Systematics is the field of biology that orders and unifies comparative studies of organisms. Systematics is at the core of studies of biodiversity. The main goals are to discover and describe new species, quantify biological diversity, uncover similarities that indicate evolutionary history (or phylogeny), and to use this history to test models of how evolution occurs. Today, with increasing concerns about loss of species through extinction and interest in discovering the role that other organisms play in ecosystem health, systematics is more important than ever.
George Washington University and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History have made a substantial commitment to education and research in systematics. Recently, GWU established the Robert Weintraub Program in Systematics and Evolution with 4 endowed professorships (to be expanded to five), involvement of several existing faculty at GWU and Smithsonian curators as adjunct faculty, and substantial funds for research and field work. Faculty and graduate students currently in the program work on a variety of organisms including bacteria, protists, angiosperms, cnidarians, mollusks, polychaete worms, arthropods, echinoderms, dinosaurs, mammals and lizards.
Dr. Robert L. Weintraub (1912-1996)
The Program is named in honor of Dr. Robert L. Weintraub who, through his vision for research and graduate education, and generous financial support, made it possible to strengthen our program in systematics and evolution.
Professor Weintraub began his association with GWU as a Student Assistant in Chemistry from September 1929 through November 1937. After receiving his Ph.D. from GWU in 1938, he worked for many years as a biochemist and plant physiologist for the United States Government. In 1963 he joined the faculty as Professor of Botany. He served the department as chair, graduate student adviser, chairman of the curriculum committee, and library representative. Upon his retirement in 1977 he was awarded the status of Professor Emeritus of Botany.
In addition to his decades of association with GWU, as an alumnus and member of faculty, Professor Weintraub also was among the University's greatest benefactors. For many years he and Mrs. Weintraub, who is also a GWU alumna, supported graduate fellowships in the Department of Biological Sciences. In recent years, Professor Weintraub endowed five professorships in systematics in the Department of Biological Sciences. Four of these professorships are named for members of his family (the Ronald B Weintraub Professorship, the Louis Weintraub Professorship, the Ruth Weintraub Professorship, and the Grace B. Carnes Professorship). The fifth professorship is named in honor of Robert F. Griggs, a former member of the GWU faculty who was one of Professor Weintraub's mentors.
Professor Weintraub's outstanding philanthropy places him among the great benefactors of the University and has had enormous impact on the advancement of the Department of Biological Sciences. His career and life were dedicated to GWU and its continued growth.