tom mcnamara

Can someone teleport me to London? My friend is sending me pics of Jamie Parker at the stage door!


The Brain Scoop:
The Audubon Field Guide

It’s John James Audubon’s birthday on April 26th, so we decided to celebrate his life and illustrative legacy by focusing on The Field Museum’s Library/Archives, which house a complete set of his infamous work: The Birds of America. Every Tuesday our librarians change a single page in one of the four massive volumes to reveal a new print - out of 435 different images, it will take more than 8 years to repeat a single image. 

Audubon was an interesting and often times amusing character from history but there is a certain relatability to his life: he started on this artist pilgrimage when he was 35, he failed publicly and often, was unconventional in his artistry, and at times was quite unpopular - but in the end he left an impact on his world which we still see today, 163 years after his death. 

Happy Birthday, J. J. Your gorgeous flowing locks will never be forgotten. 

Margot Robbie Signs First-Look Deal With Warner Bros and will produce female-driven movies!

The Aussie actress already has two projects set at her studio, including a spinoff for her ‘Suicide Squad’ character Harley Quinn.

Margot Robbie is setting down roots at Warner Bros.

The Aussie actress is signing a first-look deal with the studio behind her summer Suicide Squad to develop and produce feature films through her LuckyChap Entertainment banner.

Producing and developing with Robbie will be her LuckyChap partners Tom Ackerley, Josey McNamara and Sophia Kerr.

Robbie, whose breakout performance came in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, is only 26 years old but has quickly grasped control of her career in a way few actors, especially female actors, do, steadily wading into the world of producing.

Robbie and LuckyChap are in post-production on their first movie as producers, the upcoming neo noir thriller Terminal. LuckyChap also is developing and producing a Tonya Harding biopic, I, Tonya, where the actress will play the disgraced figure skater, and is developing an adaptation of Bad Monkeys, a novel by Matt Ruff, along with with Bluegrass Films’ Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark for Universal Pictures.

Warner Bros. has built a relationship with the actress, who has starred in Focus and The Legend of Tarzan for the studio before becoming one of the key factors as to why Suicide Squad grossed over $700 million worldwide.

The actress already has two projects set at Warners: a Suicide Squad spinoff for her character Harley Quinn (as well as other DC heroines) that she will executive produce and an adaptation of Dean N. Jensen’s Queen of the Air to which she is attached to star.

The first-look deal underlines Warner Bros.’ renewed focus on female-driven storytelling and comes after some notables moves from the Burbank-based studio.

It created the Warner Bros. Emerging Film Directors Workshop earlier this year as a program to increase female voices, among other under-represented sectors, which was spearheaded by the studio’s president, creative development and worldwide production Greg Silverman.

Warners has Wonder Woman, based on DC’s iconic female superhero, coming out next year and was firm in its commitment to find a female director for that movie. And it is prepping Ocean’s Ocho, a female-centric take on Ocean’s 11 that will feature an A-list female ensemble.

Robbie is repped by CAA, Management 360 and attorney Jeff Bernstein of Jackoway Tyerman.


A few of our favorite moments from the camera traps in Peru - the first captures the incredibly rare and elusive short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis) making off with a massive fruit in its jaws (and it’s the first time this animal has been documented in this particular area!), and the second series shows a curious ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) in the middle of an early-morning prowl. 

Camera traps such as these provide untold insights on the biodiversity of an area. It may take a person years to report any solid evidence of these types of animals in a studied environment due to the difficulties of tracking creatures that have senses finely attuned to our presence in their territories. One of my favorite parts of being in Peru was simply knowing I was in a place inhabited by these magnificent species, despite the fact I would probably never get the chance to see them. 

To learn more about how mammalogists conduct surveys of these areas, check out our latest video checking out the bats of this region

.gifs by Tom McNamara!


The Brain Scoop:
Investigating the Trees of Amazonia

…with our noses. 

You might be aware of some of the methods botanists use to identify plants: flowers and buds; leaf number, placement, and venation; type of bark. But another observational skill employed by the plant experts on our team to Peru was their keen sense of smell. On this expedition I learned there are trees that smell like leather, like canned meat, like fish and lemons.  

To get caught up on our Peru adventures, be sure to check out the other episode in the series!
Into Peru! 
In Search of Night Life


Hey, everyone!

Brain Scoop cameraman/editor/producer/everything person Tom McNamara is leaving to take up some new projects in New York City. All of the folks at The Field Museum are sad to see him go including myself, but we’re really happy he’s continuing to live out his dream of making fantastic video work. Good luck, Tom! 

We’ll be taking a short break while we plan out the next few months of episodes. Stay tuned! 


The Brain Scoop:
Crocodiles vs. Alligators 

The order Crocodilia belongs to an ancient group of reptiles that began evolving 83.5 million years ago. To think that such animals can exist largely unchanged for literally millions of years is fascinating and humbling; it’s remarkable to think that such lifeforms can exist within changing environments and continue to persevere. 

This episode was produced, filmed, and edited by Tom McNamara, a new addition to The Brain Scoop’s team. We’re thrilled to have him working with us! He didn’t even pay me much to say that.


It’s International Museum Day! 

728:54 is the number of minutes:seconds worth of Brain Scoop videos. It’s about 12 hours and 14 minutes of educational content, all of it filmed in association with a natural history collection. 

I love museums, as they are one of the most important institutions of learning, culture, and appreciation afforded to us as human beings. They showcase human triumph and failure, the evolution of all species from the beginning of time as we know it, and they hold within their stores the keys to unlocking answers about our future. They shed light on where we are headed. 

The Brain Scoop was created in an attempt to highlight just a fraction of the purpose behind maintaining, growing, and celebrating natural history collections. Unintentionally, it also showcases my personal journey from an unpaid volunteer, a painter and a barista, to my position as a communicator and storyteller for one of the greatest research collections in the world. 

We’ve tried many things and have grown a lot in the last 2.5 years, but one thing that has not changed is my commitment to championing Museums of every kind. I’m proud of our show, and humbled by the hard work Michael Aranda, and now Tom McNamara have both poured into helping me create what is one of the most unique educational programs on the Internet. 

This post is to say thank you to Hank for seeing the value in my efforts, to Michael and Tom for making it happen, and to The Field Museum for taking me on so many journeys. 

Love a museum today!


The Brain Scoop
Ask Emily: The Favorites Episode

I am asked frequently to choose favorites so after much deliberation I am able to sufficiently supply responses for such things as:

favorite things about Chicago, the Field Museum, invertebrates, dinosaurs, and having an incredible amount of access to some of the most mind-blowing things KNOWN TO MANKIND 

So if you’re really wondering what my favorite part of working at The Field is, I’ve got to say it’s our 16" softball teams. 

We reenacted the Cretaceous Mass Extinction Event on Monday, a game 65 million years in the making, and history was forever altered when the Dinosaurs not only survived but beat the meteor that was meant to send them into extinction. At least we’ve got next season. 

For those of you unfamiliar, most softball games are played with a ball that is 12" in circumference - in Chicago we play with a ball that is 16", and we play mostly without gloves. It’s like hitting a melon with a bat. 

the following is taken out of our Science and Education weekly email newsletter that gets sent around to Museum staff. 


Dinosaur extinction averted!   In a stunning upset, the Field Museum Dinosaurs beat out the heavily favored Field Museum Meteors 5-1 in this season’s 16 inch softball tournament. The Dinos started strong, skunking the Meteors 5 runs in the first inning, but the gallant Meteors held fast. Aided by the courageous and sassy Karen Bean on home plate, the Meteors were able to prevent the Dinos from scoring any further runs. The best hit of the game was an RBI by the powerhouse Jennifer Edginton sending the Meteor’s Karen Bean home. These two goliaths have a long and bitter rivalry (eight weeks), but to quote FM volunteer Jan Lariviere who came to the game sporting a Meteors shirt, “I hope the better team wins.” Unfortunately this game proved that sometimes the better team does not win. Rumors recently surfaced of a rematch later this summer, so stay tuned.

Totally unbiased report submitted by James Holstein (Meteors Coach)

Standing Left to Right: Jim Holstein (S&E), Tim Bratley (IA), Megan Bradley (Education), Matthew Norwood (Guest Relations), Mireya Becker (Education), Chad Taylor (HR), Richard Lariviere (Pres), Kyla Cook (Education), Josh Engel (S&E), Eric Knowles (IT), Tom McNamara (BrainScoop), Roger Reichard (FP&O), Elena Garcia (Guest Relations) , Hector Gonzalez (Exhibits), Anne Marie Fayen (Education), Ryan Bruxvoort (Exhibits), Tom Skwerski (Exhibits), Greg Mercer (Exhibits), Cesar Rosales (FP&O)

Kneeling Left to Right: Carlin Geremias (IA), Kasey Mennie (S&E), Orion (dog), Lora Nickels (IA), Jackson (dog), Melissa Anderson (S&E), Emily Graslie (BrainScoop), Karen Bean (S&E), Beto Rosales (FP&O), Jan Lariviere (Volunteer)

S&E = Science and Education
IA = Institutional Advancement 
HR = Human Resources
IT = Information Technology 
FP&O = Facilities Planning and Operations