Category: Blog


Published: October 8, 2011

Graduate programs in evolutionary biology at FMNH

Bruce Patterson, MacArthur Curator of Mammals, Integrative Research Center


Field Museum is a hub of resources and expertise in comparative biology.  It has become  an important flanking element in the graduate programs of both the University of Chicago (through its Committee on Evolutionary Biology--CEB) and Biological Sciences at the University of Illinois (UIC).  This one picture of three recent students says a great deal about the richness and integration of this program.  On the left is a Peruvian mammalogist studying the systematics and biogeography of Neotropical bats at UIC and in FMNH's Zoology Department.  In the center is an American anatomist and paleontologist studying the biomechanics of locomotion in fossil and living vertebrates in CEB and in FMNH's Geology Department.  On the right is a Kenyan mycologist studying a diverse suite of microfungi at UIC and in the museum's Botany Department.  Students from different universities studying different topics interact continually and productively. The intellectual and social community at the Museum is both incredibly diverse and virtually seamless.  The zoologist is currently in a post-doctoral position at the American Museum in New York, the anatomist is in a post-doctoral position in Germany, and the mycologist has returned to Kenya to re-assume his curatorial post at the National Museums of Kenya.  Although we miss each of them, they do us all proud in their new and growing roles as young professionals.


Bruce Patterson
MacArthur Curator of Mammals, Integrative Research Center

I study several topics in evolutionary biology, focusing on the diversification, distribution and conservation of mammals. The breadth of my research is testimony to the facts that no interesting biological questions are ever fully answered and progress towards answering them invariably opens up a variety of others.  Curiosity, opportunity, and a bit of wanderlust have diversified my program and caused it to span two continents.