Jingmai O'Connor

Associate Curator of Fossil Reptiles

Negaunee Integrative Research Center
Science Focus

      Jingmai O’Connor is a vertebrate paleontologist and works as the Field’s Associate Curator of Fossil Reptiles. She received her PhD from the University of Southern California, where she studied Mesozoic birds with Dr. Luis Chiappe at the LACM. Before moving to Chicago, O’Connor was a professor at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing where she worked for over ten years. She has conducted field work in China, Mongolia, Romania, Canada, and South Africa and now maintains an active field program in the US. 

      O’Connor does extensive outreach in the form of podcasts, public talks, and documentaries. She also wrote the award-winning children’s book, “When Dinosaurs Conquered the Skies.” In 2019, the Paleontological Society granted Jingmai the Schuchert Award, which honors paleontologists under the age of 40 who demonstrate excellence and promise.

      O’Connor is a prolific researcher, already having published over 150 papers and describing more than 45 new species and unusual fossilized soft tissues in Cretaceous birds. Her research explores the evolution of flight in the Dinosauria, the dinosaur-bird transition, and the biology of stem-avians. She explores the roles of feather origin and function; aerodynamics; reproduction; respiration; diet; ecology; anatomy; taxonomy; and much more. 

      Visit Jingmai's personal website to learn more!