Joseph B. Slowinski


The Field
Snake Trail
Science Now
SF Chronicle
CAS Memoriam
Myanmar Herps
Kansas City Star
China Expedition
Wichita (KS) Eagle
    Joseph Bruno Slowinski, Editor of Contemporary Herpetology and Curator of Herpetology at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, died on the morning of September 12th, 2001, from the bite of a Multi-Banded Krait (Bungarus multicinctus) in the mountains of northern Myanmar (Burma), despite extraordinary efforts to save him by his field companions.

    Born in New York City on November 15th, 1962, Joe received his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Kansas in 1984, and was awarded his Doctoral Degree from the University of Miami (Coral Gables) in 1991, working under his major professor, Jay Savage. Other academic appointments included a Postdoctoral Fellow (morphological systematics of elapid snakes), National Museum of Natural History (1991-92); Postdoctoral Research Associate (molecular systematics of elapid snakes), Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University (1992-94); Instructor of Biology, Louisiana State University (1994-96); Instructor of Biology, Southeastern Louisiana University (1996-97).

    His principal research interests were herpetology (especially venomous snakes), molecular evolution, and phylogenetic analysis. He authored numerous scientific articles as well as one book, Introduction to Genetics, published in 1998 by NTC. He was editor-in-chief and co-founder (in 1997) of the first online herpetological journal, Contemporary Herpetology, and a member of the editorial board of Systematic Biology. Prior to his death, he was collaborating with Robin Lawson, Director of the Academy's Osher Laboratory, on several studies of the molecular phylogenetics of snakes, incorporating both mitochondrial and nuclear genes. He was conducting a comprehensive survey of the herpetofauna of Myanmar. In addition, Joe was part of a large project involving a number of other Academy scientists and several institutions in Yunnan, China, to survey the biodiversity of the western part of the Yunnan Province, specifically a mountain range known as the Gaoligongshan. Joe had previously taped two National Geographic specials (during which, he received a dry bite from a monocled cobra and had venom streamed into his eyes by a new species of spitting cobra that he ultimately described). Joe had recently been awarded a two million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation, to extend his work across the Myanmar border, into China.

    The Joseph B. Slowinski Award for Excellence in Venomous Snake Systematics has been established by the Board of Directors of The Center for North American Herpetology (CNAH) as a trust in perpetuity in recognition of the scientific achievements of the late Joseph B. Slowinski. CNAH expresses its sympathy and support to the family and friends of Joe Slowinski. Our young and well established colleague will be missed by all of the herpetological community.

    Joe is survived by his parents, Martha Crow of Brooklyn, New York, and Ron Slowinski of Kansas City, Missouri, and his sister, Rachel Slowinski of Los Angeles, California.

    Joseph B. Slowinski



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