A. Stanley Rand (1932-2005)

November 21, 2005

A. Stanley Rand (1932-2005)

STRI staff scientist emeritus A. Stanley Rand, 73, died on Monday, November 14

STRI staff scientist emeritus A. Stanley Rand, 73, died on Monday, November 14, after a long struggle with cancer and diabetes in Washington DC. He is survived by wife Pat and children Hugh, Margaret and Katherine. Rand was born in Seneca Fall, NY, served his country from 1955 to 1957 and in 1961 he obtained a PhD at Harvard University. He started working for STRI in 1964 and was STRI's first deputy director from 1973-1978, when he was promoted to senior scientist dedicating all his time to research and to encouraging students, visiting scientists and colleagues at STRI.

His work on frogs and lizards built him an international reputation and he made outstanding contributions in varied fields such as animal communication, territoriality, sexual selection, and anti-predator systems. Rand's approach enriched all evolutionary concepts he studied.

A prolific writer, his first publication "Leopard frogs in caves in winter" dates from 1950, published by Copeia. In his life he authored more than 150 contributions and established the "Túngara frog project" in Gamboa, attracting numerous scientists and students from around the world that share his vision and dedication.

According to Michael J. Ryan, editor of the 2001's book Anuran communication, that comprises the work of 25 scientists prepared for the occasion of Rand’s retirement, the enthusiasm of the contributors throughout the project is "—a tribute, no doubt, to the esteem in which they hold Stan Rand ."

What follows is a remembrance of Stan Rand's friend and colleague of some 41 years, Neal G. Smith.


“Over the years here in Panama, Stanley and I shared our very catholic interests in natural history and our remarkably similar sense of humor (not joke kind) based on a kind of one-upsmanship—fast and Pat, Hugh and Stanley Rand subtle. It was a kind of mutualism not easily understood by outsiders. This irritated some people, especially at seminars. We claimed that it was Martin Moynihan's fault for encouraging it. That is at least partly true and our seminars became infamous for the verbal give and take. We lived in close proximity several times, first on BCI and later when we both had families, in San Francisco part of Panama City. Eventually the Rands moved to the "ridge" in Gamboa, where most folks associated with them until he retired in 1998.

But let me take you back in time to the late 1950's when a soup of opportunities opened to biologists in the Neotropics. The Smithsonian had a biological reserve, Barro Colorado Island, a kind of tropical Arcadia which had achieved some fame by the work of Frank Chapman, Theodore C. Schneirla, C. Ray Carpenter, Alexander Skutch and others. James Zetek, an entomologist was the Island manager. When Zetek became ill in 1956, the Smithsonian hired a scientist of the New Era, Martin H. Moynihan.

Martin decided to get some permanent scientists, Robert Dressler (Harvard) and I (with a PhD from Cornell). Martin moved off the island and I replaced him as "resident naturalist". But Martin was plotting bigger things than just a botanist and fresh biologist. He wrote the eminent evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr at the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) to see who was available. He had assumed that he was going to get Ira Rubinoff, his geminate fish specialist, but he was lacking candidates. Who else to ask but Ernest Williams, the famous Anolis herpetologist also at the MCZ. Williams felt that his best student who had worked on Anolis in Puerto Rico was the man for Martin.

By then Rand had been working with Paulo Vanzolini in Brazil, who had worked with Williams at Harvard. He was also Brazil's top Samba composer. Stanley had great stories about this man.

Martin invited Stanley to Panama where I picked him up at the airport. We stayed in the Tivoli Hotel that night and then at Martin's orders drove the "other" Canal Zone Biological Area automobile (we also had a jeep), to the Atlantic side to show Stanley the lay of the land away from BCI. Martin and Stanley engaged in non-stop conversation across the Isthmus regarding the relationships of the fauna of the West Indies to the mainland. Stanley looked impressed but Martin just kept on talking. We reached Fort San Lorenzo and started wandering around the moats. Stanley went into lizard mode.

Martin and I followed him around like two kids. Stanley peered and then, like a chameleon tongue, out went his arm and slap! Martin was aghast but Stanley opened his hand and there was a (smiling) Anolis. Stanley pulled its dewlap out and then he started his speech. Martin looked anxious as Stanley placed the lizard back. No problem. "Do you ever hurt them that... way? said Martin. Nope. On we went. Slap again and again the same result with more natural history chatter. Time was getting on and Stanley did his last snatch. A big male this time. Martin was relaxed by this time and when Stanley released the Anolis, it bounced off a few feet and displayed its dewlap (in anger?) Martin grinned behind his pipe. As we got back to the car, Stanley trailed. Martin looked at me and in the jet powered whisper of his said "Well, now we have a herpetologist" And so we did. No seminars, no review boards, no job advertisements. That is the way it happened.

As time passed he co-authored papers with younger researchers. He could change that often caustic critical mind into a very kind and helpful one. Many a full professor of today benefitted from that very clever and insightful mind of Stanley Rand.

So while most readers here will associate Stanley Rand with frogs, for me Stanley was always the lizard guy and surely the sharpest one in the world. Several people asked me how I felt about Stanley's death. I was frank—with but an occasional exception, there isn't anyone to talk with anymore the way we talked.”

Photography: Neal G. Smith and Marcos A. Guerra


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