Doris Mable Cochran

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Doris Mable Cochran
Doris Mable Cochran (1898-1968), measuring a turtle shell.jpg
Cochran measuring a turtle shell
Born(1898-05-18)May 18, 1898
North Girard, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedMay 22, 1968(1968-05-22) (aged 70)
Alma mater George Washington University
University of Maryland, College Park
Corcoran Art School
Known forStudy of reptiles, frogs
AwardsDistinguished Fellow of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
Scientific career
Fields Biology, herpetology
InstitutionsUnited States Department of War,
Smithsonian Institution
Doctoral advisor Leonhard Hess Stejneger

Doris Mable Cochran (May 18, 1898 – May 22, 1968) was an American herpetologist [1] and custodian of the American Natural Collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., for many years. [1]



Born in North Girard, Pennsylvania, she grew up in Washington, D.C., after her father transferred there for a government job. [2]

While an undergraduate student at George Washington University (A.B. 1920, M.S. 1921), she worked for the War Department and became Aide in the Division of Herpetology at the United States National Museum. Although the museum was under the curatorship of Leonhard Stejneger, Cochran was responsible for the administration of the herpetological collections. In 1927 she became Assistant Curator, and in 1942, Associate Curator just prior to Stejneger's death. [2] [3]

She earned a Ph.D. at the University of Maryland in 1933 with a thesis on blue crab musculature. She became the first woman Curator in 1956 until her retirement in 1968 on her 70th birthday. [1] [2]

After completing studies at Corcoran Art School and developing her talents as an artist, Cochran became a scientific illustrator not only for her own works, but for those of her colleagues. [2]

Cochran's research was focused primarily on the herpetofauna of the West Indies and South America, particularly Haiti. [2] She published 90 taxonomic papers between 1922 and her death (four days after her retirement in 1968) in which she described eight new genera and 125 species and subspecies as well as wartime booklets for the military identifying venomous reptiles. [4] [5] Her 20 years of studies of the West Indies culminated in The Herpetology of Hispaniola in 1941. She visited Haiti twice, in 1935 and 1962–1963. In Haiti she would work with Adolfo Lutz and his daughter, Bertha. [2]

Her most popular book was Living Amphibians of the World, published in 1961. When she visited Brazil, Cochran received a donation of 3,000 Brazilian frogs from Adolfo Lutz, and wrote about South American frogs in Frogs of Southeastern Brazil in 1954 and Frogs of Colombia in 1970 (posthumously). [6] [7]


Cochran was the second person to be elected a distinguished fellow of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in 1962 and had served as its first secretary. [8] [9] At least six reptiles have been named after Doris Cochran of which four are still considered valid: Aristelliger cochranae GRANT 1931, Gelanesaurus cochranae (BURT & BURT 1931), Sphaerodactylus cochranae RUIBAL 1946, Gongylosoma baliodeirus cochranae (TAYLOR 1962). [10] [11]

Partial list of published works

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  1. 1 2 3 Leslie M-B (August 23, 2006). "Women in Science, Historical Edition: Doris Cochran's struggle for promotion at the Smithsonian". The Clutter Museum. Retrieved 2013-06-21.[ self-published source? ]
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Doris Mable Cochran Papers, circa 1891-1968". SIA RU007151. Smithsonian Institution Archives . Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  3. Harvey, Joyce; Ogilvie, Marilyn (2000). The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: Pioneering Lives from Ancient Times to the Mid-Twentieth Century. Taylor & Francis. p. 277. ISBN   978-0-415-92038-4 . Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  4. Crother, Brian I. (1999). Caribbean Amphibians and Reptiles. Academic Press. p. 147. ISBN   978-0-08-052858-8 . Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  5. Conant, Roger (1997). A Field Guide to the Life and Times of Roger Conant. Selva. p. 458. ISBN   978-0-9657446-0-7 . Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  6. Cochran, Doris Mable (1955). Frogs of southeastern Brazil. Smithsonian Institution. ISBN   9780598370037 . Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  7. Cochran, Doris Mable; Goin, Coleman Jett (1970). Frogs of Columbia. Washington, District of Columbia: United States National Museum. 655 pp. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  8. Donahue, Jesse C.; Trump, Erik K. (2010). American Zoos During the Depression: A New Deal for Animals. McFarland. p. 44. ISBN   978-0-7864-6186-8 . Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  9. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Procedures Manual Guidelines and Procedures for the Conduct of Society Business Promulgated by Direction of the ASIH Executive Committee (PDF), ASIH, June 1999, p. 135, archived from the original (PDF) on 7 March 2016, retrieved 25 July 2013.
  10. Species and subspecies named after Doris Cochran in the Reptile Database.
  11. Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN   978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Cochran", pp. 55-56).

Further reading