California Academy of Sciences 150th Anniversary Celebration
150th Anniversary Celebration 150 Years: A Timeline 150 Years of Research The New Academy
Curator Alan Leviton and Collections Manager Jens Vindum in the Herpetology collections.

A permanent research department is founded with curator John Van Denburg.

Joseph Slevin is hired by Van Denburgh to collect reptiles on a 17 month-long expedition to the Galápagos.

Curator Van Denburgh arrives at the Academy’s Market Street museum in time to rescue a few reptile specimens and books from the building before it is destroyed by fire.

Curator Alan E. Leviton’s wide-ranging interests and willingness to try innovative ideas leads to new ways of doing science. This is the world’s first herpetology department to computerize its collections in a database.

Stanford University gives its herpetology collection to the Academy. Among these 53,299 items are specimens collected in the Galápagos in 1889.

Following a year’s residence in Kenya, Curator Robert C. Drewes initiates a wide-ranging program for the study of African amphibians and reptiles.

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Herpetology | The Study of Reptiles & Amphibians

Slither & Hop
This Department’s collection holds about 280,000 herpetology specimens and ranks among the world’s top ten. It includes important holdings from Western North America, Central and South America, Africa and Asia. There are also collections from Australia, Oceania and Europe.

A Half-Century in the Field
Joseph R. Slevin worked at the Academy from 1904 until 1957. Assisting Curator John Van Denburgh, he took part in five expeditions to Baja California and collected over 7,900 specimens. After Van Denburgh’s death in 1924, Slevin took the helm of the department and continued to collect in Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and Australia.
Wild About Africa
Passionate about African amphibian and reptile studies, Curator Robert C. Drewes pursues fieldwork there every year. During his tenure, the department’s African collection has grown tenfold — 2600 specimens in 1968 to 28,000 today. Drewes recently led a team of researchers to São Tomé and Principé Islands — the Academy’s largest multidisciplinary expedition since 1905.

A fascination for cobras led Curator Joseph B. Slowinski to study the reptiles of Myanmar (Burma). His research efforts grew to involve many Burmese students and naturalists, plus Smithsonian scientists. Bitten by a venomous krait on September 11, 2001, Slowinski’s tragic death will not end efforts to help create a Burmese natural
history museum.


150th Anniversary Celebration | 150 Years: A Timeline | 150 Years of Research | The New Academy

©2003 California Academy of Sciences


California Academy of Sciences 150th Anniversary Celebration