MPM Invertebrate Zoology Curatorial Staff

Dr. Jennifer Zaspel - Research Curator and Head of Zoology or 414-278-6158

Dr. Zaspel has developed an internationally recognized research program in insect systematics and comparative evolution. She reconstructs the historical relationships of major groups of insects in order to discern the origins of their behaviors. Dr. Zaspel’s program also tests specific hypotheses regarding plant and animal host associations in an evolutionary context using moths in the family Erebidae (c.a. 20,000 species) as her primary research system. The specimen-based portion of Dr. Zaspel’s research program involves revisionary systematics, specimen informatics, and advanced digitization. In 2017, Dr. Zaspel was elected Vice President for the Systematics, Evolution, and Behavior section of the Entomological Society of America and to the Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSCA) Board of Directors. In 2018, Dr. Zaspel was elected Research Associate to the National Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian Institution.

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 – Post Doctoral Fellow


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 on-line collection and research information on Wisconsin crayfish, freshwater mussels, slugs and sponges.