Title: Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Curator Emeritus of Herpetology
Company: University of Michigan
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Ronald Nussbaum, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Scientists for dedication, achievements, and leadership in the field of biology.
Yearning to learn more about the wonders of evolution and the creatures that inhabit the earth, Dr. Nussbaum has spent his career conducting invaluable research. Specializing in amphibians and reptiles, he has had species of salamanders, frogs and a rare species of amphibians called gymnophiona caecilians named after him. Though he conducts research in laboratories, Dr. Nussbaum prefers conducting research in the field and has recently found more than 100 new species in Madagascar over the past 10 years with his colleagues. Naturally, they delight in these discoveries are excited to learn even more about other animals that have yet to be discovered. Related to these discoveries, one of Dr. Nussbaum’s goals includes the desire to map out the tree of life, a scientific metaphor conveying the relationship between organisms throughout time, reinforcing the idea of interconnectivity among all living things.
In preparation for his exciting career, Dr. Nussbaum earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Idaho, a Master of Science in biology from Central Washington University and a Doctor of Philosophy in biology from Oregon State University. He credits Dr. Robert Brown as an inspiration, considering him to be influential in helping him discover his interest in pursuing biological studies. Dr. Nussbaum fondly recalls Dr. Philip C. Duma’s expertise, citing him as the reason he attended Central Washington University and appreciates his teaching him that biology entails field research as well as laboratory research. Additionally, Dr. Nussbaum remains grateful to Dr. Robert M. Storm at Oregon State University for approving his doctoral dissertation and serving as his co-author for “Amphibians and Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest.” Following the completion of his studies, he worked as a research associate at Oregon State University from 1972 to 1974. He then took his talents to the University of Michigan, serving as a curator of herpetology from 1974 to 2016. Dr. Nussbaum is now a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology as well as curator of herpetology emeritus for the institution.
Dr. Nussbaum is most proud of his doctoral degree, his dissertation focusing on Pacific giant salamanders. He recalls Dr. Philip C. Dumas of the University of Idaho taking him and his cohorts on a field trip where he first encountered this magnificent animal and has since committed himself to learn all he can about amphibians and other animals. Dr. Nussbaum has spent half of his career in tropical places to conduct research, spending the other half teaching in Michigan. While at the University of Michigan’s Edwin S. George Reserve, Dr. Nussbaum served as the director from 1983 to 2006, receiving a large grant to build a deer-proof fence and received more property on which to conduct research. This fence prohibits state deer from entering the property and keeps the institution’s deer penned.
A curator of one of the largest collections of vertebrate research specimen in the world, Dr. Nussbaum has always been interested in the natural world. He grew up on a ranch and spent much time in the woods and near rivers, this early interest compelling him to create his legacy of discovery and care for animals as well as the natural world they inhabit. Dr. Nussbaum is greatly interested in conservation, lamenting that newly discovered species are now extinct due to habitat destruction, though he has been able to use the information to prevent deforestation. He has also used the information he has discovered in other ways, contributing approximately 190 articles to research publications. In recognition of his contributions to the field of biology, Dr. Nussbaum has been presented the coveted Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and has been featured in Who’s Who in America.
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