James Collins

  • Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
  • Virginia M Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Advisory Board Member, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
PO Box 874501
Tempe, AZ 85287-4501
Email: jcollins@asu.edu
Web: https://sols.asu.edu/people/james-p-collins


Dr. James Collins received his B.S. from Manhattan College in 1969 and his Ph.D. from The University of Michigan in 1975. He then moved to Arizona State University where he is currently Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment in the School of Life Sciences. From 1989 to 2002 he was Chairman of the Zoology, then Biology Department. At the National Science Foundation (NSF) Dr. Collins was Director of the Population Biology and Physiological Ecology program from 1985 to 1986. He joined NSF's senior management in 2005 serving as Assistant Director for Biological Sciences from 2005 to 2009. NSF is the U.S. government's only agency dedicated to supporting basic research and education in all fields of science and engineering at all levels. Within the Biological Sciences Directorate Collins oversaw a research and education portfolio that spanned molecular and cellular biosciences to global change as well as biological infrastructure. He coordinated collaborations between NSF and other federal agencies through the President's National Science and Technology Council where he chaired the Biotechnology Subcommittee and co-chaired the Interagency Working Group on Plant Genomics. He was also NSF's liaison to NIH and served as coordinator across NSF of all environmental research and education.

Dr. Collins' research has centered on the causes of intraspecific variation. Amphibians are model organisms for field and laboratory studies of the ecological and evolutionary forces shaping this variation and its affect on population dynamics. A recent research focus is host-pathogen biology as a driver of population dynamics and even species extinctions. The role of pathogens in the global decline of amphibians is the model system for this research.

The intellectual and institutional factors that have shaped ecology's development as a science are also a focus of Dr. Collins' research, as is the emerging research area of ecological ethics. Federal, state, and private institutions have supported his research.

Dr. Collins teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in ecology, evolutionary biology, statistics, introductory biology, evolutionary ecology, and professional values in science. He has directed more than 30 graduate students to completion of doctoral or Masters degrees. Collins was founding director of ASU’s Undergraduate Biology Enrichment Program, and served as co-director of ASU's Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology and Minority Access to Research Careers programs.

Honors include the Pettingill Lecture in Natural History at The University of Michigan Biological Station; the Thomas Hall Lecture at Washington University, St. Louis; Distinguished Lecturer in Life Science, Penn State University; President's Science Symposium Address, Bowdoin College; Phi Beta Kappa Lifto Amundson Lecture at The University of South Dakota; and serving as Kaeser Visiting Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences awarded him its Distinguished Faculty Award. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the Association for Women in Science, and Past President of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). Professor Collins is a member of the Board of Directors for the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the National Ecological Observatory Network, and is on the Board of Delegates for Oxford University Press.

Dr. Collins has served on the editorial board of Ecology and Ecological Monographs as well as Evolution. He is the author of numerous peer reviewed papers and book chapters, co-editor of three special journal issues, and co-author with Dr. Martha Crump of Extinction in Our Times. Global Amphibian Decline (Oxford University Press, 2009).


ecological ethics; evolutionary biology; global decline of amphibians; host-pathogen biology; life history evolution; morphological variation; population biology; predator-prey interactions; ecology; conservation biology; conservation policy; environmental policy; herpetology; species adaptation; urban ecology


PhD, University of Michigan, 1975

BS, Manhattan College, 1969

Journal Articles


Minteer, B. A. and J. P. Collins. 2013. Ecological ethics in captivity: Balancing values and responsibilities in zoo and aquarium research under rapid global change. ILAR Journal 54(1):41-51. DOI: 10.1093/ilar/ilt009. (link)

Winston, J. M., B. A. Minteer and J. P. Collins. 2013. Old wine, new bottles? Using history to inform the assisted colonization debate. Oryx FirstView:1-9. DOI: 10.1017/S0030605312001500. (link)


Gascon, C., J. P. Collins, D. R. Church, R. D. Moore, F. Andreone, P. Bishop, S. Das Biju, F. Bolanos, X. Feng, S. Haitao, M. Lampo, Z. Li, S. Lotters, Y. Matamoros, M. Meegaskumbura, S. Molur, P. Nanjappa Mitchell, J. Mora, J. Garcia-Moreno, L. Pipeng, J. Reardon, A. Rial, C. Molina Rodriguez, S. R. Ron, J. J. Rowley, J. C. Senaris, D. L. Silvano, P. H. Valdujo and V. K. Verdade. 2012. Scaling a global plan into regional strategies for amphibian conservation. Alytes 29:14-26.

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Collins, J. P. and M. L. Crump. 2009. Extinction in Our Times: Global Amphibian Decline. Oxford University Press. Oxford.


Lappe, F. M. and J. Collins. 1986. World hunger: Twelve myths. Grove Press, Inc. New York.


Collins, J. P. 1982. Birds, reptiles, and amphibians of the Interior Chaparral, Battle Flat, Arizona.. USDA Forest Service. Phoenix.

Book Chapters

In Press

Minteer, B. A. and J. P. Collins. In Press. Ecosystems unbound: Ethical questions for an interventionist ecology. In: Sandler, R. ed., Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Palgrave-Macmillan.


Collins, J. P. 2011. Changes in biology and biology's evolving role in science education. In: Pettitt-Riley, S. ed., Research in Biology Education: Where Do We Go From Here?. Michigan State University Institute for Research on Mathematics and Science Education.

Collins, J. P. 2011. Foreword. In: Scheiner, S. M. and M. Willig eds., The Theory of Ecology. University of Chicago Press.

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Jones, J. E., N. B. Grimm, C. N. Dahm, M. S. Williams and J. P. Collins. 2009. Hydrologic effects of ecosystems response to climate change and land use charnge. Estes Park, CO. Working group organizers report presented at 14-16 September 2009 LTER All Scientist Meeting, Integrating Science and Society in a World of Constant Change.

Conference Papers


Sipe, E. S., J. P. Collins, A. E. Dittert and R. C. Goodwin. 1980. The preservation and study of prehistoric coral and coral artifacts: A case study from St. Kitts, West Indies. Pp. 246-263 In: Lewenstein, S. M. ed., Arizona State Univesity Anthropological Research Paper No. 22.