Dr. Robert J. O’Hara

E-mail and web addresses: rjohara@post.harvard.edu · rjohara.net
Postal address: P.O. Box 7535, Fitchburg, Massachusetts 01420, U.S.A.
ORCID ID: 0000-0001-5087-6965

Professional Interests

Residential colleges, house systems, and the renewal of university life; systematics and evolutionary biology; natural history; the history and theory of the historical sciences; liberal education; science and the humanities; New England genealogy.

Educational Background

Ph.D., Harvard University (Biology), 1989.
A.M., Harvard University (Biology), 1984.
B.A., University of Massachusetts at Amherst (Zoology, summa cum laude), 1981.

Professional Writing

A separate publications page lists my research papers and essays in evolutionary biology, higher education, the history of science, and other fields, and provides access to the full text of most of those works. Many of these titles can also be found through my profile on Google Scholar.

Work in Residential Colleges and Co-curricular Education

Author and founder, The Collegiate Way: Residential Colleges and the Renewal of University Life (collegiateway.org), 2000 to date.
The Collegiate Way website is the leading worldwide resource on the establishment, administration, and educational life of residential colleges and house systems.

Fellow of Ezra Brainerd Commons, Middlebury College, 2002–2005.
Brainerd Commons is one of Middlebury’s five residential colleges.

Senior Tutor and principal founder, Cornelia Strong College, 1994–2000.
Established and oversaw for six years as dean of students the daily life of this residential college of 280 students and faculty at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Resident Tutor in Biology, Dudley House, Harvard University, 1983–1989.
Served as personal and academic advisor to students in this residential college of about 400 members, and supported the daily life of the house throughout the year.

Invited speaker and consultant on residential colleges at Vassar College, the University of Virginia, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of California at Berkeley, the Gilbane Higher Education Facilities Forum at the University of California at San Diego, Southern Methodist University, the Society of College and University Planning, the Boston Society of Architects, the University of Vermont, Eckerd College, the University of Limerick, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the University of Durham, Trent University, the University of Mississippi, Wheaton College, the University of Vermont, St. Paul’s College at the University of Waterloo, Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas architects, the Middlebury College Residential Deans’ Conference, the Universidad de las Américas–Puebla, and Santa Clara University.

Quoted in articles about residential colleges and higher education published by The Associated Press, The Boston Globe, The Burlington Free Press, The Chicago Tribune, The Daily Camera (Boulder), The Dartmouth, The East Valley Tribune (Phoenix), The Morning Call (Allentown), The Nashville Business Journal, The National Association for College Admission Counseling, The New York Times, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Times Higher Education Supplement (London), The Washington Post, The Wheaton Alumni Quarterly, and The Yale Alumni Magazine.

Academic Teaching, Research, and Other Professional Positions

Visiting Assistant Professor, Biology Department, Middlebury College, 2002–2005.

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1997–2002.

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1993–1997.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Critical Inquiry in the Liberal Arts, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1992–1997.

Visiting Professor of Science, Transylvania University, 1992.

National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1991–1992.

Adjunct Curator, University of Wisconsin Zoological Museum, 1991–1992.

Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, 1990–1991.

Naturalist and Lecturer, Lindblad Travel, Inc., Antarctica and Tierra del Fuego, 1986–1987.

Reference and Special Collections Assistant, Museum of Comparative Zoology Library, Harvard University, 1983, 1985–1988.

Paleontology Field Assistant, Painted Desert Expedition, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 1982.

Teaching Fellow, Department of Biology, Harvard University, 1981–1986.

Courses Taught

A separate teaching page provides details on most of the following offerings, and a course reviews page includes some student comments on my teaching.

(1) Biogeography, (2) Biological Evolution, (3) The Biosphere, (4) Campus Natural History, (5) Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species, (6) The Collegiate Way, (7) Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology, (8) Darwin and His Critics, (9) Genetics and Evolution (lecture and laboratory), (10) History and Theory of the Historical Sciences, (11) Major Concepts of Biology (non-majors lecture and laboratory), (12) Natural History of the Vertebrates (lecture and laboratory), (13) Principles of Biology II (majors lecture and laboratory), (14) Scientific Lives, (15) Trees of History, (16) Vertebrate Life.

Selected Professional Awards and Service

Member of both Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi. Served on the Phi Beta Kappa Executive Committee at UNCG.

Recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Excellence Award at UNCG. (This award is given to only one junior and one senior faculty member each year.)

Twice nominated for the Bullard Award for University Service at UNCG. (This is the University’s highest award for institutional service.)

Invited speaker at universities and academic conferences in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, and Sweden.

Reviewer for the National Science Foundation and for professional journals and publishers including Biology and Philosophy, Evolution, Systematic Biology, the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, and the University of Chicago Press.

Served on the UNCG Environmental Studies Committee. The UNCG Environmental Studies Program grew out of a proposal first made by me and my colleague Ann Somers.

Faculty Advisor to two undergraduate environmental organizations at UNCG, the Environmental Awareness Foundation and the Peabody Park Rangers. The Park Rangers was formed by students who had taken my Campus Natural History course.

Supervisor of three undergraduate research assistants who studied the natural history of Peabody Park at UNCG.

Twice recipient of the Master’s Award at Dudley House, Harvard University, for service to the House.

Major Internet Publications

Founder and administrator of The Collegiate Way: Residential Colleges and the Renewal of University Life, the leading international resource devoted to residential colleges and house systems within larger institutions.

Founder and administrator of the Peabody Park web server including an illustrated history and seasonal natural history of UNCG’s educational park, along with a technical Biological Survey of more than 300 species of animals and plants found in the Park.

Founder and administrator of Darwin-L, an international academic discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. The extensive Darwin-L Archives are carefully maintained and continue to serve as a major international resource on the historical sciences.


Professional references are available on request.

© RJO 1995–2022