, and its conservation.

EGOROFF, Grégoire:
M.Sc. in Geology, works on Geoheritage in France at the Earth Sciences Department of the National Museum of Natural History on two mainly subjects: the national inventory of geological heritage in France and the collection Balades géologiques, a collection created in order to familiarize the public with its geoheritage (editorial follow-up of the collection).

GRAFF, Gwenola: Archaeologist, researcher at MNHN and at the Institute of Research for Development. UMR 208 – PALOC “Local Heritage” (IRD/National Museum of Natural History).

HABERT, Elisabeth: She is a cartographer and GIS specialist. In this project, she could develop a Geographic Information System (GIS) database, in association with other informatics specialists and thematic researchers. Several thematic maps could be developed by combining different kind of information: climatic, geological, soils, archaeological, historical, cultural, etc.

JALIL, Nour-Eddine:
He is full professor at the National Museum of Natural History since February 2013. Dr in Paleontology in 1993 (Universiy Paris VII) he defended his Doctorat d’Etat in 2001 at the Univ. Cadi Ayyad. For the last 17 years, as vertebrate paleontologist at the University cadi Ayyad, he was always worked on the preservation and valorization of geological heritage mainly in Morocco (co-founder of the Museum of Natural History of Marrakesh, constitution of collections of reference on vertebrate fossils at the Musée des Mines of Khouribga and at the Muséum of natural History of Marrakesh, paleontological exhibition, coordination of field work and excavation). He is scientific advisor for the two projects museum in Morocco (Musée de site de Tazouda and Musée d’Azilal).

MICHARD, Jean-Guy:
Associate Professor at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, France. After a PhD in Palaeontology (Paris, 1991), he works as museologist at UMR 208 “Patrimoines locaux”. Since 2005, he takes part in the museologic aspects of the Phosphapal  Program (Khouribga, Morocco), and had few deals with Tazouda and Azilal museums projects. Presently, main research interest in “fake” fossils from Morocco.

He is lecturer in Prehistory at the MNHN, and completed his PhD in 2001 regarding lithic technology of the Middle Stone Age in East Africa. He currently coordinates collaborative research programs in Ethiopia and heads a French-Namibian excavation and training program that is included in a collaborative trans-disciplinary approach of the heritage perception, conservation and development in Eastern and Southern Africa.

RAULT, Lucie: 
She is Assistant Professor at MNHN. Lucie Rault is an ethnomusicologist and French sinologist. Lecturer at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, and member of the Department “Homme, Nature et Societés” of the National Museum of Natural History. Research member of PALOC.

SIMENEL, Romain: 
He is Assistant Professor at MNHN/IRD in ethnology. He works in Morocco specialised in the study of local systems of environmental management in development context and study of the impact of the environment in relation to cultural learning for children.

SEMAH, François:
He is full professor in Quaternary Geology and Prehistory at the MNHN. He completed his PhD in 1979 (Quaternary Geology and Geophysics) and his doctorat d’Etat in 1984 (chronostratigraphy of Homo erectus sites in Island Southeast Asia). He coordinates excavation programs in the area and current European projects addressing heritage conservation and training about human evolution related sites, with special reference to development issues.

WEVER (de), Patrick :
Full professor at MNHN in geology. Former president of the Geological Society of France, Patrick De Wever continues his career, holding several positions, such as responsible for the plan pluri-education “National geological heritage”, or the Vice- President of French National Committee of Geology. Member of several professional associations, he was, among others, President of the Geological Society of France, member of Standing Conference on Geological Heritage at the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Director for Geosciences Service Natural Heritage. Scientist with several instances, particular for geological consulting candidate sites included on the UNESCO list. He is also a member of the jury of the aggregation Life Sciences and Earth. Patrick De Wever serving with several journals such as Geobios or Géochronique. He is the author of several books and dozens of publications, including more than half in international journals. He has received several awards for his work, including first prize at the American Association of Petroleum geologists (Dallas in 1983), the CNRS Bronze Medal (S.20) in 1984, the Medal of Lenin, the Research Institute Vladivostok in 1986 and the Gold Medal of the City of Esnes in 2002. Sensitized by the need to transmit Sciences, Patrick De Wever lectures for teachers and large public in France and abroad.

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