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Dr Jon Norenburg
My research is primarily in morphological and molecular phylogeny, biogeography and functional anatomy of nemertean worms, worldwide, and I have a strong secondary affection for biology and zoogeography of soft-bodied marine interstitial fauna. I have been a research zoologist/curator at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History since 1988. My relationship with taxonomy started through an interest in biology and functional morphology of Nemertea and marine interstitial meiofauna. In both cases I discovered that my interests in comparative studies would be on soft ground because the taxonomy and systematics of both groups could best be described as frail. Since arriving at the NMNH, I accepted systematics as my primary professional mission, though continuing to be a reluctant taxonomist because meaningful systematics for these groups based solely on morphology required a major re-evaluation of data and re-collecting of fresh specimens. My research, along with systematic research in general, changed radically with the advent of PCR and ready access to DNA sequence data. Of course, even now taxonomy continues to await illumination, this time by population genetic data in aid of understanding species delimitation.
I have treated my role as a Trustee for the ITZN not just as fulfilling the expectations specified, which I may not do especially well anyway. My intent is to represent zoologists on the margin of caring about the Code and ICZN, to support the Trust's effort to engage this very large constituency, which is largely absent for various reasons - mostly, I hope, because of competing priorities, but some lack interest, some lack awareness, including of simple means to be supportive. Through a variety of involvements with internet initiatives, I long ago gave up thinking that I had special insight in how to engage people in something for which they do not see an immediate return. Thus, I try to be a gadfly and realist, in addition to being a cheerleader.