collins lab salamander image School of Life Sciences Arizona State University Collins Lab
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Dr. James Collins

Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment
Ph.D, 1975, University of Michigan

Biographical Sketch

J. Collins received his B.S. from Manhattan College in 1969 and his Ph.D. from The University of Michigan in 1975. He then moved to Arizona State University as Assistant Professor in the Department of Zoology. Dr. Collins is currently Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment in the School of Life Sciences. From 1989 to 2002 he was Chairman of the Zoology, then Biology Department. In 1983 Dr. Collins was Visiting Professor at Duke University, and served as Director of the Population Biology and Physiological Ecology program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1985-86.

Dr. Collins's research centers on understanding the origin, maintenance, and reorganization of morphological variation within species. Amphibians, especially salamanders, are used as model organisms for field and laboratory studies of the ecological and evolutionary forces shaping intraspecific variation and how this variation affects population dynamics. A special focus of the research is host-pathogen biology and its relationship to the global decline of amphibians. Collins heads an international team of 26 investigators studying this issue under two grants from NSF’s Integrated Research Challenges in Environmental Biology program. The intellectual and institutional factors that have shaped Ecology's development as a science are also a focus of Dr. Collins’s research. NSF, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Department of the Army, Arizona Game and Fish Department, National Geographic Society, and Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology have supported his research.

Dr. Collins teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in ecology, evolutionary biology, statistics, introductory biology, evolutionary ecology, and professional values in science; he has directed 26 graduate students to completion of doctoral or Masters degrees. Collins was founding director of ASU’s Undergraduate Biology Enrichment Program funded by HHMI, and served as co-director of ASU’s Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology and Minority Access to Research Careers programs funded by NSF and NIH, respectively. Dr. Collins has delivered the Pettingill Lecture in Natural History at The University of Michigan Biological Station; the Thomas Hall Lecture at Washington University, St. Louis; the Irving S. Cooper Lecture at Mayo Clinic/Scottsdale; and was a Bonchek Fellow at Franklin and Marshall College. ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences awarded him the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2003 and the Gary Krahenbuhl Difference Maker award in 2005.

Dr. Collins is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a member of AAAS, Ecological Society of America, Society for the Study of Evolution, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Scientific Research Society of North America (Sigma Xi), American Society of Naturalists, Association for Women in Science, American Institute of Biological Sciences, and the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology. He has served on the editorial board of Ecology and Ecological Monographs (1990-1993) and Evolution (1995-1998). Dr. Collins has been a member of numerous review panels for basic research and graduate training programs at NSF. He was a member and chair of the Advisory Committee to NSF’s Assistant Director for Biological Sciences and a member of the Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education, a cross-directorate committee reporting to NSF’s Assistant Director for Geological Sciences.

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