Research in the Department of Entomology is primarily collection-based and focuses on systematics in the broadest sense, including basic taxonomy, comparative morphology, and life history of insects, as well as evolutionary and population biology, phylogenetics, biogeography, biodiversity, ecology, behavior, and molecular genetic studies.
Field studies are conducted, also, in many parts of the United States, Mexico, Central and South America, the Asia-Pacific region, and, to a lesser extent, in Europe, Africa, and Australia. Smithsonian entomologists currently participate in long-term biodiversity survey projects in Costa Rica (Arthropods of La Selva), Peru, Guyana, Papua New Guinea, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Kenya, among others. Past and present major projects in Sri Lanka, Peru, Madagascar, and Papua New Guinea have yielded millions of specimens for research. A series of canopy-fogging projects in Central and South America, initiated in 1974, has produced nearly 9 million specimens.
The permanent staff at the National Museum of Natural History currently includes 6 Smithsonian Curators and 14 USDA Research Entomologists. In addition, there are also a number of emeritus researchers, post-doctoral fellows and other entomologists in residence conducting independent research or working in collaboration with those on staff. While USDA scientists generally direct their research toward insect groups of economic importance to American agriculture, Smithsonian scientists tend to direct their interest toward groups of broad ecological and evolutionary significance. Brief descriptions of research specialties of most permanent members of our research community are given below. More information can be found by visiting their staff pages and purusing their publications.SI Research Entomologists:
Seán Gary Brady, Curator of Hymenoptera (and Department Chair).
Research specialties: Phylogenetics, systematics, biogeography, and molecular evolution of ants and bees; social insect evolution; theory and methods of phylogenetic analysis.
Torsten Dikow, Curator of Diptera.
Research specialties: Phylogeny and revisionary taxonomy of asiloid flies (Apioceridae, Asilidae, Mydidae); cybertaxonomic tools; application of specimen occurrence data to biodiversity studies; theory and methods of phylogenetic analysis.
Terry L. Erwin, Curator of Coleoptera.
Research specialties: Systematics, natural history, and zoogeography of the world's ground beetles (Carabidae); biodiversity and natural history of Neotropical forest canopy insects and their allies; conservation of tropical forests.
Robert K. Robbins, Curator of Lepidoptera.
Research specialties: Systematics of Lycaenidae, evolutionary biology of butterflies, patterns of butterfly diversity.
Ted R. Schultz, Curator of Hymenoptera.
Research specialties: Evolution and systematics of ants, especially the fungus-growing ants (tribe Attini, subfamily Myrmicinae); historical ecology and evolution of the fungus-growing behavior; theory and method of phylogenetic analysis.
Other SI Research Entomologists
(emeritus and administrators)
John M. Burns, Curator Emeritus of Lepidoptera.
Research specialties: Evolutionary biology; systematics and population biology of Hesperioidea (skippers) and Papilionoidea.
Jonathan A. Coddington, NMNH Associate Director for Science and Senior Curator of Arachnida and Myriapoda.
Research specialties: Systematics and behavior of spiders; species richness estimation; theory and design of biological inventories.
Donald R. Davis, Curator Emeritus of Lepidoptera.
Research specialties: Systematics and phylogeny of the basal families of Lepidoptera including the superfamilies Tineoidea and Gracillarioidea; biology of leaf-mining and cave-dwelling moths.
Oliver S. Flint, Jr., Curator Emeritus of Neuropteroids.
Research specialties: Taxonomy and biology of the Trichoptera and Megaloidea of the New World.
Raymond J. Gagne, Adjunct Scientist (Emeritus, USDA SEL).
Research specialties: Systematics of gall midges (Cecidomyiidae).
Wayne N. Mathis, Curator Emeritus of Diptera.
Research specialties: Systematics, biology, and zoogeography of Canacidae, and Ephydroidea, with special emphasis on Ephydridae.
Scott E. Miller, SI Deputy Under Secretary for Collections and Interdisciplinary Support and NMNH Research Entomologist.
Research specialties: Systematics of Lepidoptera (moths); biogeography of Pacific Basin, New Guinea, and Africa; plant-insect community ecology.
David R. Smith, Adjunct Scientist (Emeritus, USDA SEL), Hymenoptera.
Research specialties: Systematics of sawflies (Hymenoptera: Symphyta), and parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera: Evanioidea, Trigonalyidae) of the world.
F. Christian Thompson, Adjunct Scientist (Emeritus, USDA SEL), Diptera.
Research specialties: Systematics and zoogeography of Syrphidae and related groups; zoological nomenclature; biodiversity informatics.
USDA/SEL Research Entomologists (at NHB):
John W. Brown, Research Entomologist (emeritus), Lepidoptera.
Research specialties: Systematics and biogeography of the moth family Tortricidae; biogeography of the peninsula of Baja California; conservation biology; and faunal inventories.
Matthew Buffington, Research Entomologist, Hymenoptera.
Research specialties: Systematics of parasitic Hymenoptera, specifically the Cynipoidea, Proctotrupoidea and Platygastroidea; molecular systematics; digital imaging techniques involving small insects.
Lourdes Chamorro, Research Entomologist, Coleoptera.
Research specialties: Diversity, comparative morphology, and systematics of Curculionoidea as well as Chrysomelidae, (especially Cryptocephalinae).
Michael W. Gates, Research Leader and Research Entomologist, Hymenoptera.
Research specialties: Taxonomy and systematics of Chalcidoid wasps.
Thomas J. Henry, Research Entomologist, Heteroptera
Research specialties: Systematics of Hemiptera, especially Berytidae and Miridae.
Alexander S. Konstantinov, Research Entomologist, Coleoptera
Research specialties: Systematics, comparative morphology, biogeography, and host plants relationships of leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae) with particular emphasis on flea beetles, worldwide.
Robert Kula, Research Entomologist, Hymenoptera.
Research specialties: Systematics of Ichneumonoidea, particularly parasitoids of cyclorrhaphous flies.
Steven W. Lingafelter, Research Entomologist, Coleoptera
Research specialties: Systematics and taxonomy of Cerambycidae and Curculionidae (longhorned wood boring beetles and weevils); bionomics of Silphidae (carrion beetles).
Stuart H. McKamey, Research Entomologist, Homoptera.
Research specialties: Biosystematics of Auchenorrhyncha, principally Membracoidea (leafhoppers and treehoppers).
Allen L. Norrbom, Adjunct Scientist, Entomology (Research Entomologist, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture). Research specialties: Systematics (taxonomy, nomenclature, identification) and natural history of true fruit flies (Insecta: Diptera: Tephritidae) and related families.
M. Alma Solis, Research Entomologist, Lepidoptera.
Research specialties: Systematics of snout moths (Pyraloidea); Pyraloidea of Neotropical areas, particularly Costa Rica.
Norman E. Woodley, Research Entomologist, Diptera.
Research specialties: Taxonomy and phylogeny of flies, especially Brachycera, Orthorrhapa, and Oestroidea.
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