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Leonard Krishtalka
Director
Administration
Biodiversity Institute

Contact Information

Office Phone: 
785.864.4540
Building: 
Dyche Hall

Leonard Krishtalka is Director of the Biodiversity Institute, and a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas, positions he has held since 1995.

Previously, Krishtalka was research paleontologist and Assistant Director for Science at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, in Pittsburgh, PA.

He studied zoology, anthropology, paleontology at McGill University in Montreal and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, before completing his doctoral studies in evolutionary biology at The University of Kansas, Lawrence, and Texas Tech University, Lubbock.

Krishtalka’s research encompassed the evolution of mammals, with paleontological field expeditions throughout western Canada and the U. S., Europe, north and east Africa, China and Patagonia.

Krishtalka is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He serves on Senator Pat Roberts’ Science and Technology Task Force and the board of BioOne, a global collaboration that provides digital access to published research in the biological, ecological, and environmental sciences.

Krishtalka is the author of about 200 research articles, policy papers and popular pieces in scientific journals, books, newspapers and magazines, as well as one book, Dinosaur Plots & Other Intrigues in Natural History. He writes an irregular op-ed column for the Lawrence Journal-World, and he is currently completing the second novel of a trilogy of mystery novels. Introductions to literary agents are most welcome.

Recent Blog Posts

January 3, 2012
2011 featured pernicious political posturing over what we know and how we...
July 28, 2010
Two articles published in Nature today and reviewed by The Scientist point to...

Evolutionary biology of mammals; Evolutionary patterns, processes and theory

History of science

Biodiversity science and biodiversity informatics policy, management and planning

Museum management

Education

Texas Tech University (1972-75): Ph. D. , 1975, Biology, Vertebrate Paleontology

University of Kansas (1971-72): Ph.D. Program, Systematics and Ecology [transferred to Texas Tech after 1 year to continue working with major advisor, Dr. Craig Black]

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada (1967-71): B. Sc. , 1969; M. Sc. , 1971, Zoology, Vertebrate Paleontology

McGill University, Montreal, Canada (1962-66)

 

Professional Positions

The University of Kansas (1995 - present )

Director, Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center

Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

National Science Foundation, Washington, DC (1992-1993)

Program Director, Division of Environmental Biology, for two research programs:

  • Research Collections in Systematics and Ecology
  • Biotic Surveys & Inventories

Carnegie Museum of Natural History (1975-1995)

Assistant Director for Science, 1989-1995 (leave of absence to NSF, 1992-1993)

Curator, Vertebrate Paleontology, 1989-1995

Editor, Scientific Publications, 1986-1995 (Annals, Bulletin, and Special Publications)

Associate Curator, Vertebrate Paleontology,1980-88

Assistant Curator, Vertebrate Paleontology, 1977-80

Post-Doctoral & Research Fellow, 1975-77

University of Pittsburgh (1976-1995)

(Departments of Biology; Geology & Planetary Sciences; and Anthropology)

Adjunct (Asst. , Assoc. , Full) Professor

Professional Societies

Society of Vertebrate Paleontology

National Science Collections Alliance, Association of Science Museum Directors

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Managing Editor, 1988-1992

Journal of Human Evolution, Regional Editor, 1987-90

Grants

1976

1. NSF: Mammalian Paleontology and Paleoecology in the North American Eocene  $37,622 with Section staff .

1978

2. NSF: Collection improvement, Section of Vertebrate Fossils, Carnegie Museum,  3 years, $195,200 with Section staff .

3. NEH: Learning Museum Program, “Becoming Human: the Biocultural Journey”,  3 years, $330,000, with A. Bjelland .

1980

4. NSF: Collection Improvement Renewal to the Section of Vertebrate Fossils, Carnegie Museum,  2 years, $100,000, with Section Staff .

1981

5. M. Graham Netting Research Grant: Paleontological Survey of Neogene deposits in the Middle Awash Area, Ethiopia, $5000, 1 yr.

1982

6. NSF: Collections Grant to the Section of Vertebrate Fossils, Carnegie Museum,  3 years, $130,753, with Section staff .

1984

7. NSF Research Grant: Survey of Eocene Faunas of the Wind River Basin, Wyoming, and the Uinta Basin, Utah,  3 years, $102,941, P. I. with R. K. Stucky, M. R. Dawson & R. M. West .

1986

8. NASA: Basin Project -- Geology and Remote Sensing in the Wind River Basin, Wyoming, 2 years, $120,000, co-P. I. with R. Stucky.

1987

9. NSF:  Excavation and Survey of Paleocene and Eocene Faunas of the Wind River Basin, Wyoming, $165,108, 3 years, P. I. with R. Stucky & M. R. Dawson

1988

10. NSF: Excava­tion and Survey of Paleocene and Eocene Faunas of the Wind River Basin, Wyoming  $85,774 for 2 years, P. I. with R. Stucky

1991

11. NSF Accomplishment-Based Renewal: Excava­tion and Survey of Paleocene and Eocene Faunas of the Wind River Basin, Wyoming, $148,000 for 2 years, P. I. with C. Beard, M. R. Dawson & R. Stucky .

1996

12. NSF: Collaborative Workshop on the Mission and Design of a National Organization for Biodiversity Information  $70,000, 1 year, PI with J. Humphries and P. Arzberger.

13. NSF/ARI: Acquisition of Computer Systems for Creating Analytical Interfaces to Diverse Environmental Data, $362,003, 3 years, Co-PI with J. Humphries.

14. Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation: Acquisition of Computer Systems for Creating Analytical Interfaces to Diverse Environmental Data, $150,000, 1 year, PI with J. Humphries and J. Beach.

15. NSF:  First Annual PEET Workshop on Information Acquisition and Dissemination, $57,224, [supplement to KU/J. Ashe PEET award]

1997

16. University of Kansas Research Development Fund:  OZ: A National Biodiversity Informatics Capability, $29,500, 1 year.

17. NSF: National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure. Earth Systems Science, $60,000, 1 year.

18. State of Kansas, Tourism Attraction Program -- Recovery, Preparation and Exhibit of the Wyoming Dinosaur Discovery. $55,000, 1.5 years.

19. NSF: Supplement to “Collaborative Workshop on the Mission and Design of a National Organization for Biodiversity Information” to plan the knowledge networking of biodiversity information. $13,633

1998

20. NSF: OZ--Deploying a Community Software Application for Biocollections Information. $420,000, 1.5 years. [co-PI with PI Beach]

21. NSF: Supplement to “Collaborative Workshop on the Mission and Design of a National Organization for Biodiversity Information” to complete the report of the Working Group on Biological Informatics of the OECD Megascience Forum. $15,153.

22. NSF: Z39.50 An Experimental Information Retrieval Protocol Test Bed for Biological Collection and Taxonomic Data. $99,430, 1 year. [1 of 7 co-PIs]

23. NSF: Knowledge Networking of Biodiversity Information. Three years, $2 million. [one of 5 co-PIs]

24. NSF:National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI) – Subcontract for Earth Systems Science (PI), $60,000

25. NSF: High-Performance Network Connection in Support of Meritorious Research at University of Kansas. 2 Years, $350,000 (co-PI with J. Niebaum and 3 others)

1999

26. NSF: National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure – Subcontract for Earth Systems Science (PI), $60,000

27. NSF: Knowledge Networking of Biodiversity Information. Supplement [$200,000. [co-PI with J. Beach]

28. NSF: Biodiversity Information Management for the PEET research community. Supplement to J. Ashe PEET award. $32,704 (w/J.Ashe)

2000

29. NSF: National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure – Subcontract for Earth Systems Science, $60,000

30. NIH Education Grant. Initiative for Minority Student Development. (PI J. Orr, M. Linton w/co-investigators) $2 million, 4 years.

31. NSF: Biodiversity Information Management for the PEET research community. Supplement 2 to J. Ashe PEET award. $34,012 (w/J. Ashe)

32. Frueauff Foundation. Interactive Learning Modules. $30,000 (w/J. Kolosick, B. Kemp).

2001

33. US Department of Education: A Biodiversity Information Technology Facility. (Krishtalka PI, Beach Co-PI), $1.275 million

34. Occidental Petroleum Corporation: Biodiversity Informatics. $250,000.

35. NSF: Knowledge Networking of Biodiversity Information. Supplement, $81,819.

2003

36. US Department of Defense: Biodiversity Infomatics Research and Bioterrorism. $2,000,000.

37. NSF: Ecological Niche Modeling: A new approach to analyzing the hominid record. Co-PI w/ D. West.one year, $34,808.

Awards

CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) Special Merit Award for Excellence in Writing, 1984

AAAS: Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2002.

University Teaching (University of Kansas, University of Pittsburgh)

Evolutionary history of the Vertebrates; Evolutionary history of the Mammals

Evolutionary history of the Primates; Mammalian evolution and biostratigraphy

Intelligent Life in the Universe

Scientific communication

University Service (University of Kansas)

U. S. Senator Pat Roberts’ Task Force on Science, Technology and the Future (1997-present)

University Task Force on Science Education (1999-2000)

Board of Trustees, University of Kansas Center For Research, Inc. (1998-present)

Provost Council (1995- present)

Faculty Advisory Committee, NSF/EPSCoR Program for the State of Kansas (1996-1999)

Chair, KU United Way Campaign (2000)

Kansas Honors Program (1998-present), Kansas Humanities Council Speakers Bureau (2002)

Museum Public Programming

Becoming Human: The Biocultural Journey, Carnegie Museum

Benedum Hall of Geology, Carnegie Museum

Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems, Carnegie Museum

Life Science Master Exhibit Plan, Carnegie Museum

Life Through Time Exhibit Hall, External Advisory Committee, Denver Museum

Chair, E. D. Cope Symposium, Wagner Free Institute, Philadelphia

J. L. Leidy Symposium, Wagner Free Institute, Philadelphia

Publications

January 3, 2012

2011 featured pernicious political posturing over what we know and how we discover it. Florida Gov. Rick Scott told the state’s universities that they should be educating students in areas “where people can get a job in this state.” Accordingly, he intends to invest higher education dollars in physical science, math, engineering and technology departments, and let the humanities, arts and social sciences go fallow. Scott singled out anthropology as an example of a job-less education, saying, “Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists? I don’t think so.”

Well, think again. Anthropology sits at the busy intersection of nature and culture, one that has seen explosive accelerations, enormous traffic jams and massive pile-ups in the human condition for at least the past 2 million years. Its lessons are instructive for Florida, the nation and global communities: how peoples have exploited their environments for food, fiber, fuel and pharmaceuticals, how they fashioned their cultures, economies, industries, technologies and jobs, and why they went boom and bust.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, graduates in career-oriented majors, such as science, math and technology, do indeed have a higher probability of landing a job — at least initially. But, a few years down the career path, liberal arts graduates “frequently catch or surpass graduates with career-oriented majors in both job quality and compensation.” Why? Because of their knowledge of ethics, communication and social dynamics, which is adaptive to rapidly changing global economic, political and cultural environments.

Scott might be interested in the career paths of people who majored in job-less disciplines: Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, medieval history and philosophy; George W. Bush, 43rd U.S. president, history; Dick Cheney, former U.S. vice president, political science; Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court justice, English; Michael Crichton and Ursula K. LeGuin, best-selling authors, anthropology; Sally Ride, astronaut and first woman in space, English; Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. president, 33rd governor of California, economics and sociology.

Earlier in the year, three Republican presidential candidates went AWOL from modern science. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry opined on talk shows and stump speeches that 20 years of research on climate change involving thousands of investigators was “junk science.”

Apparently, they choose to be deaf/dumb/blind to evidence. They didn’t issue a retraction when a leading skeptic of global warming, physicist Richard Muller and his Berkeley Earth group, confirmed the findings of the “junk” scientists: Global temperatures have risen sharply since the mid-1800s because of a jump in greenhouse gases, notably CO2. “Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other [scientific] teams,” said Muller’s Berkeley Earth study, which has solid conservative credentials: It was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and foundations established by Bill Gates and the Koch brothers.

While on the stump, Bachmann and Santorum proudly flashed their pre-Enlightenment credentials, espousing their belief in intelligent design as the best biology curriculum for the nation’s students. One can’t be polite about this. What’s next? Scrap Pasteur and teach the Bad Air Theory of disease in medical school? Dump Aristotle for the Flat Earth Theory in geography class? Bachmann and Santorum are entitled to their private discomfort with the established knowledge of Darwinian evolution. But, hubris aside, their personal discomfort is not a rationale for national policy on science education.

The prize for sanctimonious social science goes to Cal Thomas’ editorial piece on the Sandusky-Penn State affair (Journal-World, Nov. 15, “Penn State’s shame — and America’s too”). The blame, he writes, extends beyond the individuals involved to all society, to the “free-loving ’60s, (when) we seem to have taken a wrecking ball to social mores.” Really? No song at Woodstock advocated rape or pedophilia.

Thomas also blames human nature, “but society — buttressed by religion — once did a better job of keeping human nature in check,“ specifically, keeping “lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations” in check as “sinful.” Hmmm. You’d think being buttressed by religion against sin would naturally have kept the Catholic clergy in check. Yet, as we now know, its systematic sexual abuse and pedophilia were rampant, with the crimes abetted and covered up by repeatedly moving the abusers from diocese to diocese. It started long before the free-loving ’60s,” and went beyond one locker room at Penn State to parishes worldwide. Its innocent victims are countless.

The complex challenges of the world in 2012 and beyond demand more from our self-declared leaders and sages than wishful, simplistic nostrums as our default solutions or salvation.

Originally published in the Lawrence Journal-World on January 2, 2012.

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July 28, 2010
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