Ratcliffe wins beetle society honor

jbrehm2, January 20, 2011 | View original publication

Ratcliffe wins beetle society honor

Brett Ratcliffe, curator of Entomology Research Collections at the University of Nebraska State Museum and professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was conferred honorary membership in the Coleopterists Society at its annual meeting in San Diego California in December.

This is the highest honor bestowed by the society. It is given in recognition of devotion to the society and dedication to the discipline. The Coleopterists Society is an international society devoted to the study of beetles, which account for one out of every four living things on Earth.

Ratcliffe has been a member of the society for more than 40 years. He served as the its president (1983-84), secretary (1995-2009), councilor (1989-90), and monograph co-editor (1995-2009). He has trained six doctoral and eight master's students to become beetle specialists.

Ratcliffe has more than 150 scientific publications on the taxonomy, natural history, paleontology and behavior of beetles, as well as numerous popular articles. He has conducted field research in the tropical forests of Central and South America virtually every year for more than 35 years. He has spent his career at Nebraska promoting increased communication, sharing of specimens, techniques, and data to colleagues and students around the world to better understand the megadiversity of beetles and their important role in natural ecosystems.

His lab at UNL is known as Team Scarab, and he was responsible for bringing to UNL the U.S. National Collection of Scarab Beetles from the Smithsonian Institution for a lengthy period of off-site enhancement. The scarab collection at Nebraska is among the five largest in the world.

Ratcliffe has received several "outstanding paper of the year" awards by the Coleopterists Society (1992 and 2005) for papers published in the Coleopterists Bulletin, Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists (1980) for a paper published in the Journal of Paleontology, and the Charles E. Bessey Award (Center for Great Plains Studies at UNL) for the best natural science article published in Great Plains Research (2008).

He was awarded a fellowship by the National Academy of Sciences in 1980 for a scientific exchange with the German Democratic Republic, and he was awarded the University of Nebraska's Outstanding Research and Creativity Award in 2001. Ratcliffe has received more than $3 million in external funding from the National Science Foundation and other agencies in support of his research. He has discovered more than 160 scarab species new to science and has had 19 species of insects, mostly scarab beetles, named in his honor.

Established in 1871, the University of Nebraska State Museum is celebrating its 140th anniversary with public events and educational programming throughout the year. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursdays, and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults (19 and over), $3 for children (5-18 years, 4 and under are free), and $10 for families (up to two adults and children). UNL staff, faculty and students are admitted free with valid NU ID. There is an additional charge for planetarium shows. Parking is free. For further information, telephone the museum at (402) 472-3779 or visit www.museum.unl.edu.