Zusi, Richard L. (Former Member)
Dick was born January 27, 1930, in Winchester, Massachusetts, but grew up in Toronto, Ontario. He attended Northwestern University for a BA degree in 1951 and the University of Michigan for an MS degree in 1953 and a PhD degree in 1959 in zoology. He taught at the University of Maine from 1958 to 1963. Phil Humphrey hired him in 1963 as a research scientist in the Division of Birds at the National Museum of Natural History. Dick specialized in functional anatomy, behavior, evolution, and classification of birds. He was considered one of the world’s experts on functional anatomy and his work focused on avian jaw mechanics and the evolution of structural complexes. Dick’s scholarly modus operandi is exemplified by three classic papers on the avian skull: A functional and evolutionary analysis of rhynchokinesis in birds (Smithsonian Institution, 1984), A feeding adaptation of the jaw articulation in the new world jays (Corvidae) (Auk, 1987), and Patterns of diversity in the avian skull (University Chicago Press, 1993). He was coauthor with George Watson and Bob Storer and illuslator of The Preliminary Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Ocean (Smithsonian, 1963). Dick was largely responsible for the development of the Smithsonian’s avian skeleton and fluid-preserved collections, which now rank as the world’s most complete. His pioneering World Inventory of Avian Skeletal Specimens was one of the first and best efforts to inventory a particular biological resource in systematic collections. He has personally collected specimens in Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Dominica, and Iceland, as well as many locations in the United States and Canada. Dick was extensively active in committees, exhibits, and administration at the Smithsonian, including work on the Zoo research committee, which planned the layout of the Research Building at the National Zoo. He also conducted the research and design of 17 cases in the Osteology Hall and was principal curator of the Roger Tory Peterson exhibit. Dick served on numerous doctoral committees, advised six post-doctoral students, and graciously mentored colleagues in the lost art of comparative anatomy. He was elected a fellow of the American Ornithologists’Union in 1971. He maintained an office in the Bird Division, and worked on a National Science Foundation-funded study of morphological variation and phylogenetic relationships among the orders of birds. He collaborated with Bradley Livezey of the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh on the project. Dick enjoyed a full outside life of activities in spite of his active professional role. His interests included jazz appreciation, classical piano, bird watching, nature study, travel, gardening, tennis, good food and beer, and literature. He also was close to his children and grandchildren. His great sense of humor, his quiet considerate manner, and his well-adjusted ego made him a popular person among his colleagues. He was elected to the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1965 and resigned in 1979.