|Oklahoma State University
Center for Health Sciences
|Anatomy and Vertebrate Paleontology Track|
Vertebrate Paleontology research at OSU-CHS is currently focused on mammalian evolution, specifically on small mammals and their responses to climate change in the early Paleogene (66-62 million years ago), late Neogene (16-2.6 million years ago) and Quaternary (2.6 million years ago to present).
Graduate Student Opportunities
We are seeking students interested in studying mammalian evolution. As we are in an enriched environment with respect to biomedical techniques, projects incorporating biomedical approaches to paleontological questions are a possibility. Students in the Anatomy and Paleontology track receive structured training to equip them for careers teaching Medical Gross Anatomy, Development, Histology, and Neuroanatomy, beginning with taking courses alongside the first-year Medical students and progressing through teaching assistantships.
Degrees offered are in Biomedical Sciences; we offer Masters of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees; there is no non-thesis Masters offered on the Anatomy and Paleontology Track.
Ph.D. students are eligible to receive a stipend. Stipends are competitive and do not require a teaching load. To be considered for a stipend, applications must be completed by February 15.
Upon successful completion of coursework, teaching assistantships in Gross Anatomy are available. Students are also encouraged to apply for NSF predoctoral funding and other grants.
Facilities and Field Work
Our vertebrate paleontology faculty members are actively building collections as a part of their research. Anatomy and Vertebrate Paleontology track students have the opportunity to learn field techniques and pursue field projects. Field work beyond basic techniques is not required for graduate projects, however.
We have moved into expanded research labs, including space allowing comparative dissections, increased space for fossil preparation and recovery, and student workstations. We are currently developing an active volunteer program.
We have close affiliations with the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman (~2.5 hrs. drive). We are also within 4.5 hrs. drive of the University of Kansas collection in Lawrence and 6.5 hrs. OSU-CHS does not have its own vertebrate collection. We have a good relationship with the Boone Pickens School of Geology at OSU’s main campus in Stillwater, and require students to do some coursework there. (The Big Orange Bus (BOB) runs regularly between the two campuses.)
Dr. Kent S. Smith – Associate Professor, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research interests: Paleobiology, biogeography, and systematics of late Neogene and Quaternary insectivores and rodents of the North American southern Great Plains, Colorado Plateau, and Great Basin.
Dr. Smith is the co-founder of the Native Explorers Foundation, an organization dedicated to the advancement and education of Native Americans in earth science, natural science, biomedical science, and medicine through mentorships with professional colleagues. Graduate and medical students at OSU-CHS and the College of Osteopathic Medicine have the unique opportunity of interacting with this exceptional organization. Funding opportunities are available for qualified students.
Dr. Anne Weil – Associate Professor, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
Research interests: Early mammalian evolution, phylogeny & biogeography of multituberculate mammals, terrestrial recovery after the end-Cretaceous mass extinction, and evolutionary constraints on biotic response to extinction at large spatiotemporal scales.
Dr. Julia B. McHugh – Senior Research Assistant
Research interests: Phylogeny, biogeography, ontogeny, and mode & tempo of evolution of temnospondyl amphibians, amphibian response to the terrestrial end-Paleozoic mass extinction, and effects and responses of fresh water ecosystems to large scale environmental perturbations.
Current Graduate Student
Ian Browne – Ph.D. Candidate
Dissertation topic: Small mammals of the Barstow Formation: biotic response to climatic change at the Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum.
For more information on our graduate program please contact us:
Dr. Kent S. Smith
Dr. Anne Weil