55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
Regular Hours:


9:30 am – 5:00 pm


11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:


8:30 – 9:30 am


10:00 – 11:00 am

The Academy will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Planetarium will be closed Sep. 22, 23, 24

Allan Jan

Allan is a Biologist for the Steinhart Aquarium.


Briefly describe your job and your area of expertise. I maintain freshwater tropical tanks and I’m also a part of the penguin team.  Four biologists including myself help keep the 100,000 gallon Flooded Forest Tank looking its best and the fish well fed.  Making a display beautiful means more than simply scrubbing algae.  For instance, I breed fish and propagate plants behind the scenes to ensure that the exhibits are always of high standards.

What got you interested in working at an aquarium? I remember my first time visiting Steinhart Aquarium as a child and thinking how someday that I would love to work there.  The interest in biology was nurtured by my parents and I always kept freshwater tanks in one form or another throughout my life.  Although it was a long and circuitous route to Steinhart; it was a natural progression for me.

What do you like most and least about your job?  It’s wonderful to see a visitor look at an exhibit – captivated with the same sense of awe and appreciation that fascinated me as a child. Also, creating a new display from the bottom-up is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this job.  It gives everyone the opportunity to see your vision and creativity.  Getting to witness a penguin chick hatch and subsequently raise it to adulthood is also pretty spectacular.  If you don’t like to walk, this is not the right job for you.

What college did you go to and what degree did you receive?   I received a BS from UC San Diego in Ecology, Animal Behavior and Evolution.

What influenced your job choice and when? I was very lucky in being able to try many different fields; from music to biotech to law.  This one is undoubtedly my favorite and that’s why I’m here.

Do you have pets at home? What and how many? I have an orange cat (Milo) and several freshwater tanks, one of which is a beautiful planted tank, my never-ending work in progress.

Advice for someone wanting to go into your field.  Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer!  It is the best way to find your niche in the industry and in getting expert knowledge and advice.

More about Allan


Allan’s Suggested Reading:

“The Amazon: Below Water” by Oliver Lucanus, 2009 (Panta Rhei)

“The Cichlid Fishes: Nature’s Grand Experiment in Evolution” by George W. Barlow, 2000 (Perseus Publishing).

“The Mismeasure of Man” by Stephen Jay Gould, 1996 (W.W. Norton & Co.).