MPM Invertebrate Zoology Curatorial Staff

Julia Colby – Collection Manager, Zoology or 414-278-2760

Research interests include the evolution, phylogeny, taxonomy, and morphology of the beetle subfamily Orphninae (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) and the Scarabaeoidea in general. She earned her M.Sc. from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, and her B.Sc. from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.


Dr. Nick Dowdy – Head of Zoology, Director of Collections Informatics

Dr. Dowdy earned his B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona and his Ph.D. in Biology from Wake Forest University. After a collections-based postdoctoral fellowship at Purdue University, he was awarded a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology from the National Science Foundation. His ongoing research at MPM includes the taxonomy, systematics, and evolution of anti-predator defenses and mating strategies within the tiger moths (Lepidoptera: Erebidae: Arctiinae). He is particularly interested in developing novel methods of studying animal traits using museum collections.

Research Associate

Peter Messer - Carabid Beetle Specialist
Mequon, WI
Dr. Jerome Weis - Insect Ecologist
Milwaukee, WI
Les Ferge - Butterfly and Moth Specialist
Middleton, WI

Emeritus Curators

Susan S. Borkin - Curator Emeritus, Invertebrate Zoology

Research focus: ecology and conservation of Wisconsin butterflies, especially the swamp metalmark (Calephelis muticum), Poweshiek skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek) and monarch (Danaus plexippus).

Dr. Allen M. Young - Curator Emeritus, Invertebrate Zoology or (414) 278-2789

Research focus: Tropical insect ecology especially relating to cacao-pollination plus general natural history writing.

In Memoriam – Joan P. Jass

Joan Jass, Curator Emerita of Non-Insect Invertebrates, passed away on December 23, 2012. Joan worked in the Invertebrate Zoology Department at MPM for more than 43 years. A former librarian with the Milwaukee Public Library, Joan began her career at MPM as a scientific assistant hired by William Dickinson in 1968. She eventually worked her way up to curator while also earning a second Masters degree (Zoology) from UWM. As curator of non-insect invertebrates, Joan was responsible for MPM’s most diverse group of collections, encompassing 52 zoological classes and totaling more than 242,000 accessioned specimens – from flatworms and sponges to crustaceans, spiders, and mollusks. She published more than 62 articles on crayfishes, gastropods, fairy shrimps, sponges, and terrestrial isopods. She also made available online collection and research information on Wisconsin crayfish, freshwater mussels, slugs, and sponges.