Derek Briggs Appointed Next Director of Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History
President Richard C. Levin has announced the appointment of Derek E.G. Briggs, Frederick William Beinecke Professor of Geology and Geophysics, as Director of Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History for a term of five years, beginning July 1, 2008.
Briggs, a distinguished paleontologist whose primary research interest is the preservation and evolutionary significance of exceptionally preserved fossil biotas, joined the Yale faculty in 2003 and is currently the Curator in Charge of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Museum. He has written extensively, especially on life in the Paleozoic Era, and has served as Director of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies since January 2004.
“It gives me great pleasure to announce the appointment of Derek E.G. Briggs, Frederick William Beinecke Professor of Geology and Geophysics, as the next Director of the Peabody Museum,” said Levin.”
Since 2006, Briggs has been President of the Paleontological Society. He previously served as President of the Palæontological Association from 2002-2004.
Briggs has been honored with numerous distinctions, including being elected in 1999 as a Fellow of the Royal Society, the independent scientific academy of the UK, and becoming a member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2003. In addition, in 2000 he was awarded both the Italian prize for paleontology (Premio Capo d’Orlando) and the Lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London. He received the Boyle Medal from the Royal Dublin Society/Irish Times in 2001.
Except for a one-year term from 2001-2002 as a Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago, his prior appointments were in the UK. From 1985-2002 Briggs was in the Department of Earth Sciences (formerly Geology) at the University of Bristol, serving as chair from 1997-2001. From 1977-1985, he was at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, in the Department of Geology. He earned his BA at Trinity College, Dublin, and his MA and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Research Fellow from 1974-1977.
“At this time I would like to express my profound gratitude to Michael J. Donoghue, G. Evelyn Hutchinson Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with joint appointments in Forestry and Environmental Studies and Geology and Geophysics, and Curator of Botany, who has served as Director of the Peabody for more than five years,” said Levin. “Under his leadership, the Peabody Museum has continued to focus on the preservation of the world’s biological and cultural diversity, as well as its strong commitment to research and world-class collections. In addition, he and his staff have been extremely successful in their ongoing public outreach to schoolchildren and other members of the greater New Haven community. “
Briggs will be on leave for the 2008 calendar year, spending time as a Humboldt Research Awardee at the University of Bonn. Jay Ague, Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies of Geology & Geophysics, Curator of Mineralogy at the Peabody Museum, and Senior Editor of the American Journal of Science, will serve as Acting Director of the Peabody Museum for the 2008 fall semester.