Obituary

Published on 01 November 2002 in Obituaries

Professor Leo Surenovich Stepanyan, who died in Moscow on 16th February 2002 following an illness, made an outstanding contribution to ornithology, primarily as a taxonomist. He was born on 19th March 1931 in Yerevan, Armenia, his Armenian father and Russian mother having been posted there from the Russian capital. Subsequent moves were to Kislovodsk on the north side of the Caucasus in 1937, then to nearby Yessentuki, evacuation after the outbreak of the Second World War to Kyrgyzstan in 1941, to the Crimea in 1945 and, soon afterwards, the return to Yessentuki, where Leo completed his secondary education in 1950. Leo first became interested in birds when about 10 or 12 years old, and began his own collections of birds and their eggs in 1946-1947. Immediately after leaving school, he became a student at the Department of Vertebrate Zoology of Moscow State University, graduating in 1955. It was during his student days that he began actively to study birds and he also undertook expeditions to areas of the former Soviet Union relatively poorly known ornithologically (e.g. the Tien Shan mountains). In 1962, Leo gained his Candidate Degree (PhD) with a thesis based on data and specimens collected in the Terskey Ala Too range of the Tien Shan. While still a student, he became intimately acquainted with many of the country’s leading ornithologists, who were then working on the multi-volume Birds of the Soviet Union with Georgiy Petrovich Dement’ev as Chief Editor. The new information and specimens from Leo Surenovich’s expeditions

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