Invertebrate Zoology

John E. Rawlins, Director, Center for Biodiversity & Ecosystems and Curator of Invertebrate Zoology

John Rawlins
412.688.8670 (fax)

John Rawlins is Curator and Head of Invertebrate Zoology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA. The Invertebrate Zoology collection contains exceptional global representation of insects for research, especially Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) and Coleoptera (beetles). Rawlins received his PhD from Cornell University in 1982. He was a professor at the University of Texas in Austin for several years before coming to Carnegie Museum.

Rawlins’ primary research interests are the systematics and phylogeny of Lepidoptera with emphasis on Noctuoidea, Geometroidea, and Bombycoidea. Other interests include field-oriented studies on the natural history of insects, including insect-plant interactions, historical biogeography and evolution of caterpillars, conservation biology and biodiversity research emphasizing insect-plant interactions.

Overseeing a world-class resource for entomological research, including specimen collections and library, Rawlins encourages his staff to place special emphasis on providing research and collection services that relate to insect conservation as well as the impact as invasives or species of special concern. To accomplish this best, a great amount of effort and external funding has gone into improving the museum’s infrastructure for insect research, and Rawlins with colleagues have generated the museum's largest NSF grants since the 1990s for facilities renovation, new scientific instrumentation, and a diversity of research and inventory projects.

These include an intensive biotic survey of Hispaniola (especially Dominican Republic), research on relict forest systems in Ghana using butterflies as assessment tools, studies on forest insects in North America, high-volume identification services for state agencies, US Forest Service, and especially USDA-APHIS-PPQ, studies addressing concern for introduced invasive species of agroforestry importance, conservation biology and genetics for various insect groups in Pennsylvania and beyond. These funded improvements, research, and services enable major efforts for the investigation of biological diversity and conservation at both the national and international level.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, is ranked as one of the top five natural history museums in the country. The museum maintains, preserves, and interprets an extraordinary collection of 21 million objects and scientific specimens used to broaden understanding of evolution, conservation, and biodiversity. More information is available at

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