University Professorial Fellow Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT, Australia
Research Associate Museums & Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Australia
Dr. Berra is Professor Emeritus of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology at The Ohio State University. He received the Ph.D. in Biology from Tulane University in 1969. He is a three-time recipient of Fulbright Fellowships to Australia in 1969, 1979, and 2009. He taught at the University of Papua New Guinea before joining the faculty of OSU in 1972. Over the last 47 years he has spent about 11 years doing fieldwork in Australia.
Dr. Berra is the author of over 85 scientific papers and 8 books including Evolution and the Myth of Creationism published by Stanford University Press in 1990. His book A Natural History of Australia (Academic Press, 1998) features 200 of his color photographs, 220 line drawings and maps, and over 500 references. Freshwater Fish Distribution featuring 169 maps, 324 fish drawings and 1,700 references was published by University of Chicago Press in 2007. Charles Darwin: The Concise Story of an Extraordinary Man, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2009 and features 60 b/w illustrations and 16 color plates. It examines the life of Darwin, his writings and significance to western thought. Darwin & His Children: His Other Legacy, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. It describes the lives of Darwin’s 10 children from birth to death. His most recent book, Bourbon: What the Educated Drinker Should Know will be published in Spring 2019.
In 1992 Berra was visiting professor at the University of Concepcion in Chile, and in 1996 he was visiting professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand. He took early retirement from The Ohio State University in July 1995 to devote full time to research and writing. Dr. Berra is the former editor of The Ohio Journal of Science and was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium where he also served on the Conservation and Collection Management Committee. He was also the ichthyological book review editor of Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. He resigned these positions at the end of 2000 to pursue fieldwork supported by the National Geographic Society and the Columbus Zoo in Australia in 2001 where he spent the year working on the life history of the nurseryfish. He returned to Darwin in 2003, 2004, and 2005 to continue his nurseryfish research. In Sept. 2009 he was back in Darwin to keynote the bicentennial celebrations of Charles Darwin’s birth at Charles Darwin University, where he holds the position of University Professorial Fellow. He returned to Charles Darwin University in 2011 to continue research on Nurseryfish life history. In 2014 he was back in Darwin for Charles Darwin’s birthday lectures and to keynote the Northern Territory Museum’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of Alfred Russel Wallace’s death. Professor Berra returned to Darwin in 2016 to wrap up field work on nurseryfish life history.
Professor Berra was a member of the Board of Governors of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists from 1989 until 2014 and was reelected to another term from 2018-2022. He is Research Associate at the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory in Darwin, Australia.
Preserved specimens collected by Dr. Berra throughout his career are house at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution) in Washington, D.C. and were the subject of an extensive article in the Columbus Dispatch on 27 September 2009. In December of 2014 The Ohio State University appointed Dr. Berra as Academy Professor in recognition of his on-going research after achieving emeritus status.The Australian American Fulbright Commission profiled his career in their flagship magazine Minds and Hearts on 1 March 2017, pages 12-15.
Lecture topics include:
- Chasing Nurseryfish and Avoiding Crocodiles in Australia’s Northern Territory.
- Darwin & His Children: His Other Legacy
- Charles Darwin: The Concise Story of an Extraordinary Man.
- Wallace’s Acceptance of Darwin’s Priority in His Own Words.
- Biology of the Komodo Dragon: The World’s Largest Living Lizard
- Life History of the Salamanderfish from Western Australia: Fishing with a Shovel and a Fire Truck.
- Recovery and Preservation of a Megamouth Shark from Western Australia.
- The Megamouth Shark and the Salamanderfish: Large and Small Fish Stories from Australia.
- Weird Australians I Have Known: The Biology of Some Unusual Vertebrates.
- What Galaxias can Teach Us about Biogeography.