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Wing, Scott

Research Geologist and Curator of Paleobotany

Paleoecology; Cenozoic and Mesozoic paleoclimate; angiosperm history and systematics; fossil plants of the Rocky Mountain region; plant taphonomy.

education and training

Professional Biography

  • Research: 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.

    Collections: As a curator I am responsible for the Mesozoic and Cenozoic fossil plant collections at the Smithsonian - which amount to about 800 museum cabinets containing about 175,000 specimens 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: I have taught courses at University of Maryland, College Park, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of California, Santa Cruz, and Colorado College and mentored graduate and undergraduate students from many schools. From 2012 to 2019 I was on the core team that designed the new Fossil Exhibits opening at NMNH in June 2019.

awards and honors