Staff Profile

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Thorsten Lumbsch

Vice President, Science and Education; Curator, Lichenized Fungi

Science and Education

Thorsten Lumbsch has served as Vice President of Science & Education since June 2017, overseeing the Field Museum's four centers—Collections, Integrative Research, Science Action, and Learning. Together these centers fuel the journey of discovery that forms the heart of the Museum. Thorsten joined the Museum as Assistant Curator in 2003, developing a research program focused on the evolution of lichen-forming fungi. In 2006 he was soon promoted to Associate Curator and then to full Curator in 2014. From 2009 to 2013 he served as chair of the Department of Botany and after a reorganization of the Museum’s scientific areas, as Associate Director and then Director of the Integrative Research Center (2013–2017). 

Thorsten has been fascinated by lichens (often overlooked but ecologically important) since childhood, publishing his first scientific paper at age 15. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Essen in 1993, and served as an assistant professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen before joining the Field. His publications number more than 480 papers, 20 book chapters, and five books. He has active research collaborations in Thailand, Spain, and Kenya, and is an investigator on research grants in the U.S. Brazil, and Spain. Fieldwork has taken him to more than a dozen countries including Australia, India, Kenya, Thailand, Vietnam, and also Antarctica, and he has collaborated on the description of more than 280 new lichen species. Thorsten is managing editor of the journal MycoKeys member of a dozen other editorial boards, and past president of the International Association for Lichenology.

In addition to his administrative and research roles, Thorsten is also active as a mentor to the scientists of tomorrow. He is a lecturer at the University of Chicago, and is active in advising graduate students there and the University of Illinois–Chicago. He also supervises postdoctoral scientists at the Museum and participated in K-12 educational programs, and served as content adviser for the exhibit Lichens: The Coolest Things You've Never Heard Of (2014–2017).

Thorsten received the Gerhard Hess Award from the German Science Foundation for outstanding young scientists in 1999, and in 2017 he was named a Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researcher. 

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Since 2017 | Vice President, Science & Education, Field Museum, Chicago, USA.

Since 2014 | Curator, Integrative Research Center, Science & Education, Field Museum, Chicago, USA.

2014-2017 | Director, Integrative Research Center, Science & Education, Field Museum, Chicago, USA.

2013-2014 | Associate Director, Integrative Research Center, Science & Education, Field Museum, Chicago, USA.

2009-2013 | Chair, Dept. of Botany, Field Museum, Chicago, USA.

Since 2011 | MacArthur Associate Curator, Dept. of Botany, Field Museum, Chicago, USA.

2006-2014 | Associate Curator, Dept. of Botany, Field Museum, Chicago, USA.

2005-2009 | Head of Cryptogams, Dept. of Botany, Field Museum, Chicago, USA.

Since 2004 | Member, Committee on Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago.

2003-2006 | Assistant Curator, Dept. of Botany, Field Museum, Chicago, USA.

1998-2003 | Privatdozent (Assistant Professor), Botanical Institute, University – GHS - Essen.

1994-1997 | Post doc, Botanical Institute, University – GHS - Essen.

1990-1993 | Ph D student, Botanical Institute, University – GHS - Essen.