Staff Profile

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Robert Inger

Curator Emeritus

Integrative Research Center

It’s with great sadness that we remember Dr. Robert “Bob” Inger, Curator Emeritus of Amphibians and Reptiles, who passed away on April 12, 2019. Bob was recognized as the world’s leading authority on the frogs of Borneo. During his career, he co-authored 11 books and over 130 scientific papers. Bob described over 75 amphibian and reptile species new to science, and at least 40 new species have been named in his honor. His ongoing research and collaboration in Southeast Asia was recognized by honorary titles both from the State Government of Sarawark and its museum.

Bob’s passion was unbridled, and his work as an administrator substantially enhanced the museum’s stature in the global scientific community. Even decades after his retirement, Bob could be found working in his lab. We’re grateful for his incredible contributions to the field of herpetology, which will be remembered here and around the world. 

Robert F. Inger's association with the museum began as a volunteer for Karl P. Schmidt in the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles during the 1940s. After studying Zoology at the University of Chicago, Inger was hired by Schmidt as Assistant in the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles. He held this position until he was appointed Assistant Curator of Fishes in 1949. Inger succeeded Clifford Pope as Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles on January 1, 1954.

Early in his career, Inger began to specialize in the ecology, systematics, and zoogeography of the herpetofauna and ichthyofauna of Southeast Asia, especially amphibians. Since 1950, his research concentrated on the ecology of communities of amphibians and reptiles in Bornean forests. Robert Inger's fieldwork began in 1950 with his first trip to Borneo. Since that trip, he returned to Borneo over sixteen times. He also conducted fieldwork in peninsular Malaysia, Thailand, India, China, Brunei, and Zaire. A substantial part of the Division's collections consists of specimens Inger collected. His Bornean fieldwork alone added over 41,500 specimens. Inger's collections contain extremely large series accompanied by detailed field notes. Though Inger retired in September 1994, he continued a full-time schedule of lab and field work as Curator Emeritus.

Inger described more than 75 species of herps, mostly frogs. Over 40 species, including reptiles, amphibians, fish, and crustacean, honor him by bearing the name stem "inger" in either the species or genus name. He authored seven books and had 136 papers published in refereed journals.

Additional Information


  • Ecology
  • Systematics
  • Biogeography of amphibians and reptiles of Southeast Asia

Work experience

Curator,  Division of Amphibians and Reptiles, Field Museum 1954-1970, 1979-1995
Assistant Director, Field Museum, 1971-1978
Curator Emeritus, Division of Amphibians and Reptiles 1995- present