Davis, Mignon M. (Active)
United States National Museum of Natural History
Mignon was born on October 23, 1949, in Mansfield, Ohio. Before entering any schooling, she enjoyed a repeated fascination with ants living in a crack in the cement of the front porch. At a similar time, around age five, she marveled at the differences and similarities of the gravels of the driveway, including rose and milky quartz. She also reared banded grasshoppers and praying mantids from the yard. When alone, around age ten, Mignon frequented a farm field, and later, with girlfriends, a mature maple, oak, beech forested estate, Black’s Woods, adjoining the working class neighborhood in Mansfield. She was outdoors more than in, and received encouragement to be outdoors when in good health. In these years, insect specimens moved from freezer to foam spreading boards. The summer before high school, she and her parents visited the Natural History Museum, whose dinosaur hall was closed. A guard noticed the tearful response at the barricade, so he moved it just enough for us to view the head of a Diplodicus with a round plastic sheet for a dust cover hat. On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day, Mignon led the River Walk on the Olentangy River at Ohio State University. In the first term of summer, she was the only undergraduate taking the graduate courses field entomology and field botany at Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory, Gibraltar Island, Lake Erie where, learning of the Borror, DeLong, and Triplehorn textbook, she studied and worked under all three professors. While graduating with her class at OSU, with a BS in both Zoology and Entomology and a minor in Psychology, she pursued and documented interests on photographic films. Beginning with a Polaroid swinger at home around age thirteen, and advancing to a Kodak instamatic for travel, the 35 mm camera had become more versatile after a college class in dark room development of negative film. Three weeks after graduation, Mignon began an appointed career position as technician in Neuropteroids with the Department of Entomology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. She had negotiated a July 1, 1971, starting date on a springtime visit. She sorted, labeled, and curated museum collections of Apterygotes, Neuroptera, Odonata, and Trichoptera, and especially enjoyed adding the O. F. Cook Odonata Collection into the National Museum of Natural History Collection, and working with visiting Professor Asahina in 1976. She married Smithsonian Institute microlepidopterist Don Davis in 1972, the same year he became a member of the Washington Biologists’ Field Club. Eight years of activity with DC Grotto culminated with a cover photo of Mignon on National Speleological Society magazine in Organ cave gazing into sizable rimstone pools. After more than eight career years, she resigned from the job on her thirtieth birthday and six months pregnant, to become an Smithsonian Institute Volunteer (on the same day), mostly in the Naturalist Center, an earlier recipient of her 1974 framed photograph of a male dobsonfly on the cabin chimney at Plummers Island. In March 1980, her exhibit of 39 framed color photographs filled the 2nd floor rotunda of National Museum of Natural History, announced with a photo in the 10th Anniversary edition of Smithsonian Magazine. In 1986, Mignon earned a certificate in television production from Prince George’s Community College and she taught television production in a public magnet school two full years. After meetings with curators of AMNH, the Smithsonian Channel began on cable television. She has assisted in the field and caves in 12 countries 1973 – 2011: Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Germany, Peru, Chile, Costa Rica, and China. In 1994 she traveled to Bidingin, Germany, to arrange for, and pack, the Eberhard Jäckh microlepidoptera collection, purchased by Smithsonian. In addition Mignon has assisted with field work in 8 states in the U. S., some with slide presentations here and abroad, co-authored 7 scientific entomological papers, and served 1979 -1982, 2011-2014, as Corresponding, then Membership Secretary, Entomological Society of Washington, first organized by Charles Valentine Riley in 1884. Beginning in January 2005, Mignon started volunteering 3, then 4, then 5 & 6 days per week curating 46 families of primitive microlepidoptera for which she received a Certificate of Appreciation from the combined Lepidoptera Group. In 2013, Mignon received the Smithsonian Seriously Amazing Volunteer Award (1 of 14 out of 6000+ volunteers). “Her dedication, enthusiasm, strong work ethic, and willingness to help the Smithsonian accomplish its mission and enhance the visitor experience. Mignon’s service exemplifies the qualities and characteristics essential to the successful operation of the National Museum of Natural History.” In 2015 she was awarded the “Shining Star” trophy for “Behind the Scenes Most Volunteer Hours for 2014.” In 2016 she received “Above and Beyond Service” Certificate. Mignon was elected to the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 2015.