Invertebrate Zoology History


The Division of Invertebrate Zoology was created in 1995 when what was then the Department of Systematics and Ecology and the Natural History Museum appointed Daphne Fautin as a faculty-curator. Specimens collected as part of her 5-year, NSF-funded PEET project to study sea anemone taxonomy formed the nucleus of the Invertebrate Zoology collection. As Invertebrate Zoology’s first curator, Daphne Fautin, a world-renowned invertebrate zoologist and eminent expert on anthozoan taxonomy, put the Division of Invertebrate Zoology on the map as a center for research on sea anemones. In addition to her research accomplishments, Fautin contributed extensively through her work to various taxonomic databases, served as commissioner and vice president of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, was a founding member of the first international committee of the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS), served as vice-chair of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) science committee, and served as Program Officer at the US National Science Foundation. To this day, the division’s collection strength continues to be sea anemones (Anthozoa).

The collection also includes an annelid research collection (including type specimens) contributed by former Research Affiliate Sam James, as well as an important collection of mid-continent (primarily Kansas) freshwater molluscs and non-insect arthropods, transferred to the division from the Kansas Biological Survey.


In 2014, Kirsten Jensen, a parasitologist, assumed the position of faculty-curator of Invertebrate Zoology following Daphne Fautin’s retirement. Kirsten Jensen’s research has centered on the documentation of macroevolutionary patterns of marine tapeworms as they relate to evolutionary history, host associations, biodiversity, and geographic distribution, and the potential cophylogenetic patterns with its hosts. An NSF-funded international collaboration resulted in a 2017 publication of a compendium on tapeworms titled Planetary Biodiversity Inventory (2008–2017): Tapeworms from Vertebrate Bowels of the Earth; this work was published through the KU Natural History Museum Special Publication series.