Associate Professor of Biology
Phone: (805) 565-6229
Office Location: Whittier Science 129
Invertebrate Zoology; Gorgonian Corals; Marine Biology; Marine, Natural History: California, Galapagos Islands, East Africa, New Zealand; Animal Diversity
Professor Elizabeth Horvath became interested in “biology” when, as a five-year old, she asked her parents “where were the dinosaurs?” in a picture book that she had, retelling the Genesis story of Creation (which did NOT show any dinosaurs)! Since then, she has been deeply interested in the natural world, drawn to a study of marine biology; again, as a child, every summer ended with a “treasure box” of shells, sent by her grandmother (who lived in Florida, visiting Sanibel Island each summer). Beth (as she prefers to be called) completed her undergraduate training at Westmont College (earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology), and worked as a student intern at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Invertebrate Laboratory, for most of her undergraduate career under Dr. Eric Hochberg (an expert on octopus and squid). She then went on to earn a Master’s Degree, with an emphasis in the marine sciences, from California State University, Long Beach. Her research work in the Biology Department at Long Beach State included studies of embryological development in the pelagic tunicate Oikoplura dioica, the study of bioluminescence in that same tunicate, learning techniques for the captive housing of pelagic snails (such as Atlanta peroni), and serving as an “unofficial” teaching assistant for several lab sections of the very heavily-enrolled course “Invertebrate Zoology.” It was the teaching experiences in those lab sections that provided Beth with her first “inkling” that teaching was going to be a part of her career path. She has taken a number of post-graduate level courses in such topics as Deep-Sea Biology, Channel Islands Biology, Conservations Biology and Coral Reef Biology, and has traveled multiple times to such places as Baja-California, Hawaii, New Zealand, East Africa, Central and South America and the Galapagos Islands.
Professor Horvath joined the Westmont Biology faculty in 1978, first as a part-time instructor (teaching marine biology) and served as the Biology Dept. Lab Coordinator, became a full time instructor, then became a full faculty member in 1990. Trained as an Invertebrate Zoologist, she teaches Marine Biology, Animal Diversity, portions of General Biology II, as well as Ecology and Introduction to Life Science, as well as several courses for off-campus programs (Marine Invertebrates and Marine Mammals for AuSable and Marine Ecology for CCSP-New Zealand). A “field biologist,” through and through, her students get the full “field experience” as often as possible (be prepared to get wet!). Beth also works as a Research Associate in the Invertebrate Labs of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. She has served on several Advisory Boards for off- campus “natural history” oriented programs and has worked as a naturalist for a company based out of San Diego, which runs natural history tours to Baja, the Grey Whale breeding lagoons and the Sea of Cortez. Her research work has included Kelp Forest monitoring around the SB Channel Islands and shell selectivity of Hermit Crabs living in tide pools, both locally and in Puget Sound, but the major focus of her research began with a spring semester sabbatical project working with Gorgonian Corals. Since then, her work has continued on the gorgonian corals, with a new species description published in February 2011, and a large monograph on gorgonian coral species living in the CA Bight soon to be published (Spring 2013), with several other new species descriptions, ranging from the CA coast to WA State offshore waters to the far western Aleutian Islands, currently in progress as well. Beth serves as a taxonomic consultant, doing identification of gorgonian corals, for approximately fifteen governmental and non-governmental agencies, both in the United States and abroad, from Baja, Mexico to New Zealand.