Derek Briggs is named the Hutchinson Professor of Geology and Geophysics

Derek E.G. Briggs, the newly appointed G. Evelyn Hutchinson Professor of Geology and Geophysics, is a noted paleontologist and taphonomist as well as director of Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Briggs primary research interest is the preservation and evolutionary significance of exceptionally preserved fossil biotas. His work involves a variety of approaches, from experimental work on the factors controlling decay and fossilization, through studies of early diagenetic mineralization and organic preservation, to field work on a range of fossil occurrences. He is one of three paleontologists who were key in the reinterpretation of the fossils of the Burgess Shale of British Columbia. The Burgess Shale project is one of the most celebrated endeavors in the field of paleontology in recent times. Briggs has written extensively, especially on life in the Paleozoic Era.

A member of the Yale faculty since 2003, Briggs began his career at the University serving also as curator in charge of invertebrate paleontology at the Peabody Museum (a post he still holds). He was named the director of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies in 2004 and director of the Peabody Museum in 2008.

Briggs previously taught at the University of Bristol and the University of London in England. He holds a B.A. from Trinity College in Dublin and a M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, where he was also a research fellow.

He has earned numerous honors, including being elected in 1999 as a fellow of the Royal Society, the independent scientific academy of the United Kingdom, and becoming an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2003. He has been awarded the Premio Capo d’Orlando (the Italian prize for paleontology), the Lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London, the Boyle Medal of the Royal Dublin Society and Irish Times, and a Humboldt Research Award for work at the University of Bonn.

The president of the Paleontological Association 2002 to 2004, Briggs served as president of the Paleontological Society 2006 to 2008.