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Mollusk Researchers at NHM

Jann Vendetti, Twila Bratcher Chair in Malacological Research

Ph.D. Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley, 2009

B.A. Biology & Geology, Colgate University, 2001

Jann is the first Twila Bratcher Chair in Malacological Research at NHM. She began in 2014 after a postdoctoral research position in Pat Krug's lab at California State University, Los Angeles. Prior to that she received her Ph.D. with Carole Hickman in the UC Berkeley Department of Integrative Biology and Museum of Paleontology where she studied living and fossil gastropods. Jann is interested in the evolutionary biology and systematics of buccinid gastropods and sacoglossan sea slugs. Recently she has been assessing the historical biodiversity of terrestrial gastropods in Los Angeles county and working with volunteer citizen scientists to understand the influence of urbanization on these animals. Jann considers herself primarily an evolutionary biologist and malacologist, with research experience and interest in invertebrate paleontology. Jann works with Collections Managers Lindsey Groves and Austin Hendy to maintain and improve the world-class NHM Malacology and Invertebrate Paleontology collections, respectively. 

Lindsey T. Groves, Collections Manager

M.S. Geology, California State University, Northridge, 1991

B.S. Geology, Northern Arizona University, 1983

In 1988, Lindsey came to the Museum as a Curatorial Assistant on a National Science Foundation (NSF) collection grant. Back then he was also pursuing his M.S. in geology with an emphasis on molluscan paleontology at California State University, Northridge. After completing his thesis he was promoted to Project Manager to assist on a subsequent NSF grant to begin collection computerization. When the Malacology and Invertebrate Paleontology (IP) Departments merged together in 1993 Lindsey was promoted to Collections Manager for both sections. Then in 2002 when a new IP Collections Manager was hired he returned to the Malacology Department full time. Current projects include two databasing projects: the world-wide gastropods project and the gastropod voucher material of the northeast Pacific for James McLean.

Recent publications

James H. McLean, Research Associate

Ph.D. Zoology, Stanford University, 1966

B.A. Zoology, Wesleyan University, 1958

Dr. James McLean became Curator of Malacology in 1964 just prior to the completion of his Ph.D. In 2001, after a career that spanned almost 40 years, he retired and continued research focused on the systematics of marine gastropods of the Eastern Pacific, with particular interests in Patellogastropoda and the Vetigastropoda, and the families Fissurellidae, Trochidae, Turbinidae, Colloniidae, and Liotiidae, as well as the neogastropod family Turridae. Following the discovery of hydrothermal communities, in 1977, Dr. McLean studied and named a number of limpet families from that community. His interest in the gastropod fauna of the northeast Pacific resulted in the handbook Marine Shells of Southern California (1969, revised 1978).

Recent publications

Angel Valdes, Research Associate

Ph.D., Zoology, Universidad de Oviedo, Spain, 1996

B.S., Biology Universidad de Oviedo, Spain, 1993

Ángel is Assistant Professor of Biology at California Polytechnic University, Pomona where he teaches many courses including evolutionary biology. His research interest is the phylogenetic systematics and biogeography of opisthobranch mollusks. He has published books and more than 65 papers on this subject, describing more than 70 new taxa and unraveling the phylogenetic relationships of many sea slug clades. He was Curator of Malacology at the Museum from 2001 until 2007. Click here for more information about Ángel's research.

Shawn Wiedrick, Research Associate

Shawn began collecting shells at the age of five and consequently became interested in marine biology more broadly. Initially his conchological interests were strictly Eastern Pacific species, which has since progressed into other biogeographic regions. He joined the Pacific Conchological Club in 2005 and is their current president. Shawn has published papers in Los Conchas, The Festivus, and Novapex and has described several species new to science. His main interest is microturriform Conidae of the Indo-Pacific region and has been reorganizing this group in the NHM Malacology collection. He is currently a Masters student at California State University, Fullerton. 

Patrick I. LaFollette, Museum Associate

Pat specializes in the systematics of the family Pyramidellidae (pyram or pyramid shells). Many of the species are microscopic, they are diverse, and can be challenging to the untrained eye. Back in 1985, Pat created the first electronic database for the Malacology Department. The database was state of the art. Over the years it has grown immensely and remains the core of our collections database infrastructure today. Pat is also expert in locating rare mollusk literature on the web.


Malacology is indebted to the team of volunteers who work with staff malacologists to improve the collections. Activities and projects include large and small-scale sorting, species identification, specimen photography, re-labeling, and collection maintenance. If you are interested in shells, mollusks, or natural history collections in general, and would like to volunteer, please contact Jann Vendetti at For updates on the projects of student volunteers, click here

Janice Lipeles, Volunteer

Jan is a retired microbiologist and attorney and she has been assisting the Malacology Department since 2001. She has refined the skills needed for  extracting micromollusks from sediment samples. This tedious work requires excellent hand-and-eye coordination and extraordinary patience.

Robert Moore, Volunteer

Bob is a retired biology teacher with an interest in shells of the Eastern Pacific, especially Californian species. He is currently sorting and identifying a collection of mollusks collected in South Africa by Dr. McLean.