Meet the Curator main content.

Meet the Curator

Part of the Creatures of Light exhibition.

A scuba diver under water.

John Sparks travels the world in search of bioluminescent and biofluorescent marine organisms. His research is focused on the evolution and diversification of the bacteria-driven bioluminescent signaling systems in ponyfishes—small, silvery fishes restricted to the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific that have light organs surrounding their throats—as well as the evolution of specialized hearing in marine and freshwater fishes. His recent fieldwork includes biotic surveys and inventories of freshwater and nearshore marine fishes in Madagascar, the Indo-Pacific region, South America, the Western Atlantic, and the Caribbean.

Dr. Sparks is curator-in-charge and associate curator in the Department of Ichthyology, a professor in the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the Museum, and an adjunct professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology at Columbia University. Dr. Sparks received the M.Sc. degree in biology from the University of Michigan in 1997 and the Ph.D. degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan in 2001. He joined the Museum in 2002.