Collections Managers

Kelly Sendall

Head of Collections Care and Conservation

Areas of Expertise/Special Interest

  • Collection management
  • Collection access
  • Collection development


Kelly Sendall re-discovered the Royal BC Museum through its natural history collections and research activities in the summer of 1982, as a new volunteer in the bird collection. While finishing his undergraduate degree, Kelly continued to volunteer with the Museum’s collection program on such activities as collecting marine invertebrates and fish. In 1988 he was contracted to curate a recent donation of chitons from Dr. Ian McTaggart-Cowan. In 1991 he was hired as the collection manager for invertebrates, fish, and herpetology, and continued in that position until 2007, when he became the natural history manager.

Kelly’s current position as Head of Collections Care and Conservation expands his responsibilities to include the conservation department and the Office of the Central Registrar.

Kelly is responsible for collection development throughout the museum’s collections, as well as the care and handling of, and access to, the collections. Kelly is also responsible for the Central Registrar, whose role it is to account for and keep track of all the museum’s collections.



Claudia Copley

Senior Collections Manager, Entomology

Areas of Expertise/Special Interest

  • Terrestrial arthropods
  • Spiders: distribution, life history
  • Insects: distributions, anthropogenic impacts, invasive species


Claudia Copley has been a collection manager at the Royal BC Museum since 2004. She is responsible for maintaining the entomology collection, which includes insects, arachnids, and myriapods, a collection with more than half a million specimens.

Claudia’s graduate degree was focused on the spider fauna of the ancient forests in the Carmanah Valley, but her interests include everything entomological.

Each year, during the summer field season, you will find Claudia exploring an area of British Columbia with collecting equipment in hand. Currently an area of collection focus is an attempt to document the spider fauna in the province, especially at high elevations. Approximately 1,000 species are expected to be found, and the final product of these surveys will be a handbook to the spiders of British Columbia.

Delphine Castle

Collections Manager, Modern Human History

Areas of Expertise/Special Interest

  • History
  • Museum studies
  • Inventory control and management


Delphine Castles came to the Royal BC Museum in 2007 after working for almost three decades in various cultural institutions.

Many childhood hours spent at the Provincial Museum in Victoria nurtured her awareness and enthusiasm to pursue a museum-focused career. Much of Delphine’s academic education is in museum studies, with the completion of an MA in Museum Studies in 2006 from the University of Leicester, England.

She is responsible for inventory control and management of the modern human history collection, which involves the hands-on categorization of man-made objects relevant to their history of use in British Columbia.

Heidi Gartner

Collection Manager, Invertebrates

Areas of Expertise/Special Interest

  • Marine invertebrates
  • Marine introduced species
  • Tunicate biology, ecology and taxonomy
  • Bryozoan taxonomy


Heidi Gartner joined the Royal BC Museum as the manager of the invertebrate collection in 2012, after two years of volunteer and auxiliary staff service. Heidi is an Ontario native who fell in love with the BC coast and marine biology when she moved to Victoria more than ten years ago. She obtained an MSc from the University of Victoria, with a thesis focused on patterns in community structure and invasive species distributions within subtidal invertebrate fouling communities along the BC coast.

Heidi loves exploring local intertidal and subtidal communities, appreciating BC’s amazing biodiversity while keeping an eye out for introduced species to the coast.

She is responsible for maintaining and aiding in the development of the invertebrate collection, which consists of more than 60,000 lots of specimens.

Marji Johns

Collections Manager, Paleontology

Areas of Expertise/Special Interest

  • BC paleontology and geoscience
  • Mesozoic and Cenozoic fossils of British Columbia
  • Triassic fishes
  • West coast geoscience
  • Micropaleontology


Marji Johns came to the Royal BC Museum in 2011 with 30 years of job experience in paleontology, having worked as a research consultant following her earlier geoscience career at the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC). She has a BSc from the University of British Columbia and an MSc in micropaleontology from the University of Victoria. Her graduate work resulted in award-winning thesis research and the first comprehensive paper on Triassic ichthyoliths from northeast BC, where she described and illustrated many new microscopic fish teeth and scales and put them into a geologic context.

With her colleagues at the University of Victoria and GSC, Marji has published several scientific papers on microfossils and geology of coastal and northern BC. At the Museum, she leads a special project on Vancouver Island and Gulf Island Cretaceous rocks. The project – involving research associates, students and volunteers – has the goal of providing new insights into the region’s geology, ancient species and environments.

Expanding the Royal BC Museum collections with new fossil examples from BC’s diverse landscapes and geology is a priority for Marji. She and a volunteer team are developing fossil information and images to be an integral part of a revised paleontology data system. Improved care and preparation of the specimens are also high on her to-do lists, and she continues to enthusiastically support paleontology and geoscience learning at the Museum.

Lorna Julyan

Collection Manager, Ethnology

Areas of Expertise/Special Interest

  • Improving collections access through cataloguing and database management
  • Assisting individuals and groups in their ethnology research


Lorna Julyan began working as an auxiliary collection manager in human history at the Royal BC Museum in 2006, first in modern human history and then in ethnology. Her main responsibilities were cataloguing artifacts and data entry, assisting with tours of the ethnology collection and other duties relating to collection maintenance and development. With her present position in the ethnology audio visual collection in 2011, her duties expanded to include providing access to the collection in response to inquiries from the public or from colleagues at the Museum.

Lorna has a Diploma in Cultural Resource Management from the University of Victoria, a Library Science degree from the University of British Columbia and a BA in English and Canadian history from the University of Manitoba.

Whether meeting with researchers in person, over the telephone or via email, Lorna very much enjoys helping people find the information they are seeking. It could be finding images for a particular First Nation culture and location from the ethnology audio visual collection of over 24,000 historical First Nations photographs, or explaining how to search for objects using the collection search feature on the Museum’s website.

Lesley Kennes

Collections Manager, Birds and Mammals

Areas of Expertise/Special Interest

  • Museum methods
  • General ecology
  • Museology


Lesley Kennes became a collections manager in 1977, after three years of summer student employment with the Royal BC Museum. She began her Museum career in botany but has since had the opportunity to work on different collections. She is currently responsible for the bird and mammal collections, which are the oldest in the Natural History area.

Lesley’s early exposure to different cultures and places inspired a lifelong passion for learning something new. A Simon Fraser University degree in ecology nurtured an interest in general biology, and a job opportunity at the Royal BC Museum opened up new worlds of knowledge. Lesley enjoys solving mysteries and puzzles, and working with two collections that are more a hundred years old provides plenty of opportunities.

Lesley is responsible for maintaining and aiding in the development of the bird and mammal collections, each of which consists of 25,000 specimens. As one of the longest-serving employees, she also acts as a keeper of the knowledge of the Royal BC Museum.

Dr. Erica Wheeler

Collections Manager, Botany

Areas of Expertise & Interest

  • Vascular plant taxonomy
  • Molecular systematics and biogeography of wild onions (genus Allium)
  • Conservation genetics


Erica Wheeler joined the Royal BC Museum as botany collection manager in the spring of 2012.  She is responsible for maintaining and contributing to the development of the botany collection which includes close to 215,000 specimens of dried plants, housed in the museum herbarium.

Erica holds a PhD in Biology from the University of Missouri, where her research focused on the molecular systematics of wild onions (genus Allium) in North America.  Before studying biology, Erica worked in BC forests for fifteen years as a treeplanter and as a silviculture surveyor.  She has taught undergraduate science laboratory courses in plant systematics, plant diversity and genetics.

Sheila Sampson

Collections Assistant, Ethnology

Areas of Expertise/Special Interest

  • Ethnology collection tours.
  • AV/photo collection tours
  • Education collection


Sheila Sampson began working for the Royal BC Museum in 1993, first in the clerical and library areas, then in public programs and now as a collections assistant in ethnology. Sheila is a First Nations person of Coast Salish and Nez Perce ancestry. She grew up learning about the culture and the traditional ways, and has come to appreciate the boundaries between what can be taught publically and what is to remain sacred.

Sheila has worked in the Expert In The Gallery program, and provided tours to research associates, First Nations groups and treaty groups. She has worked on ethnology, archaeology, education and non-Aboriginal collections.