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K. Christopher Beard

Foundation Distinguished Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Senior Curator, Biodiversity Institute

KU scientists have amassed 10.2 million specimens of plants and animals — prehistoric to living species, microscopic to colossal — gathered from every continent and ocean. This collection has attracted world-renowned paleontologist K. Christopher Beard.

Beard, who spent 25 years at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History, joins KU as Foundation Distinguished Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and senior curator at the KU Biodiversity Institute.

Beard’s peers describe him as “one of the most important vertebrate paleontologists of the last 30 years” and “the most brilliant of his generation.” He is a 2000 MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Award” winner, and his discoveries of new primate groups have reshaped our understanding of the early history of mammals.

We've learned something in 500 million years

At KU, Beard joins one of the nation's top institutions in natural history, evolutionary biology, and biodiversity studies and a group of researchers among the top in their fields, including:

  • Michael Engel, who has made breakthrough discoveries in insect evolutionary biology and social behavior

  • Thomas and Edith Taylor, whose work on fossil fungi has revealed a subtropical environment existed in Antarctica 300 million years ago

  • Paul Selden, who identified the fossil of the largest-known giant spiders in China and Mongolia, dated at 165 million years old

  • Bruce Lieberman, an expert on trilobites, who led a project that digitized nearly 450,000 specimens in 900 species from museums throughout the United States

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
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Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
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