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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History




Scott L. Wing
Ph.D. Yale University, 1981
B.S. Yale College, 1976

As a research scientist and curator at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History the three major parts of my job are research, collections, and outreach. There are links to more detail about each of these below.

Research Focus:

My research is on fossil plants and the history of climate change between about 70 and 40 million years ago - the last part of the Age of Dinosaurs (Mesozoic) and the first part of the Age of Mammals (Cenozoic). I’m particularly interested in the evolutionary radiation and ecological expansion of flowering plants, and in the globally warm climate of this time. One of my main interests is an event called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which provides the closest analog in earth history to current human-induced global warming.


As a curator I am responsible for the Mesozoic and Cenozoic fossil plant collections at the Smithsonian - which amount to about 1,000 museum cabinets of material collected over the last 150 years. It’s the biggest collection of its kind in the world, and needs a lot organizing, digitizing and databasing to make it more useful to scientists and the public alike.

Education and Outreach:

The outreach part of my job includes teaching courses, working on exhibits, and giving lectures to the public, students and colleagues. I am an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Michigan, and have also taught courses at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Colorado College. Graduate and undergraduate students from many schools.


Research Themes:


The fossil record of Neotropical Rainforest - Colombia


Global Warming 55 million years ago - Wyoming

Paleoecology of Late Cretaceous Angiosperms


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