Herpetologists associated with the UIMNH collection

Hobart Muir SmithHobart Muir Smith (1912 – 2013).  Hobart Smith was responsible for building the UIMNH Amphibian and Reptile Collection.  He was a faculty member in the Department of Zoology at the University of Illinois and Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles from 1947 to 1968. For a thorough discussion of Hobart’s life and accomplishments (to date) see David Chiszar, Edwin McConkey, and Margaret M. Stewart’s excellent Copeia article (Copeia 2004(2), 418-424).


Frederick Albert ShannonFrederick Albert Shannon (1921-1965). A.B. University of Illinois, 1943; summer, 1940, 1941 herpetologist for Hoogstraal Field Expedition to Mexico; M.D., Univ. Illinois, Chicago, 1947; postgraduate work with Hobart Smith, University of Illinois, 1948. Dr. Shannon moved to Wickenburg, Arizona to start a medical practice in 1949 and started his herpetological collection. After serving in Korea with the US Army (1951-1953), he returned to his practice in Wickenburg where he remained until his death resulting from the bite of a Mojave Rattlesnake in 1965. Part of his collection (16,000 of about 18,000 specimens) was acquired by the University of Illinois Museum of Natural History.  See Hobart Smith’s obituary for Fred Shannon in Copeia 1964 No. 4.

Robert William Reese ( ). M.S. University of Illinois, 1949, thesis title: Studies of vertebrate populations. I. Comparison of forest-edge bird populations in Robert W. Allerton Park, central Illinois, 1946, 1947, 1948. II. Ecological distribution of salamander populations in the Great Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee. III. The identity of the salamander Gyrinophilus danielsi, with the description of a new subspecies; PhD, 1969, Colorado, under T. Paul Maslin, dissertation title: The taxonomy and ecology of the tiger salamander Ambystoma tigrinum of Colorado.

Philip Wayne SmithPhilip Wayne Smith (1921 – 1986). Herpetologist and Ichthyologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey, 1953 – 1979.  Phil received his MSc. (1949) and PhD (1953) under Hobart Smith at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  Over 2,000 specimens in the UIMNH Amphibian and Reptile Collection were collected by Phil Smith.  Phil is best known for his two authoritative monographs, The Amphibians and Reptiles of Illinois (1961) and The Fishes of Illinois (1979). See the following obituaries for more information: Walley, H.D. 1990. A tribute to Phil Smith. Trans. IL State Acad. Sci. 83:116-123; Minton, S.A. 1987. In Memorium. Philip W. Smith. Herp. Rev. 18(3):48.

Irwin Lester FirscheinIrwin Lester Firschein (1924-2011). Born, New York City; A.B., University of Kansas, 1949; M.S. University of Illinois, 1951, under Hobart Smith, thesis title: Re-discovery of the broad-headed frog, Eleutherodactylus laticeps (Dumeril) of Mexico.  The salamander Pseudoeurycea firscheini Shannon and Werler, 1955 was named in his honor

James Carl List ( ). PhD under Hobart Smith, University of Illinois, 1956, dissertation title, Comparative osteology of the Typhlopidae and Leptopyphlopidae. Professor, Ball State University

David A. Langebartel (1930- ). Born, Quincy, IL; PhD under Hobart Smith, University of Illinois, 1956, dissertation title, The comparative morphology of the hyoid in snakes, and its associated muscles.  Dave collected in Mexico, Cuba, and throughout the U.S.  I found a letter he wrote to Fred Shannon with the following:

“Guess what? Bubbles is no longer  batching.  To be succinct, he’s married.  For certain.  Early last week sometime.  He’s happy, she’s happy, and I’m happy, for they don’t sit down in 111 and rant all night now. I suppose this means and end to his feeble beginning in collecting. (Although he claims she’ll be another Cope!).”

James F. Opsahl ( ). Collected with Dave Langebartel & William Robertson in Cuba in 1950

William B. Robertson ( ). Collected with Dave Langebartel & James Opsahl in Cuba in 1950

Kenneth Lee Williams (1934 – ). Born in Saybrook, IL, M.Sc. under Hobart Smith, University of Illinois, 1961, thesis title, Systematics of the lizard Cnemidophorus inornatusBaird, 1858 (Reptilia: Lacertilia). PhD under Doug Rossman, LSU, 1970; professor, Tulane University, Millikin University, Northwestern State University-Louisiana.

Ronald Arthur Brandon (1933- ). PhD under Hobart Smith, University of Illinois, 1962, dissertation title, A systematic study of the salamander genus Gyrinophilus. Professor, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Edward Owen Moll ( ). M.Sc. under Hobart Smith, University of Illinois, 1963, thesis title, Life history of the small-mouthed salamander, Ambystoma texanum (Matthes), in Illinois; Professor, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston.

Peter Stanley ChrapliwyPeter Stanley Chrapliwy (1923-2013 ). PhD under Hobart Smith, University of Illinois, 1964, dissertation title, Taxonomy and distribution of the jarrovi complex of lizards of the torquatus group, genus Sceloporus; professor University of Texas El Paso, 1960-87.

John Douglas Lynch ( ). M.Sc. under Hobart Smith, University of Illinois, 1965, thesis title, A review of the frogs of the mexicanus and rhodopis-groups (genus Eleutherodactylus) and the evolution of the genus in Northern Central America, PhD under Bill Duellman, Kansas, 1969.

Thomas Harold Fritts (1945 –  ). B.S. and M.Sc. (under Hobart Smith), University of Illinois, 1968, thesis title, The systematics of the parthenogenetic lizards of the Cnemidophorus cozumela complex. PhD under Bill Duellman, Kansas, 1972; Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles, San Diego Natural History Museum; Biological Survey, New Orleans & Washington D.C.

Macreay J. Landy ( ). PhD under Hobart Smith, University of Illinois, 1970, dissertation title, ?

W. Leslie Burger ( ). University of Illinois, 1948, undergraduate? Phil Smith called Burger “the best field man I have ever known”

J. D. Fawcett ( ). ??

F. William Burley ( ). ??

Charles W. Myers (1936 –  ). B.S. University of Illinois?, PhD under Bill Duellman, Kansas, 1970, American Museum of Natural History, 1968-1999.

Bruce B. Criley ( ). ??

Clarence Robert Shoop (1935 – 2003). B.A., Southern Illinois University, 1957. M.S. (1959) and PhD (1963), Tulane University, under Fred R. Cagle

Marvin Max Hensley (1922 –  ). Marvin Max Hensley was born in Keyesport, Illinois. He earned a B.A. from Greenville College in 1946; an M.S. from the University of Illinois in 1948 under Hobart Smith; and his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1951 under A.A. Allen. He taught at Gettysburg College before moving to Michigan State University in 1956, where he retired in 1986.

Ronald Altig ( ). B.S., University of Illinois, ? PhD, Oregon State University, 1969 under Robert Storm, Professor, Mississippi State.

Sioe Sing “David” Liem ( ); PhD, University of Illinois, 1969, under Robert Inger and Phil Smith, dissertation title, The morphology, systematics, and evolution of the old world treefrogs (Rhacophoridae and Hyperoliidae). Hobart Smith was Liem’s nominal advisor but when Hobart left Illinois in 1968, Phil Smith advised Liem.  David Liem discovered a new genus of frogs, Rheobatrachus, in 1973.

P. Stephen Corn ( ). B.S., University of Illinois, 1974

Edward Harrison TaylorEdward Harrison Taylor (1889-1978). Hobart Smith’s PhD advisor. Approximately one-third of Taylor’s collection was purchased by the UIMNH during Hobart Smith’s tenure.  See “The spy who loved frogs” by Brendan Borrell (Nature. Vol. 501:150-153) for a discussion of Taylor’s life in the Phillipines.

Joseph Anton TihenJoseph Anton Tihen (1918 – 2002).  Joe Tihen was born in Harper, Kansas.  He received his A.B. from the University of Kansas in 1940.  It was here that he took classes from Ed Taylor and interacted with Hobart Smith.  He received his PhD (1945) from the University of Rochester under Sherman Bishop.  During this time Hobart Smith was also on the faculty at Rochester.  Tihen joined the faculty of the Department of Zoology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1958, where he was reunited with Hobart Smith who was also on the faculty at that time.  He left to join the faculty at the University of Notre Dame in 1960, where he remained until his retirement in 1987.  He studied systematics and morphology of amphibians and reptiles, both fossil and recent.  See Grobman, A., M.M. Stewart, and J.A. Tihen. 2002.  Joseph A. Tihen. Copeia 2002(4):1152-1153.

Thomas M. Uzzell (1932 – ).  Tom Uzzell was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He received his PhD under Charles Walker at the University of Michigan in 1962. After being on the faculty of the University of Chicago and the Academy of Natural Science, Philadelphia, Thomas became the Director of the Museum of Natural History of the University of Illinois.