7th May 2019 – Meet The Team: Special Publications Manager

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This week we learn more about our Special Publications Manager, Leonie Berwick.

Leonie Berwick

What are the key parts to your role?

In a nutshell my job at the Society is to oversee the production and dissemination of our internal publications, amongst other things. This might be commissioning or writing pieces for PuLSe, our Fellows’ magazine, or being production editor for our other Fellows’ publication, The Linnean. I also put together all books that are produced in-house.

What do you like most about your job?

I love our collections and am a total nerd when it comes to history. I enjoy being able to explore our holdings, find out about their stories and get the information out there. Sometimes an innocuous looking item can have a fascinating backstory.

How did you end up in this job?

My background is in publishing, and when an opportunity came up at the Natural History Museum (in conjunction with the Linnean Society), which had always been one of my favourite places in London, I wanted to go for it. The role was to put together and produce Order out of Chaos, the culmination of a 25-year project that brought together information on the typification of Linnaeus’ botanical names for the first time. The book and the author, Charlie Jarvis, were awarded the IAPT’s prestigious Stafleu medal. From there I moved to the Linnean Society to work on other books and projects, including setting up the Society’s first education programme.

What is your favourite species of animal or plant?

My favourite animal has always been the western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). When I was about 13 I read Virunga by Farley Mowat—a book about primatologist Dian Fossey—and it had a big impact on me. What I liked about it was that someone who did not start out as a naturalist or scientist managed to make a difference in both the conservation and our understanding of these powerful primates.

Gorilla gorilla

What is the most interesting item to you in the Linnean Society collections?

Flying Fish

It’s too hard to just choose one—we have so many, and ‘new’ ones seem to come to our attention all the time. I like the things you wouldn’t think we’d have, like a small piece of wrapping from a mummy. From our specimens I’ve always had a soft spot for the flying fish (Cheilopogon exsiliens), and I love the albums we hold of Albert Günther, who was a brilliant German reptile taxonomist and Keeper of Zoology at the Natural History Museum in the late 1800s. The albums hold information on animals found all over the world—they are essentially amazing scrapbooks and it’s like looking into how someone’s mind worked over 120 years ago.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like going to the movies, museums and galleries. Also, walking and doing anything near the coast is always something I look forward to.