Dozens of Academy scientists and curators are available to working journalists to comment on topics related to their fields of expertise. Browse their specialties below, and contact us to arrange an interview.

Anthropology

Zeray Alemseged
Curator and Irvine Chair
Anthropology

Specialty: Early hominin and primate phylogeny and taxonomy; origin and evolution of bipedalism; ontogeny and development in early hominins; hominin behavior and "social structure"; early hominin dietary adaptation, biogeography, and geological settings; hominin paleoenvironments and paleoecology
Expeditions/Highlights: Dikika Research Project in Ethiopia; discovery of the "world's oldest baby" (Australopithecus afarensis) in 2006

Read Zeray’s Science Hero profile

Russell Hartman
Senior Collection Manager
Anthropology

Specialty: Native American and Oceanic cultures, esp. California and Southwest
Expeditions/Highlights: Southwestern Native American art, especially of Navajo and Pueblo Indians

Aquarium

Nicole Chaney
Aquatic Biologist
Aquarium

Specialty: Reptiles, amphibians, insects

Charles Delbeek
Senior Aquatic Biologist
Aquarium

Specialty: Tropical fish and coral reefs, cephalopods, seadragons. Underwater photography. Live coral husbandry, aquarium life support systems.
Expeditions/Highlights: Dives in South Korea, Japan, Palau, Thailand, Marshall Islands, Fiji, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, Hawaii, Philippines, Florida, and Bonaire

Freeland Dunker
Veterinarian
Aquarium

Specialty: Animal medicine and surgery
Expeditions/Highlights: Diagnosis and treatment of elephants with tuberculosis

Brian Freiermuth
Aquatic Biologist
Aquarium

Specialty: Reptiles and amphibians
Expeditions/Highlights: Breeding Asian horned frogs

Laurie Kormos
Animal Health Manager
Aquarium

Specialty: Fish and reptiles

Brenda Melton
Curator
Aquarium

Specialty: Oversees the Academy's Rainforest and Swamp, living exhibits within the Kimball Natural History Museum, and programming animals.

Kristen Natoli
Horticulturist
Aquarium

Specialty: Plants and butterflies (the Academy's Rainforest exhibit)

Richard Ross
Aquatic Biologist
Aquarium

Specialty: Cephalopods: nautilus, cuttlefish, squid, octopus
Expeditions/Highlights: Breeding program for dwarf cuttlefish

Bart Shepherd
Director
Aquarium

Specialty: Coral reefs. Fish biomechanics. New Academy exhibit design. Coral propagation, lighting methods for corals in captivity.
Expeditions/Highlights: Philippines

Read Bart’s Science Hero profile. 

Seth Wolters
Senior Aquatic Biologist
Aquarium

Specialty: Tropical marine fishes and invertebrates, sharks and rays Expeditions/Highlights: Philippines, Hawaii

Arachnology

Charles Griswold
Curator
Arachnology

Specialty: Spiders

Expeditions/Highlights: Terrestrial Arthropod Inventory of Madagascar. "Tree of Life" for spiders. Planetary Biodiversity Inventory (worldwide survey) of Goblin spiders. China Natural History Project. Expeditions to Chilean, New Zealand, and Australian temperate rainforests.

Vincent Lee
Curatorial Assistant
Arachnology

Specialty: Scorpions and pseudoscorpions
Expeditions/Highlights: Madagascar and Kenyan arachnids and insects.

Darrell Ubick
Curatorial Assistant
Arachnology

Specialty: Arachnids and troglobites (cave organisms). Endemic and invasive California arachnids.
Expeditions/Highlights: Cave-dwelling arachnids in Santa Cruz and Texas; Planetary Biodiversity Inventory of spider family Oonopidae; serpentine endemic arachnids in California.

Astronomy

Bing Quock
Assistant Director
Planetarium

Specialty: General astronomy, solar system
Expeditions/Highlights: Travel program to view the century's longest total solar eclipse (China 2009)

Ryan Wyatt
Director
Planetarium

Specialty: Science visualization, astrophysics, history of astronomy, beyond solar system
Expeditions/Highlights: Planetarium shows Fragile Planet and Life: A Cosmic Story

Read Ryan’s Science Hero profile.

Botany

Frank Almeda
Senior Curator
Botany

Specialty: Living roof design. Tropical flowering plants. Princess flowers (Melastomataceae).
Expeditions/Highlights: Complete revision of Marin Flora. Recent expeditions to Brazil, Panama, and Madagascar.

Bruce Bartholomew
Senior Research Scientist
Botany

Specialty: Plants of China and Modoc County, California
Expeditions/Highlights: China Natural History Project, Flora of China.

Tom Daniel
Curator
Botany

Specialty: New World Acanthaceae (shrimp plants and their relatives). Native and invasive plants in San Francisco. Pollination. Desert plants.
Expeditions/Highlights: A new flora of San Francisco, and floristic catalogs of mountain ranges in Arizona and the Mexican state of Sinaloa. Sao Tome and Principe.

Elisabeth Fourtanier
Research Scientist
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: Fossil diatoms
Expeditions/Highlights: Computerized database of diatom names

Peter Fritsch
Curator
Botany

Specialty: Flowering plants, especially snowdrops, silverbells, persimmons, and wintergreens
Expeditions/Highlights: China Natural History Project. Plant distribution changes in Asia and the Americas as a result of Tertiary climate change.

Debra Trock
Senior Collections Manager
Botany

Specialty: Asteraceae family, a large group that includes sunflowers, dandelions, daisies, and more
Expeditions/Highlights: Wyoming, Colorado; Flora of North America series

Climate Change

Peter Fritsch
Curator
Botany

Specialty: Flowering plants, especially snowdrops, silverbells, persimmons, and wintergreens
Highlights/Expeditions: China Natural History Project. Plant distribution changes in Asia and the Americas as a result of Tertiary climate change.

Dave Kavanaugh
Senior Curator
Entomology

Specialty: Beetles, especially carabid beetles
Highlights/Expeditions: China Natural History Project; Madagascar; Madang Province, Papua New Guinea; expeditions to Hawaii, New Zealand, Siberia, Amazonian Peru, Costa Rica, and all mountainous regions of North America. Evidence for climate change based on changes in the distributions of montane beetle species.

Peter Roopnarine
Curator
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: Models of ecosystem evolution and extinction. Relationship of climate change to extinction. Clams, mussels, and relatives.
Highlights/Expeditions: Effects of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill on shellfish and the food web; thermal spring ecology in Mexico; conodonts of Nevada; mollusks of the southeastern U.S. and Caribbean; bivalves in the Gulf of Thailand; lead curator of Altered State: Climate Change in California exhibit.

Education & Exhibits

Elizabeth Babcock
Chief Officer and Dean Education and Digital Strategy

Specialty: Formal and informal education, education through digital media, cultural anthropology
Highlights/Expeditions: "WhyReef" and "Animal Adventures" virtual world projects for teens and tweens; international migration; Belizean voluntary associations

Read Elizabeth’s bio 

Roberta Brett
Senior Science Content Specialist
Education

Specialty: Omophron, a genus of carabid beetles.
Highlights/Expeditions: Madagascar and Yunnan, China.

Meg Burke
Director
Education

Specialty: Informal science education. Philippine coral reef diversity, conservation, and education. Feral animals, especially goats. Polar bears.
Highlights/Expeditions: Costa Rica, Philippines, Seychelles, Belize. Multiple Academy travel programs to the Galapagos and Churchill, Manitoba.

Aaron Pope
Manager of Sustainability Programs
​Public Programs

Specialty: Sustainability education and practices. Green building features.
Highlights/Expeditions: "Arena for Engagement" in the Altered State: Climate Change in California exhibit. San Francisco Sustainable Seafood Watch Alliance.

Ryan Wyatt
Director
Planetarium

Specialty: Science visualization, astrophysics, history of astronomy, beyond solar system Planetarium shows Fragile Planet and Life: A Cosmic Story

Read Ryan’s Science Hero profile

Entomology

Roberta Brett
Senior Science Content Specialist
Education

Specialty: Omophron, a genus of carabid beetles.
Highlights/Expeditions: Madagascar and Yunnan, China.

Brian Fisher
Curator
Entomology

Specialty: Ants - especially in Africa and Madagascar
Highlights/Expeditions: AntWeb: building the global online infrastructure for the biodiversity and identification of the world's ants. First in-depth inventory of Madagascar's ants. Influencing conservation priorities in Madagascar and the islands of the southwest Indian Ocean.

Read Brian’s Science Hero profile

Dave Kavanaugh
Senior Curator
Entomology

Specialty: Beetles, especially carabid beetles
Highlights/Expeditions: China Natural History Project; Madagascar; Madang Province, Papua New Guinea; expeditions to Hawaii, New Zealand, Siberia, Amazonian Peru, Costa Rica, and all mountainous regions of North America. Evidence for climate change based on changes in the distributions of montane beetle species.

Norm Penny
Senior Collections Manager
Entomology

Specialty: Academy's entomology collection. Lacewings, scorpionflies, and relatives.
Highlights/Expeditions: New species of Chrysopinae (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae) from Costa Rica

Jere Schweikert
Curatorial Assistant
Entomology

Specialty: General entomology
Highlights/Expeditions: Madagascar, Kenya, Kuril Islands.

Robert Zuparko
Curatorial Assistant
Entomology

Specialty: Parasitic Hymenoptera (wasps, bees, ants)

Genomics

Shannon Bennett
​Associate Curator
Microbiology

Specialty: Viruses and bacteria, especially infectious diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
Highlights/Expeditions: Studies on dengue, hantavirus, influenza, leptospirosis, mosquito vectors, parasitic roundworms.

Read Shannon’s Science Hero profile

W. Brian Simison
Curator
Comparative Genomics

Specialty: Phylogenetics, genomics, DNA sequencing, biogeography
Highlights/Expeditions: Semi-annual collecting trips to Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Mexico (Baja, La Paz, Cabo Pulmo, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta).

Geology

Jean DeMouthe
​Senior Collections Manager
Geology

Specialty: Paleontology and mineralogy.

Green Building

Frank Almeda
Senior Curator
Botany

Specialty: Living roof design. Tropical flowering plants. Princess flowers (Melastomataceae).
Highlights/Expeditions: Complete revision of Marin Flora. Recent expeditions to Brazil, Panama, and Madagascar.

Hershow Al-Barazi
Building Systems Manager
Operations

Specialty: Buidling management software for the Academy. Green building technology and engineering. Electrical and control systems designer.

Aaron Pope
Manager of Sustainability Programs
Public Programs

Specialty: Sustainability education and practices. Green building features.
Highlights/Expeditions: "Arena for Engagement" in the Altered State: Climate Change in California exhibit. San Francisco Sustainable Seafood Watch Alliance.

Herpetology

David Blackburn
Assistant Curator
Herpetology

Specialty: Evolution and diversity of frogs on continental Africa.
Highlights/Expeditions: Nigeria, Cameroon, Malawi, Niger.

Read David’s Science Hero profile

Robert Drewes
Curator
Herpetology

Specialty: African amphibians and reptiles.
Highlights/Expeditions: 36+ expeditions to 19 African countries since 1969, including multiple expeditions to Sao Tome and Principe (2001-2010). Three books including Ecological and Environmental Physiology of Amphibians (2009).

Read Bob’s Science Hero profile

Wallace J. Nichols
Research Associate
Herpetology

Specialty: Sea turtles. Ocean conservation, ocean plastic and pollution. Highlights/Expeditions: Tracking loggerhead turtles on their migration from Mexico to Japan; assessing turtle bycatch in Baja California; Latin America; Indonesia

Jens Vindum
Senior Collections Manager
Herpetology

Specialty: Snakes, frogs, toads, lizards, and salamanders - especially in California.
Highlights/Expeditions: China Natural History Project, Myanmar Biodiversity Project, creating Myanmar museum.

Ichthyology

David Catania
Senior Collections Manager
Ichthyology

Specialty: Academy's fish collections
Highlights/Expeditions: China Natural History Project, Sao Tome and Principe (2009), X-Ray Ichthyology exhibit.

William Eschmeyer
Curator Emeritus
Ichthyology

Specialty: Taxonomic literature of fishes
Highlights/Expeditions: Genera of Fishes (1990), Catalog of Fishes (1998), Catalog of Fishes online database (current).

Douglas Long
Research Associate
Ichthyology, Ornithology & Mammalogy

Specialty: Sharks, deep-sea fishes. Marine mammals, especially sea lions. Birds, especially New World vultures.
Highlights/Expeditions: Bioinventories of birds and mammals in Myanmar, China, South Africa, and Sao Tome; revised biogeography of central California mammals; avian conservation in New Zealand.

John McCosker
Senior Scientist and Department Chair
Aquatic Biology

Specialty: Shark behavior, eels, Galapagos Islands fish, flashlight fish, salmon, and coelacanths. Sustainable seafood choices.

Highlights/Expeditions: Galapagos Island expeditions using submersibles, 1975 Academy coelacanth expedition.

Read John's Science Hero profile 

Luiz Rocha
Assistant Curator
Ichthyology

Specialty: Coral reef fishes.
Highlights/Expeditions: Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, Polynesia, Micronesia, Caribbean, South America, Africa.

Invertebrate Zoology

Michael Ghiselin
Senior Research Fellow
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: History and philosophy of biology. Principles of systematics. Darwin. Evolutionary aspects of reproduction. Sea slugs.
Highlights/Expeditions: Molecular phylogeny of the animal kingdom.

Terry Gosliner
Senior Curator
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: Marine invertebrates, especially sea slugs. California and tropical marine habitats.
Highlights/Expeditions: Philippine coral reefs, Papua New Guinea, Madagascar, Palmyra Atoll, Malaysia, Galapagos. First comprehensive inventory of nudibranchs (sea slugs) along Costa Rica's Pacific coast. Comprehensive guide to 1,400 species of Indo-Pacific nudibranchs.

Read Terry’s Science Hero profile

Rich Mooi
Curator
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: Echinoderms: sea urchins, sea stars, sand dollars, brittlestars, sea cucumbers, and sea lilies
Highlights/Expeditions: Marine invertebrates in Antarctica, including brooding sea urchins. San Francisco Bay benthic survey. Sea urchin and crinoid interaction in the Bahamas. Sao Tome and Principe.

Peter Roopnarine
Curator
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: Models of ecosystem evolution and extinction. Relationship of climate change to extinction. Clams, mussels, and relatives.
Highlights/Expeditions: Effects of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill on shellfish and the food web; thermal spring ecology in Mexico; conodonts of Nevada; mollusks of the southeastern U.S. and Caribbean; bivalves in the Gulf of Thailand; lead curator of Altered State: Climate Change in California exhibit.

Bob Van Syoc
Senior Collections Manager
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: Barnacles. Benthic invertebrates of the Pacific coast.
Highlights/Expeditions: Intertidal and shallow subtidal from San Diego to Mendocino; multi-year surveys of the Channel Islands and Southeast Farallon Island. Other expeditions to Alaska, British Columbia, Baja California, Panama, South Pacific, Philippines, Borneo, Red Sea, Madagascar, Australia, Galapagos Islands, Clipperton Island, and cruises off the California coast to sample shelf and slope fauna.

Gary Williams
Curator and Chair
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: Octocorals: soft corals, sea fans, and sea pens. Coral reefs of the tropical western Pacific.
Highlights/Expeditions: Philippines, Melanesia, Micronesia, Galapagos, Patagonia, sub-Antarctic, Madagascar, Palmyra, southern Africa, Gulf of Guinea.

Mammalogy

Jack Dumbacher
Associate Curator and Chair
Ornithology & Mammalogy

Specialty: Birds - including chemical defenses and conservation. Elephant-shrews.
Highlights/Expeditions: Biogeographic study of birds in New Guinea. Investigation of toxicity source for poisonous birds. Elephant-shrews in Namibia. Spotted owls in North America.

Read Jack’s Science Hero profile

Moe Flannery
Collections Manager
Ornithology & Mammalogy

Specialty: Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Birds, especially of Southeast Asia.
Highlights/Expeditions: Myanmar 2001; China 2002-2005.

Douglas Long
Research Associate
Ichthyology, Ornithology & Mammalogy

Specialty: Sharks, deep-sea fishes. Marine mammals, especially sea lions. Birds, especially New World vultures.
Highlights/Expeditions: Bioinventories of birds and mammals in Myanmar, China, South Africa, and Sao Tome; revised biogeography of central California mammals; avian conservation in New Zealand.

Marine Biology

Terry Gosliner
Senior Curator
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: Marine invertebrates, especially sea slugs. California and tropical marine habitats.
Highlights/Expeditions: Philippine coral reefs, Papua New Guinea, Madagascar, Palmyra Atoll, Malaysia, Galapagos. First comprehensive inventory of nudibranchs (sea slugs) along Costa Rica's Pacific coast. Comprehensive guide to 1,400 species of Indo-Pacific nudibranchs.

Read Terry’s Science Hero profile

Douglas Long
Research Associate
Ichthyology, Ornithology & Mammalogy

Specialty: Sharks, deep-sea fishes. Marine mammals, especially sea lions. Birds, especially New World vultures.
Highlights/Expeditions: Bioinventories of birds and mammals in Myanmar, China, South Africa, and Sao Tome; revised biogeography of central California mammals; avian conservation in New Zealand.

John McCosker
Senior Scientist and Department Chair
Aquatic Biology

Specialty: Shark behavior, eels, Galapagos Islands fish, flashlight fish, salmon, and coelacanths. Sustainable seafood choices.
Highlights/Expeditions: Galapagos Island expeditions using submersibles, 1975 Academy coelacanth expedition.

Read John's Science Hero profile 

Rich Mooi
Curator
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: Echinoderms: sea urchins, sea stars, sand dollars, brittlestars, sea cucumbers, and sea lilies
Highlights/Expeditions: Marine invertebrates in Antarctica, including brooding sea urchins. San Francisco Bay benthic survey. Sea urchin and crinoid interaction in the Bahamas. Sao Tome and Principe.

Wallace J. Nichols
Research Associate
Herpetology

Specialty: Sea turtles. Ocean conservation, ocean plastic and pollution.
Highlights/Expeditions: Tracking loggerhead turtles on their migration from Mexico to Japan; assessing turtle bycatch in Baja California; Latin America; Indonesia

Luiz Rocha
Assistant Curator
Ichthyology

Specialty: Coral reef fishes.
Highlights/Expeditions: Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, Polynesia, Micronesia, Caribbean, South America, Africa.

Bob Van Syoc
Senior Collections Manager
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: Barnacles. Benthic invertebrates of the Pacific coast.
Highlights/Expeditions: Intertidal and shallow subtidal from San Diego to Mendocino; multi-year surveys of the Channel Islands and Southeast Farallon Island. Other expeditions to Alaska, British Columbia, Baja California, Panama, South Pacific, Philippines, Borneo, Red Sea, Madagascar, Australia, Galapagos Islands, Clipperton Island, and cruises off the California coast to sample shelf and slope fauna.

Gary Williams
Curator and Chair
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: Octocorals: soft corals, sea fans, and sea pens. Coral reefs of the tropical western Pacific.
Highlights/Expeditions: Philippines, Melanesia, Micronesia, Galapagos, Patagonia, sub-Antarctic, Madagascar, Palmyra, southern Africa, Gulf of Guinea.

Microbiology

Shannon Bennett
Associate Curator
Microbiology

Specialty: Viruses and bacteria, especially infectious diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
Highlights/Expeditions: Studies on dengue, hantavirus, influenza, leptospirosis, mosquito vectors, parasitic roundworms.

Read Shannon’s Science Hero profile

Elisabeth Fourtanier
Research Scientist
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: Fossil diatoms
Highlights/Expeditions: Computerized database of diatom names

Ornithology

Jack Dumbacher
Associate Curator and Chair
Ornithology & Mammalogy

Specialty: Birds - including chemical defenses and conservation. Elephant-shrews.
Highlights/Expeditions: Biogeographic study of birds in New Guinea. Investigation of toxicity source for poisonous birds. Elephant-shrews in Namibia. Spotted owls in North America.

Read Jack’s Science Hero profile

Moe Flannery
Collections Manager
Ornithology & Mammalogy

Specialty: Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Birds, especially of Southeast Asia.
Highlights/Expeditions: Myanmar 2001; China 2002-2005.

Sylvia Hope
Research Associate
Ornithology

Specialty: Fossil birds. Crows, jays, and magpies.
Highlights/Expeditions: Behavior observation and song recordings of jays; paleontology digs for fossil mammals and birds in Wyoming.

Douglas Long
Research Associate
Ichthyology, Ornithology & Mammalogy

Specialty: Sharks, deep-sea fishes. Marine mammals, especially sea lions. Birds, especially New World vultures.
Highlights/Expeditions: Bioinventories of birds and mammals in Myanmar, China, South Africa, and Sao Tome; revised biogeography of central California mammals; avian conservation in New Zealand.

Paleontology

Zeray Alemseged
Curator and Irvine Chair
Anthropology

Specialty: Early human evolution
Highlights/Expeditions: Dikika Research Project in Ethiopia. Discovery of the "world's oldest baby" (Australopithecus afarensis) in 2006.

Read Zeray’s Science Hero profile

Sylvia Hope
Research Associate
Ornithology

Specialty: Fossil birds. Crows, jays, and magpies.
Highlights/Expeditions: Behavior observation and song recordings of jays; paleontology digs for fossil mammals and birds in Wyoming.

Peter Roopnarine
Curator
Invertebrate Zoology & Geology

Specialty: Models of ecosystem evolution and extinction. Relationship of climate change to extinction. Clams, mussels, and relatives.
Highlights/Expeditions: Effects of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill on shellfish and the food web; thermal spring ecology in Mexico; conodonts of Nevada; mollusks of the southeastern U.S. and Caribbean; bivalves in the Gulf of Thailand; lead curator of Altered State: Climate Change in California exhibit.

Share This

More Resources

View the latest news from the California Academy of Sciences.

The Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability aims to discover new knowledge about life's diversity and the process of evolution and to rapidly apply that knowledge to sustain life on the planet.

Looking for images? Contact us at press@calacademy.org to request access to hi-res and low-res image downloads available for editorial use.