The Department of Ichthyology, one of the four departments within the Museum's Division of Vertebrate Zoology, houses a collection that comprises more than 2 million specimens from around the world, with a special focus on African, Australian, Central American, Chinese, and Malagasy fresh water fishes as well as Bahamian and Gulf of Mexican shore fishes. The department's three curators, as well as postdoctoral fellows, students and staff, regularly conduct fieldwork to add to these collections.

Stiassny has carried out studies throughout the world's tropical waters to research the evolution, behavior, and conservation of fishes and has played an active role in raising public awareness of the biodiversity and conservation crisis.

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