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Glenn Wiggins, noted caddisfly taxonomist (1927-2013)

Published On: 7/25/2013

Glenn Wiggins, noted caddisfly taxonomist (1927-2013)


Glenn B. Wiggins, Curator Emeritus of Entomology at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto, died peacefully in his sleep on 7 July 2013. Born 29 January 1927, Glenn began his career at the ROM in 1952 and was cross appointed with the University of Toronto Zoology department beginning in 1968. His research, which continued unabated since his retirement from the ROM in 1992, dealt with aquatic insects, especially the biosystematics of caddisflies (Order Trichoptera) on which he published four books and more than 100 articles in scientific journals and books. During his curatorial tenure, he conducted an extensive program of field studies through much of North America, building for the ROM one of the major research collections of Trichoptera in the world. He was also actively engaged in the educational outreach programs of the Museum through organization of numerous public lectures and gallery displays. Permanent exhibits of live insects and recordings of insect songs were introduced into the Museum in a new Gallery of Arthropods, which he initiated in the 1970s. He was instrumental in the establishment of two new curatorial departments in the Museum - Botany in 1969 and Invertebrate Zoology in 1979. In 1968 he organized a successful application to the National Research Council of Canada for a Negotiated Development Grant to establish a new laboratory of analytical and molecular systematics in the Museum. Over the years, he supervised 4 MSc students, 8 PhD students and 4 post-doctoral fellows.



Glenn was an elected member of the Executive Board Entomological Society of Canada from 1979-1983, and served as President of that Society in 1981-82. He was a founding member of the Society's Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods), serving on the Scientific Committee of the Survey from 1976-1991. As President of the Entomological Society, he became a member of the Biological Council of Canada in 1981 and was elected Vice-President, remaining on the BCC until 1985. He was appointed as a Fellow of the Entomological Society of Canada in 1982 for major contributions to Entomology. He received the 1992 Gold Medal of the Entomological Society of Canada for outstanding achievement. In 2006 he was elected as an Honorary Member of the Entomological Society of Ontario.

Glenn's last publication, Biological Notes on an Old Farm: Exploring Common Things in the Kingdoms of Life, encourages us to stop and look at the smaller organisms such as plants, fungi, insects and bacteria that play important roles in sustaining life on Earth. This book received the Silver Medal for science in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, 2010. Glenn Wiggins was truly a giant in his field and will be sorely missed.

Douglas C. Currie
Curator of Entomology
Department of Natural History

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