June 15-16, 2009

About Daniel Otte

Daniel Otte is a distinguished leader in evolutionary biology, systematics and the behavior of insects, especially grasshoppers, crickets and their relatives. Dr. Otte was born in Durban, South Africa. He is one of six children of Carl and Lillian Otte, third generation Lutheran missionairies. Dan’s great grandfather, Bishop Nils Astrup and his wife Anna, first came to Zululand as Norweigian missionaries in 1863.

Dan and his many Zulu friends roamed the hills of Zululand telling stories, hunting small antelope and rolling large stones down the many steep cliffs and hills. Dan started drawing and painting African mammals and showed early on his ability as a very talented artist, a skill that has served him well.

Dan attended the Deutsche Schule in Hermannsburg, South Africa as a boarding student. He later graduated from Eshowe High School in Zululand, South Africa, and then spent his freshman year at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Dan transferred to the University of Michigan where he received his BSc (1963) and PhD (1968) degrees and studied with Richard D. Alexander. Following his PhD, Dan and Dick Alexander spent a year in Australia, conducting research that resulted in the identification of 500 species of crickets, of which 376 were new.

In 1969 Dr. Otte joined the Department of Zoology, the University of Texas at Austin, as an Assistant Professor. He taught courses in biogeography, population and environmental biology, evolution and behavior. He also supervised four PhD students, your hosts at this symposium. In 1975 Dr. Otte joined the Academy of Natural Sciences where he continues to serve as Curator and Chairman, Department of Entomology. He has also held adjunct professorships at the Universities of Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Montana.

Dr. Otte has published extensively on the behavior, evolution and systematics of insects. This includes his Harvard University Press series on the North American Grasshoppers and books on the crickets of Hawaii, Australia and soon to appear the Caribbean. Dan has also published many journal articles and his research has been supported on a continuing basis by the National Science Foundation. Dan has worked in many areas of the world including all of southern Africa, Hawaii, the Galapagos, Malaysia, Borneo, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, North and South America, the Caribbean Basin and places in between.

Dan Otte is one of the most significant evolutionary biologists today. In addition to his many publications, Dan has influenced many people, especially students. He has instilled a sense of dedication and rigor in the pursuit of science to many of us and he has made great progress in our understanding of the natural world.

Thank you Dan.

There is more information on Dan in a letter from Laurel Otte, there are many pictures of Dan here, and Dan’s curriculum vitae and list of publication is here.