Research at the Paleontological Research Institution
"Research is our middle name"
For more than 75 years, scientists at PRI have been pursuing primary research in numerous areas of paleontology. Much of this research has focused on fossil and modern mollusks from the southeastern United States, Caribbean, and Latin America, and PRI is known around the world for the excellence of its research, collections, and publications in this area. More recently, research by PRI staff has expanded to include work on the abundant Devonian marine invertebrates and Pleistocene mastodons of New York State, as well as the general fields of evolutionary paleobiology and macroevolution. PRI researchers include five PhD-level staff who pursue work on a wide variety of topics in addition to their administrative work for the Institution. PRI staff also support and advise work by graduate and undergraduate students at Cornell University.
Spotlight on Research at PRI
Dr. Gregory Dietl, Director of Collections at PRI and its Museum of the Earth, is a co-organizer of the Conservation Paleobiology Workshop. This workshop brought researchers from around the world with diverse backgrounds in the geological and biological sciences to PRI to discuss the future of the rapidly developing field of conservation paleobiology—a new subdiscipline in paleontology that applies geohistorical data to the conservation of biological diversity; for details see the Conservation Paleobiology website. This workshop was funded by the National Science Foundation. For more information about conservation paleobiology research and opportunities at PRI, please click here.
The Summer Symposium showcases the research conducted by friends and affiliates of PRI, and gives them a chance to get together in a scientific yet informal environment. Originally called Paleo Homecoming, it began as part of our 75th anniversary celebration and everyone enjoyed catching up and learning about each others work so much, we've kept the ball rolling every year since.
It is an opportunity to share recent research, conduct field work, visit PRI’s collections, and interact with colleagues and students. This year our keynote speaker will be Dr. Christopher A. McRoberts (SUNY Cortland). Our field trip will be led by Dr. Carlton Brett of the University of Cincinnati. We hope you will join us!
Dr. Paula Mikkelsen, Associate Director for Science at PRI and its Museum of the Earth, is a lead investigator on the "BivAToL" (Bivalve Assembling the Tree of Live) project. She, along with colleagues from The Field Museum, Harvard University, and other institutions are working to reconstruct the evolutionary origins of the largest animal phylum in the sea and the second largest on the planet -- Bivalve Mollusks. For details, please see the BivAToL Website. This project is funded by the National Science Foundation.
Since August, 1999, PRI, in conjunction with Cornell University, has been involved with three mastodon excavations, one in Hyde Park, NY and another (Cornell's Gilbert Mastodon) in Chemung County, NY. Now, a third mastodon has been located in North Java, NY, and excavations are underway.