Earth Sciences Department

The Department of Earth Sciences makes and shares new scientific discoveries while making earth sciences relevant and inclusive for all audiences

Our community, colleagues, and facilities underpin our ability to decipher the evolution of our planet. For example, our 300+ departmental volunteers anchor activities in our fossil preparation, petrography, and digital imaging labs, support field investigations, and provide indispensable support to our collections staff to curate new specimens into the state-of-the-art Avenir Collection Center. We’re also surrounded by many collegial science partners and are adjacent to well-exposed rocks spanning much of Earth history. Utilizing these resources, our team conducts research all over the world and in our backyard, while authoring a diverse array of academic and popular publications, and building world-class earth sciences collections. In concert with these efforts, we work closely with the Museum’s Experiences and Partnerships teams to convey the utility and wonder of earth sciences to the community, and to mentor the next generation, through exhibits and programs.

The Department


We engage in outreach that makes paleontology and geology relevant and inclusive for all audiences, including the next generation and beyond. In particular, we focus on outreach activities that increase our community’s appreciation of the utility of earth sciences to our society, economy, history, and future, and we strive to make the department a catalyst for such sentiment. We have a strong network of alumni who are either scientists or science advocates, and we continue to build this group. Finally, we develop, lead, and participate in programs that increase access to earth sciences for underrepresented groups, both internally and externally. We have mentorship programs (for teens, undergraduate and postgraduate interns, postdocs, and volunteers), we collaborate with regional partners (e.g., CC, CSU, CU, USGS, Mines), we work with the Experiences and Partnerships teams at the Museum, and we are strongly involved in outreach in many forms (TV, radio, print, books, lectures, tours, social media, and the like).

Research & Collections

Our scientists conduct specimen- and field-based research that spans the globe including in East Africa, Madagascar, South Africa, and the Middle East. We also engage in projects across the Rocky Mountain region that have direct local impact and community participation. Our team’s scholarship is diverse and presently includes the evolution of Cretaceous ecosystems; the causes and recovery of mass extinctions; Mesozoic biogeography (including its link to Gondwanan plate tectonics); and tectonic evolution of Rocky Mountain basins.


We mentor aspiring scientists, we provide access to the more than 1 million specimens in our collections to researchers and educators, and we actively involve community scientists in research, outreach, and collections work. Our staff also engages with professional journals, scientific societies, and students at partner institutions.


The Museum’s interest in earth sciences began with its inception. The Campion gold collection, for example, was one of the Museum's founding collections. Augmented by field collections from Museum expeditions and specimen donations over the last 100 years, our holdings have grown to include fossils, rocks, minerals, and meteorites. Today, the Department of Earth Sciences shepherds these collections and conducts a diverse array of scholarship, outreach, and service supported by its staff and corps of volunteers.


David W. Krause, PhD

Senior Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology

James Hagadorn, PhD

Tim & Kathryn Ryan Curator of Geology

Tyler R. Lyson, PhD

Associate Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology

Gussie Maccracken, PhD

Assistant Curator of Paleobotany

Holger Petermann, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Kristen A. MacKenzie, MS

Earth Sciences Collections Manager

Nicole Neu-Yagle, MS

Earth Sciences Assistant Collections Manager

Jennifer Miller, MS

Earth Sciences Collections Assistant

Sierra K. Swenson

Earth Sciences Assistant Collections Manager

Natalie Toth, MS

Chief Preparator

Salvador Bastien

Fossil Preparator

Bakoliarisoa Rakotozafy, MS


Sadie Sherman

Fossil Preparator

Lindsay Gaona Dougan, MS

Digital Research Lab Technician

Emily J. Lessner, PhD

Postoctoral Researcher

Libby Couch

Business Support Specialist III

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