Two faculty members at the Florida Museum of Natural History have been elected as 2023 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society. David Blackburn, curator of herpetology, and Robert Guralnick, curator of biodiversity informatics, are among 502 scientists, engineers and other innovators elected this year. They join ranks with recently elected fellows from the museum, including Pamela Soltis, Douglas Soltis and Lawrence Page.

Blackburn was honored for his scientific contributions to the field of biodiversity and evolutionary biology. The recognition was also conferred for his research into the evolution and diversity of frogs and his efforts to make museum specimens as widely available and accessible as possible.

“Among David’s most outstanding contributions are those related to the Open Exploration of Vertebrate Diversity in 3D, or oVert, an NSF-funded project that has produced thousands of high-resolution digital images of vertebrate skeletons,” wrote Florida Museum curator of ichthyology, Lawrence Page, who nominated both Blackburn and Guralnick for the fellowship. “The scientific and educational impact of this project cannot be overstated.”

Two people stand side by side in front of tree branches.
David Blackburn (left) and Robert Guralnick (right) have been elected as 2023 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Florida Museum photo by Jeff Gage

Guralnick was elected for his contributions to biodiversity informatics and global change biology. This includes the development of new digital tools to analyze the increasingly large amounts of data available to biologists. He’s also a strong proponent of public participation in science and has helped launch several citizen science and open data projects, such as Notes from Nature and ButterflyNet.

“He has pioneered the development of digital applications that facilitate understanding and monitoring of species distributions and changes related to climate change,” Page wrote. “We are extremely fortunate to have Rob at the Florida Museum of Natural History.”

An additional 10 researchers and experts from the University of Florida were chosen as 2023 AAAS fellows, including Karen Bjorndal, a distinguished professor in the department of biology and a 2017 recipient of the Florida Museum’s Archie Carr medal.

The roster of 2023 fellows was officially announced on Thursday, April 18 at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Sources: David Blackburn,;
Robert Guralnick,;
Lawrence Page,

Media contact: Jerald Pinson,, 352-294-0452

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