When science budgets get tight, one can imagine folks sitting around the lab bench and brainstorming, if only half in jest: Do we need to hold a bake sale?
No? How about an auction? Say, auctioning the right to name new species? That's the approach Purdue University professor John Bickham is taking to help fund expeditions to catalog biodiversity in far-flung places. Just in time for the holidays, you can bid for the right to tack your name -- or that of someone you hold dear -- onto species he and his team discover. For starters, here's naming opportunity No. 1: a small yellow bat, a relative of Rhogeessa tumida. It calls Mexico and Central America its home.
The name game as fundraising tool certainly isn't new. The Keck 10-meter telescopes on Hawaii's Mauna Kea comes to mind, along with the Allen Radiotelescope Array in northern California. Each facility was built with a hefty chunk of change coming from the checkbook of its namesake or of a foundation its namesake established.