Zoologist and Curator of Arachnids and Myriapods

Zoologist Dr. Jon Coddington in a gray jacket holding a giant isopod. Other storage shelves in his lab are behind him.
Dr. Jon Coddington showing off a giant isopod collected from the Gulf of Mexico. Image by Donald E. Hurlbert, Smithsonian, NHB2011-00203

Dr. Jonathan Coddington is a senior scientist and curator of arachnids (including spiders) and other arthropods, and Associate Director of Science at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Being blind in one eye and near-sighted in the other, Jonathan has always been drawn to tiny, complex vistas. At age fourteen, he began a life-long hobby of close-up photography, for which predators and predation were riveting subjects. Wandering in the woods, looking for unknown, beautiful things, led to his becoming a scientist.

Jonathan is now a systematic and evolutionary biologist, conducting research on evolution, adaptation, and phylogeny of spiders. Since 1984, he has spent much of his career conducting biodiversity research on spiders, including 12 field expeditions to Panama and Costa Rica. From 1995 to 1999, he served as lead curator for the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition "Spiders!". He is also the co-leader of the Museum’s Global Genome Initiative. As a museum scientist, he has focused on design and evaluation of rapid, efficient, quantitative sampling protocols to better understand the structure and distribution of biodiversity. With his colleague, Matjaz Kuntner, Jonathan discovered the largest species of orbweaving spider so far known to the world, which lives in Africa and Madagascar.