Why Do Natural History Collections Matter? – CETAF 20th Anniversary

October 20, 2016


On the 20 October 2016, CETAF invites researchers, scientific communicators, policy makers and citizens interested in biodiversity to join us at Madrid’s famous Royal Botanic Garden where high profile speakers from industry, science and culture will converge to showcase the societal relevance of natural history collections.

This event seeks to celebrate 250 years of exploring and documenting diversity in nature. But next to celebrating the rich history of taxonomy, we will sneak a peek at the future by discovering industries at the forefront of innovative uses of collections and taxonomy in fields such as biotechnology, bioinformatics and research, and exploring future technological breakthroughs fuelled by recent discoveries.



To register please click here or send an e-mail to info@cetaf.orgwith the subject line “Registration CETAF 20th anniversary” till the 17 October 2016.



The event will be taking place at the Royal Botanic Garden in Madrid, Spain. Located in the centre of Madrid, it gives visitors the chance to enjoy the peace and quiet of being immersed in nature. While the garden has species dating back more than two centuries for visitors to enjoy, it is also the home to both researchers and botanists.

Getting there


Societal relevance and innovative uses of natural history collections


08.30 – 09.00       Registration – Pabellón Villanueva. Real Jardín Botánico, Plaza de Murillo, Madrid (entrance through the Murillo Gate)


09.00 – 09.15       Opening

H.S.H. Prince Albert II. of Monaco, Founder of the Foundation Prince Albert II de Monaco, dedicated to protecting the environment (via video stream)

Carol Portabella Settimo, President of the Foundation Prince Albert II in Madrid, Spain


09.15 – 09.25       Welcome

Michelle Price, CETAF Chair


09.25 – 09.35       Introduction to European Natural History Collections

Carl Linnaeus, the father of Modern Taxonomy


09.35 – 10.45       Natural History Collections in today’s Society: Science, Innovation, Discovery and more

      • Carmen Vela, Spanish Secretary of State for Investigation, Development and Innovation (ES)
      • Carsten Rahbek, Director of the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen (DK)
      • Javier de la Torre, CEO of CARTO, New York (USA)
      • Fabrice Magnino, Imagene, Paris (FR)


10.45 – 11.30        A natural history exploration coffee break

Food created by Mario Sandoval, 2-Stars Michelin chef, based on ingredients available in the Royal botanic Garden


11.30 – 13.15      Panel session and open discussion: “Natural History Collections today and tomorrow: Societal relevance and innovative uses of natural history collections”

   Convener: Carl Linnaeus (Hans Odöö)


      • Carmen Vela, Spanish Secretary of State for Investigation, Development and Innovation, Madrid (SP)
      • Carsten Rahbek, Director of the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, Copenhagen University (DK)
      • Javier de la Torre, CEO of CARTO, New York (USA)
      • Juan Luis Arsuaga, Paleoanthropologist, Scientific Director of the Museum of Human Evolution, Burgos (SP)
      • Michelle Price, CETAF Chair
      • Ramón Núñez Centella, Science Communicator and Museologist, La Coruña (SP)
      • Fabrice Magnino, Imagene, Paris (FR)


13.15 – 13.30      Concluding remarks from the Chair of CETAF, Michelle Price.


CETAF history

CETAF is an umbrella organisation representing natural history institutions across Europe. The collections CETAF holds represent 80% of all known biodiversity worldwide, and through these collections as well as our research and publications, CETAF seeks to preserve, explore and document the natural world.

Ten natural history organisations (Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France; Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid, Spain; Museum Civico di Storia Naturale de Milano, Milan, Italy; Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany; Naturhistoriska riksmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden; Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, UK; The Natural History, London, UK; Zoölogisch Museum, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Zoologisk Museum, University of Copenhagen, Denmark) founded CETAF in 1996 with the goal to promote research in systematic biology in Europe by improving the efficiency of taxonomic facilities. Over the years the membership grew to its current size. In 2012 CETAF was transformed into a legal international non-profit organisation under Belgian law with seat in Brussels. There, it is hosted by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.

Today, CETAF is the largest taxonomy, systematics and natural history science network and communication platform as well as the largest natural history collection infrastructure in Europe. It facilitates the research on natural history collections of over 2,000 scientists and 6,000 scientific visitors and the publication of over 3,000 publications every year.

With now 59 members from 20 countries it represents a critical mass of natural history collections and its collaborative work and collective influence gives CETAF the ability to the shape a better future together.




H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco

H.S.H. Prince Albert II is the sovereign prince of Monaco since 12 July 2005. In this position he continues the policy established by his predecessors of strengthening environmental awareness and quality by favoring the development of public transport, ecological vehicles, renewable energies and high environmental quality buildings. To further this goal, Prince Albert founded the “Prince Albert II Of Monaco Foundation” in 2006. It encourages sustainable and fair management of natural resources and supports the implementation of innovative and ethical solutions in three broad areas: climate change, water and biodiversity.

Carol Portabella Settimo

Since the 22 April 2016, Carol Portabella Settimo is the President of the newly opened branch of the Prince Albert II Of Monaco Foundation.

CETAF CHAIR: Michelle Price

Michelle J. Price is the Curator of bryophytes, ferns and gymnosperms at the Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève and chairs CETAF’s Executive Committee since 2013. She holds a PhD in Evolution, Ecology and Systematics from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Missouri Botanical Garden. Her most recent research focuses on the systematic study of mosses.

CONVENER: Carl Linnaeus (Hans Odöö)

Carl Linnaeus classified minerals, plants and animals. He also introduced the binomial nomenclature in 1753. This famous professor from Uppsala, Sweden, will be present at CETAFs 20th anniversary! This is made possible by Hans Odöö, a popular-science-writer/Linnaeus impersonator from Uppsala who has portrayed “The king of flowers” over 3000 times worldwide, trying to reflect the humour and uniqueness of his idol. Hans Odöö´s articles has covered most aspects of life on Earth, his books – Swedish nature, rainforests and camels! Rousseau labeled Linnaeus “The greatest man on Earth”. Hans Odöö want´s us to understand why.


Carmen Vela

Since 2012 Carmen Vela is the Spanish State Secretary for Research, Development and Innovation in the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Before assuming the position, she was the CEO at INGENASA, a biotechnology company dedicated to biotechnology research improving human and animal health. She is a biochemist with more than 30 years of experience in immunology and virology.

Carsten Rahbek

Professor Carsten Rahbek is the director of the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen. His main personal research interests are patterns of species distribution, species range sizes, species assemblages, species richness and what determines such patterns. The natural side of his research relates how evolutionary and ecographical principles can be used to identify robust priorities for conservation of biodiversity.

Javier de la Torre

Javier de la Torre is the co-founder and CEO of CARTO, a geospatial company specializing in analysis and visualization of location data. After graduating from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, he started his career as a conservation scientist, applying data sharing technologies to mobilize biodiversity data. He later founded Vizzuality to advance the area of data visualization and bridge the gap between science and policy making through better understanding of location data. As CEO at CARTO he is pushing the revolution of location Intelligence in organization across the world. 

Fabrice Magnino

Dr. Fabrice Magnino is an expert in business development within the biotech industry, particularly within the Oncology and Virology field. Fabrice obtained his oncology and genetic diseases BA degree from the medical university of Paris V, France in 1996 and his PhD in tumour Biology from the medical faculty of Berne, Switzerland in 2001. Today Fabrice works with Imagene in Paris. The French company designed and developed a technology for DNA preservation at room temperature. Thanks to this technology Imagene can preserve genotypes of all animal and plant species for future generations.



Juan Luis Arsuaga

Paleoanthropologist, he is currently the Scientific Director of the Museum of Human Evolution, MEH (ES). As a professor in the paleontology department of the Faculty of geological sciences at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Juan Luis Arsuaga is the co-director of a research team investigating Pleistocene deposits in the Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain), an award-winning research endeavor. These excavations have shed new light on the history of the first humans in Europe.

Ramon Núñez Centella

Ramón (Moncho) Núñez is a science educator. He has conceived, designed and directed science museums, specifically three located in La Coruña (Galicia, Spain), and until recently, he has been the Director of the Spanish National Museum of Science and Technology, MUNCYT). He has strongly contributed to the education and dissemination of science and is considered as one of the driving forces of new scientific museology in Spain.



Mario Sandoval

Mario Sandoval is an alumnus of the Madrid Hospitality School and the chef at the Coque Restaurant in the suburbs of Madrid. There, the Sandoval family works with historians and scientists to recover memory cuisine in a venture they call “Archaeology of Flavors”. They also use “Gastrogenomics”, a culinary science, based on using seeds from autochthonous horticultural varieties, sown in urban gardens and thus respecting and recovering the genetic diversity of our cultivated plants. Using these methods, Mario Sandoval received his first Michelin star at the young age of 26. 





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