UCR has a vigorous, well established, and successful graduate program in paleontology. Paleontology forms part of the Department of Earth Sciences' Organic and Paleoenvironmental Evolution research constellation, and has links to the Department of Biology's graduate program in Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology. Our group consists of two faculty invertebrate paleontologists: Mary Droser and Nigel Hughes. Mary and Nigel use different approaches toward paleobiological questions, giving the UCR program unusual breadth, but we share a common commitment to field-based paleontology as a part of each of our research programs. UCR is located within a few hours drive to some of the best exposed and most dramatic sedimentary sequences in North America, and many of our students utilize this setting in their research. Most importantly, our students have been highly successful in winning excellent research and teaching positions following their training at UCR. Mark Webster, from Nigel's lab was appointed assistant professor at UCLA, and has since moved to a similar position at the University of Chicago. Brenda Hunda, also from Nigel's lab, is now curator at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Bob Gaines, from Mary's lab, is assistant professor at Pomona College, her student Bill Phelps is at Riverside Community College, and Diana Boyer is shortly to join the faculty at the State University of New York, College of Oswego as assistant professor. We consider the success of our students to be our most important priority.
Fieldwork unites us, but that's about it, at least in terms of research areas! Mary is an evolutionary paleoecologist, and focuses on broad questions of paleoecolgical trends through time. Nigel is a specimen-based paleobiologist interested in Paleozoic invertebrates, and he likes to measure things ... These days Mary spends a lot of field time Australia, and Nigel in Tibet, Bhutan and India.
Our Department has strong faculty resources in the area of paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Martin Kennedy and Tim Lyons both use inorganic geochemical approaches to understanding ancient environments and patterns of global change. Gordon Love is an organic geochemist. Our students commonly work collaboratively with these faculty and their labs. Other Departmental faculty with biological interests include stratigrapher Pete Sadler and biogeographers Rich Minnich and Tom Scott. Rich and Tom's interests are in the aspects of conservation biology and the interactions between organisms and their physical/biotic environment.
UCR's early history as an agricultural research station has resulted in an unusually strong emphasis of biological sciences - particularly in the areas of conservation, developmental, and ecological evolutionary biology. The collaborations among campus biologists are a particularly appealing and unique aspect of the program here. Our paleontology program is integrated with the campus's graduate program in Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology . For those students keen to graduate with a biology degree, Mary and Nigel can both serve as principal advisors within the biology program. Our students take core classes along with a wide range of biologists and play an active role in the Ecology and Evolution seminar series. We also have an active, informal "Friends of Evolution" discussion group. A recent extramural seminar series, entitled "Mechanisms and Scales of Biotic Diversification" has brought in top rank speakers including Jim Valentine, Simon Conway Morris, Derek Briggs, Stefan Bengtson, Steve Stanley, Arnie Miller, Rudy Raff, Scott Wing, and Doug Erwin. Our annual "Gradfest" in which graduate students our get together to give informal presentations on their research, have been a significant successes.
Riverside is a pleasant town on the edge of the LA basin - near enough to downtown LA to take advantage of the many facilities offered by a major metropolitan area, but far enough to be away from the major detractors. The campus is situated at the foot of the Box Springs Mountains, and is convenient for access to a number of national parks and wilderness areas. All in all, a very attractive place to do research for a graduate degree!