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Herpetology experts honor UT Arlington biology professor

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Media Contact: Traci Peterson, Office:817-272-9208, Cell:817-521-5494, tpeterso@uta.edu

News Topics: awards, biology, faculty, science

Herpetology experts from all over the world recently honored Jonathan Campbell, a University of Texas at Arlington professor known for his research on venomous snake biology, at a conference called The Biology of Pitvipers 2.

Jonathan Campbell

Jonathan Campbell, UT Arlington biology professor (at right)

The meeting was June 4-7 in Tulsa, Okla. It celebrated the 25th year since a 1989 Biology of Pitvipers conference at UT Arlington, a meeting that resulted in a landmark edition of research called “Biology of the Pitvipers.” Campbell was one of the organizers of the 1989 gathering and an editor of the volume.

The organizers of this year’s event recognized Campbell as “Honored Guest” and presented him with an award “for outstanding contributions in herpetology and excellence in pitviper biology.”

Campbell’s Toadheaded Viper

Campbell’s Toadheaded Viper (Bothrocophias campbelli)

“Jonathan Campbell occupies a special place in the herpetology of the Americas. He has contributed more to the discovery, description and study of the herpetofauna of Mexico and Central America than anyone else in his generation,” said Wolfgang Wüster, a conference organizer and senior lecturer at Bangor University in Wales. In addition, Wuster said Campbell “transformed UTA into one of the top centers for herpetology in the US and worldwide.”

Campbell is the author of two seminal books on pit vipers - “Venomous Reptiles of Latin America” and “Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere” and has published more than 150 scientific articles. His work has described more than 100 new species, some of which were on the brink of becoming extinct without ever being known.

A number of new species of amphibians and reptiles have been named in Campbell’s honor, including several pitvipers such as the dreaded Campbell’s Toadheaded Viper of Colombia and Ecuador.

"The Biology of Pitvipers 2 meeting attracted just about every major researcher on pitvipers and their venoms and I was greatly honored to be so recognized,” said Campbell, who has mentored more than 30 master's and Ph.D. students.

Campbell joined the faculty in UT Arlington’s College of Science in 1983. He has been biology chair since 2001.

“Jonathan Campbell is and has been for years the leading expert in Central and South American herpetology and his stellar reputation is known to everyone in the herpetology field,” said Christopher Parkinson, a biology professor at the University of Central Florida who met Campbell at the 1989 conference and has since collaborated with Campbell. “His depth of knowledge is incredible and he is always willing to help students and researchers move science forward.”

Campbell also is curator of the Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center at UT Arlington, which has an internationally recognized collection of more than 130,000 specimens from 90 countries.

Harry W. Greene, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University, said that after 40 years of friendship and collaboration “I remain amazed at Jonathan's energy, ambition, intelligence, and generosity.”

"He deserves huge credit for building up not only the UT Arlington Department of Biology and Diversity Research Center, but also for a inspiring record of teaching and mentoring, and for his unusually high productivity as a publishing researcher,” Greene said.

About UT Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution and the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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