Michael John Novacek

American Museum of Natural History
Evolutionary biologist; Vertebrate paleontologist; Museum curator and administrator
Biological Sciences
Evolution and Ecology
Senior Vice President, Provost of Science, and Curator of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History .

Awarded a doctoral degree at the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Novacek’s studies concern patterns of evolution and relationships among extinct and extant organisms.  His interests have ranged from the fossil record to data on DNA sequences and was a principal investigator on the National Science Foundation-supported Mammal Tree of Life Project.  He has led or participated in paleontological expeditions to North American Rocky Mountain region, Baja California, the Andes Mountains of Chile, the Yemen Arab Republic, Argentina, Saharan Africa, Morocco, and Gobi Desert of Mongolia in search of fossil dinosaurs and mammals. Dr. Novacek is the author of numerous publications, including monographs and articles in international scientific journals such as Scienceand Nature, as well as the popular books Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs(1996), Time Traveler(2002) (each a New York TimesNotable Book of the Year) as well as Terra: Our 100 Million-Year-Old Ecosystem-and the Threats That Now Put It at Risk (November, 2007).  He has also been a contributor to various popular press including Natural HistoryScientific AmericanThe SmithsonianTimemagazine, The New York Times, and the Washington Post.  His Gobi expeditions have been covered in BBC,NOVANational GeographicNBC, and Imaxfeatures.  He has appeared on NBC the Today ShowPBS Nova SeriesThe Charlie Rose Show(where he also served as a guest host), Conan O’Brian, and the Colbert Report, and was the weekly science commentator on PBSWorld Focus.  He is also featured in a documentary film: Racing Extinctionby the Academy Award-winning Director Louis Psyhois, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. 

As Provost he oversees a staff of 200 scientists, graduate and postgraduate fellows, and technicians who have responsibility for one of the world’s largest natural history and cultural collections.  In his oversight role for the Museum’s exhibition program, he has overseen the development and production of numerous temporary and permanent exhibits, including The Halls of Vertebrate EvolutionThe Milstein Hall of Ocean LifeThe Hall of BiodiversityThe Hall of Human OriginsThe Hall of North American MammalsThe Genomic RevolutionDinosaurs: New DiscoveriesDarwinCreatures of LightThe Silk RoadWater: H2O=LifeOur Global KitchenMythic CreaturesThe World’s Largest DinosaursEinstein, Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of the Dinosaurs,and  Poison.  He was instrumental in establishing the Museum's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, Institute for Comparative Genomics, and new research program in astrophysics. In 2006, the State Board of Education authorized the Museum to establish the first PhD program of any museum in the nation, the Comparative Biology Program in The Richard Gilder Graduate School

He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Scienceand the American Academy of Arts and Science.  He received the Roy Chapman Andrews Society Distinguished Explorer’s Awardfor 2003 and the Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorer’s Clubin 2005 and Honorary Doctorates from Long Island University in 1996 and Beloit College in 2006. 

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