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Department of Invertebrate Zoology

Image of Cynthia Ahearn

Cynthia Ahearn giving an Echinoderm diversity lecture

Cynthia Ahearn
Museum Specialist, IZ Outreach Officer

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Cynthia Ahearn on Sunday, Aug. 31 at her home in Springfield, VA.

Cynthia Anne Gust Ahearn was born October 17, 1952, in Minneapolis, MN. A graduate of Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross, Washington D.C., she began her Smithsonian career in 1973 as a Museum Specialist, Department of Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History. At the time of her death, Cynthia curated the Smithsonian’s extensive collection of echinoderms (sea stars), and was conducting research projects on shallow water, deep water and Antarctic sea cucumbers. Cynthia was a pioneer in the Natural History Museum’s public education outreach program. She developed the popular Echinoderm Discovery Cart, which entertains and educates thousands of museum visitors, young and old alike, hosted a segment of the Discovery Channel’s ‘Young Scientist’ Program, and spoke to the Smithsonian Board of Regents, the Department of Agriculture School of Continuing Education, the Wellesley alumna society, and to local schools and universities. Each year Cynthia hosted scientists and students from around the world in her home while they conducted research at the museum. In 2005, she was presented the Natural History Museum’s Public Outreach Award, and in 2007, a new species of seastar was named in her honor in recognition of her achievements in curation of the echinoderm collection, her research on echinoderms, and in facilitating the research of so many visitors over the years.

The Echinoblog,
Cynthia Ahearn Passes Away
Tribute: The Legacy of Cynthia Ahearn

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