Our Staff

Alfred Newton's picture
Curator Emeritus
Year Started: 

Alfred F. (Al) Newton is a research scientist affiliated with Field Museum since 1985 as Assistant Curator (to 1991), Associate Curator (to 2008), and now Curator Emeritus in the Zoology Department's Division of Insects.  His research is primarily on the taxonomy, classification, phylogeny and evolution of one large group of beetles (Coleoptera: Staphyliniformia, or rove beetles and allies) which is larger than Vertebrata and includes more than 71,800 named species worldwide.  He has conducted more than three years of field work worldwide, mainly in the United States, Mexico, Chile, Australia and New Zealand, and has produced more than 70 peer-reviewed research publications as well as many scientific notes and reports, and contributed to building several web resources (e.g., here).

    Division of Insects
    Field Museum of Natural History
    1400 South Lake Shore Drive
    Chicago, Illinois  60605-2496  USA
        Phone: (312) 665-7738;  FAX: (312) 665-7754

Other Biographical Data

  • Personal Data:                                    

    Born September 11, 1944; Riverside, New Jersey
    Married (1977) to Margaret K. Thayer; no children
    Citizen of United States of America

  • Curatorial/Administrative Experience:

        Field Museum:  Associate Curator, Division of Insects, 1985-2008; Head of Division, 1988-1998; Project Director, 2 NSF collection-improvement grants (9 years); Principal Investigator, 2 3-year NSF research grants.  Member of eight Zoology Curatorial Search Committees (1986, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2006, 2007), chair of Zoology Promotions Committee (1992, 1999, 2001, 2005), chair of Search Committee for departmental Chairman (1988, 2002).  Member of Seminar Committee (2008+), Publications Committee, Zoology Point Person for "Life Over Time" and consultant for “Life Underground” and other exhibits, and SEM selection committee (2002).  Sponsor of new Research Associates (D.S. Chandler, S.B. Peck, P.D. Perkins, J. Santiago-Blay, P. Sierwald, A. Solodovnikov, V. Thompson), Field Associates (B. Fisher, R. Wolff), Associate (S. Camras), and scholarship-funded research and curatorial visits (R. Aalbu, C. Carlton, M. Caterino, D. Chandler, M. Chani-Posse (2x), A. R. Cline, G. Flores, V. Grebennikov, C. Gutiérrez, E. Hall (3x), B. Kataev, R. Leschen, J. Márquez, J.-L. Navarrete, S.-I. Naomi, J. Pakaluk, Q. Santiago, A. Seago, F. Shockley, A. Slipinski, A. Smith, A. Solodovnikov (2x), M. Sörensson, C. & S. Staines, H. Sugaya, A. Swanson, W. Tomaszewska) and summer intern (M. Jones) to Field Museum.
        Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University:  Collection Manager, Entomology Department, with primary responsibility for day-to-day management of insect collection (10 years) and NSF collection-improvement grant (2.5 years).
        Visiting Curator or equivalent at nine institutions (>1 year total, see Positions).
        Visitor for research on Staphylinoidea at over 40 additional institutions in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, England, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and South Africa.

  • Teaching/Student Supervision:

        Supervisor or co-supervisor of postdocs Oliver Betz (2000-2001); Alexey Solodovnikov (2002-2007); Munetoshi Maruyama (2006-2007; project: Higher phylogeny and tribal revision of Aleocharinae; funded by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science)
        Co-developer and instructor (with J. F. Lawrence, D. K. Young and M. K. Thayer) of "Coleoptera Larvae Workshop", a 1-week intensive course presented first at Univ. Hawaii/Bishop Museum in 1991.
        Co-Advisor of Ph.D. candidate Edilson Caron of Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil (2005-2009, thesis: Análise Cladística de Piestinae Erichson, 1839 e Revisão de Piestus Gravenhorst, 1806 (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae)); Co-Assessor of Ph.D. student José-Luis Navarrete of UNAM, México (1997-2005, thesis: Revision of Glenus (Staphylinidae)); Co-Scientific Advisor (with T. Poulson, M. Thayer) of M.S. student Yih-Cheng Shiau of University of Illinois at Chicago (1994-, thesis: Systematics/ecology of certain Staphylinidae); member, Comité Tutorial of Ph.D. student Juan Márquez Luna of UNAM, México (1998-2002, thesis: Revision of Homalolinus, Heterolinus and Ehomalolinus (Staphylinidae)).  Informal taxonomic advisor to other graduate students, currently:  Q. Santiago (University of Veracruz, Mexico), J. Asiain (UNAM/FC, Mexico), D. Clarke (University of Illinois at Chicago), A. Asenjo (Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil).
        External Examiner, Ph. D. Committee for Michael Hansen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (examined and degree granted, January 1990; thesis: Revision of the genera of Hydrophiloidea, with a revised suprageneric classification); External Examiner, Ph. D. Committee for Henry Frania, University of Toronto, Canada (examined and degree granted, September 1990; thesis: The genus Eustilicus Sharp, Middle American beetles of mid-elevation forests: taxonomy, phylogeny and zoogeography (Staphylinidae)).
        Sponsor/supervisor of scholarship-funded research visits to Field Museum by graduate students or post-docs: Richard Leschen (University of Kansas; August 1989; Systematics of fungus beetles (Cryptophagidae, Scaphidiidae) and feeding mechanisms in Coleoptera); José-Luis Navarrete-Heredia (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; August 1989, July 1992, Sept. 1997, Aug.-Sept. 1998; Staphylinidae of Mexico); Juan Márquez-Luna (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Sept. 1997; Staphylinidae of Mexico); Michael Caterino (University of California at Berkeley; July 1994; North American Histeridae); Eugene Hall (University of Arizona; June-July 1996, July 1997, March 1999, September 2000; Ptiliidae); Mariana Chani-Posse (Universidad Nacional de Tucuman, Argentina, April-May 2000; Philonthus of Argentina); Andrew Smith (University of Nebraska, June 2001; Scarabaeidae); Gustavo Flores (University of Ohio, August 2001; Tenebrionidae); Andrew Cline (University of Louisiana, May 2002; Nitidulidae); Catalina Gutiérrez (Universidad del Valle, Colombia, July 2003, Staphylinidae of Colombia); Adam Slipinski (CSIRO Entomology, Australia, November 2003; Coleoptera); Wioletta Tomaszewska (Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland, November 2003; Endomychidae); Hiroshi Sugaya (Hokkaido University, February-March 2004; Oriental Staphylinidae); Quiyari Santiago (Instituto de Ecología, México, September 2005; Staphylinidae); Mikael Sörensson, Lund University, Sweden, October 2005; Ptiliidae); Floyd Shockley (University of Georgia, April 2006; Endomychidae); Ainsley Seago (University of California at Berkeley, July 2006; Leiodidae); Mariana Chani Posse, Instituto Argentino de Investigaciones de las Zonas Aridas, Argentina, July-October 2006; Staphylinidae); Boris Kataev (Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia; Carabidae), October-November 2006; Alex Swanson (University of Arizona, July 2007; Histeridae); Edilson Caron (Universidad Federal do Parana, Brazil, August-December 2008); Jose Maria Salgado (Universidad de Leon, May-July 2009; Leiodidae); Laura Vásquez-Vélez (University of Puerto Rico, June 2010; Staphylinidae: Pselaphinae).
        Laboratory instructor, "Natural Sciences 5" (1969-1971) and "Invertebrate Zoology" (1972-1973) courses, Harvard University, 1969-1973.

  • Editorial and Review Services:

    Consultant for World Book Encyclopedia
    Editorial Board, Belgian Journal of Entomology, 1999-
    Editorial Board, Entomological Research, 2006-2010
    Editorial Board, Psyche, 1978-1986.
    Reviewer of grant proposals to National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, American Philosophical Society, Council for International Exchange of Scholars (Fulbright Fellowships), Australian Biological Resources Study, Natural Environment Research Council, and other agencies for research (ca. 2/year) and collection improvement (ca. 1/year).
    Reviewer of research papers submitted to refereed scientific journals (ca. 10/year), for following journals:  Acta Entomológica Chilena, Acta Zoologica Fennica, Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien, Annales de la Société Entomologique de France, Annales Zoologici, Annals of Carnegie Museum, Annals of the Entomological Society of America, Annals of the Transvaal Museum, Australian Entomologist, Banisteria, Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, Canadian Entomologist, Canadian Journal of Zoology, Cladistics, Coleopterists Bulletin, Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift, Dugesiana, Entomological News, Entomologica Scandinavica, Entomological Research, Environmental Entomology, European Journal of Entomology, Fieldiana: Zoology, Florida Entomologist, Folia Heyrovskyana, Great Basin Naturalist, Handbooks of the Insects and Arachnids of Canada, Invertebrate Taxonomy, Japanese Journal of Systematic Entomology, Journal of African Zoology, Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, Journal of the New York Entomological Society, Koleopterologische Rundschau, Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada, Memoirs on Biodiversity, Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft, New Zealand Entomologist, Occasional Papers of the Bishop Museum, Ohio Biological Survey, Paleobiology, Prairie Naturalist, Psyche, Quaestiones Entomologicae, Records of the South Australian Museum, Revista Brasileira de Entomologia, Revue de Zoologie Africaine, Species Diversity, Systematic Entomology, Texas Memorial Museum Speleological Monographs, Thomas Say Publications (ESA), Transactions of the American Entomological Society, Transactions of the San Diego Natural History Museum, Tropical Zoology, University of California Publications in Entomology, University of Kansas Science Bulletin, World Catalogue of Insects, Zeitschrift für Zoologische Systematik und Evolutionsforschung, ZooKeys, Zoologica Scripta, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, Zoological Studies, Zootaxa.

  • Field Program:

    More than three years of intensive field experience in temperate and tropical regions, using variety of collecting techniques (baited pitfall, flight intercept and light traps, Berlese and other soil- extraction methods, etc.) in the following areas:
            United States & Canada (ca. 64 weeks, 1968-2010)
            Mexico (38 weeks, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1999)
            Australia (34 weeks, 1980, 1986-1987, 1993, 1999, 2004)
            New Zealand (21 weeks, 1980, 1984-1985, 1987, 2005)
            Chile (16 weeks, 1982-1983, 1996-1997, 2002)
            Panama (7 weeks, 1976)
            South Africa (5 weeks, 2004)        
            Laos (4 weeks, 2008)
            Peru (2 weeks, 1983)
            Hawaii (2 weeks, 1991)
            Europe (1 week, 1989, 2007, 2009, 2010)
        Future field work will continue emphasis on southern temperate areas.

  • Effectiveness of Field Program:

    At least 356 species of arthropods have already been described (by 59 authors) from collections made during the above field work, 239 of them known exclusively from these collections.  At least twice this many more species of adults, and previously unknown larvae of over 200 genera of Staphyliniformia, have been identified from these collections and await description.  Collection data from over 500,000 specimens of Staphyliniformia adults and larvae from 1984-2005 field work in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and USA have been entered in a computer database, with more to be added from 2008 Laos and other field work.  Many recollections of previously rare or poorly known taxa have been made and much new biological and ecological information has been gathered. 

  • Symposia:

        Chairman, Systematics Session, First International Congress of Coleopterology, Barcelona, Spain, September 1989

  • Invited Talks and other Research Presentations

    “Diversity and evolution of Staphylinini (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae)” (with S. Chatzimanolis, presenter, A. Solodovnikov & M. S. Engel). ESA annual meeting, Reno, NV, November 2008.
    “Documenting biodiversity: no end in sight in Staphyliniformia (Coleoptera)?” (with M. K. Thayer, presenter). Invited presentation, symposium “Names and Naming in Entomology”, XXIII International Congress of Entomology, Durban, South Africa, July 2008.
    “Family-group names in Coleoptera” (with P. Bouchard, presenter, Y. Bousquet, M. A. Alonso-Zarazaga, J. F. Lawrence, C. H. C. Lyal & M. Schmitt.). Invited presentation, symposium “Names and Naming in Entomology”, XXIII International Congress of Entomology, Durban, South Africa, July 2008.
    “Phylogenetic and biogeographic review of Staphylinini (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) in Australia” (presenter, with A. Y. Solodovnikov). XXIII International Congress of Entomology, Durban, South Africa, July 2008.
    “Good-bye Scydmaenidae: or why the ant-like stone beetles should become Staphylinidae sensu latissimo (Coleoptera)” (presenter, with V. V. Grebennikov). XXIII International Congress of Entomology, Durban, South Africa, July 2008.
    “Documenting biodiversity: How well are we doing in Staphyliniformia (Coleoptera)?”. ESA annual meeting, San Diego, CA, December 2007; XXV International Meeting on Staphylinidae, Copenhagen, May 2010.
    “Good-bye Scydmaenidae (Coleoptera): larval morphology and 18S rDNA sequence suggest that rove beetles are paraphyletic with respect to ant-like stone beetles” (with V. V. Grebennikov, presenter). Immature Beetles Meeting 2007, Prague, Czech Republic, October 2007.
    “Austral Staphylinidae” (with M. K. Thayer, presenter).  Invited presentation, symposium “Notes from the field: Biodiversity of Coleoptera”, ESA annual meeting, Indianapolis, IN, December 2006.
    “Proteininae (Insecta: Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) in Gondwana:  first look at ancient distribution patterns.”  IV Southern Connections Conference, Cape Town, South Africa, January 2004; XXII International Congress of Entomology, Brisbane, Australia, August 2004; PEET V workshop, Urbana, IL, September 2004; 20th International Meeting on Biology and Systematics of Staphylinidae, Berlin, May 2005.
    “The relict South African genus Arrowinus Bernhauer (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae): revision and phylogenetic placement based on adults and larvae” (with A. Solodovnikov).  ESA annual meeting, Cincinnati, OH, October 2003.
    “Austral rove beetles - a PEET prospectus” (with M. K. Thayer).  17th Meeting “Staphylinidae”, Natural History Museum, Vienna, May 2002.
    “Phylogenetic significance of some pupal characters in Coleoptera, especially Staphylinoidea.”  “Mining the Coleopteran Holomorph” symposium, ESA annual meeting, Montreal, Canada, December 2000.
    “The turtle leiodid - a Chilean enigma (Coleoptera: Leiodidae).”  Leiodidae symposium, XXI International Congress of Entomology, Foz do Iguassu, Brazil, August 2000.
    “The Northerner - early career in the US”.  Invited presentation, John Lawrence Celebration Symposium, Canberra, Australia, December 1999.
    “Glyptomini redefined and first reported from North America based on three new species (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).”  ESA annual meeting, Las Vegas, NV, November 1998.
    “Platycholeus (Coleoptera: Leiodidae):  Phylogenetic keystone and ecological puzzle”.  ESA annual meeting, Nashville TN, December 1997.
    "The origin of amphitropical distribution patterns:  a beetle example (Insecta: Coleoptera: Agyrtidae, Silphidae)".  ESA annual meeting, Louisville KY, December 1996; Southern Connections II meeting, Valdivia, Chile, January 1997.
    "Phylogenetic problems, current classification and generic catalog of world Leiodidae (including Cholevidae)" (invited paper, read by S. B. Peck).  XX International Congress of Entomology, Florence, Italy, August 1996.
    "Protopselaphinae, new subfamily, and reduction of Pselaphidae to a subfamily of Staphylinidae (Coleoptera)" (with M. K. Thayer).  ESA annual meeting, Dallas TX, December 1994.
    "Southern connections in staphylinoid beetles" (with M. K. Thayer).  Southern Temperate Ecosystems conference, Hobart, Tasmania, January 1993.
    "First larval description and placement of the odd genus Trichophya (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae)" (with J. S. Ashe).  ESA annual meeting, Reno NV, December 1991.
    "Surveying south temperate Staphyliniforms: beetles, bytes and beyond" (with M. K. Thayer).  Invited talk, Coleopterists Society/ESA annual meeting, New Orleans LA, December 1990.
    "The first leptotyphline from Australia, and its larva (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae)".  First International Congress of Coleopterology, Barcelona, Spain, September 1989; ESA annual meeting, San Antonio, TX, December 1989.
    "Pselaphidae and Staphylinidae (Coleoptera): the 'missing link' discovered?" (with M. K. Thayer).  XVIII International Congress of Entomology, Vancouver BC, July 1988.
    "Phylogeny and higher classification of Staphylinidae (Coleoptera): a review of Naomi 1985".  ESA annual meeting, Boston MA, December 1987.
    "Microcomputer manipulation of specimen data for systematic and ecological analysis - an example" (with M. K. Thayer).  ESA annual meeting, Reno NV, December 1986.
    "Systematics and biogeography of a New Zealand-Holarctic sister pair of beetle genera (Agyrtidae, Silphidae)".  ESA annual meeting, Hollywood FL, December 1985.
    "Problems and progress in the phylogeny of staphylinoid beetles".  Invited seminar, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago IL, May 1985.
    "Phylogeny in Staphyliniformia" and "Female genitalia of Staphyliniformia".  Invited talk and workshop display, resp., LeConte Symposium on the Classification and Phylogeny of the Coleoptera, ESA annual meeting, Detroit MI and Columbus OH, December 1983.
    "Staphylinid phylogeny".  Invited talk, Staphylinid Workers' Conference, Ottawa ON, December 1982.
    "Phylogeny and evolution of the beetle group Staphylinoidea: an overview".  Invited seminar, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago IL, April 1980.
    "Major features of larval head capsule evolution in Staphylinoidea".  ESA annual meeting, New Orleans LA, December 1975.
    "The distribution and ecology of the rove beetle genus Platydracus in North America".  Invited talk, Cambridge Entomological Club, Cambridge MA, April 1973.