National Systematics Laboratory

Working to increase our understanding of marine biodiversity by conducting systematic, taxonomic, and life history research on marine organisms of economic and ecological value.

Our Location

Our Location

The NOAA National Systematics Laboratory is located at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian's world class facilities, scientific resources, and collections are instrumental in supporting the Systematics Laboratory's research.


Our Leadership


Management Team


Our History

The NSL was established at the Smithsonian Institution in 1942 when the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Fisheries (a precursor to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and Smithsonian merged their fish and marine mammal collections. In 1970, the laboratory was transferred from the Department of the Interior to NOAA in the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 2005, NOAA Fisheries and the National Museum of Natural History signed a memorandum of understanding, giving the NSL space and access to Museum facilities; funding programs; and support for research, education, and outreach. NSL scientists also serve as curators of some Smithsonian collections.