About KU Paleobotany
The study of paleobotany at the University of Kansas, dates back to 1888. Since the arrival of curators Thomas and Edith Taylor in 1995, the collections were augmented by over 40 years of previously collected material from Antarctica and have been nearly continuously supported by active National Science Foundation research grants. Now the collections have grown to over 600,000 specimens with several thousand types and are the largest officially recognized Antarctic fossil plant repository in the U.S. and perhaps the world. Specimen coverage is global and all major plant clades are well represented, with a particular emphasis on Paleozoic and Mesozoic seed plants. Notable paleontologists have been associated with the division including Leo Lesquereux, Raymond C. Moore, James M. Schopf, Theodore Delevoryas, Michael K. Krings, Rubèn Cunéo, Benjamin Bomfleur, and Anne-Laure Decombiex.
Division specimens have appeared in over 650 publications including Nature, Science, and Proceedings ofthe National Academy of Sciences publications numerous times. The division is well known for its strong record of specimen digitization, georeferencing and databasing, among the highest for the field of paleobotany. Curator Brian Atkinson is lead PI on his current Antarctic grant “Unearthing Antarctica’s role in the evolution of flowering plants”, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of Polar Programs in 2020. He currently has 18 peer-reviewed papers and has given numerous invited lectures across the U.S. Curator Kelly Matsunaga joined in 2020, filling an endowed chair established in honor of the late Thomas N. Taylor.
Today, the Division of Paleobotany continues its mission to promote the study of fossil plants, train the next generation of paleobotanists, and conduct world-class research in paleobotany and plant evolution. Graduate students in the division have been awarded prestigious fellowships from the NSF Graduate Research and the Madison & Lila Self Graduate programs.