Curator, Invertebrate Zoology
John Rawlins is curator and head of the Section of Invertebrate Zoology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. 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 of Natural History.
Rawlins’ primary research interests are the systematics and phylogeny of Lepidoptera with emphasis on Noctuoidea, Geometroidea, and Bombycoidea. His other interests include field-oriented studies on the natural history of insects, including historical biogeography, evolution of caterpillars, and conservation biology and biodiversity research emphasizing insect-plant interactions.
Rawlins oversees a world-class resource for entomological research. He encourages his staff to place special emphasis on providing research and collection services that relate to insect conservation as well as their 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 and his colleagues have generated the museum's largest National Science Foundation 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 the 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 (United States Forest Service and especially USDA-APHIS-PPQ), studies addressing concern for introduced invasive species of agroforestry importance, and 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 national and international levels.
Recent Blog Posts
Memories of an extinct species sometimes serve as a tragic reminders of ongoing human-driven damage to nature. Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s exhibition We Are Nature: Living in the Anthropocene includes an exhibit …Read More »
Did you know that most of the insects on Earth have yet to be discovered? Carnegie Museum of Natural History curator John Rawlins is particularly interested in Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), and one …Read More »
Did you know researchers and scientists are at work in the museum every day? Visitors got an inside look at the behind-the-scenes science of our museum by interacting with Carnegie scientists at a …Read More »
Selected Publications [topics]
Grehan, J.R., and J.E. Rawlins. 2016. A remarkable new genus and species of ghost moth from Peru (Lepidoptera: Exoporia: Hepialidae). Annals of Carnegie Museum, 84(1):47-57. [Systematics: Hepialoidea]
Helb, M., J.E. Rawlins, and T.J. LaDuc. 2015. HEMIDACTYLUS TURCICUS (Mediterranean House Gecko). Geographic Distribution, Herpetological Review, 46(4):570.
Collins, M.M., and J.E. Rawlins. 2013. A transect for reproductive compatibility and evidence for a “hybrid sink” in a hybrid zone of Hyalophora (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Saturniidae). Annals of Carnegie Museum, 82(2):193-223. [Evolution: speciation]
Rawlins, J.E., and J.S. Miller. 2008. Dioptine moths of the Caribbean Region: description of two new genera with notes on biology and biogeography (Lepidoptera: Notodontidae: Dioptinae) . Annals of Carnegie Museum, 76(4):203-225. [Systematics: Caribbean]
Liebherr, J.K., and J.E. Rawlins (eds.). 2008. Contributions to Carabidology: A Celebration of Professor George E. Ball’s 80th Birthday. Annals of Carnegie Museum, 77(1), vi + 242 pp. [Editing]
Rawlins, J.E. 2005. Pennsylvania Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS)-Priority Invertebrates. Appendix 5 (iii + 227 pp) in Williams, L., et al. (eds.). Pennsylvania Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Version 1.0 (1 Oct 2005). 772 pp + appendices. [Biodiversity conservation in Pennsylvania]
Grehan, J.R., and J.E. Rawlins. 2003. Larval description of a New World ghost moth, Phassus sp., and the evolutionary biogeography of wood-boring Hepialidae (Lepidoptera: Exoporia: Hepialoidea). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 105(3):733-755. [Comparative morphology]
Kuspis, D.A., J.E. Rawlins, and E.P. Krenzelok. 2001. Human exposures to stinging caterpillar: Lophocampa caryae exposures. American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 19(5):396-8. [Health/medical]
Kitching, I.J., and J.E. Rawlins. 1999. Superfamily Noctuoidea. Pages 355-401 in Kristensen, N.P. (Ed.). Lepidoptera, Moths and Butterflies. Volume 1: Evolution, Systematics, and Biogeography. Handbuch der Zoologie. Eine Naturgeschichte der Stämme des Tierreiches / Handbook of Zoology. Volume IV Arthropoda: Insecta Teilband / Part 35: 491 pp. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York. [Systematics, phylogeny, classification: world fauna]
Rawlins, J.E., and C.W. Bier. 1998. Invertebrates: Review of Status in Pennsylvania. Pp. 85-120 in Hassinger, J.D., R.J. Hill, G.L. Storm, and R.H. Yahner (eds.), Inventory and Monitoring of Biotic Resources in Pennsylvania. Current Ecological and Landscape Topics, Volume 1. Pennsylvania Biological Survey, c/o Center for Biodiversity Research, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania. xiv + 220 pp. [Biodiversity conservation in Pennsylvania]
Rawlins, J.E. 1992. Life history and systematics of the West Andean moth Aucula franclemonti with description of a new species from Ecuador (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Agaristinae). Journal of the New York Entomological Society 100(2):286-310. [Life history studies; species level systematics]
Rawlins, J.E. 1984. Mycophagy in Lepidoptera. Chapter 15, pp. 382-423 in Wheeler, Q., and M. Blackwell (editors). Fungus/Insect Relationships: Perspectives in Ecology and Evolution. New York: Columbia University Press. [Evolutionary ecology; mycophagy in Lepidoptera]
Foreign Fieldwork (38 major expeditions): Cameroon (1), Congo (1), Costa Rica (1), Cuba (2), Dominica (1), Dominican Republic (15), Ecuador (4), Haiti (3), Malawi (1), Mexico (5), Puerto Rico (1), St. Lucia (1), Taiwan (1); Zambia (1).
Biodiversity Related Activities: 2002: Understanding Vanishing Endemism: Survey of the Invertebrates and Plants of Threatened Montane Habitats in Hispaniola. [NSF DEB-0206520]; 2001: Board of Trustees and Science Advisory Board, Pennsylvania Biodiversity Partnership; 2000: Workshop on Status of Biodiversity in Haiti; Strategic Options for Management and Conservation; 1998-present: Carnegie Museum Representative, Pennsylvania Biological Survey; 1995-2008: PI for invertebrate and plant surveys in North America, primarily insects. Cheat Ranger District. Monongahela NF, West Virginia; Pennsylvania Invertebrate Inventory, Barrens Habitats; Forest Insect Surveys in pest-susceptible Forests, Wasatch NF Forest, Utah; Baseline Biotic Assessment of Nine Mile Run Conservation Area, Pittsburgh PA; Biotic Communities of Allegheny County's New Botanical Garden, PA; Ohio River and Susquehanna River floodplain fauna.
Curatorial Impact: 1986-present: Primary responsibility for a world-class insect collection with aggressive acquisition, high specimen lending rates, and highest curatorial/preparatory standards; 1978-present: Curation and research on Lepidoptera, especially immature stages and Noctuoidea; 1995-2008: NSF funded renovations of invertebrate collections at Carnegie Museum. [Award DBI-9509570; Award DBI-9987522; Award DBI-0545026].
Services: A. 2005-present, initiated Biodiversity Services Facility (BSF) in Invertebrate Zoology, Carnegie Museum, providing a broad range of services, especially high volume sample screening and identification of invasive insect species for state and federal agencies, especially USDA.
B. 2013-present, began five-year service contract with National Ecological Observatory Network, Inc. ( NEON), for beetle identifications and bio-monitoring.
The Movies: Rawlins, J.E. 1990. Scientific Advisor for The Silence of the Lambs, an Oscar-winning film directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Scott Glenn. Orion Pictures, Hollywood, California.
Thesis Advisor and Postgraduate-Scholar Sponsor: James DiGiulio, Oregon State University (M.S. at University of Texas, Austin); James W. Fetzner, Carnegie Museum (Postdoctoral Fellow at CMNH); Darren A. Pollock, Eastern New Mexico State University (Rea Postdoctoral Fellow at CMNH); James Hayden, Rea Postdoctoral Fellow at CMNH; Timothy Tomon, West Virginia Department of Agriculture (M.S. at Pennsylvania State University); Susan Weller, University of Nebraska (Ph.D. at University of Texas, Austin).