Our scientists and historians make new discoveries about Los Angeles and the world. We use our own collections, insight from our field expeditions, information from community scientists, and all the other tools and techniques of modern research.
Check out what we do!
Life in the Ocean
Oceans are home to an amazing array of creatures, from giant whales to tiny, colorful worms. Our researchers are devoted to learning about our marine communities—now and in the past—and the animals that live (or lived) in and around them. We’re studying them with newly collected specimens, fossils and archaeological sites preserved long ago, and even tiny traces of DNA from sea water.
Nature doesn’t start where the city ends. Our scientists are taking the lead in studying urban nature and how our local wildlife has both persisted and changed as today’s Los Angeles has developed. By understanding the complex relationship of nature, cities, and people, we can help make L.A. a place where humans and wildlife continue to live sustainably alongside each other.
Fossils and Evolution
Many of our scientists study how life has changed over time—the fundamental process of evolution. With fossils, with modern specimens, or with both, we learn more about the history of life on Earth, how species past and present lived or went extinct, and how they’re related to each other.
Biodiversity & Conservation
Many of our scientists are interested in biodiversity, the number and type of species found in a place. As museums have done for centuries, we are still documenting life on Earth and working to understand what drives the patterns we see. And it’s not just about species alive today; our researchers study how biodiversity has changed over millions of years.
Los Angeles History
Many of our researchers, whether historians or scientists, study the place we all call home. We’re learning about the development of the city of Los Angeles, and about the people who lived here long before there was a city named Los Angeles. We’re also leading the way in studying the nature in and around the L.A. region, and how other species have coexisted with people here for many thousands of years.
Our scientists are studying the earth itself! Understanding the natural world goes beyond living things—some of our researchers investigate the minerals that make up our planet and how they interact with the world around them. At La Brea Tar Pits and in our paleontology departments, we even use fossils to learn more about how the earth changes.
Our anthropologists and historians study the worlds and cultures humans have created for themselves, in California and around the world. We learn more about people through the records and objects they create and the archaeological remains they leave behind. And of course, we’re studying how human cultures and the natural world surrounding them develop and change together.
Ecologists study how living things interact with each other and with the world around them. Our scientists are fascinated by these interactions and interconnections—like who eats who, how dead things get recycled, and how resources such as water are shared. And we’re studying how that balance shifts over time, including changes due to climate change, human activities, and introduced species.
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