Biologist David Skelly fell in love with science at the Peabody; now he’ll direct it

Biologist David Skelly has been named the next director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, announced President Peter Salovey.

“Professor Skelly is a native of Connecticut whose life was forever altered when he first set foot in the Peabody as a young child and was inspired by the museum’s wonders to start down the road to becoming a scientist. Today he regularly visits the museum with his own children,” said Salovey in a letter announcing the appointment.

Skelly is a field biologist whose research focuses primarily on the ecology and development of amphibians. His work on the effects of water pollution on the development of frogs in suburban environments has received wide attention in the national media.

Related story: Q&A with David Skelly

At Yale, Skelly is associate dean for research, director of doctoral studies, and professor of ecology in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (F&ES). He also holds an adjunct appointment in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He is a curator of vertebrate zoology and chair of the exhibits committee at the Peabody.

“As associate dean for research in F&ES, Professor Skelly has played an active and important role in advancing the scientific mission of the school and raising its research profile,” said Salovey. “When not out in the field searching for tadpoles, Dave can often be found in his workshop at home building beautiful wooden boats.”

Skelly received his B.A. from Middlebury College and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Michigan. After postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Wollongong in Australia and the University of Washington, he joined the F&ES faculty in 1996.

The newly named Peabody director will succeed Derek Briggs, the G. Evelyn Hutchinson Professor of Geology and Geophysics, who has served in that post since 2008.

“Derek leaves the Peabody with a new master plan, a new Cretaceous Garden, and a strong culture of stewardship for the permanent collection,” said Salovey. “I am grateful to Derek for his service and I am confident that Dave will continue this record of outstanding leadership.”

Located at 170 Whitney Ave., the Yale Peabody Museum is dedicated both to advancing understanding of the Earth’s history through geological, biological, and anthropological research, and to disseminating the results of this research to the public through publications, exhibitions, and educational programs. The museum collections range across time, species, and cultures.

 “The remarkable and unique collections in our galleries, libraries, and museums are one of Yale’s great strengths. I look forward to working with Dave to advance the teaching, research, and public outreach programs of our wonderful natural history museum,” concluded Salovey.