Silberglied, Robert E.

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Biographical History

Robert E. Silberglied (1946-1982) was an entomologist and university professor. He was educated at Cornell University (B.S., 1967; M.S., 1968) and Harvard University (Ph.D., 1973). He began his professional career in 1973 when he was appointed Assistant Professor of Biology at Harvard University and Assistant Curator of Lepidoptera at the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ). He remained at Harvard until 1981, eventually receiving promotions to Associate Professor of Biology and Associate Curator of Lepidoptera. In 1976, a new dimension was added to Silberglied's career with his appointment as a biologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). The position divided his research, teaching, and administrative responsibilities between Cambridge and Panama, as he began spending half of each year in the American tropics. He remained on the STRI staff as a Research Entomologist and Scientist-in-Charge of the Barro Colorado Island research station until his death. Silberglied's entomological research was primarily focused on the Lepidoptera, and included studies of ultraviolet reflectance patterns of butterflies and flowers, insect vision, and insect behavior, especially with regard to courtship, mating, and reproductive isolation. His research was enhanced by a proficiency in photographic technique which led to new methods for the visualization and recording of ultraviolet reflection. He conducted extensive field research in many regions of North and Latin America, and was involved in conservation issues, especially those affecting the Galapagos Islands and Lignum Vitae Key in Florida.

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