Steiner, Warren E., Jr. (Active)
United States National Museum of Natural History
Warren was born in Washington, D.C. on 17 April 1951 and lived in rural Maryland through his childhood, with the Potomac River and canal towpath always nearby. With parents who encouraged outdoor activities and recognized his attention to natural history, he began rearing caterpillars, collecting bird nests, sea shells, insects, leaves, seeds and other natural objects, learning their names and associated information, and pursuing or dabbling in hobbies such as wildlife art, scientific illustration, taxidermy, mycophagy, and photography. As a young teen-ager, he was introduced via hunting friends of his father, to Walt Weber, then a National Geographic Staff Artist, his first of many influential encounters with members of the WBFC over the years. The collection and study of insects prevailed over many other interests and led to Warren’s focus on entomology at the University of Maryland. With minors in botany and zoology, he earned his B.S. in 1973 and continued in a M.S. program with a thesis on the taxonomic review of a group of obscure, tiny beetles (under the guidance of another WBFC member, Paul Spangler). This introduction to the combination of field studies, museum collections and insect systematics led to temporary technical jobs with the Chesapeake Bay Center for Environmental Studies and the Department of Entomology, Smithsonian Institution, followed by another taxonomic study as Faculty Research Assistant at the University of Maryland. Since 1981 he has served in a Museum Specialist position at the Smithsonian Institution, with a focus on Coleoptera, but taking part in biodiversity surveys involving all arthropod taxa. Since the mid 1970s, travel to various countries and the majority of U.S. states has led to a global biologist’s experience. Warren has done collaborative work in a number of Central and South American countries and Caribbean islands, including on-going surveys of darkling beetles of the Bahamian archipelago. Official travel with the Smithsonian to collect insects and arachnids included trips to Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong in 1983, twice to Guyana in 1982-3, Venezuela (Cerro de la Neblina) in 1985, Bolivia in 1987, and three times to Madagascar (Ranomafana National Park Project, 1988-1993). With his wife, Jil Swearingen, who also became a WBFC member in 2007, he joined the 1998 U.S. Department of the Interior survey team to study the small Caribbean island of Navassa, subsequently designated a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge. Work-related outreach activities include being instructor for a short biennial course, “Introduction to the Natural History of Beetles,” offered by the Audubon Naturalist Society, and participation in several local “bio-blitz” events. Warren has served as President of the Entomological Society of Washington (1998) and the Botanical Society of Washington (2005). He has published more than 65 scientific articles in entomology, including the description of a new family of water beetles co-discovered with Paul Spangler, and a recent listing of the “darkling beetles” known to occur in Maryland with historical records from Plummers Island. Interests and hobbies also include traditional music, fishing, hunting, cooking (and eating) wild foods, and hiking (usually barefoot whenever possible) in natural areas. Walking sans shoes to reach the summit of Uluru in 2004 was a bit of dreamtime fulfilled.