With nearly 46 million scientific specimens from around the world, the Academy’s research collections provide one of the best records of life on Earth, both now and in the past. This vast library of life—available to scientists around the world, both in person and online—helps us track the spread of disease, predict the impact of climate change, and much more.
Institute for Biodiversity Science & Sustainability
Based in San Francisco, the Institute of Biodiversity Science and Sustainability is home to more than 100 research scientists and nearly 46 million scientific specimens from around the world—38,000 of which are alive and on display in the Academy’s Steinhart Aquarium. The Institute also leverages the expertise and efforts of the Academy's aquarium biologists and more than 100 international Research and Field Associates and 400 distinguished Fellows.
Through expeditions around the globe, captive breeding programs, and investigations in the lab, the institute’s scientists strive to understand the evolution and interconnectedness of life. Through these same efforts, as well as through partnerships, community outreach, and public engagement initiatives, the institute aims to guide critical conservation decisions and address the challenge of sustainability.
Curating Invaluable Collections
Filling in the Tree of Life
Despite intensive efforts to document life on Earth, scientists estimate that more than 90 percent of the species on our planet have yet to be discovered. Academy scientists are racing to discover new species and determine their place on the tree of life—with the ultimate goal of protecting them before they disappear.
Understanding Patterns and Connections
To provide the best conservation recommendations, we must understand not only what lives where, but also how species reproduce, interact with one another and respond to threats. To address this need, Academy scientists map species distributions, analyze reproductive strategies, study food web and other ecosystem interactions, and more.
Tackling Conservation Challenges
Detailed knowledge about the evolution, distribution, and interconnectedness of life on Earth allows Academy scientists to make thoughtful conservation recommendations and participate in critical discussions about sustainability challenges. Through partnerships with governments and conservation organizations, community outreach, captive breeding programs, and public engagement initiatives, Academy scientists are helping to shape a sustainable future for our planet.
Read the latest research news in our inaugural newsletter.
Browse some of the recent press coverage about our people and their research:
Academy Curator of Anthropology Meets President Obama
Noah’s Ark for Fruits, Nuts and Grapes—Modern Farmer
Newly Discovered Mouse-like Mammal Is Closely Related to Elephants—Scientific American
Searching for the Holy Grail of Snake Bite Antidotes—PBS NewsHour
Baby Pygmy Seahorses Are Even Cuter Than You Think—Wired
Cleaning Up Polluting Mines With Plants--Plants That Then Turn Into Precious Metals—Fast Co.Exist
Exotic New Aquatic Species on Display at Cal Academy of Sciences—KQED News
Wheelchair Bound Biologists Study Treetops Thanks To Climbing—SF Examiner
Into the Amazon—Indefinitely Wild
A governing group of approximately 450 distinguished scientists, Academy Fellows have made notable contributions to one or more of the natural sciences and help further the reach of our research and education initiatives through individual and collaborative efforts with Academy researchers. Nominated by their colleagues and selected by the Board of Trustees, Academy Fellows remain members of the Fellowship for life.