Kula, Robert (Active)
United States Department of Agriculture
Bob was born February 12, 1975, a birthday he enjoys sharing with naturalist Charles Darwin, President Abraham Lincoln, and keyboardist Ray Manzarek of The Doors. Bob grew up in Fullerton, Nebraska, a rural community located between the Cedar and Loup rivers. Growing up in a relatively sparely populated area, Bob developed a childhood interest in wildlife. He enjoyed fishing; hunting; exploring ponds, rivers, and streams; and camping with his family. He was also an avid collector of baseball cards and stamps. Bob had a close connection with agriculture and spent his teens working on farms, with livestock, and at his hometown meat locker. Bob’s post-secondary education began at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UN-L) where he majored in Animal Science and then Forestry, Fisheries, and Wildlife. After a year at UN-L, he transferred to Peru State College in Nebraska where he majored in Biology and Wildlife Ecology. A pivotal moment in Bob’s development as a biologist came in 1997 when he spent the summer conducting research on eugregarine protozoans with Dr. Richard E. Clopton at Cedar Point Biological Station near Ogallala, Nebraska. Bob took two courses at Cedar Point, Natural History of the Invertebrates and Field Parasitology, in addition to conducting research on eugregarine diversity in the Nebraska Sandhills. He met his wife, and fellow Washington Biologists’ Field Club member, Abigail (Rogers) Kula at Cedar Point. It was Bob’s experience at Cedar Point that solidified his desire for a career in systematic biology. Bob graduated with a BS in both Biology and Wildlife Ecology from Peru State College in 1998. He moved to College Station, Texas to pursue a master’s degree at Texas A&M University conducting systematics research on braconid wasps with Dr. Robert A. Wharton. Bob received his MS in Entomology from Texas A&M University in May 2001 and started his PhD program with Dr. Gregory Zolnerowich at Kansas State University in January 2001. Dr. Paul M. Marsh, formerly a Research Entomologist with the Systematic Entomology Laboratory (USDA-ARS), served on Bob’s PhD committee and was an influential mentor. Bob received his PhD in Entomology from Kansas State University in May 2006. He was hired as a Research Entomologist by the Systematic Entomology Laboratory (SEL) and started working in June 2006. Bob’s research with SEL focuses on braconid wasp systematics and biodiversity, particularly taxonomy, evolutionary relationships, support for biocontrol programs, understanding environmental factors that affect patterns of diversity, and developing/optimizing techniques and equipment for sampling parasitoid wasps. He is responsible for curating the braconid and ichneumonid wasp collections (~500,000 specimens) at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. Bob lives in Laurel, Maryland with his wife (Abby) and two children (Michael and Vincent). He enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, hiking, ethnobotany, learning about American Indian culture, listening to music, playing sports, and attending sporting events. Bob was elected to membership in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 2015 and is serving on the Board of Managers 2015-2017.