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James, Helen

Research Zoologist and Curator of Birds

Systematics, morphology, and fossil record of birds; island biogeography and paleoecology; ecological effects of humans in island and marine systems


Geographic Focus

Background And Education

Education And Training

Awards And Honors

Public Biography

  • Helen is Curator-in-Charge of the bird collection at the National Museum of Natural History.  She studied archaeology and biological anthropology as an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas, but quickly turned to collecting and studying fossil birds after graduation.  She obtained her DPhil degree in Zoology from Oxford University.  She writes scientific papers about the fossil record of birds on islands, especially the Hawaiian Islands, and the evolutionary relationships among birds.  Her primary interest is in understanding the history of vertebrate evolution and extinction in the context of Pacific island ecosystems.  More recently, her research has addressed the ecological roles of seabirds, both at their breeding colonies on islands and at sea where they are important oceanic predators.

Research And Grants


Selected Publications


Responsible Collections Areas

  • Division of Birds, Department of Vertebrate Zoology
    Fossil bird collection, Department of Paleobiology