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Sustainability Champion: Molly Hagemann

Cover Image: Molly in the Vertebrate Zoology Collection room.

Image: Molly and Penny on the Makapuʻu Lighthouse trail.

Who are you, what do you do at Bishop Museum, and how did you get here? 

My name is Molly Hagemann, and I’m the Vertebrate Zoology Collection Manager at Bishop Museum. As a collection manager, I’m essentially a librarian, except instead of books, I work with dead animals. It’s my job to maintain the specimens in the collection and facilitate their use by scientists, students, artists, and others who want to learn about the vertebrate animals in Hawaiʻi and the larger Pacific region. I was born and raised in Texas, and studied biology at the University of Texas at Austin. I’ve worked in museums across the continental mainland, including the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Burke Museum in Seattle, and the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology in Berkeley, California. I moved to Hawaiʻi and began working at Bishop Museum in 2011. 

Why is sustainability important to you at Bishop Museum, in Hawaiʻi, and globally? 

To my mind, if we’re considering why sustainability is important, we’re really asking a larger question: How does the human race want to interact with the planet? We’re the only species that is conscious of how our actions affect the planet as a whole, which means we have a decision to make.

Do we want to be thoughtful and compassionate custodians of our world? Or do we want to carelessly consume all our resources like bacteria in a petri dish? It’s important to me that we choose the first option, which has the potential to prevent suffering on a global scale and maintain the only habitable environment in the known universe. Seems like a pretty important decision, if you ask me. 

Image: Molly and Penny kayaking on the canals in Kailua .

What sustainability projects have you been working on at Bishop Museum?

In collaboration with Dr. Chris Hobbs, our Curator of Sustainability, I’m working on a project to replace jalousie windows in Pauahi Hall that are near the Vertebrates Collection rooms. The jalousie windows do not seal properly and allow for the invasion of insects, which pose a threat to our irreplaceable specimens. Along with the insects, the jalousies allow air to flow in and out, making it difficult to efficiently control the temperature and humidity. The new windows will not only add a layer of protection from outside pests, but also allow us to cut down on our energy costs. The funding for this project comes from a $100,000 implementation grant by the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative. 

I also help Chris and other staff members with our campus-wide plastic recycling initiative. We collect plastics that are labeled #2 and #5, and bring those to the Parley AIR Station on the Museum’s campus. The station functions as a collaborative community hub for ocean learning, but they also take our recycling and turn the discarded plastic into usable items, like carabiners and building blocks! 

Image: Molly in the Vertebrate Zoology Collection room.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

When I’m not at the Museum, you can usually find me doing something fun outside with friends and my dog, Penny. I enjoy hiking, bird watching, and spending time at the beach, so I feel very fortunate to call Hawaiʻi home! My favorite hike on Oʻahu is the ʻAiea Loop Trail because there’s lots of shade for Penny and, if you’re lucky, you can see some Hawaiian honeycreepers.

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