Michael J. Novacek


Michael Novacek (PhD, Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley, 1978) has served since 1982 as a curator at the American Museum of Natural History (New York) where he is currently Senior Vice President and Provost of Science, and Curator of Paleontology. Other affiliations include the City University of New York Graduate Program in Biology; and an adjunct professorship in Zoology at San Diego State University.

Fields of Specialization: Paleontology, systematics, evolution, biogeography of mammals, including primates.

Awarded a doctoral degree (with honors for outstanding graduate research) at the University of California, Berkeley, his studies concern patterns of evolution and relationships among extinct and extant organisms. His interests have ranged from paleontological evidence to new data on DNA sequences. He has led paleontological expeditions to Baja California, the Andes Mountains of Chile, Patagonia Argentina, the Yemen Arab Republic, and Gobi Desert of Mongolia in search of fossil dinosaurs and mammals. The Mongolian expeditions mark the first return of a western scientific team to the country in over sixty years and have received world-wide scientific and public attention for their spectacular findings.

Novacek is the author of over more than 150 titles, including articles in the international scientific journals Science and Nature. Since 1982 he has published a series of monographs and papers on the broader evolution of mammals, culminating in a major review of molecular and morphological evidence, featured as a cover article in Nature(March 1992). He has co-edited Extinction and Phylogeny (1992), Mammal Phylogeny(1993), and edited The Biodiversity Crisis: Losing what Counts (2001). He is the author of a popular book on the Gobi expeditions, Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs (recognized by The New York Times as one of the “Notable Books of 1996”) and Time Traveler (2002). He is a contributor to Natural HistoryScientific AmericanSmithsonian, and Time magazines. His research has been supported by many agencies, including the National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, Sloan Foundation, Eppley Foundation, and the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX).

Dr. Novacek is a frequent lecturer to both professional and popular audiences, including events sponsored by the Nobel Foundation, the American Museum of Natural History, Explorers’ Club (where he is a Fellow), Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NASA-Goddard Space Center, Cornell Medical College, Carnegie Institute, Phi Beta Kappa, Morgan Stanley-Dean Witter, R.W. Johnson, National Geographic Society, the Swedish Research Institute, and many universities and scientific societies.

Dr. Novacek’s research has been widely covered by educational outlets, and by the popular press and media. His studies were highlighted in the Encyclopedia Britannica Science Annuals for several years since 1992. The Mongolian expeditions have been featured in articles in The New York Times and syndicated newspapers worldwide,NewsweekTime (cover article April, 1993), and were the subject of a television special (“Dinosaurs,” PBS, 1992) and an hour-long documentary by the BBC Horizon program (“Dinosaurs of the Gobi”) which aired on NOVA in January 1994. In 1996, further work of the Gobi expeditions was covered by National Geographic Magazine and National Geographic Television (“Dinosaur Hunters”). The 1997 Gobi expedition was the feature of the Discovery Online website, which is visited by over 1.5 million people monthly. He has been interviewed frequently on radio and television, including guest appearances on the PBS Charlie Rose show, MSNBC, ABC News , Science FridayLate Night with Conan O’Brian, and Bill Moyers.

In addition to his duties as Provost, Novacek has served as President of the Society of Systematic Biologists, Chair of the Science Advisory Committee for the Yale University Biospherics Institute, and the Bioadvisory Committee for the National Science Foundation. In 1994 Dr Novacek was elected to the Board of the AAAS, the principal organization representing the professional scientific community. He received an Honorary Doctorate from Long Island University in 1996.

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