Barcroft 2005


Kim with armadillo at La Selva. The beginnings of the Museo Accidental.

La Selva 1975What a difference 30 years makes!

La Selva flea beetle project* Sierra Nevada Willow beetle project *Weather-Beetle MS * La Selva Museo Accidental * Palomar project *

John and Kim Smiley

John and Kim now live on a nature reserve on Palomar Mountain, San Diego County, California. John and Kim, with help from daughters Sonrisa and Rose (and Joel and Eric!) are creating a low-impact, semi-outdoor living environment on 55 acres of Oak/Fir woodland and sage/buckwheat chaparral.

John was born in Tucson, Arizona and graduated from Catalina High School in 1968 and from Stanford University in 1972. He earned his Ph.D. degree under the direction of Larry Gilbert at the University of Texas, investigating the host plant relationships of passionflower butterflies in Costa Rica . Then he began an assistant professorship with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine. During this time John conducted field research in Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica, the Brisbane rain forest in Australia, and the Sierra Nevada in California, studying insect/plant relationships and chemical ecology. John and wife Nancy Kays also raised two children, Terry and Annie Smiley.

Kim was born in San Diego, and lived all across California in various State Parks where her father was a park ranger. She graduated from Marina High School in 1978 and from UC Irvine in 1985. Kim first taught outdoor education and later science and math in the public school system.

In 1986, John and Kim moved to Big Sur, California where John become resident manager of the Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve. He remained in that position for 17 years, building up the reserve's programs and infrastructure. During that time he continued summer field research on willow leaf beetles in the Sierra Nevada, California, as well as serving on the local school board for 8 years. John also facilitated the creation of the Big Creek State Marine Reserve, one of the first of its kind in California, along with several other monitoring and conservation projects. These included the Big Sur Skiff Fishing Survey (still ongoing for more than 25 years!), the Santa Lucia Natural History Symposium, the Big Sur Roadkill Survey, and several revegetation projects. John also wrote "Nature Notes from Big Creek," a monthly column published in the Big Sur Roundup. In partnership with Big Creek Land Steward Feynner Arias, he also developed techniques for managing road and trail infrastructure on the steep terrain in the reserve. During those years John and Kim raised two more children, Rose and Sonrisa, who were joined summers by Terry and Annie.

In Big Sur Kim taught science and math for 15 years at Pacific Valley School, California's smallest unified K-12 school. She developed innovative teaching methods and materials, emphasizing the students' potential to be a "local expert". Several projects were completed, including "Go Bananas", "Stoked on Oaks" and "Catch a Wave". Kim also created an educational museum consisting of road-killed wildlife, the "Road Kill Museum".

In 2003 Kim and John and family moved to Bishop, California for John to head up field operations for the White Mountain Research Center (WMRC), a research unit of the University of California located in Bishop California. . When not working with the talented staff, installing solar electric equipment or trying to figure out unusual propane installations at Barcroft, he continued the study of willow leaf beetles. This work, done in collaboration with Professors Nathan Rank of Sonoma State University and Elizabeth Dahlhoff of Santa Clara University (and with the 2014 addition of UC Berkeley professor Caroline Williams), continues to the present day. John also led the creation of the annual "GLORIA Field Week" at the WMRC, an event that continues to the present day. In 2012, John retired from the Associate Directorship of WMRC.

In Bishop Kim created a second "Road Kill Museum," while teaching outdoor education to students in the local schools. Later she became the 7th grade math teacher at Home Street Middle School and got to know all the young people in the community!

In retirement, as a UCSD Research Affiliate, John continued his work on Sierra Nevada willow leaf beetles. In 2012-2017 he successfully completed a project in Costa Rica comparing the natural history of Passiflora-feeding flea beetles and butterflies to seek the sources of species diversity. This project has included over sixteen months in residence for John and Kim at the La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. During this time Kim created her third educational museum, the " La Selva Museo Accidental." She also learned to knit sweaters, vests, socks, shawls, hats, toys and lots of other useful and beautiful things.

Scientific interests: Every summer John does field research in the mountains of California: Ecological and Evolutionary Responses to Environmental Change in Sierra Nevada Willow Beetles. Beginning in October 2012, he also began a new project on the flea beetles of Passiflora vines at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica: Passionflowers, Butterflies, and Flea Beetle Natural History and Diversity. For lots of boring details, and no pictures, see John's two page resume (or see pdf version) or my detailed Academic Curriculum Vitae. I recently dug out my PhD thesis and scanned it. No great read, but surprisingly readable!

Other interests: John: mountaineering/hiking, bug-ology, listening to music, education, whatever the wife and kids are into...Kim: knitting, travel...Both: travelling, camping, making a living habitat at Palomar; now have two grand-daughters and two grandsons!

Contact Information: John and Kim Smiley, P.O.Box 101, Palomar Mountain, California, 92060, jsmiley at ucsd dot edu .

Family cookbook pdf   Rosie poetry and art!


Rose above Palisades Glacier;
after epic hike over Glacier Notch

Sonie and Lizards

Rosie and her pal Jenna
Terry and Alma

On White Mountain Peak.

Hashem (Annie's husband), Annie, Sonie and Mack

Julie and Terry in theWhites
"chicken rock ritual" in the white desert in egypt

Alma and Grandpa

Rosie, Terry and frownie face


Rosie and Annie at a Cal game

Grandpa and Jack

Ajain full speed ahead!


Joel and Sonie get married!

Baby Sonya and Annie

Jack and Ajain at Rosie's wedding

Sonya at Big Creek