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Michael A. Mares: 1945—: Mammologist, Field Biologist Biography

Studied Desert Life During Field Research, Wrote Field Narratives While Teaching, Shared Wondrous World Through Museum

Mammalogist Michael A. Mares has a rodent, a bat, and a parasite named after him. Mares, the world's foremost expert on the natural history of desert rodents, is responsible for the discovery of the three creatures. When he isn't setting up field research in the deserts of Argentina, Iran, Egypt, or the United States, Mares is a professor at Oklahoma University and, until 2003, was director of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Under Mares' leadership, the museum underwent an extensive overhaul that resulted in skyrocketing attendance.

Mares was born on March 11, 1945, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Ernesto Gustavo and Rebecca Gabriela (Devine) Mares. Mares grew up in New Mexico and enrolled as an undergraduate biology major at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 1963, with his sights set on a career in medicine. Less than two years later, his focus had shifted to zoology, and he took his first foreign field-research trip to Mexico in 1966. Mares returned from the trip with an infectious disease he picked up in a bat cave. The infection landed him in the hospital and almost killed him, but did not deter him from his developing passion for field biology.

The disease did get in the way of Mares getting drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, however; he was given a permanent deferment because of damage to his lungs. He married Lynn Ann Brusin, now an attorney, in 1966. The couple has two sons, who were born on their parents' field trips to Argentina.

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