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 Dr. Kurt Johnson
Intro / Bio:From

Kurt Johnson (born 1946) is an entomologist who is also a recognized figure in comparative religion and consciousness studies. His scientific career began while he was a Christian monk, during which time he completed his doctoral studies in evolution and ecology. He is known in science for his writing on taxonomy, evolution and ecology (especially about butterflies) and in particular for his published research and popular writing on the scientific career of famous Russian-American novelist and lepidopterist Vladimir Nabokov.[1] His book Nabokov's Blues (co-authored with journalist S. Coates) was named a "top 10 book in science" in 2000 at the Washington Post, Library Journal, Booklist and HMS Beagle.

However, Johnson also became a significant figure, and writer-lecturer in comparative religion, spirituality, consciousness and integral studies, having continued as a Christian monastic for a number of years during his active scientific career and thereafter continuing as a seminary professor, writer and guest lecturer.[2] These aspects of Johnson's life and work are reviewed separately below.

Johnson was associated with the American Museum of Natural History from 1976 until 1998 and subsequently with the Florida State Collection of Arthropods (McGuire Center, University of Florida, Gainesville). During this time he published some two hundred scientific articles (and several books) on aspects of butterfly taxonomy, evolution and ecology (especially regarding tropical rainforest and high mountain habitats). These publications are listed in numerous bibliographies and catalogues of the scientific literature in this discipline.

Johnson's publications, and hundreds of species and generic names created by him and a number of co-authors during that period, involved mostly "hairstreak" and "blue" butterflies. The latter is the common name for the same butterflies studied by Vladimir Nabokov during his scientific career (first at the American Museum of Natural History and later at Harvard University) before his fame as a novelist.[7] Accordingly, after completing scientific studies on the butterfly groups pioneered by Nabokov, and the publication with Coates of Nabokov's Blues, Johnson was a significant figure in Nabokov centennial programs and events in 1999-2000. Johnson continues to work, with a number of colleagues, on DNA studies of Nabokov's butterfly groups as followup to the work he accomplished from 1976-1998 with anatomists Zsolt Balint (of the Hungarian Museum of Natural History, Budapest) and Dubi Benyamini (an Israeli scientist).

In addition to taxonomic work, Johnson, Balint and Benyamini published significantly on the evolutionary and biogeographic origins of the high mountain butterflies of South America, an ongoing biogeographic mystery originally explored by Nabokov . This work, and Johnson's many popular articles on science in world periodicals (including Natural History and The New York Times Science Times) also involved him in significant conservation work, as an advisor, especially in association with The Nature Conservancy (regarding American plains-prairie habitats), The World Wildlife Fund (regarding the Monarch Butterfly overwintering grounds in Mexico) and several endangered species, one of which "The Karner Blue" had been discovered by Nabokov himself.


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