California Academy of Sciences - To Explore, Explain, and Protect the Natural World

John Patrick Kociolek

Executive Director
Hanna Chair and Associate Curator of Diatoms

B.S. St. Mary's College of Maryland (1980); M.S. Bowling Green State University (1982); Ph.D. The University of Michigan (1988). Research Assistant (1983-1987), Post-Doctoral Fellow (1988-1989), The University of Michigan. Assistant Curator, California Academy of Sciences (1989-1992); Associate Curator (1992- ); Chair, Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Geology (1990-92); Director of Research (1993-1997); Executive Director (1998- ). Fellow, California Academy of Sciences (1991 - ). Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1998- ). Research Professor, San Francisco State University (1997- ). Adjunct Professor, University of Michigan, University of Nebraska. Member: International Phycological Society, International Society for Diatom Research, Phycological Society of America.

Diatoms are unicellular plants of almost ubiquitous distribution which have the interesting ability to produce cell walls made of glass. The highly ornamented siliceous cell walls have attracted the attention of microscopists for centuries, and most schemes of classification and interrelationships have been based on the minutiae of the cell walls. Diatoms have an extensive fossil record and most species are sensitive to changes in their environment, making this group of organisms interesting to paleontologists, limnologists, oceanographers, ecologists as well as systematists.

My research has focused on the taxonomy, ultrastructure, systematics and phylogeny of the diatoms. Unlike higher plants and animals, a large portion of the diatom flora of western North America (and the world!) has yet to be described. Due to the small size of these organisms, observations on their fine structure must be made with electron microscopes, and we are still discovering many new structures. In trying to understand systematic affinities of diatoms I have employed a "whole-organism" approach; one that incorporates information from many aspects of their biology. Patterns of character distribution are evaluated with cladistic analysis to produce hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships and character evolution. My work is not only focused on documenting the rich diversity of these organisms, but also on the historical events that have determined their distributions over space and time. I am currently describing the diversity and morphology of the large (1000+ taxa) genus Gomphonema as well as the biogeography and evolutionary relationships of Actinella taxa and their allies in the rhaphidioid lineage. As part of my curatorial duties I am also involved in the development of information management systems that organize and disseminate information on diatom biogeography, nomenclature, and literature.

I am also interested in applying results of my studies on diatoms specifically to broader questions of pattern and process in evolutionary biology.

Kociolek, J.P. 1988. A preliminary investigation of the phylogenetic relationships of the freshwater apical pore field-bearing cymbelloid and gomphonemoid diatoms (Bacillariophyceae). Journal of Phycology 24: 377-385 (with E.F. Stoermer).

------------. 1989. Phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary history of the diatom genus Gomphoneis. Phycologia 28 (4): (with E.F. Stoermer)

-------------. 1997. Historical constraints, species concepts and the search for a natural classification of diatoms. Diatom 13: 3-8.

Kociolek, J.P. and K. Rhode. 1998. Raphe vestiges in "Asterionella" species from Madagascar: Evidence for a polyphylectic origin of the araphid diatoms? Cryptogamie: Algologie 19: 57-74.

Spaulding, S.A. and J.P. Kociolek. 1998. New Gomphonema (Bacillariophyceae) species from Madagascar. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 4th Series, 50: 361-379.

Fourtanier, E. and J.P. Kociolek. 1999. Catalogue of diatom genera. Diatom Research 14: 1-205.