a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it.
times a year I receive email from students who tell me that they want to be a
herpetologist like me and would like to know where to go to school to get this
education. After I let them know I am not a herpetologist (I do not have a graduate
degree in biology/zoology), I refer them to this page to find out about some of
the universities that at one time, at least, had herpetologists on staff.
I compiled the information here in 1997 and moved my website to its new location,
I have not done much in the way of updating the information on the schools or
faculty, nor do I plan to actively research this information Since researching
information is one of the skills a biologist/zoologist needs, I figure this is
a good time to start for those interested in pursuing studies in this area. A
section of this page does provide some suggestions on how to get started on this
research. If someone does come up with more current information or additional
schools and would like to see it added to this page, please do send
it to me.
The branch of zoology that deals with the study
of reptiles and amphibians.
junior and high school students are interested in studying herpetology when they
go to college. What most do not realize is that there are no degrees in herpetology.
There are, however, biologists and zoologists who come to specialize in the study
of reptiles and/or amphibians.
Is a Herpetologist?
The Society for
the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles has an online article, "Herpetology
As A Career." The SSAR is also developing a database of university herp
programs. They also have an Interview
with a Herpetologist that helps answer a lot of questions about what it's
like to be a herpetologist and how to get there.
Note From Scott Moody, Herpetologist, Ohio University in Athens, Athens OH
Remember that herpetologists are first anatomists, geneticists, ecologists, physiologists,
biochemists, behaviorists, endocrinologists, etc. Traditionally, unfortunately,
these fields have primarily used only a few animal models, for example, the house
mouse or Norway rat.
study of biology is increasingly moving into a diversity of animal models, taking
a comparative/evolutionary, or integrative, point of view, hence a greater interest
in herpetology. Also, the federal regulations for maintaining and caring for herps
is not as costly and complex as for hairy mammals so many people change models.
Animal holding facilities are now hiring people with a background in raising and
fish and wildlife (conservation or hunt/reel) departments, as well as national
forest wildlife biologists, EPA aquatic biologists, etc., at the federal and state
level have primarily involved themselves with game animals (birds, mammals, fish),
but are increasingly hiring people with expertise in the so-called non-game areas
such as herpetology. This corresponds with environmentalists and conservation-oriented
biologists finding that amphibians and reptiles make much better ecological-indicator
species, thus more survey and experimental studies are being conducted using herps.
These are the two areas of growth
as I see it. But remember, the questions of science are much more important than
the organisms by which the questions are answered. Get a thorough (breadth and
depth) education in science.
Moody describes himself as being a herpetologist, anatomist, paleontologist,
biogeographer, systematist, philosopher and science education specialist.
Not all colleges or universities offer courses
in herpetology. One of the prerequisites to such offering appears to be the presence
on the faculty of biology or zoology professors who themselves have an abiding
interest in the study of reptiles and/or amphibians and so develop some of their
classes along those lines. Sometimes, the old ways still work best. Check out
college and university guides, such as
Peterson's Guide to Colleges and Universities. The other way is to find out
where herpetologists are themselves teaching.
One way to find out which herpetologist is doing what
kind of work and where they are is to head to your local university library and
hit the stacks and look for the journals that typically publish articles related
to herps. You may be able to access the library from home by going to the school's
website and from there into their library, or use the resources available through
your local public library's system to link into available library resources. Some
resources are limited to access from the university's own library; you can check
out what's available to the public by going and talking to the librarians there.
you are into the library systems, you can do subject and name searches, or more
general search, such as "herpetology".
Herp-specific journals include Herpetologica, Herpetology Review, and Coepia.
You will find more information on these journals at my Herp
Literature: Journals page.
articles also appear in journals like Physiological Zoology, Brain and Behavior,
Journal of Nutrition, and other journals covering a wide range of subjects You
can photocopy articles you find interesting. The most important bit of information
for your purposes, however, is to note which biologists' work most interest you,
then check the author information given in each article to find out where they
way to find people is to do searches on their names in a metasearch engine such
as Google or Teoma.
The following lists for the United States and Canada
comes from a information originally compiled in 1994. Some of the people may have
moved on, new professors hired, courses added or dropped, etc. Always confirm
before sending off your applications! Since all colleges and universities now
have websites, it has become easier to do a lot of the research online. For a
complete listing of university and college sites, check directories such as Yahoo's
Colleges & Universities.
Green State University
Eileen M. Underwood, Biological Sciences, BGSU,
Bowling Green, Ohio 43403, 419-372-2531
9/2006: Currently at BGSU there are
multiple courses relating to herpetology. Undergraduate courses include: herpetoculture,
reptile husbandry, amphibian husbandry, and readings (independent study) in herpetoculture.
Beyond course work there is a sizeable herpetology lab run by Dr. Underwood that
includes multiple genetics projects in snakes, geckos and lizards. The lab, which
is staffed entirely by undergraduate and graduate volunteers, does hands-on research
along with public demonstrations for schools and other organizations. (J. Shipman)
Gary C. Packard, Dept of Biology, CSU, Ft Collins
CO 80523, 303-491-5376
Courses: 1 undergrad, 0 grad, offered spring semester,
Master's degree and PhD available.
Undergrads can pursue
research in herpetology as I.S. with the approval of a faculty sponsor/adviser.
Students concentrating in herps generally have interests in the ecological physiology
of amphib and/or reps. Herp Faculty: Gary C. Packard, C. Richard Tracy
Dr. Kraig Adler, Dept of Biology, 410 Thurston Ave, Cornell
University, Ithaca NY 14850
1 grad, 1 undergrad (same course), alternate years.
Undergrads can pursue herp research with special arrangements
with individual professors. Herp Faculty: Kraig Adler, Antonie Blackler, Howard
Evans, George Kollias
MA, PhD. Herp faculty includes: John
Dr. Paul Cupp, Jr., Dept of Biology, EKU, Richmond
1 grad, 1 undergrad, alternate springs
MS in Biology; no
concentration in herpetology as committee determines coursework
can pursue herp research as a special problems course. Herp Faculty: Paul Cupp
R. Brent Thomas, Interim Chair, Dept. of Biol. Sci,
ESU, Emporia, KS
MS in Biology with a herp concentration.
Master's degree and PhD available.
Undergrads can pursue herp research with special arrangements with individual
professors. Although the Univ offers no specific herp courses, herps are covered
in the Animal Biology (BIOL3840), Animal Biology Lab (BIOL3850), and Zoo Biology
(BIOL4104) courses offered through the Department of Biology. Herps may also be
part of zoo internships (BIOL4911/4912) by special arrangement.
include: Walt Wilczynski (Psychology)
Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Dept of Biol, Cambridge MA
1 undergrad; 1 grad (annually)
PhD with concentration in herps
Undergrads can pursue herp research with permission of faculty. Herp faculty:
John E. Cadle.
Dept of Ecology & Organismal Biology
Haute, IN 47809
1 undergrad/grad course in herpetology; Masters and PhD programs
available. Undergrads and grads can pursue research in herps with a faculty mentor.
Herp Faculty: Drs. MJ Angilletta, GS Bakken, and DK Hews
Dept of Biology, University Heights OH 44118
M.S. Biology, no concentration in Herpetology but undergraduates and graduates
students often pursue research in herpetology. Herpetology (BL421/521) offered
at the senior undergrad and graduate level. Herpetology faculty: Carl
Anthony, behavioral ecology of herps; Chris
Sheil, Developmental biology, ecology and systematics of turtles and frogs.
Loma Linda CA
MS and PhD. Herp faculty includes:
Museum of Natural Science, Baton Rouge, LA 70803
1 undergrad (every other year), 1 grad (every year).
Undergrads can pursue
herp research with permission of faculty; no specific area of concentration.
Tennessee State University
Department of Biology, Murfreesboro, TN
M.S. in Biology. Both undergraduate and graduate research.
Herp Faculty: Vince Cobb (snake ecology,
natural history of herps, thermoregulation); Brian Miller; Matt Klukowski.
Zoology Dept, 203 Natural Sciences Bldg MSU, East
Lansing MI 48824
1 grad offered odd-numbered years. Masters & PhD available.
Undergrads can pursue herp research via independent study with faculty. Herp Faculty:
J. Alan Holman
State University (formerly Southwestern Missouri State)
of Biology, 901 South National, Springfield, MO 65897
MS program. This is
perfect for someone that wishes to pursue a masters because there is no competition
with PhD students. Everything is geared toward masters-level research, from courses
and field training to final testing and manuscript preparation. Faculty
include: Don Moll (soon Emeriti)- a well known turlte ecologist; Alicia Mathis-
a well known behavioral and amphibian biologist; Brian Greene- teaches herpetology
course to grads and undergrads and an expert on snakes ecology and biology; Day
Ligon- physiologist studies reptiles, specializing in turtles; - Robert Wilkinson
(Emeritus but still around)- an amphibian expert and one of the founders of hellbender
conservation; Lynn Robbins- wildlife studies.
Graduate Committee Secretary, Dept. of Biol. Sci.,
Ohio University, Athens OH 45701-2939, 614-593-2334 (FAX 0300)
M.S. and Ph.D
- functional morphology, vertebrate paleontology, molecular systematics, population
and community ecology, conservation biology, taxonomy and biogeography, etc. Herp
Faculty: Scott Moody, classical systematics and comparative morphology of all
herps, as well as lizard paleontology and biogeography; Steve Reilly, functional
morphology and systematics of salamanders, lizards, etc.; Don Miles, ecology,
statistics, behavioral ecology, conservation biology, comparative evolutionary
studies, primarily of lizards; Willem Roosenburg, population biology, ecology,
evolution, conservation biology, primarily of turtles; Matt White, molecular systematics
(electrophoresis) of all herps, conservation biol.; Brent Palmer, reproductive
endocrinology, physiology and anatomy of all reptiles and amphibians, studies
of pesticide disruption of reproduction; Larry Witmer, paleontology and functional
morphology of archosaurs; Jim Barron, population biology and ecology of reptiles.
William Dunson, S. Blair Hedges, Dept of Biol, 201
Shields Bldg, Box 3000, University Park PA 16802
1 undergrad, 0 grad, offered
Undergrads can pursue herp research; there is no herp concentration.
Herp Faculty: William Dunson, S. Blair Hedges
Dr. David R. Long, Dept of Biol, Shippensburg PA 17257
1 dual level grad/undergrad offered alternate summers; Master's available
Undergrads can pursue herp research if they are junior level and at least 2.5
GPA. Herp Faculty: David long, Ruthann Pitkin, Fred Howard
Dr. Ronald A. Brandon, Dept of Zoology, Carbondale
1 dual level undergrad/grad, 1 grad seminar, offered fall alternate
Undergrads with GPA 2.5+ can pursue research in herps. MS an PhD in
Zoology with research emphasis in herpetology. Herp Faculty: Ronald Brandon
of California, Davis
Section of Evolution & Ecology,
UCD, Davis CA 95161-8755
Courses: 1 undergrad, 0 grad, offered alternate years
Undergrads can pursue research in herpetology, but the Univ of Calif does not
offer any graduate degrees with a concentration in herpetology. Herp Faculty:
H. Bradley Shaffer
of California/Los Angeles
Los Angeles CA
MS and PhD. Herp faculty
James Hanken, Dept of Biology, Campus Box 30, UCB, Boulder CO 80309-0030
Courses: 2 undergrad, 1 grad, offered annually
Master's and PhD available.
Undergrads interested in herp research have a variety of options: I.R. Honors
project or undergrad opportunities program. Herp faculty: James Hanken, David
Chiszar, David Norris, Cynthia Carey, Hobart Smith, Richard Jones, Gregory Snyder,
Gainesville FL Herpetology
Joshua Laerm, Museum of Natural History, Athens GA 30602
1 undergrad/grad (ECL 404/604)
Ph.D available in Ecology.
At this time,
only grads can pursue research in herps. Associated with Savannah
River Ecology Lab near Aiken, South Carolina. All herp courses through the
Dept of Ecology. Herp Faculty: John Avise, Brian Chapman, Justin Congdon, Nat
Frazer, J. Whitfield Gibbons, Chester Karwoski, Joshua Laerm, Jim Richardson,
Robert J. Warren.
Dr. William Duellman, Museum of Natural History, Lawrence
2 undergrad, 3 grad MS and PhD in Systematics and Ecology; PhD
in Natural History Collection Mangement/Museum Studies.
Undergrad can pursue
herp research with permission of faculty. Qualified upper level undergrads may
take two grad level courses (Amphib Biol, Reptile Biol) with permission from instructor;
third course is grad seminar. Occasional special topics offered relating to herps.
Herp Faculty: William Duellman, Linda Trueb, Sally Frost-Mason, Henry Fitch (emeritus
but still active in special projects), Joseph Collins (staff member at museum).
Penny Jaques, Manager, Oranismic & Evolutionary
Biol, Morrill Science Center, Amherst MA 01003-0027
3 undergrad, 3 grad; herpetology
offered alternate years
Masters & PhD in O & E Biology.
can pursue herp research with permission of faculty. Herp Faculty: William Bemis,
Elizabeth Brainerd, Douglas Smith
Profs. Lee & Savage, Dept of Biology, POB 248025, Coral
Gables FL 33124
1 undergrad, 2 grad, alternate years
Master's and Ph.D
Undergrads can pursue research in herpetology with the permission
of a professor. Herp Faculty:Julian Lee, Jay Savage, Marueen Donnelly
Drs. Kluge, Nussbaum & Gans ,1220 Student Activities
Bldg, Ann Arbor MI 48109
1 grad, 1 undergrad, offered annually
& PhD available.
Undergrads can pursue herp research if supervised by
fac advisor. Herp faculty: Arnold Kluge, Ronald Nussbaum, Carl Gans
Graduate Coordinator, 218 Tucker Hall, Div of
Biology Sciences, Columbia MO 65211
1 undergrad, 0 grad, offered annually.
Does not provide a herp degree per se, but provides research opportunities in
behavior, ecology, genetics and evolution using amphibs as model systems. Herp
Faculty: Carl Gerhardt, Richard Sage, Raymond Semlitsch
James D. Fawcett, Dept of Biology, Omaha NE 68182
1 undergrad, 1 grad, alternate years; Masters available.
Undergrads can pursue
herp research under Supervised Research and Directed Readings. Herp Faculty: James
Dr. A.C. Echternacht, Dept of Zool, Knoxville TN 37996-0810
1 dual level grad/undergrad offered alternate fall semesters; Master's &
Undergrads can pursue herp research if they are junior level
and have had basic core biol courses. Herp Faculty: AC Echternach, GM Burghardt,
Dr. J.A. Campbell, Dept of Biol, POB 19088, Arlington
0 undergrad, 2 grad, annually; Masters & PhD available.
Undergrads can pursue herp research if supervised by faculty advisor and also
graduate thesis for MS degree. Herp Faculty: Jonathan A. Campbell, Eric N. Smith.
More info: UTA Herpetology.
R.B. Huey, Dept of Zool, Seattle WA 98185
0 grad; PhD available
Although the Univ offers no specific herp courses, herps
are covered in two vertebrate biol courses. Undergrads can pursue independent
research in herps. PhD possible if student does research in herps.
Pam Henderson, Grad Sec'y, 145 Noland Hall, 250
N. Mills St, Madison WI 53706
0 grad/under grad; Masters & PhD available
Although the Univ offers no specific herp courses, students can pursue reseach
in herps as part of the Masters and Ph.D program. Herp Faculty: Warren Porter
Logan UT 84322, 435-797-1000
Drs. Kenneth Kardong & Paul Verrell, Dept of
Zool, Pullman WA 99164-4236
1 undergrad, 1 grad, alternate years; Masters
& PhD available
Undergrads can pursue herp research under a Special Programs
course. Herp Faculty: Kenneth Kardon, Paul Verrell.
Drs. Russell and Rosenberg, Dept of Biol, Calgary, Alberta,
Canada T2N 1N4
0 grad/under grad; Masters & PhD available
can pursue research in herps if supervised by an appropriate fac memb. The above
grad degress would not be specifically in h erps but may be based on herp subjects.
Herp Faculty: Anthony Russell, Herbert Rosenberg.
Drs. JP Bogart and P Herbert, Dept of Zool, Guelph, Ontario,
Canada N1G 2W1
1 undergrad, grad courses vary, offered annually. Masters &
Undergrads can pursue research in herps with the acceptance
of a fac member. Herp Faculty: JP Bogart, RJ Brooks, ED Stevens
This is by no
means a comprehensive list of schools with herpetology courses or herpetologists
on staff. The Information here was developed from original listing published in
the the 1994-1995 Guide to North American Herpetology, published by the now defunct
Reptile & Amphibian Magazine. Check out the annual publication of the
Peterson Guide to Colleges and Universities, available in the education section
of college and regular bookstores as well as university and college catalogs and
some public libraries reference books section.
you find that some information in this document has changed, please let me know
what the updated information is. If you have found another school with a herp
program, please email
related articles and sites of interest...
is a zoologist (University of Toronto Dept. of Zoology)
Medical and Veterinary Technician/Animal Health Technician Schools